Open Thinkering


Weeknote 21/2022

Jetboil stove, New Philosopher magazine and Firepot food pouch on grass.

I was supposed to send out the latest edition of my monthly Thought Shrapnel newsletter this morning. The reason I didn’t was because I’ve barely written anything there over the past month. I thought about sending an “I didn’t write anything this month” email, but it seemed pointless. The weird thing is that I didn’t particularly make a decision not to write anything there, it just sort of happened. It’s weird how you can just lose energy for something for a period of time. It’ll come back.

Perhaps some of the energy and time which I usually dedicate to Thought Shrapnel has been spent watching the final weeks of the football season, as well as gaming. As I’ve mentioned in previous weeknotes, I’ve been trying to improve our home internet connection as well, and have made some progress this week. My experiments with a 5G router showed that, actually, 4G speeds can be pretty quick compared to the relatively slow speeds I get through my VDSL line. So I’ve bought a 4G router (actually two, the better one is arriving today) and I’m… just using that in my home office.

This week, I’ve written two posts here — one on how Sociocracy (consent-based decision making) works in our co-op, and one which puts some (philosophical) context around my decision to disable my LinkedIn account. As I was mentioning to Laura earlier this week, I used to try and make decisions in a way that other people might want to follow. These days, a year after checking out of therapy, I don’t really care what others choose to do. I’m documenting what I and the people who I choose to associate with do, and others can do likewise if they want.

Work-wise this week I enjoyed our WAO co-op day on Thursday. This is actually a half-day each month where we get to the things that aren’t covered in our weekly meetings. As we’ve just had our financial year end, there was some discussion about spreadsheets and money. Thankfully, the eyes of John and Bryan (who is currently dormant but happily came along anyway) don’t glaze over when it comes to this stuff. Between VAT, tax, which money goes in which year, and other dark arts I’m pleased that we have talents in different areas!

As we tend to be socially progressive but financially conservative, we had a small surplus over and above that which we’d accounted for. Perhaps inspired by the most recent series of Taskmaster, which I’ve been watching with my wife, Hannah, I therefore set my fellow co-op members a challenge. By June 13th, Laura, John, Anne (our intern-turned-collaborator) and I, have a limited budget to:

  1. Buy a domain name with ‘wao’ at the start (e.g.
  2. Spend five hours putting something there
  3. What we create needs to be weird and/or useful

Note that it’s a ‘challenge’ and not a competition. We all win by doing this, and I suspect that something will come out of this process which we end up retaining. For my part, I ended up burning through all of my hours on Friday morning and early afternoon. I’m looking forward to showing what I’ve done!

Given our podcast guests last week and this week asked to postpone to subsequent weeks, Laura and I decided to record one with just us two talking about hosting our own infrastructure (or not) based on Free and Open Source Software (FLOSS). This can sometimes be a difficult topic to discuss, mainly because the world we operate within assumes that because our co-op is called ‘We Are Open’ we exclusively use FLOSS tools. This isn’t the case, in fact, although we do use some. There are many types and shades of openness and sometimes being overly-fastidious about open technologies can prevent open practices. The episode should be available soon.

Other than that, I’ve been involved with some client work for Participate and Greenpeace, as well as having a chat with a couple of people who might want to work with us. I’ll hopefully be able to talk more about our involvement with one project next week; the other is more of a slow-burn. There’s yet another that a fellow CoTech member has mentioned they might like our help with, but we don’t know too much about that yet. Combined with our existing work, our upcoming work with Aaron and LocalGov Drupal, and maybe the return of some work with Julie’s Bicycle, we may have a busy lead-in to the summer.

This coming week is half-term for our kids. There’s also two days of public holiday to celebrate (or plot to get rid of) our current monarch. My daughter came home with a commemorative mug, given to every student in her school, and paid for by the local council. The charity shops will be full of them next week, I should imagine. I’m not employed so don’t get paid time off for these shenanigans, but it’s school holidays so I’ll choose to take them off anyway. Here’s not the place to rant further, but to have a royal family in 2022 is tantamount to publicly-funding celebrity influencers. I really can’t stand it.

Team Belshaw revolves around the football season and the academic year. The former is just finishing and the latter hasn’t got long left to run. We’d better get our summer holiday plans sorted out…

Photo of dinner on Friday night, which I spent out on a field somewhere with my Jetboil, a Firepot meal, and the latest issue of New Philosopher. I ended up walking for a few hours and then not camping. It turns out I just needed some time to think (and it was really windy!)

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