Open Thinkering


Weeknote 35/2021

I’m reading The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes at the moment. It’s one of those books to treasure, to read slowly, as I don’t want it to end.

Walls look like order; but more often than not a wall stands at the precise fulcrum of an imbalance in society. Most walls are only necessary as a means of defending the resources of those that have them from those that lack them. In this way, though they present themselves as mechanisms of security, they are in fact tools of oppression.

It alternates between Hayes going on his own journey of trespass and his well-researched history of how we came to a situation where much of the land in England is owned, fenced-off, and labelled ‘private’. Last night, I read the chapter about links between slave colonies and the kind of properties now owned by the National Trust. To say that our notions of Englishness are backwards and regressive is an understatement.

In these last days of the summer holidays as kids and parents start to think about school again, I’ve been thinking a lot this week about coercion and control. That’s probably because, while The Book of Trespass is my bedtime book, in the mornings I’m continuing to read Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault; when I’m out and about, I’m listening to the Painfotainment episode of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.

This week I wrote The end of vigilance as well as experimenting again with microcasts (<10 minute podcasts) over at Thought Shrapnel. For each, I took three articles I’d saved to my Pocket list and discussed them briefly:

Talking of podcasts, the one that Laura and I produce is now on its second season. You can check out the trailer which is embedded on the home page for The Tao of WAO. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!

No-one has yet asked what’s happened to I’ve been updating it intermittently of late, and in fact haven’t updated the site at all this week. Since starting the side project back in March, I’ve noticed awareness and action around the climate emergency seems to have increased exponentially. It’s still not enough, but looking at how completely screwed we are on a daily basis isn’t exactly conducive to dampening down my anxiety levels.

Work-wise, it’s been a four-day week due to the Bank Holiday. I’ve been doing digital strategy stuff for Julie’s Bicycle, renewing our contract with Participate, and chatting about my involvement in Israel EdTech Week. It looks like I’ll be presenting on openness in education.

I finally got off the waitlist for Polywork, so I’ve signed up there and made invites available to people in my networks. It seems very focused on startup culture, but I’m keen to wean myself off LinkedIn, especially now it’s owned by Microsoft. You can connect with me at:

Next week, our kids are back to school. My wife’s user research contract with the NHS 111 team has been renewed until next March, so there will be a ‘new normal’ in the Belshaw household when everyone’s busy with work during the day.

I’m off wild camping this evening with my new sleeping bag which I spent far too long researching and choosing. Sadly, my Jetboil Flash stove hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m looking forward to fitting everything into a 32-litre rucksack for the first time!

Image of seaweed at the beach near Cresswell, Northumberland. I like taking the kids there to jump on rocks and look for sea glass.

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