Monday, August 13, 2007

Restraint

All week now, I've been mulling over a blog post. It's about a new friend I made last weekend, and the interesting circumstances under which we met. But there's a problem: that would be a violation of her privacy. I spent a fair bit of the week thinking about this. For a while, I was considering writing a version that left out some parts. Finally, I decided that I should let her tell her own story to the people she wants to; it's not my place to do so.

This is the sort of thing I have to think about when I'm writing to a public audience. (Okay, that public audience is-- in the last week-- only 56, but ethics is not a numbers game.) I have to do this all the time when I write about work. Obviously, this is partly because I don't want to end up like Mark Jen or something. But moreover, it's because I have a responsibility to my employer, and don't want to disclose information when it might do harm.

This is a sort of self-restraint, which is a good thing. It suppose that in this context, it's similar to the legal concept of prior restraint, which is generally considered a bad thing under most circumstance. However, there's a big difference. Here, I'm avoiding talking about things on my own volition; in the case of prior restraint, it's from a governmental gag order.

This weekend was my friend's birthday. His girlfriend and I had planned out a birthday party for him, culminating with us seeing a performance of The Compleat Wks Of Wm Shakespeare (Abridged). But it started off with us playing Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. I've got Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II, and we have a blast playing them multiplayer. Unfortunately, we realized when we started playing that most tracks in multiplayer aren't available until you unlock them in single player mode. That meant that, for the time being, we only had eight songs available. Luckily, by the time we finished those eight, it was time for us to head up to the city.

Now, that all happened Saturday, so Sunday I had to myself. I took care of some personal errands, like laundry and groceries, but also played Guitar Hero for a while... y'know, just to unlock the songs. I normally play GH on Expert, but this time, I played on Hard. That way, my friend and I would be able to play the Expert level for the first time together. (I did unlock all the songs, by the way. If you want the track list, and have iTunes, I put together an iMix with the songs.)

I thought about some of the stuff I had going on at work. There's plenty that I'd enjoy doing, but I was keeping myself from doing work. I was bound and determined to make the weekend about myself, and NOT the shiny new job that's been occupying me for the last few weeks.

I got pretty bored playing Guitar Hero on Hard, but wanted to unlock the songs. So I kept at it. I played on Hard, and not on Expert. I unlocked songs, instead of doing some interesting work.

Why the restraint there? I have to wonder if at some times, I'm holding back where I shouldn't.

I feel like that at work too. I keep feeling like I'm marking time, slowly learning, waiting until I get to the point where I get to take off the kid gloves and really get to it. Thursday and Friday, I sat down and did some coding. I started on a program to help me maintain my calendar, and another one to give me a cheat sheet for a weekly meeting. The former is pretty mundane, but the latter was certainly fun. I'll talk about why in a later, more technically-oriented post.

For now, I'll have to think about when's the right time to hold back, and when's the right time to let loose.

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