Off the Top: Writing Entries


October 11, 2020

Weeknote - 04 October 2020

I have so many partially completed weeknotes sitting for the last many weeks. Some are partial efforts to combine two, then three weeks or even more. The Black Lives Matter need for focus from utterly disgusting lack of people’s care for other humans diverts my focus.

But, I’ve also been needing to do a slight update to get this site running on a slightly newer version of PHP. Yet, in the next few months I needing to do a slow drip conversion to a quite modern PHP. To me it is utterly amazing that this site is still running on code I started writing in 2000 and fully started using in 2001 (I ran it is a temporary travel blogging fill-in when all too often hotels wouldn’t connect with FTP that I used to push Blogger pieces into place for new blog posts). I have made some minor changes to the underlying code three or four times, but this is going to be a large change. I will likely just do a straight conversion of the underpinnings, but following that may finish some better navigation and then a redesign.

Work has shifted from 4 days a week back to 5 days and that shift put a damper on a couple small personal side projects.

Another thing I’m working on is turning some of my core pieces of my talks and workshops into 1 to 5 minute video explainers. I regularly chat with grad students that run into my work around folksonomy, but also many of the social complexity models and lenses. Some of these have helpful animations I use as explainers and get really strong praise from professors when they run across them. This will likely lead to writing them up as well.

The other piece the last few weeks I’ve been focussing on is reworking my note taking and organization model. I will get into this in more detail below in the Productivity section.

Read

Reading took a bit of a back seat the past 6 weeks or so. I’be been reading two books in a slow meditative manner, due to the thinking and rethinking they are leading to. These two are The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller and Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr., which I’ve mention here before (I think, they may be in unfinished weeknotes I haven’t posted). My fun read, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, has turned into a slow meditative read, which is helping me realize why I stopped writing and sharing on the web as much, but also why I need to get back to it. The last of my concurrent reads is James Fallows and Deborah Fallows Our Towns: A 100,000-mile Journey into the Heart of America fits one of my favorite genres of exploring America though stopping and asking questions, but also listening deeply across America.

The Map of Knowledge runs quite counter to the poor assumption that the intellectuals of antiquity we know shared their knowledge and we have much of it. Well, we have very little of it. Much of it lost to lack of continual upkeep and continual recopying of works that was / is needed. The book looks at the old great libraries and how they disappeared and what happened to their collections.

A few years ago doing expert witness analysis I was amazed that much of the domain of canonical works about the internet, particularly around the Web 2.0 era, were gone from the web, they are also missing from the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. I have a decent chunk of them in my own collection as archived html and / or PDF tucked away and searchable in DevonThink. But, many of these are linked to from Wikipedia the sites that hosted them are gone to the digital winds. For a long time we thought of the Web as being the holding of all the thinking of mankind and having it all searchable and within easy reach (this also means the appalling thought of the fringes that get over amplified are there as well), yet this is far far from the case.

I have yet to discern if this loss of knowledge and really good thinking and understanding not being a new reality is comforting or not. A high school economics summer school class that introduced the “pure flow of information” leading to good decisions. Searching Google for “pure flow of information” my blog pops up a fair amount where I’m pointing to Nobel Prize for economists work around the internet and this, how to manage a vast flow of information, disillusionment with the lack of reality of the pure flow, and more. The thought I keep having, is along the lines of, “I thought we had so much more than we do”, then weighing true repositories like the Bodlian Library and the Library of Congress and their seemingly vast collections. The vacillating perspective of “we have only a tiny slice of what we have known” and “we have far more than any one person or collection of people can know” are a tension I’m very slowly learning to live with as a viable tension while still believing in the pure flow.

Watched

Mostly I’ve been rewatching movies and shows. But, the newest season of Endeavour, The Young Wallander, Van Der Valk have scratched an itch that I can always use more of.

Like many, I’ve stumbled into and really been enjoying Ted Lasso which has been a really good cultural palate cleanser to the mess going on in the world who want to lead by hate and lies.

Listened

Through a Tidal recommendation I found Brian Bromberg’s album Bromberg Plays Hendrix, which is decently good, but Hey Joe really stuck out and I’m really enjoying it (particularly on Tidal and really wishing they had a Master (MQA) version of it).

My podcast listening slowed as I shifted my morning breakfast routine from a 15 minute making a black bean bowl (black beans, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, fresh turmeric, Canadian bacon, sometimes grape tomatoes (cooked so they are jammy), and with a farm fresh egg on top). The current is thick yoghurt and fresh fruit, sometimes with muesli on top and a perfect bar. I’ve also gone back to doing a coffee walk in the morning to fetch coffee (this ensures I get out for a decent walk at least once a day) rather than preferably making coffee at home. This shift from 15 minutes to under 5 minutes knocked out my usual podcast listening time.

Food

I finally tried some gluten free baking. A peach and blueberry clafoutis was a good pleasure, but the gluten free Dutch baby went all sorts of wrong.

Play

I’m about a third of the way through Ghosts of Tsushima and a bit stalled. This game is a really gem. It is utterly beautiful (yet insanely bloody, which is something I often steer clear of) with an open map, good game play, and a tiny bit educational and has lead to reading understanding feudal Japan and samurai culture. I am a big fan of Sucker Punch’s prior series, Infamous, and Ghosts expands on what I really like about their games.

