Omar Shehata

Office snapshot - June 2024

From Omar's notebook.

I re-arranged my office space on June 7th to try and make it more beautiful, and mark a transition in my life.

I love the idea of collecting these snapshots of our lives, somewhat inspired by the game Unpacking. I find a lot of meaning in the mundane. There are a lot of big & profound moments in life. But they are fleeting. The vast majority of my time is sitting at my desk, with my cup of coffee.

So, this is a snapshot of my life.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our livesAnnie Dillard

A Profound Waste of Time is one of the most beautiful things I own.

It's a magazine about video games, and about the people who make them.

I own every copy they've published so far of APWOT, but I haven't actually read them. It's one of those things that I can only read a few pages of at a time, before getting overwhelmed with inspiration.

I think I've managed to read it at about a rate of 3 pages per year.

These are a few of the books that have been most formative to me lately.

“Who Are We Now” is about culture and society. I love the way he tackles big fuzzy questions with clarity & rigor.

Worth reading even if I'm gaining nothing from the actual content, just to watch how this man approaches gathering data, coming up with theories and validating his findings.

“I Am a Strange Loop” is blowing my mind about cognition & consciousness (along with Daniel Dennett's writing). This, along with learning about the Qualia Research Institute is making me start to think we might make progress on the hard problem of consciousness in my life time!

There's also a little pocket zine there about a pocket computer that my friend Gary sent me!

Ok here is where I actually sit:

It's hard to see from the glare, but up on the red wall is a copy of The Golden Record (that thing we shot into space with a collection of the most representative art, music, and pictures of humanity). What a cool thing we did!

I've been thinking a lot about what my personal collection would be if I had to pick.

On the back wall is a little blackboard

And this blue duck poster that I impulse bought. It's inspired by this 24/7 Twitch stream of ducks, that happened to catch a meteor shower, and the ducks' reaction to the meteors.

So you have people on the internet watching ducks watching a meteor shower. And then other people making art about that, and now you and I are looking at a photograph of said art.

I think I love the duck poster so much because it feels like a lot of the parts I love about our civilization wrapped up in one piece of art. People do cool things, unnoticed for years, just for the love of it. Then they stumble onto the right time & place. Something beautiful is created, and that inspires others, and on & on it goes.

Finally, I've had this XKCD comic on my wall for a while. It's a good reminder that I think applies to almost anything. Whatever it is, it's too big for me to understand completely, or to fix completely.

But there's another way to look at it: any one thing is almost always within my grasp, and I can always tackle that first.