In the early 2007, I started seeing a psychiatrist because I noted that I am experiencing extreme depression where I did not see the point of living anymore.
In one of my early sessions, my psychiatrist asked me a question: "Tell me, who is See-ming Lee? What is he like?" I generally have a good answer for most questions, and if I don't, I know that I can get a fairly good answer just by Googling and spending some time analyzing it to death. But for this question, I don't have an answer. I also cannot Google myself to find out who I am.
SML Research: Phase 1: Site Redesign
I noticed that I learn a lot about people when I look at their resume, so I looked at my own site, and I don't see a whole lot written about me.
My site used to be dominated by a big flash movie with the latest experiments I was working on when I tweaked my animation engine (you can see the residue of those on my mirrored servers at seemingstudio.com and seeminglee.net, but I noted that it doesn't really give much information about me—maybe because I really don't know me and so all I can do is stick a big piece of graphics onto it with all these data for projects that I work on and make it look like some kind of web site.
As such, I killed it. Instead, I decided to changed it to be text only as you see now. Now with all these space, I started inserting my interests. I spend every night at home thinking about what I am interested in people when I meet them and I put them all there. My quirks, my interests, my anything. I also marked some items as being special as I noted that I just have way too much interests: ultimately I discovered that basically I am interested in everything that I don't yet fully grasp... and that's a lot.
SML Research: Phase 2: Blogging
My company started having a private blog and I was interested in much of the ideas floating on it, and I wanted to be part of the system, so I started blogging. I thought of having my own blog, and then I discovered that I actually already own a blog, but that I don't really use it. It's very personal and I learned a lot about myself from this digital diaries of me ranting or praising about things that came my way back in 2004 and 2005. I noted who my inspirational sources are, and who were always there for me. I decided that maybe a good way to learn about myself is to actually jot down my thoughts so I remember them.
This is why I started blogging fanatically. I blog, because I want to remember. I also need data from myself so I can scrutinize and understand myself. My psychiatrist also gave me an ADD diagnosis, and I noted just how forgetful I am. I noted how quickly I have forgotten about people's kindness, and which is why I also started a separate blog just to host my thank you notes. So I will remember, because if I do not note them, I am certain that I will forget.
SML Research: Phase 3: Del.icio.us Analytics
Shortly after, I discovered when browsing other people's del.icio.us bookmarks that I can get a fairly good idea of what that person's interests are by sorting their tags by the frequency. From that they on, I started becoming a tag fanatic. I want to know what I like, and there is no better way of knowing that unless I start to analyze myself. Sorting my results on del.icio.us by tag frequency today, I noted that I am interested in:
This list fluctuates over time, so I also started doing screenshots of what I like to see how it fluctuates over time. If I remember correctly, before I was aware that I can analyze people using their del.icio.us feed, the ranking used to be 1. design, 2. visualization 3. photography. In fact, since I worked on a del.icio.us presentation on 2006-10-27, I noted that I am interested in API, Design, DesignTheory, Flash, googleMaps, Ideas, InfoVis, Math, MusicProduction, Photography, Programming, References and Searches because I used to bundle them and I have a screenshot for that day:
Unfortunately, I think that once the subject (me) become alerted of this, the research environment is no longer controlled, as I have a tendancy to bookmark things that *I* want myself to be, so this analytics system no longer work for me. That's the end of Phase 3.
SML Research: Phase 4: LibraryThing
In the midst of my del.icio.us presentation, I discovered a site called LibraryThing, which is essentially a personal library system which allows you to tag ad sort your library. Using the same experience I received from del.icio.us, I thought, well, maybe I should look into my library and figure out what I read instead. Afterall, I paid for this books so it must speak to the things I really care about and will spend money for them.
I didn't take an earlier screenshot, but I have not added a lot of books since earlier, so here's a screenshot taken just now:
Like the del.icio.us tagging system, however, I noted that I will also tend to tag things based on how *I* see the book as being about, and as such may not be very accurate. This is why I found the LibraryThing Tag Mirror to be so useful.
I blogged about this a few months ago (SML Pro Blog: Tag Mirror = Your Books in the Eyes of Others) and it really open my eyes on what I was really reading:
SML Research: Phase 5: Domain Names
So why all these domain names? Domain names, as I put it in an earlier post, are my one-line poetry, they are my thoughts and ideas condensed into a short URL, a phrase which has special meaning to me that I can cherish. They cost money and I have to pay an annual fee to them so they are all the more selective to me. I would probably not have bought many books that I have bought if I knew that I have to keep on paying a fee just to read them.
Over time, my shopaholic site kicked in and now I just have way too many domain names. I'm going to drop most of them, but I enjoy the short period of time when all of them mean something to me: most of them might be meaningless to you, but everyone of them comes with a reason. The SEO effect is a side-effect which I discovered accidentally.
I know it's difficult to imagine that Dead Yard has any meaning, but it means something to me. For one, I noted that I am no longer doing much photography about that subject matter anymore, and I started taking photographs that celebrate life.
I also use my domain names to go to specific tags, so I can find them, and so I can figure out how many times I have written about a particular topic. For example, the whole point of all these madness roots from the fact that I didn't want to live anymore, and I noted over time just how much I have written about life, because I am trying to remind myself that life is important, that life should be cherished. Comparitively, while I have an interest in finance, I don't seem to have much material devoted to them, so I will probably keep SML Life and drop SML Finance when it comes to renewal for next year.
Until next time
And that's it for now folks. My psychiatrist asked me that same question of who I am again this Monday. I still cannot quite answer the question fully, but from all the branding effort, blogging, tagging, and flickr'ing activities, I now have a little bit of clue. I think that life is important to me, and that, for me, is a breakthrough.
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©2007 See-ming Lee 李思明 SML / SML Life Blog / SML Universe. All rights reserved.