Make It So: Say Hi, Shut Up, Have A Creative Jam!

Colored Pencils Circle Rainbow

Creative people all the help they can get. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re writer or artist of some kind, if in the amateur sense, and know the challenges that face you, from publishing to editing. If you’re not a creative, you almost certainly know an artist or cosplayer or the like and their travail (which they will share gladly). Even if you, mysteriously, know no creative people, you’ve heard of the challenges they face unless you’re living under the proverbial rock (and a rock with no internet).

One of the issues that creators face is a peculiar paradox – they both need alone time to write, but often thrive in the company of their fellows. The stimulation of interacting with fellow writers or artists, for the most part, is inspiring and reinforcing. The time to actually make something is an invaluable window to create uninterrupted. This paradox seems, on the surface, to be best resolved by separating socialization and activity.

However, a local writer’s group has a different way to fulfill the need for both time and connections – and one I think we geeks should run with at cons and even other events.

You can combine both.

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Make It So: Let’s Make An STC

Paper And Stars

Some time ago I’d mentioned the Lantern and the Outernet. The Lantern was designed to be a wireless, convenient, regularly updated library that would give people access to useful documents. The Outernet would support it, and involve a satellite-based internet system. Idealistic, yes, but I plunked down my cash on the Lantern Kickstarter because, like the Ouya, the idea is almost more important than the implementation.

Around the same time I encountered the Survival Library. This was a site that was rather “Doomstay Prepperish,” a viewpoint I don’t subscribe to (because preparing for Doomsday too often results in one looking forward to it or not preventing it). However the idea of the site was brilliant – collect a large variety of books online that would basically let you rebuild society and technology from scratch, from basic survival up to vehicles.

Philosophical differences aside, I love the idea. As of late, as may seem obvious, I’ve become more aware of our responsibility to curate and preserve documents as citizens. This definitely fits my (developing) philosophy on the idea, and may be one I can explore more.

These ideas began to combine in my head, building on my thoughts about how Dicks Encyclopedia provides a good template we could follow as geeks recording knowledge.

Then in struck me, these ideas (easily accessible information, practical guides, and curated, integrated information) brought together could produce something amazing and useful and needed.

An STC. A Standard Template Construct.

However to explain this, I’m going to have to talk Warhammer 40K, which is a setting (originally for a wargame but now for others) of a dark far future.

. . . hang in there. This may take a little work.

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Make It So: Let’s Be A Bunch Of Dicks

Book Shelf And More

One of my most recent acquisitions is the fascinating book “Dick’s Encyclopedia of Practical Receipts and Processes or How They Did it in the 1870’s.” Its a reprint of a book that was a guide to, well, everything. Making dyes, controlling insects, creating food, various measurements and so on. It’s basically a catalog of practical knowledge from the 19th century that people would need – and in a time where you lacked easy access to specialists and stores we take for granted.

It’s out of print sadly, but you can find used copies around the internet (I got mine at Amazon), or even find it online at

The value isn’t just in historical curiosity, though there’s plenty here. There’s real, practical advice here for all sorts of things that you can use if you’re a DIY type, a Maker, a cook, or a Cosplayer. Admittedly there’s also stuff that can kill you if you’re not careful, but I’m going to assume you’ll be cautious if you decide to start playing with acid or something.

So yeah, go buy this book.  Try and get it reprinted.  I’m already planning to use copies as a gift.

But more than that all this, it got me thinking.  We all know that’s dangerous.

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