The World Needs More Joy – Mid-Semester Check-in


I think there should be a new law of physics, of life–of something–that states “As soon as one becomes interested in new topics, one’s time to pursue those topics appears to decrease at the same rate.” Maybe it’s not really a law but lately, this is how I’ve felt.

I’m not sure what it is about this semester but it is flying by at a ridiculously rapid pace. I find myself frequently frustrated at how I’m managing my time and what skills are atrophying because I haven’t put the time into them. For example, I would like to tweak a brand assignment to include some JS coding but I feel as if I barely remember how to open the Terminal and start a liveserver up again. Time away has made it really tough to get started again.

The point of this long intro is to share that these feelings of failure, falling short, and losing knowledge ground have prompted me to design a counterattack. In these moments when I feel like I’m getting nothing done, that none of this work will matter, or that I’m not improving as fast as I would like, what can I do to shift my mental state and bring more joy/gratitude/appreciation into that moment?

That’s a question I want to design a solution for as a part of my final Critical Making assignment and just as a project to keep up with old skills while adding new ones. I think almost everyone has discouraging moments, especially when tired or burnt out. What if there was something physical, visual, (audible?) that could help shake us out of that funk and remind us how valuable we are, how special we are, and that we are all walking out our life’s path one day at a time.

This idea is inspired by Instagram sensation and joy-giver @donte.colley. He is known for his incredibly uplifting messages set to positive music, the best dance moves ever, and appropriate emojis. It’s sort of lo-fi but it WORKS. Check out a good one by clicking the photo below.

Screenshot of Donte Colley Instagram Video

It is deceptively simple looking because he is doing a really special and incredible thing, all with some good music and fun editing. The joy is really coming from within – I love his videos!

Not sure that technology has “joy within” but I think as a human working on the parts, there has to be a way to infuse that goodness into my project. My second inspiration for this project is my main man, Bob Ross. In a different way from Donte, he brought joy and encouragement in every single episode of The Joy of Painting. He would sneak little nuggets of uplifting thoughts while explaining his painting technique. I think that had to have been wonderful for all of the viewers painting at home, cringing at how un-Bob Ross-like their canvases looked. Despite what looked like failure in their eyes, he would speak to them as if they were all Picassos!

This idea is still quite nebulous as you can probably tell from the slightly rambling nature of this post. But I think there is a kernel of goodness in here somewhere. I just need to figure out what that seed will bloom into.


At the moment, I am still very interested in crafting something physically and hooking up an Arduino or Raspberry Pi to it. It could be an installation that people can push a button to activate or it could be a desktop companion to offer encouragement. It could be a service that sends a positive Bob Ross quote to your phone every time you tap a little figurine. I’m really not sure but this idea of using joy to counterbalance feelings of failure or uncertainty is an area I want to keep exploring.

What’s new:
– Working my way through some freecodecamp lessons to brush up on my front-end skills
– Planning to do this 1.5 hour Unity tutorial from YouTube to help me get my mind around the program
– Need to come up with a list of materials I think I’ll need for my Joy-o-Meter in the next week so I can plan out prototypes. Time is flying!
This quiz game project made using Arduinos and buttons looks so cool. Just trying to understand and see what others are doing with buttons out there on the web

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