0. Intro ⛵
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
— Marcel Proust (in Remembrance of Things Past)
If the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (as memorialized by a Chinese proverb), and if “I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” (as Sir Isaac Newton famously said), and if the genesis block be that very first block upon which additional blocks in a blockchain are added (as we have come to know the uber-great-granddaddy in that lineage of blocks), and if…
“Akram, stop already!“, I hear a yowl.
Heh, dear reader, easy there, now: I’m getting to the point of this essay.
Whew, that was close. And with that I must disclose that this is going to be a different kind of essay: So you won’t be retracing any thousand miles-long journeys here, nor will be doing circus-like acts of standing on shoulders upon shoulders, and neither will we be peeling back the onion-like layers in those slick blockchain calculations. (Heh, we’ve already done all that elsewhere.)
(While the name of this essay is admittedly meta—The Journey Is The Destination—I can assure you that its telling is firmly planted in the soil of daily life, or at least life as we know it now in our COVID-19-rearranged world.)
I do invite you to spend a few moments on the picture above—my regular readers know the lengths to which I go in pulling together such arrangements—and notice the CCC monogram boldly emblazoned across my workplace backpack nestled behind some reading material.
And now that I have your attention—I do, don’t I?—let’s dive right into the journey I have in mind for you (and for me, too.)
1. Here’s What We’re Brewing ☕
Inspiration descends only in flashes, to clothe circumstances; it is not stored up in a barrel, like salt herrings, to be doled out.
— Patrick White
“Ah, so you’ve been to your tea estates lately, Akram, now haven’t you?“, you eagerly ask after glancing at the label on the tea box pictured above.
Actually, and sorry to let you down there, because when it comes down to all things tea, I’m merely a fair-weathered (decaffeinated) tea drinker, and that’s about it, heh. But if you will turn your gaze slightly rightward—kitty corner from the tea-box— you will notice the gorgeous medallion that I keep in my study. It’s a reminder of the amazing company where I work: CCC Intelligent Solutions (CCC for short.)
And that’s the tea I’m brewing this time. (Meanwhile, I’m grinding—not tea leaves, but some stuff in the realm of metaphors—our journey metaphor, to be precise, so as to make it work alongside that thing about brewing, all with the least amount of cognitive dissonance for you. Whew! Did I get that right?)
With that sip—I mean, bit—of introduction, we’ve already taken our first few steps in a journey of sorts.
2. The Gist Of It All 🚀
The time which we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions that we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it; and habit fills up what remains.
— Marcel Proust (in Remembrance of Things Past)
What makes it all so special, my workplace, which I’m speaking of—specifically how the DNA of the company came to be—is that the founder of the company is a consummate technologist with a vision for thoughtful governance and caring leadership. And that vision and mindset percolates all the way, up and down the layers of the company. (In case you missed the brewing metaphor there, I invite you to take a few more sips of tea, and maybe of the caffeinated kind this time. Just kidding.)
Anyhow, and taking the next few steps of our journey, what we do—from going about making AI a commodity (think invisible computational prowess at your fingertips, as I’ve heard it being described) to the point of seamless permeation through the fabric of the (software) products we build to the architecting of the cloud to the streamlining and automation of processes—we do all that with focus and passion.
Next, we check what looks like a stack of… books.
3. Stacking Up (Or, Deep Exposure To Problems) 📘
I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a good book.
— Groucho Marx
I wonder how those books in the pic above somehow stacked themselves wondrously into a neat formation. Some Harry Potter-style wizardry took place, unbeknownst to me? All I can say—and in a throwback to good old Readers Digest magazine’s regularly featured Picturesque Speechless section—is that the art of reading is still vastly underrated in our society. But the fact that the publication of physical books continues unabated remains a source of encouragement, amirite?
On a related note—and thinking here to Ray Bradbury’s 1953 dystopian novel titled Fahrenheit 451—we’ll do our bit to keep that book-reading tradition alive, right?
But I digress.
Making connections between seemingly disparate ideas is my business, insofar as my writing goes at least. But really, if you look around yourself, the signals are talking—notorious chatterboxes, those signals—and it’s wise to listen to their chatter, staying tuned to the patterns they just might reveal at just the right time.
As my leadership (at work) noted just the other day, presciently so, deep exposure to business problems is essential to get to—and stay—at the top of your game.
Speaking of signals, dare I say I detect an especially rich source of (analog) signals coming right up? Such as a video signal?
Let’s check that out.
4. A Vision Of Things 🔭
There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.
— Graham Greene (in The Power and the Glory)
As we were cruising along…
Oh my! Now if you will check the pic above and tell me this: Where did we recently see that slick, stylishly-monogrammed sports car model? Making a dashing appearance atop my hefty computer vision textbook, our sports car sure looks set to go places. Powering forward, in other words.
It’s a vision thing: Now really—and having stashed away all the fun details for you elsewhere—you would be best served by looking it all up for yourself at another time. Or if you’re impatient like me, then right now.
5. Those Signals, Again (Or, Take Two) 🎬
The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
— J.R.R. Tolkien (from The Fellowship of the Rings)
In this part of our journey, having cruised through a detour but a minute ago, we go from chattering signals to nattering visualizations. And my editorial staff—just kidding, because I’m a one-man writing operation around here—is helpfully reminding me that all the glorious details you want to get your hands on can again be found here.
So for those in the know, that’s pretty much how it goes.
6. The Butterfly Alights 🐝
Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine, the life, the soul of reading! Take them out and one cold eternal winter would reign in every page. Restore them to the writer—he steps forth like a bridegroom, bids them all-hail, brings in variety and forbids the appetite to fail.
— Laurence Sterne
Here we are, in the final leg of our journey. And even as you’ve taken in a digression or two, we have finally come full circle: As proof—of our having come full circle—the picture coming up is where we had started our journey, amirite?
The road forever goes on and on, as the Hobbit would say, and that the journey will, at times, have us go down meandering paths. But we keep coming back to the basics.
Whether I delivered on my promise—that the telling of this meta-sounding essay would be firmly rooted in the soil of the reality of our collective COVID-19 lives—only you can judge. But if you take away one thing, may I suggest that it be the mindset that the journey is the destination?
I thank you for coming along for the ride.