A Toolbox Filled With Unused Tools

“Choose your tools, enjoy them, then make something amazing.”

David duChemin

I’ve been stalled with wanting to (re)engage on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and the like. I spent several years chasing all the very latest new toys online to be one of the early adopter cool kids. And then I got sick of it. So I stopped. It all started seeming pretty meaningless and like a colossal time suck.

I think I’m finally getting my head around why I’m so skeptical with all of it.

Back in 2009 I read several pieces by photographer David duChemin pushing for a reality check in the photographic community. His take is well summarized with his slogan of “Gear is good, Vision is better”. One of the downsides to the many online photography communities is that they’ve seriously fueled the shared obsession many photographers have with their gear. Cameras and the associated gear are very cool. But it’s too easy to lose perspective and forget the purpose of all that gear is to make beautiful and compelling images with it.

I realized I’d gotten myself lost on the gear side of things and forgotten to actually take pictures. duChemin provided a much needed wake up call. Now I spend far less time on photography as a hobby, but when I do dig in, the time is spent almost entirely on shooting and processing pictures. The endless surfing and forum browsing are notably absent. I have a similar story from when I stopped obsessing about guitar / music gear and got on with actually practicing more. The results have been similar, I’ve gotten better at my craft and I really don’t miss the noise from all the peripheral activities.

I think this ties directly to the state of things in the internet world right now. For the past few years, everybody has been buzzing about whatever is shiny and new. To the exclusion of figuring out what to actually do with these tools. The result has been a giant echo chamber of meta noise with people on the internet talking about the internet. Personally, I’ve become far more interested in seeing what meaningful work can be done with these tools. How are they impacting the rest of the world? How are they empowering artists of all kinds to do their work and share it with an engaged audience?

Thankfully, there are plenty of examples of interesting people doing amazing work out there. Unfortunately, they can get lost in the noise from the rest of the crowd. So I’m choosing to focus on a couple things: Shutting down the extraneous noise to focus on those artists getting on with doing great work. And secondly, figuring out what I’m personally going to do with these revolutionary tools and the unprecedented level of opportunity they’ve brought along. It’s time to get the tools out of the toolbox, get them dirty, and start making things.