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Post #1384

Week 249

I’m writing these notes late. Really it’s week 250 already — we had our All Hands at noon. Opening it I said “it’s week 250. Halfway through!” I don’t know what made me say that. We’ll see!

I’m on the Central Line on my way to White City for a consultancy gig with the BBC. For a day a week, I’m helping write a short design roadmap.

A minute ago I was reading a book that friend-of-BERG (and friend-of-mine) Mark Hall sent me in the post, and for which I realise now I never thanked him. Thank you, Mark! It’s Beyond the hundred meridian by Wallace Stegner, and the section I’ve just finished is about John Wesley Powell’s epic journey down the Colorado River through canyon after canyon.

In the narrative I encounter names that make my heart flutter. Kanab! This is also the name of a project about which we are currently in negotiation. Escalante! This is also the name of the era of the studio before the current one, which is called Scenario 4.

You may remember that I give names to periods of time of the studio. It helps us understand what what we’re doing now fits into bigger things, and is not the same as what came before or what we will after. Also it adds Mythic Resonance.

I would say we are no longer in Scenario 4. That was the period of somewhat uncontrolled growth we’ve been in for these past two months. I think we’re through the worst of it. We’ve figured out how to ride that particular crocodile. There’s a lot broken (our contracts are a shambles; we need better ways of recording expenses; we need to figure out how to bring more discipline to our own projects). But knowing what’s broken is 50% of making fixes. So: we’re coming out the other side of Scenario 4. It didn’t kill us, at least not outright. What next?

There’s a feeling of high potential. An impatience for projects to go public and for whatever they cause to be caused. A knowledge that something will happen. Projects on the verge of coming in, and with them a new set of abilities, and room. But there’s an alienness to all of this. An unfamiliarity with scale, but an excited trepidation.

In the back of my mind I’ve been calling it Jupiter Space.

There’s a bit in the film 2001 where the ship Discovery has made its long voyage across the solar system, from Earth space across deep space and into Jupiter space, and it’s just there. The ship is the same as during the journey, maybe a bit battered. Nothing’s happened yet. But there’s Jupiter, lofty and looming, reminding you where you are. A long way from home. Who knows where you’ve got to, but you’ve gotten there. Holy shit, Jupiter.

If you were standing on Ganymede, Jupiter would hang in the sky about four palms-widths wide, holding your hands at arm’s length. The Moon, from Earth, is a thumbs-width.

So that’s what it feels like and that’s what I see, in my mind’s eye. We built a ship, we took a journey, holy shit there’s an enormous gas giant right there out the window, what now? Who knows, let’s figure it out. Jupiter Space.

(We worked on El Morro all week 249. Nick, Lei and I went to Stockholm at the weekend. Intense deadlines swoop down every three days and knock us sideways. Kendrick was stalled because testing threw up data problems, and because our client was checking legal. Ashdown has produced enough to start building out the product itself, I hope, but its progress is still making me a little nervous. Service+ is producing a little more documentation to get final sign-off. Weminuche is assembling questions to start a proof of concept stage. Kari made super tasty cupcakes today. I’m feeling a bit spaced out. We’ve all been working too hard for too many weeks. But it’s worth it.)

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