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  • Infrastructure

    When you travel, you have what’s in your bag—a small portfolio of hopefully not-too-heavy infrastructural components—but beyond that you have to live off the land, in a way. You’re reliant on whatever infrastructure is available wherever you happen to be on a given day, and consequently you learn not to take such things for granted and to adjust your habits accordingly.

    This has been on my mind lately because I’m in the process of setting up a home base here in the US: possibly temporarily, but I’m allowing myself to consider setting up something more permanent.

    The theoretical ideal I’m aiming for is a setup that serves as a jumping-off point for regular travel, but also serves as a soft-landing zone for when I’m done for a spell and want to retreat to a cozy and familiar place that also happens to house tools that grant me powers I might not be able to wield while on the road.

    One example, which I’ve already set up here in my home base test-site, is a consistent audio recording space.

    When I started recording podcasts back in 2016, I bought an above-average, prosumer-grade microphone and over time learned how to use it pretty well.

    A few years in, though, I realized—because of all that experience with podcasting—I could get essentially the same results from what was technically an inferior mic that was better only in the sense that it was more portable: it was much easier to carry around and set up, and was far less likely to be flagged by airport security for hand-screening, which saved me a decent chunk of time while in-transit.

    Our definition of “better” can shift based on the infrastructure we have available and what we’re currently prioritizing.

    While traveling, portability in a mic often trumps slightly better audio output, just as clothing that packs down smaller without wrinkling will typically take precedent over clothing that looks a bit better, but which can’t be easily or quickly stashed in a bag.

    Right now, though, planted at my burgeoning, trial-run home base, I’ve got a vastly better recording setup than I’ve ever consistently had access to in the whole of my recording-voice-things history.

    I reverted from my travel mic to my original, technically superior mic, then upgraded further because I can actually benefit from higher mic quality in this more-optimized space.

    Such an investment would have likely been wasted while on the road, and almost certainly would have become an additional source of stress and strain as I lugged it around. But my infrastructural reality has changed and, consequently, so has my definition of “better.” At least for now.

    Making these sorts of definitional adjustments and subsequent investments—when they’re made thoughtfully and intentionally—can be a positive move, I think.

    I worry, however, that if I’m not careful I’ll become too reliant on some specific setup, some cumbersome collection of infrastructural elements, and that this theoretical reliance will limit my ability to operate at a decently high level within any space, within any set of circumstances. I worry that I might lose the flexibility that has allowed me to live as I do while continuing to produce things that I hope others will find valuable.

    I suspect there’s a point between these two contrasting collections of priorities where a lasting, harmonious equilibrium can be struck.

    That said, I also suspect there will be a (perhaps protracted) period of wobbliness produced by the push-pull influence of these two oft-opposing, infrastructure-oriented prerogatives.

    If you found some value in this essay, consider supporting my work by buying me a coffee.
    The post Infrastructure first appeared on Exile Lifestyle.