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Immolate

Immolation 05-10-2010 The Importance of Being Reliable

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by , 05-10-2010 at 11:37 PM (3559 Views)
When I was a teenager, I could have listed any number of desirable qualities in a person. In fact, I'm sure I did. Exhaustively. To anyone who would listen. One of those qualities was probably not "reliable" however. There were plenty of adjectives like "imaginative", "original" and "you've got to haggle", but "reliable" would have been reliably missing.

Now that I have surprisingly survived to the ancient age of seven-and-forty, I see things a bit differently. Part of wisdom is learning that some of the things you believed when you were young were pretty much completely, depressingly, even reliably... wrong. Like the idea that this relationship you had with this other person that consumed your life and you were convinced that there had never been another love such as this one and that the passion and intensity would last forever... wrong. Oh the relationship might last your entire life, and every day might seem a little better than the day before, but passion an intensity doth not survive the thirtieth poopy diaper. Or that idea that the "right" person for you would be too "sophisticated" to be bothered by you frequenting strip clubs... wrong. Or how about the concept of being a much better parent than your parents were with one hand tied behind your back... wrong. You might pull it off, but unless your dad's last name is "Manson", it will probably be hard.

Now, in my dotage, "reliable" has become the new hotness, having switched places with "unpredictable", which occupies the old and busted spot. But the truth is, reliable has always been important to me. I just failed to realize it. It was important to me that my mother could be relied upon to set high standards for me and reliably hound me to meet them. I could rely on my DI giving me "twenty" if my bed wasn't made perfectly. I could rely on the money in my account every payday. I could rely on my kids to groan and act embarrassed every time I try to be funny in public.

I think we human like to build institutions that we can rely on. When we find these reliable things in our lives, we want to support them and encourage them through our support. Church, family, country and friends... we go out of our way to strengthen the institutions that we love. Because they do what we expect them to do, to the extent that they do so, we use them as foundations in our lives to build upon.

Now all of that is probably a too-long-winded and overly-dramatic build up to my point, but my point is this... and yes it relates to cartography. There are institutions within this community. Some are mere processes, some are traditions and some are even individuals. But these institutions are important to us. Many of us probably focus on one or two of them, though we are cognizant of the others, but those one or two are quite important, and a big part of what attracts us. Fellowship is one that I'm pretty sure most of us place great value in, and happily it is the most reliable of institutions here. You can also count on someone to offer advice or encouragement when you need it, because that's the kind of people we are.

Civility is another important institution at the Cartographer's Guild. In my many years online, I have never found a single place with so many people that remain so unrelentingly kind to each other.

One of my personal favorite institutions here are the challenges and the featured map forum. Now these have been imperfect in their reliability, alas, but they are important institutions to more people than just me, and through our encouragement and appreciation, we can ensure they not only survive, but prosper.

What institutions "do it" for you here at the guild?
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  1. Ascension's Avatar
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    For me the main thing was, and always will be, the eye candy. I can rely on there always being something cool to look at and inspire me. Second, with so many people trying out different things, software or techniques, I can rely on always finding new little tidbits to pick up and try out for myself. Third (for me), is probably the most important thing here...all the great people and the politeness to be found here and (seemingly) nowhere else. Why we have such a great community amazes me sometimes with such a broad range of ages, nationalities, styles, software choices, genre preferences, and maturity levels. Maybe it's due to the "we're all nerds" bonding factor, maybe it's due to the example set by our staff and core members, maybe we all just love to tinker and experiment, maybe we just like to share and help others...who knows. I lived in a fraternity when I was in college with 140 other dudes but this place has more of a bond than that place ever did. The Guild and its members have become almost as important as air and food to me. Maybe that's the real key...we care about The Guild and its members and we all want to belong somewhere. And with so many different worlds to explore our home here is always exciting and new. Maybe that's the most important thing. It's probably all of that put together. When I think of the people here and if we were to uproot all of us and put us into a different forum where the focus was something different, say "how to trick out your car", I don't think it would have the same feel.
  2. tilt's Avatar
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    I agree with Ascension here - especially on his third point. I just recieved a llahma on Deviant Art - I didn't know the guy who gave me one, and I didn't know what it meant. So I went in search of an answer. Google provided me with a link back to DA where another guy posed the question - "what is it?" ... and, what I can only describe as a bunch of twelve years old, jumped on him basicly telling him he was an idiot for not knowing. DA is also supposed to be a community where art is in center and people help each other be better by commenting on others efforts - but that thread would never had happened here ... so thanks fellow cartographers for being the nice, polite, helpfull people you are
  3. Immolate's Avatar
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    I love Deviant Art, so don't get me wrong, but if there is a community there, I have not found it. It strikes me as a bit like WoW. Lots of people and some tight groups, but mostly you're on your own.

    Here, the community is fairly monolithic. We are all part of the same group, thought each of us has his or her aspects that interest them. There is no "you guys over in that corner" type of thing going on.
  4. Riggamorphus's Avatar
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    For the short time I have been actively involved here, I have realize something unique here also. It is a combination of skills and the imaginary drive that makes up the artists at the guild. Here one can display their talents get feedback and walk away with a sense of pride. The endless ideas are a great escape from reality. Instead of reading the news, I come here more often to get my fill of fantasy worlds. If you cannot change the world then create one you can change. Its good therapy or a hobby for me.
    JDL likes this.
  5. Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    Awesome statement Riggamorphus. "If you cannot change the world, then create one you can change." That's definitely going in my quotes file!

