You the User
You the User

a little writing, a little code, a little design

Year end notes

on 1 January 2012

Just: Lessons and thoughts from two thousand and eleven

“As emotions were the first motives which induced man to speak, his first utterances were tropes (metaphors). Figurative language was the first to be born, proper meanings were the last to be found.” Rousseau, Essay on Origins of Languages

– You don’t have to go ‘off the grid’ to be quiet. Knowing when to speak and when not to speak is your greatest weapon.

– I’ve started reading a hundred things but have only finished a couple of them.

– I know a man who lives in a grid. A framework of time that he considers well spent, less so and time wasted. A strict marking system analysing the worthiness of actions, endeavours, thought, how every moment is spent – day and night (slumber and dreaming do not escape). Everything is marked. Enjoyment is marked. Travel is marked. Conversation is marked. Nothing is marked.

His view on the world is as though through a periscope. Sometimes pointed up, sometimes down, or left, or right. His progress within the grid is played straight back to him through his mind’s eye. He always carefully considers how his peers will react and what they will think of him.

Each side of the grid he lives within is marked enabling him to rate and graph any activity at any moment across time (day and night). Marks are allocated at the days end and totalled up at the end of the week. This is how he lives.

– A big, tough lesson of 2011 is having the strength both to rise above things and to know which things really deserve your response or attention. Sometimes you just have to be a stronger person and ignore the troll. And while you’re at it don’t seek attention – you probably don’t deserve it.

– Timely response is fine but there are 100 other people chomping to/ready to wade in. I’m making more time for reflection that doesn’t always actually involve any kind of response. Again you got to know when to be big enough and keep your mouth shut.

– You can move from an audience of 5 to 5000 very quickly. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change anything. You can move back from 5000 to 5 pretty quickly too. You are still pretty much the same person.

– If you are going to call yourself something and then promote yourself as the bee’s knees at it, you better bloody actually be good at it.

– All your successes are too easy and maybe are just things that came to you without real challenges. Next year I’m going to try and have some success at things that I’m not that good at.

– I dip in and often dip right out. Pick up a few tidbits to digest later. I never reach or search for the edges, I just look at what is in front of me and often there is something good. Something useful. I never worry or concern myself with the imperceptible edges, I just move along with a toe outstretched in the wind. Balancing gently.

– ebook reading: What happens when highlights get so multiple, so many. How will it scale? When reading a fairly learned not overly popular book by noticing other people’s annotations you can feel the other people reading the title – as if they might be reading it at the same time, all within a digital hair breath of each other. (We don’t even get this close to each other in a library – though maybe we did at rows of school desks.)

– Main lesson of first forays into home rather than school learning for my seven year old son: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin

– Names. Never work for anyone who can’t get your name right. I actually appreciate people getting my name wrong (as they repeatedly do). It tells me exactly what I need to know about their ability to listen or read what’s in front of them. Helpful self-filtering.

– I have tried to cutback my noise and output. Trying not to make noise just because I feel a bit insecure. At times I’ve made noises just for the sake of it and have often regretted it and just felt empty and underwhelmed. My intention is make any noise short, compact, interesting and worthwhile. As is obvious to anyone with a connection to the web, a rare skill.

– It’s difficult to ‘follow’ and ‘strive and pine’ to be as ‘great’ as those other fantastic design hero people but much harder to consistently just accept oneself and ‘follow’ and ‘strive and pine’ to be as good/great/decent as you possibly can be.

– Those people you greatly admire are plain human and as chaotic and equally as capable of being idiots as you. And you often also discover that some of them really aren’t that nicer people.

– Face up to it. Not everyone is that nice. Expecting them to be is unrealistic and “Oh come on let’s all get along” doesn’t work. Stop trying to sew everyone into a happy happy patchwork of getting along. Anyway things would be very boring. Pick your friends because you like them. Respect indifference and know but ignore your enemies. The hardest one is the indifference.

– An idea is great and satisfying but how do you make it into something beyond the idea. It’s about being able to think beyond the getting stuck. Often it only takes a small nudge forward.

– Another big lesson has been where to work. Not just the search for decent projects and decent companies, but increasingly actual people, my relationship to them and my loyalty to them have become contributing factors when choosing who, where and how to work.

– If you run your own business or do your own thing: don’t be greedy and avoid insane workloads.

– Next thing for smart ‘UX’ designers: product ownership. Been mumbling about it to whoever will listen since early spring.

– 2012 is going to be the year of camera as prototyping tool.

– Bruce Sterling is my most interesting man of the year.

– Talentless shits will follow trends, but good people will continue to make it up as they go along (and more importantly not pretend to know what is going to happen next). (via Bashford)

– Do less and whatever you chose to do do it more carefully.

– Robert Frost believed that his poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” included everything he knew, encapsulated all his knowledge. Are we capable of producing or doing something that encapsulates all our knowledge or should everything we do be bestowed with that honour?

Frost’s poem:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

– This has been a big year for friends and some of the best things I have managed have involved them. I dedicate my year to them.


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