Thoughts on the Boards

A place for my updates and pseudo-ruminations  

Why this blog? Why this website?

 First semester foundations studio at LSU, learning at the feet of a master... (pictured from left are Mai Nguyen, myself, Josh Black, and Prof. Emeritus Van Cox)

First semester foundations studio at LSU, learning at the feet of a master... (pictured from left are Mai Nguyen, myself, Josh Black, and Prof. Emeritus Van Cox)

Welcome to Thoughts on the Boards!

If you've made it here, it's probably because you either saw that I decommissioned my social media accounts and followed the link from the old instagram out of curiosity (please forgive me if you're underwhelmed), you followed the link from my portfolio to see if I am employable (please say yes), or you found this page by accident (please let me know how in the world you did it). No matter how you got here, I think you deserve an explanation as to why I started this website and why I wanted to include this blog in the mix.

When I started design school last fall, it felt as if I was coming upon a watershed moment in my relationship with the arts. After years and years of musical performance, songwriting, poetry dabbling, and (very) amateur filmmaking--all the while wishing I could dedicate time to learn visual media--here I was in the first semester of a Master of Landscape Architecture degree, drawing with charcoal, sculpting clay, glueing together photo collages, laser cut modeling, sketching the LSU Quad, living the dream. I had finally found a profession where I could express my creativity in a focused and sustainable way. Instead of living paycheck to paycheck on the fumes of my bouts of inspiration, I could let the inspiration come to me on the coattails of each new client and each new site specific design problem. Not to mention the fact that my new skill set will allow me to do even more art for personal purposes when those bouts do come. What a deal!

The first semester passed, then another, and I quickly found myself staring at a mountainous backlog portfolio updates and ideas for personal projects. At the same time, I had been reading about Cal Newport's views on social media in his book Deep Work, and had been feeling a need to drastically change my use habits. I really identified with his style of time management that focuses on what he calls deep work, or "the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task...a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time," and really wanted to experiment with his formula for mastering it; according to Newport, this required cutting out or drastically reducing social media use. In his words, “this strategy picks specifically on social media because among the different network tools that can claim your time and attention, these services, if used without limit, can be particularly devastating to your quest to work deeper. They offer personalized information arriving on an unpredictable intermittent schedule – making them massively addictive and therefore capable of severely damaging your attempts to schedule and succeed with any act of concentration.” (205) This is a tall order, as most of us who have used social media know; these powerful platforms have been specifically engineered to give us perpetual FOMO for not using them, thus creating a feedback loop of shallow work that deprives many knowledge workers of the chance to work on something meaningful for their personal and professional progress.

The key to making the weaning process smoother, Newport suggests, is structure. “Without structure," he writes, "it’s easy to allow your time to devolve into the shallow – email, social media, web surfing. This type of shallow behavior, though satisfying in the moment, is not conducive to creativity. With structure, on the other hand, you can ensure that you regularly schedule blocks to grapple with a new idea, or work deeply on something challenging, or brainstorm for a fixed period – the type of commitment more likely to instigate innovation.” (227) This site is one of my tools for establishing that structure. 

Things to Keep in Mind About This Website

  • I only have two goals for this site: Consolidation and Documentation
    • Consolidation: The idea is that if I consolidate my online presence into a single platform, I can create a sort of one-stop shop where I can house an extension of my portfolio and provide a place where friends and followers can see what personal projects I'm working on, what new music I'm writing, or read general insights at any given time (hence the name Thoughts on the Boards). This also helps me to manage my time more efficiently (now I have only have to schedule a block of internet time for updating things on one website instead of 5 or 6) and meaningfully (the only shallow activities I will allow myself to be doing will involve either communicating the progress of my deep work endeavors, searching for employment, or showcasing personally engaging projects, thus reducing my internet usage and making the time I do spend on it more focused and fulfilling).
    • Documentation: While each project page in itself will have a level of editing or curation to it, the collection of works together will probably not read that way. This site is not the site of an artist, or an academic, or a designer, or a writer, or a musician, or a filmmaker, but a generalist trying to nourish his creativity and keep himself accountable through documentation.
  • Blog posts will be on a slew of topics; life, love, design, politics, religion, art, literature, movies, culture, travel, and food are all fair game. All writing styles are also fair game, so the line between formal academic essays, poetry, and stream of consciousness will be very fine. The posts are not meant for anyone in particular to respond to them, but I welcome the dialogue!
  • I don't sell things here, and I don't plan to.
  • I only give the website link to potential employers when asked. It is not meant to act as a replacement for my portfolio nor as a self-promoting design website.

In short, I created a website, it has a blog, and I hope you enjoy any interactions you might have with it!

--Phil

Phillip Fernberg