Groks & the Grokzine

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In early 2015 I attempted a little writing experiment: one daily essay on a mashup of two not-exactly-aligned topics. The result was twofold: a bunch of reasonable interesting essays, and me burning out in less than two months.

Fast-forward to late summer of that same year, and the itch to write some more essays is pretty strong. This time, it won’t be on a separate website, though. It will be here. And following the same formula

The Grok Categories

There are 100 categories, divided into 10 subject areas.

Some of the categories might seem like they appear in multiple subject areas, but in those cases, consider the difference between the two areas. For example: music appears in both Creativity and Entertainment. But music (as a creative outlet) is different than music (as a passive entertainment form). Savvy?

Communication

0.0 : Blogging – words and images published online
0.1 : Deception – words bent on lies, manipulations, & untruths
0.2 : Email – words transmitted electronically
0.3 : Media – words and images published professionally
0.4 : Miscommunication – understood unequal to intended
0.5 : Phone – words spoken across distances
0.6 : Private – words between a trusted few
0.7 : Public – things meant for everyone to know
0.8 : Talking – words in sound from mouths
0.9 : Writing – words compiled with intention towards meaning

Creativity

1.0 : Art
1.1 : Design – art plus functionality plus purpose
1.2 : Drawing – the act of marks made in a medium by hand
1.3 : Fashion
1.4 : Fiction
1.5 : Nature – in or with things biological
1.6 : Music
1.7 : Photography – collecting photons through a lens
1.8 : Software – process languages interpreted by silicon
1.9 : World Building – alternate rules for imagined reality

Entertainment

2.0 : Books – words and pictures, bound on paper
2.1 : Film
2.2 : Games
2.3 : Gossip
2.4 : Music
2.5 : Radio – a casting of audio through air or net
2.6 : Sports – entertainment plus athletics
2.7 : Television – the passive glowing screen in your house
2.8 : Theatre – stage, actors, director, audience
2.9 : Video Games – play through an electronic gadget

Family

3.0 : Breaking – of things that break apart families
3.1 : Building – of things that strengthen families
3.2 : Events – when families gather for a defined purpose
3.3 : Fatherhood – because the author is not a mother
3.4 : Finances
3.5 : In-laws – relatives come in bulk
3.6 : Marriage – from the wedding until death do we part
3.7 : Pets – like family, but less human
3.8 : Siblings – those with whom one shares their parents
3.9 : Tradition

Health

4.0 : Aging – time marches on and we get older
4.1 : Endurance
4.2 : Food
4.3 : Illness – infection or deterioration from healthy
4.4 : Injury – breaks, sprains, aches, and pains
4.5 : Medicine – things intended to fight injury and illness
4.6 : Mental
4.7 : Senses – sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing
4.8 : Strength – muscular vitality and mental fortitude
4.9 : Weight

Love

5.0 : Affection – platonic fondness for nearly anything
5.1 : Distance – and the many gaps that fill the inbetween
5.2 : Fandom – love of the inanimate or intangible
5.3 : Fatherhood – love as a parent
5.4 : Friendship – the people we choose to be around
5.5 : Infatuation – attraction, proper or otherwise
5.6 : Hate – or, the opposite of all these things
5.7 : Marriage – knotted together (potentially) permanently
5.8 : Romance – from the wooing to the whimsical
5.9 : Sex – everything is about sex, except sex: it’s about power

People

6.0 : Cities – collections of civilization in space and time
6.1 : Cooperation – choosing to get along and work together
6.2 : Crime – laws and the rules we follow or ignore
6.3 : Culture – the general mishmash of what people are
6.4 : Gatherings – together in one place for a purpose
6.5 : Humanity – the big picture that is all of us defined
6.6 : Leadership – power and influence, earned or otherwise
6.7 : Politics – the struggle to remain in charge
6.8 : Racism – compartmentalization by genetic differences
6.9 : War – so-called justified killing based on ideology

Soul

7.0 : Belief
7.1 : Charity
7.2 : Evil
7.3 : Mindfulness – an awareness of one’s own thoughts
7.4 : Morality – the gap between right and wrong
7.5 : Philosophy – thinking about how we think about thinking
7.6 : Religion – belief in big things lacking evidence
7.7 : Rest – stillness of mind and body
7.8 : Time
7.9 : Volunteering – work without expectation of pay or reward

Technology

8.0 : Biology
8.1 : Data – words & numbers mashed towards meaning
8.2 : Food
8.3 : Future – prognostications on things not yet invented
8.4 : Games – better graphics, smarter ai & stiffer cardboard
8.5 : Internet – that series of tubes and personal information
8.6 : Mechanisms – things that move and the guts of gadgets
8.7 : Physics
8.8 : Science
8.9 : Space

Travel

9.0 : Adventure – leaving what’s comfortable for leisure
9.1 : Commuting – travel between home and work
9.2 : Feet – going somewhere under one’s own power
9.3 : Flight – on a plane or otherwise by air
9.4 : Food – food that’s more than just nourishing
9.5 : Interstellar – spaceships between the stars
9.6 : Solo
9.7 : Together
9.8 : Tourism
9.9 : Wheels

The Grok Formula

Your typical GrokPost emerges from the congealing of a few very important and necessary elements, pieces aligned by the mashed-up forces of randomness and pre-destiny colliding in a splash of words and idea. Or something…

Those elements are:

Four Random Numbers

Using a random number generator, a set of ten-sided dice, or a small child with a basic understanding of math, every GrokPost starts with four random one-digit numbers drawn from the basic base-ten range of 0 through 9.

For example: 8, 3, 7, 1

Those numbers are used to create two number pairs:

Like so: 8.3 & 7.1

Two Random Categories

Those two random number pairs coincidentally enough correspond to one of the one hundred categories listed on the Grok Categories page. Using the two pairs, the associated category is referenced and (one would presume) written down somewhere so they are not forgotten.

So, continuing with the example:
8.3 = Technology > Future
7.1 = Soul > Charity

One Mashed Up Topic

Building off the two random categories, the author –that’s me– goes off for a few minutes or hours (maybe even days) and considers how to mash up those two topics into something interesting, inspired… or maybe just settling for something marginally coherent.

This effort might result one or two –or if we’re lucky a short list of– great ideas, and one of those ideas might be selected to be turned into a written piece.

Such as,
“How can charity inspire new technologies?” or
“What does the future of online giving look like?” or perhaps even
“Does a charitable mindset inform the direction of technology?”

Words are written, ideas are collected, more words are mashed together, and eventually a post appears on this blog.

Seems simple enough, right?

Two Chances

Of course, folks who are clever at math know that since every combination can happen two ways…

…because 8.3 & 7.1 is technically the same as 7.1 & 8.3…

…each mash-up has two chances to occur. This means that while there are ten-thousand mathematical combinations, for unique topics we nee to divide that by two. Or, in other words, we really have (roughly*) five thousand completely different combinations of categories.

*I say roughly because there is the tricky situation of matching identical pairs (such as 7.1 & 7.1) and I don’t really want to bog this down with too much math!

That said, I choose to look it as if each topic has two potential angles, and I’ll be thinking of it as if it is CATEGORY ONE in the perspective of CATEGORY TWO.

So, Technology > Future + Soul > Charity is really “technology from the perspective of charity”, while Soul > Charity + Technology > Future is more of “charity from the perspective of technology.”

Get it? It will make sense… I hope.


About the Author
Brad has little more to say that what’s already been said, but that won’t stop him from saying more.

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