Productivity

The past few weeks I’ve been needing to find a different and improved method for my note taking method and workflow. I have long used NValt and it stopped working, but since it is just a front end for many (1,200+) markdown text files, I can use any markdown editor or text editor. But, what is missing is a loose wrapper around these short snippets of somethingness, collections of quotes, lists of interesting words with definitions, drafts for blog posts, other stubs of ideas (fiction and non-fiction), and also finished items I’ve started in NValt and then using small apps loosely joined method of doing things I use focussed writing tools for longer pieces that work with markdown files natively and can output to many other formats.

This exploration I pulled from here and posted it as its own piece (in very rough form) as Rebuilding My Note Taking and Management System and Model on Saturday.



July 7, 2018

The Sidebar is the New Back Bar

Back in the days when I had time to hangout with friends for drinks, many places had a “back bar” that was more quiet and private.

I haven’t been in the habit of posting here as much as I used to, but I still am putting things into Pinboard and somethings I flag with “linkfodder”, which is my relatively unique tag to pull out favorites. I use the API from Pinboard to pull the linkfodder tagged items into the sidebar here. Occasionally I annotate them and that is brought here as well. This sidebar mini blog feels sort of like the back bar, which is a little more quiet and calm and you can see some things of interest to me (if that is of interest to you) and track them down.



The Writing Ache

It has been a while since I’ve written here, or over at Personal InfoCloud. I have an even larger stack of things in my writing queue and it is getting to the point that I am aching to write.

Shift Happened

I have a few things I really want to and need to get out. One is to take the Shift Happened series I started and made it through 4 of 16 I have outlined and I am finding the shifts myself and others saw and were living and advising through, happened to far more and they are really lost and acting as if these shifts never happened. Still.

Complexity / Social Lenses

The other thing is my Complexity / Social Lenses are now numbering in the 70s and I need to write to frame the core 12 or so I often use as half-day or full-day workshops to help others see through the fog of complexity with social and other complex environments they work and live within. I have been hoping to get these into a book, but the timing either wasn’t right or the environment (publishing company) shifted.

Information Strata

The last of these is around information depth, which I started relabelling Information Strata, that I have been including in client work and as one of the lenses related to social objects / socially mediated objects (depending if it was Jyri Engstrom or Karin Knor Cetina as one’s entry point). Information strata gets back to the core point and realization in the early 2000s that having a discussion with the subject in clear sight drastically improves the depth of the conversation, reduces errors from lack of clarity or misunderstanding, and improve conversational (information sharing) efficiency. Somehow today that basic concept is really lost and people accept the poor communication patterns as a given or don’t think to investigate a better way.

Over the last 10 years or so I started using a point system around the layers inhibiting a person from having a clear view of what is being discussed. This concept of having a clear understanding and isn’t new, it was something I learned as a communication major in many dog years ago as an undergrad. I need to do a decent write-up of this to have something to point to when helping others. I’m also realizing Info Strata leads right back to the “[Come to Me Web]” and related matters where the importance of bringing things related near has prime importance when building a service and system for someone to live and work with.

Now what I need is time and stability at the same time to get these going. Oh, and to get the ever bumped side project moving forward again.



March 13, 2016

PubPub from MIT Media Lab

I just stumbled into MIT Media Lab’s PubPub service that is an open platform for writing new research journals. It has some nice collaborative features, versioning, embraces markdown at its core, and inline discussions.

Social Circles

One of the pieces I really want to explore is how its social dimensions work. My my take on different things I write and have interest in have different social circles that I want to ping and get feedback from. But, there are subjects and groups / communities that I really would like to participate in as well. This is a more complicated and complex area that really needs work and focus. Google+ tried this but deeply flubbed it as their circles are based on individual’s perspectives and not socially constructed realities (knowing the boundaries of who is involved in a circle and having really solid social interaction design around that is a basic requirement, something nobody at Google seemed to consider nor have basic foundations in social sciences to understand this basic need). For PubPub, getting these constructs right would be really helpful and make it a really powerful service and platform.

Other than PubPub

PubPub is fairly close to what I was hoping Poetica would become and Draft app. I’ve been thinking about this for The Lenses and its subset, Social Lenses writings. Also just being able to write blogs and get knowledgeable sanity checks on them from others before posting. This is something I was trying to do with Draft app and had some success with people who are familiar with markdown (which is most people I interact with), but alerting people or subsets of groups that there is something I would really like early looks at and feedback is where it falls a bit short. It also seems like Nate Kontny is now more focussed on Highrise (light CRM service that he took over and now is CEO) than Draft. Also with the purchase of Poetica and its imminent shuttering, I’m looking at other options.

Some of what I have interest in can be found in Medium, but I’d rather just syndicate there, given their use policy. Medium is a really nice content creation platform, with some okay drafting with feedback capabilities, but I’m looking for a bit more. I also really prefer Markdown approach these days as it keeps things really light and I can edit and work on writing from most any platform I have with me or at my access, even if I’m lacking a network connection (which is something that is really helpful for focus for me actually).

One PubPub Wish

The one thing I wish PubPub had was an open source version where I owned the platform and could run it on a server of my choosing. But, it looks like this is in the plans (a few bugs need to be squashed on their way to this), as the PubPub About page states.


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