Categories
Notebook

Critical linking 02

This week I have been consuming:

Helen Thayer

This week I am also thinking about:

  • Unlearning and how to figure out what you don’t know. Tough.
  • Latin. In particular the phrase, res ipsa loquitur, which means “the thing speaks for itself.” As spotted on my BrewDog pint.
  • The Greek word for statue is agalma which means delight. Statue, by contrast, is from the Latin statuere which means to set up. “This indicates different conceptions of art. But is art not the delight of senses and the satisfaction of mind?” [via]
Categories
Notebook

Critical linking 01

Categories
Technology Words

Content strategy reading list

Kristina Halvorson is THE go-to expert on all things content strategy. When she talks, people listen (check out her new podcast), and when she asks, people respond. This week she asked her Twitter followers for their suggestions – what books should be on a content strategist’s bookshelf? They delivered, and some!

For your buying/browsing pleasure, I’ve popped them all into a spreadsheet with US/UK links for purchase 📝

The UX team of one

Categories
Tools

The five whys for your personal life

The Five Whys

Ever had an uncomfortable run-in with someone, for example, a disagreement with a colleague, only for the same issue to pop up three months later? Sometimes it can be easy to fix a surface problem, and not look too much further into it. And as humans, we love taking the easy route.

Until of course, your problem springs up again. This problem could be a communication issue in a relationship, a mystery sports injury, or perhaps one of your more negative habits. But how to find a lasting solution?

The Five Whys is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore “the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem,” (Serrat, 2009 | PDF). It takes an issue, and drills five layers deep, asking why to find opportunities and lower-level causes. The technique was developed by Sakichi Toyoda for Toyota, but like many excellent models to come out of Toyota, it can be applied to the problems of everyday life, too.

There are three key things to remember about the powerful use of the Five Whys technique:

  1. Accurate and complete statements of problems – writing a problem down helps clarify it.
  2. Complete honesty in answering the questions – the truth about yourself and others!
  3. Clear determination to get to the root of a problem

Five is a good number to start with to ensure you are looking deep enough into a problem, plus you can use your hand as a visual/physical reference to count down the levels. Or you know, think of burgers – Five Guys – cheese, lettuce, pickle, patty, and bun. Done 🍔

Categories
Technology

The origins of Bluetooth

Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson (born c. 910—died c. 987) was a king of Denmark and Norway, best known in his time for introducing Christianity to the country. In recent times, his legacy continues in the oddest of forms. wireless Bluetooth technology is named after him, and the symbol is composed of the two runes spelling out his initials RB. The logo is a bind rune merging the Runic letters Hagall and Bjarkan. Something to ponder the next time you connect your headphones to your phone. Beep-boop.

Bluetooth Rune

Via The Guardian: Boy unearths treasure of the Danish king Bluetooth in Germany

Categories
Pace

The Busy Trap

What she had mistakenly assumed was her personality — driven, cranky, anxious and sad — turned out to be a deformative effect of her environment.

A thought-provoking piece from Tim Kreider in the NYTimes on the ongoing speed and stuffing of our lives. It seems busyness is aspirational nowadays (do kids in 2018 read Busytown?)

Categories
Words

Hunter S. Thompson on purpose

Hunter S Thompson

Almost sixty years ago today, a youthful Hunter S. Thompson sat down to write a letter of advice to his friend, Hume Logan. At the tender age of 20, he had somehow already examined the meaning of life and realised ‘it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it’.

From Letters of Note.


April 22, 1958
57 Perry Street
New York City

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal— to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect— between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer— and, in a sense, the tragedy of life— is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre. These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors— but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires— including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life— the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN— and here is the essence of all I’ve said— you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know— is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo— this merely happens to be mine.

If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that— no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.

And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,

your friend,
Hunter

For the extra curious: Hunter S. Thompson, The Art of Journalism No. 1 – The Paris Review

Categories
Words

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Categories
Words

Instead of Killing Yourself by Derrick C. Brown

wait until
a year from now
where you say,
“Holy fuck,
I can’t believe I was going to kill myself before I etcetera’d…
before I went skinny dipping in Tennessee,
made my own IPA,
tried out for a game show,
rode a camel drunk,
skydived alone,
learned to waltz with clumsy old people,
photographed electric jellyfish,
built a sailboat from trash,
taught someone how to read,
The red washing
down the bathtub
can’t change the color of the sea
at all.


So far I’ve made an IPA and rode the camel to drink…

Categories
Notebook

Sonder, a noun

Sonder, n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

– from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

So to be sonderous, is to scratch beyond the passing swish of a stranger’s coat on the tube and look at the networks that connect us, the ideas that lurk beneath the surface or in the air. All with the aim to survive, thrive and evolve in this murky and wondrous world of ours.