Open Thinkering


Weeknote 38/2021

Rainbow over a row of terraced houses

I’m publishing this week’s update earlier than usual so that I can reference it in the (overdue) issue #425 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. This evening I’m off camping again for the third Friday in a row, setting off walking from my home and staying overnight in some of the greatest accommodation Northumberland has to offer.

This week I’ve almost exclusively focused on the two projects we’re doing with Julie’s Bicycle. One of them involves a large commercial music organisation which I can’t talk about yet, but the other is digital transformation and the setting up a product team. We’ve got a follow-on contract from our initial one over the summer, and I’m looking forward to helping JB recruit awesome people to build stuff that will help with the climate emergency.

Talking of the climate emergency, today is the Global Climate Strike. I didn’t attend an in-person protest, primarily because of Covid. While my wife and I are both double-jabbed, we can still be carriers of the disease and infect our two children. Their respective schools are struggling to cope: our son’s school is re-implementing a mask mandate from Monday, and our daughter’s school is recommending that the whole of her year have PCR tests after 47 kids (~10% school) were off with it.

What I have done this week is make the decision not to fly any more, which I wrote about here.

This decision, of course, not only affects me professionally but personally as well. Team Belshaw enjoyed holidays in New England and Iceland in 2019 — two places it’s very difficult to get to from the UK other than by air. We’re also quite fond of Gozo, a little island just off Malta that we’ve visited six times in the last decade. Regardless, we’re going to have to find new places to holiday. At least, if I’m tagging along.

A friend mentioned on Slack that they’d like to know more about how this affects my family, saying that it comes across “potentially being anything on a spectrum from very progressive parenting and leading by example to being in the privileged position of making your own decision that others are forced to follow”. I replied that our kids have travelled to more places in their short lives than I did before the age of 30. So I’m unfazed in that regard; there are plenty of places we can go on holiday by car/train!

I like thinking things through, making decisions, and sticking to my principles. Sometimes I have to change my decisions in the light of new evidence, but I won’t compromise on my principles and values. I guess my family are inspired and resigned to my weirdness in equal measure.

There’s not much else to mention this week, other than I:

  • Had my flu jab (zero side effects, which is unusual)
  • Started working with a neighbour on bringing a Climate Café to Morpeth
  • Had an interesting chat with Ivan about Bonfire
  • Finally managed to find a time with Laura and Jess to record the second episode of the second season of The Tao of WAO. It was a really interesting conversation, as the three of us have known each other for over a decade, meeting even before we worked together at Mozilla.
  • Experienced some drama on Wednesday morning when our domain was temporarily suspended at the same time Northumbrian Water came with a jackhammer to do some work right outside my home office. My smartwatch was warning me about my stress levels…

Next week, I’m working on the two JB strands, doing some Participate KBW stuff, and perhaps working more on my Verifiable Credentials meets ActivityPub idea. I’m calling the latter ‘social verifiable credentials’ and, while the idea needs more work, you can see my progress around it here. Thanks to WAO for allowing me some internal time/budget to spend some time on it. If you’re reading this and it’s interesting to you, please get in touch!

Dithered image from a photo of a rainbow over our row of terraced houses.

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