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Life After DeluxePaint and The Amiga

As a 52 year old, I have seen a lot of technology changes over the years. My first love was DeluxePaint on the Amiga, a paint and animation software that gave me a real sense of modern graphics. I have adapted to using tools to make money, and now understand that my path is intertwined with the evolution of technology. This has allowed me to trade my efforts for economic value, and I am excited to share my journey and the magic black box that has changed my life.

Trading Efforts for Economic Value: My Journey Through Technology Evolution

By Michael Levin

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Producing content is as easy as recording what you’re thinking and doing. This is why quality is a thing. If everyone just recorded and broadcast what they were thinking and doing, hardly anyone could make use of it due to the high noise-to-signal ratio. Ah, so metaphors and abstractions. I’m doing it right now. I’m broadcasting my thoughts. But for who? You?

I am actually just processing my thoughts in public. Broadcasting is an interesting side-effect of me realizing that this is something I could do if I simply kept multiple journals, made one public and auto-publishing, and made it really easy to switch between journals so it could become a lifelong habit. Ahhh, lifelong habits. Maybe I should start with that.

Do you have lifetime habits? These are things you are not born with, but learn and pick up in such a way that you’re doing them without thinking or putting in much deliberate work. The mechanics of it all have become quite automatic. Me typing into this journal is an example. Our ability to walk and talk are other examples, for they are automatic learned behaviors, and what’s the difference between that and a habit?

Okay, so lifetime learned behaviors. They make all the difference. There are things you take into your life, be it a spouse, a religion, a sport or whatnot that demands of you certain behavioral changes. If you want to be a bike rider, you’ve got to learn to ride a bike. If you want to be an Uber driver, you’ve got to learn to drive a car. Programming requires learning to code, and so on.

Okay, so let’s talk about one of my favorite topics: lifetime tech tools. I remember looking back growing up in the 70s and 80s the dawn of home electronics, so inaccessible in those plastic cartridges. What did it mean to be an Atari 2600 developer? Any research led to Assembly language and paying lots of money to Atari for specialized equipment and permissions. The first whack at tech as a media-enchanted kid led to dead ends.

Over and over through the years, I’ve encountered dead ends in tech. Atari 2600 was hardly even a start, but then there was the Radio Shack TRS-80 I never really owned but used in camp, then my first computer the Coleco Adam, and later the Amiga 1000. Time after time, the tech let me down. My expectations of the role technology could play in my life was smashed along with the life of the platform upon which I based my growing skills.

Ah, adaptations. We all must adapt, always. Inflexibility leads to disappointment and an early death. We learn, we change our behavior based on our learnings, and perchance a new habit sets in that makes a better new normal. I can not get over taking the chance out of perchance. Time and time again, the giant “reset-button” of tech has made me look for a better way.

Now I’m a naturally artistic and craft-loving person. I think in other lives I could have easily been a painter or woodworker. Somehow it is the process and the relationship between creator and created that charms and hypnotizes me. Such activities give me a feeling of self-worth. You’d think that he advent of graphics and the mouse on computers would have been the big tech breakthrough allowing lifetime tech-skills to be a thing. So did I.

DeluxePaint on the Amiga was probably my first really enormous tool-love I encountered. DeluxePaint was paint (and later animation) software on the first computer to give you that feeling of really modern graphics. It came out about a year or two after the first Apple Macintosh but was so superior in so many ways and relatively cheap and accessible that I fell in love with and subsumed my identity to it immediately, and for years to come.

I’m 52 years old now. DeluxePaint is long since gone, or at least not where one should be focusing their time anymore. Tool-usage is not for its own sake, no matter how much one might love it. Using tools is usually to practice some art or craft in the production of things that have greater economic value than the raw materials you put into it. One of the ingredients is you. Because of you, raw materials take on more economic value and you can trade it for food, clothing, shelter, an Internet connection, and all the other things you need to live. This is what makes particular tools cut across the ages.

It is likely I will never be discovered on the Internet, though I am here and publishing in various forms such as this writing and my YouTube videos, because I don’t help people with the signal-to-noise problem, with slick editing and improved story-telling. My stories are lightly sprinkled across disparate and difficult-to-consume materials. And I guess I know my problem and have not taken efforts to solve it, because there’s not enough time in life for editing if you’re main thing isn’t the publishing of your content.

My main thing is not the publishing of my content. Published content is a side-effect of thinking out loud. I am refining my thoughts, decisions and path in life internally, on an internal compass with internal navigation using internal skills and habits. The result of this doesn’t project much and certainly doesn’t manifest as fame or fortune. It manifests as self-satisfaction with my craft and my own “internal self”, along with the ability to always be able to trade my efforts for economic product. I now specialize in tools that can make me money, which I can enjoy doing almost as much as DeluxePaint.

I was born the same year as Unix and about 50 miles away from that event. And of course that tech has been evolving over the years having the exact opposite experience, overcoming dead ends and becoming committed to many peoples habits. It took me a long time to realize our paths were bound to converge, me let down by tool after tool, and Unix taken up by person after person.

There is a magic black box in our life now. It can be with us for our entire life. It has a little, but very little, to do with graphics. That was my mistake the first go-around but it’s very hard to not get infatuated by graphics and hardware.