Dreams and Feedback Loops

I had a dream last night about Chris Granger.  He worked on Microsoft’s Visual Studio team, and then went on to build LightTable, a next generation IDE written in Clojure.  I’ve known about LightTable for a couple of years, but have only begun using it recently.  The takeaway from the dream was, “Get to know your tools, learn as much as you can.”  I went to Chris’ blog this morning and started reading posts.  I came across this post, which talks about connecting to what you create.

Chris referenced a talk by Bret Victor, a kind of renaissance man, who was discussing feedback loops during the creative process.  He showed some screenshots from a design tool he built which allows you to visualize your work as you complete it.  For example, you write an algorithm, and you can see, as you write the algorithm, how it manipulates data.  This is where Chris Granger got his inspiration for LightTable, and after seeing the talk, went and coded a prototype in Clojure.

Bret talks about working by guiding principles, choosing tools that give you immediate feedback, and nurturing your ideas.  It’s funny how inspiration hits.  Chris saw this video and then started coding.  Fast forward two years and he raised a few hundred thousand on KickStarter and built an awesome product.  I didn’t get just how powerful it was until watching this video, and now have a reason to take the time to master the tools while continuing on the project I’m working on.

Dreams are funny.

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