    I do think that people can rise to expectations. The earliest Guild members formed a very civil community that had high regard for mutual respect. As the Guild has grown, that expectation of respect has remained strong, and people who violate it are usually called down for it. But not in an abusive way—it has always been very constructive.

    I can only hope that the peer pressure to treat one another with dignity continues to be as strong. This truly is one of the best communities on the web.

    Now, the thing I count on the most here is that people openly and freely share their knowledge. Sure, there may be the odd few that keep some techniques secret for professional reasons, but by and large, no one is hoarding what they know. In addition, the talent here is not restricted to one particular aspect of the trade. We have artists and technicians and administrators all pulling together to improve every aspect of fantasy cartographic practice, which is almost unheard of. I love being able to come to a single place to get pointers on color theory, image processing, and world building. I just wish I had the time to contribute more.
  6. Immolate's Avatar
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    Ah yes secrets. If someone has some, the truth is that it would take a lifetime to learn everything that people are openly willing to share, so they're welcome to keep 'em. The real secret isn't all that hard to uncover: judgement, or what some call "the eye" is what makes a great map. Look at Ramah's featured scroll map. None of the techniques he used were all that difficult to reproduce, but the map as a whole fit together so perfectly that the entire work came together as a masterpiece.
  7. Sigurd's Avatar
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    Don't give up on the impossible dreams. For me passing 40 just seemed to feel like my personal warranty period was over - still does.

    If you're young and listening - it sucks to get old but you'll do it too if you're lucky. Worry less about doing things wrong and more about not doing.

    A lot of things I've desired are not or will not be mine but that's ok. The really great dreams don't have to be mine mine. I've just become a huge booster of creative people and works. I love to see something spit in the face of ugly entropy, something awesome. "There is no charge for Awesomeness!" I think there are elements of creativity that have to be shared, its in their nature.

    Seeing so many people making things and sharing them is really exciting about this place. (And there really has been an explosion of great map makers here.) The spirit of freedom and sharing gives time here a rare daydream quality. Its the most hopeful thing to make a new world. I stitch together thoughts from everything I see here. Something about everyone literally having their 'own space' makes growth easier without being threatening. I suspect that even the River Police would rather flutter board than water board.
  8. Immolate's Avatar
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    Thanks for the coaching Sigurd. I understand the truth of what you're saying and I've been thumbing my nose at entropy for a while now. I just spent the last week at a program called "Future Leaders" with a bunch of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings, but there were a few even longer in the tooth than me. The average person alive today will live to be 100. That means that those of us under fifty have a good shot at hitting that age. Based on that, I'm not even at the halfway mark yet. That makes finishing my second Bachelor's degree and starting on my Master's sound like a good investment.
  9. Sigurd's Avatar
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    That sounds like good and hopeful reasoning. Hopeful is not part of the scientific method but it should apply to people.

    What sort of studies are you thinking of?
  10. Immolate's Avatar
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    My current degree is a Bachelor's of Science in Business Administration. Late last year I started a 12-course program offered by Bellevue University in Nebraska in cooperation with my company for Professional Customer Contact Center Management (P3CM). I am in the second week of the fourth couse in the series, dealing with call center technology. As I am a technical solutions manager, that's pretty much what I do for a living so this class has been pretty smooth so far except for the week out of pocket in Cincinnati. Actually I've been in this industry for nearly fifteen years so all of the coursework has been a bit like a refresher.

    I think one of the interesting things I've experienced as I get older is that I have become more open to new ideas and new ways of thinking than I was when I was younger. I figured it would be the other way around. I'm not complaining .
  11. Jaxilon's Avatar
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    This is a great place and the community makes it shine. I find myself thinking, "I feel like playing a video game." Only then I sit down at my PC and come here which ends up with not playing a game. You can get lost in here. I wish I could keep up with all the great creative art that is going on and the helpful tips but it's more than I have the time to do. That's ok, it's always here when I need it that way.

    As for the way folks around here treat one another, it was one of the first things that found so attractive. I recall someone once, shortly after I first started, who went off on someone with some crap about "get some skill before posting" or something of the like, only to be put in his place by several of the others around here. I loved it! That is how we ought to be. There is a proper way to be constructively helpful even with someone with no talent and I appreciate that in our community.

    Now, I know I have some artistic talent but I do get lazy at times and/or miss things so it is nice to know that if that happens there will be someone who calls me on it. That kick in the seat will motivate me to fix it. So, I don't want all feathers and fuzzy bunnies. If it's not quite right, it's nice to have those with a good eye to help identify what went wrong. I think this friendly encouraging atmosphere is what keeps drawing people to us. I also think being an artist is tough because most of us put our best effort into our work and being told it's not good enough blows holes in your sails. Too much of that and you give up. This is exactly why when you ask a first grade class, "Who here is an artist?" 90% of the class will raise their hand. A few years later when they reach High School and you ask that question you might get a couple. The thing is, you only get better if you keep honing your skill. That's what this guild is great for.
    Updated 06-13-2010 at 11:36 AM by Jaxilon