Hexaflexaflakes, and how to Twelve Tones

A hexaflexaflakes video has been on the list since I made Snowflakes, Starflakes, and Swirlflakes in December 2012. But first I followed up with Sphereflakes in January 2013, and then I started working on Twelve Tones and the holidays were over.

While I worked on Twelve Tones for the next six months, I continued the symmetry series in more musical directions with Folding Space-Time and Sound Braid, and before the next snowflake season came around I went off and became a Principal Investigator and did research for the next four years. Hexaflexaflakes was never a priority because at that point I hadn’t worked on it enough to get any meat into the video, so to speak.

But now I’m crowdfunded, and most of my patrons are interested in funding videos, so I can make time for some of those old ideas and see what the years have given to them.

In Hexaflexaflakes I saw an opening for a conversation about the relationship between mathematics and the real world, hands-on learning, and experience vs theory in general. Some drafts tried to go deep into those ideas, but I think that’s a different video. The draft that worked kept it light, fun, and personal, with a rant that has the feel of narrator-Vi being unable to help but throw some shade at someone specific narrator-Vi has recently argued with.

What I’m really looking for with these past several videos is to get back into the conditions that allowed a video like Twelve Tones. That means getting settled back into good working-from-home habits with a good setup, getting back into video-making, and maybe some slightly superstitious things like “make a fun holiday craft video”, possibly to be followed up by an “internet comments” video, which Hexaflexaflakes sets up for.

First and foremost, though, is that making work like Twelve Tones is an all-consuming full-time activity. Some other work may leak out alongside it, but that other work can’t ever be a priority. And it takes a long time, longer than most people expect or want to pay for.

In early 2013 I had few distractions, lots of autonomy, and I felt secure enough with my financial support from Khan Academy (where I’d been for over a year at that point) that I was able to put everything else aside and just work. Very few people have that opportunity. Good work takes time, and it also takes many years to develop the skill of making work better by spending more time on it.

It was also really, really hard. It’s only 5 years (!) later that I’m willing to think about attempting big projects again, that I can think about the months spent working on Twelve Tones without feeling heavy heavy heavy. This time I’d like to take it a little slower with fewer side-projects and maybe not burn out forever.

But of course the #1 key is feeling financially stress-free enough to focus on the project knowing that I won’t be doing a lot of crowd-pleasers in the mean time, so if you’d like to help with that, here’s my crowdfunding page: patreon.com/vihart

Oh also books! It is very important to read a lot of very good books!

Vi Hart