Children excel at silliness, often ad nauseam. Children are better than adults at learning new things. Can we learn more by being silly? I’d like to think so.
In my first full-time gig as a web developer, my boss would sometimes sit next next to me as I built a website and micro-manage every color, every pixel, every word on the page. It could be frustrating to say the least, but at least I was getting paid to do what I love. And in spite of my complaining, I was learning a lo.
One day this gentleman had a strange request. “When someone clicks on that button, I want a bunch of words to fly across the screen and then disappear,” he requested. “Why?” I asked. “Because I think it’d be cool,” he retorted. Touché mutha fuckah!
Now what I should have said was, “That’s silly! And pointless besides. Let’s not waste a lick of time on it.” Instead, I built the feature. It took me a few days. I was really into ActionScript at the time, and because I’m a winner I built it with Adobe Flash. And that was it. I moved on to the next thing. The feature was barely used other than on that one website, and in the months going forward, ActionScript became less and less relevant. 3 days wasted. No big deal.
F0ur years later, while looking through some old sites I had built, I clicked on a button, and whoa! Some words went flying across the screen. I thought, “Heh. I remember that.” I proceeded to convert the ActionScript into a jQuery plugin. In the process I learned about 2 concepts that I still use quite a bit in my work today.
Today I can thank my old boss for teaching me that it is good to be silly sometimes. Check out FlightofPhrase in the jQuery directory. The plugin still works. It still makes words fly across the screen. It can’t be much worse than this.