Tag: BelshawBlackOps (page 2 of 2)

[INCOMING] #BelshawBlackOps14

TL;DR: as I’ve done for the past few years, I’ll be spending some time away from personal email, blogging and social networking during the months of November and December. You can see what I got up to last year here.


‘Belshaw Black Ops’ is the name Paul Lewis gave to my annual time away from personal email, blogging, social networking, and writing my weekly newsletter. The aim is to recharge, both mentally and physically. Due to Seasonal Affective Disorder and living at 55.2° latitude, I’m a different version of Doug in the winter months.

This will be my fourth year of ‘black ops’ and it will be the second time I’ve spent two months away from email, blogging and social networking. I’ll be reading more books, watching more films, and generally pursuing longer-form, less emotionally-draining things. Boone Gorges summed it up well when he said:

A life spent on Twitter is a death by a thousand emotional microtransactions. I want to be pouring these energies into my family and my friends and my work.

Unlike Boone, I’m not saying ‘goodbye’, but merely ‘adieu’ for a defined period.

So if you need to contact me in November/December, first think about whether it can wait until January 1st. If you decide that it can’t, then you can find me in the places I hang out for work (Skype/IRC, mostly). It’s also not hard to find/guess my Mozilla email address.

Oh, and if you’ve got any recommended reading/watching to add to my list, please do add a comment below!

Image CC BY-NC-SA Stéfan

What I got up to during #BelshawBlackOps12 (and what 2013 has in store)

TL;DR version: Best of Belshaw 2012 is now available as an ebook, I felt a little lonely working from home without interaction via social networks, and I’m trying to travel less in 2013.


The difference between working in an office or classroom versus working from home is fairly obvious. When I was in the former I had constant, relevant co-located conversations about work and related areas; in the latter the only occasional interactions I get are not work related. Of course, this is mitigated to a great degree by social networks and the calls I have as part of my working day.

What happens, though, when you consciously try to minimise your use of social networks – as I did last month? You get a bit lonely when you’re at work, that’s what. I really missed the continual partial attention and wealth of information that comes down the tubes, especially via Twitter.

Happily, though, when I wasn’t working I also wasn’t using social networks and therefore spent a lot more time being both physically and mindfully ‘present’ with my family. Which was nice. I played a lot of games, especially FIFA12 (with my son) and OLO (with anyone within my general proximity). I went down to the wonderful beach at Druridge Bay more times in December than I did in the rest of 2012, I reckon. Most of that was down to investing in Scandanavian waterproofs for the children.

I read a lot. Whilst I didn’t quite make it to 10 non-fiction books, I did manage to read seven, which isn’t too bad. I also succumbed and re-invested in the Amazon Kindle ecosystem both for myself and my wife. I feel a bit guilty given the vendor lock-in but, honestly, it makes reading on an ereader a stress-free experience. In addition to the fiction books I read or re-read (including Crime & Punishment and a Jack Reacher novel), I read the following. I’ve ordered them from best to worst:

  1. The Connected Family – Seymour Papert
  2. Society of the Spectacle – Guy Debord
  3. Reality is Broken – Jane McGonigal
  4. The Signal and the Noise – Nate Silver
  5. The Bed of Procrustes – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  6. A Whack on the Side of the Head – Roger von Oech
  7. Slow Reading – John Miedena

The book I was looking forward to reading most, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, I didn’t get a chance to read due to the Norovirus paying a visit.

What I didn’t do in December was write any more of my ebook The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. I’ll be prioritising that in the first months of this year. What was I doing instead? Putting together my Best of Belshaw 2012! You can download it for free:

So what’s in store for me in 2013? Well, hopefully a lot less travel for one thing. I followed a similar strategy in my first six months at Mozilla as I did with my first year at JISC infoNet – getting out and meeting as many people as possible. Now, though, over and above the things I’ve already committed to, some essential travelling, and the inevitable really interesting stuff, I’ll be focusing on my work around Web Literacies and Webmaker badges.

Of course, 2013 will also be the year of world domination for Open Badges. Oh, and the year of Linux on the desktop. 😉

What are you up to in 2013?

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