Open Thinkering

Menu

Tag: Clay Shirky

Current optimization is long-term anachronism

I never tire of sharing this quotation by Clay Shirky:

I actually don’t want a “dream setup.” I know people who get everything in their work environment just so, but current optimization is long-term anachronism. I’m in the business of weak signal detection, so at the end of every year, I junk a lot of perfectly good habits in favor of awkward new ones.

I find that when I’m not tinkering with my digital environment, then I’m allowing my curiosity to atrophy, and I become stale in my habits.

This morning, even though I’ve been pretty happy for the last few years using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine, I’m trying searX. At the weekend, I replaced the Mi Fit app I’ve been using with my smartwatch with an open source one called Gadgetbridge.

The same goes with our physical environment. Moving things around and mixing things up keeps us sharp and prevents us from getting into a rut. I made a collage from old WIRED magazines recently, and put it on the wall next to my monitor. I’m thinking about replacing the Camus quotation above my desk and replacing it with one from Epictetus.

I agree with Shirky, who I had the pleasure of meeting this time last year: over-engineering the status quo leads to eventual irrelevance.


This post is Day 74 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

Weeknote 49/2019

This week has been all about my trip to New York for ITHAKA’s Next Wave conference. You can find my slides here. Given that I was speaking immediately before a session featuring a representative from Facebook, I took the opportunity to lift the veil on surveillance capitalism. As a result, at least one person deleted their account!

Clay Shirky was in the audience for the event which blew my mind as he’s been such an influence on my thinking over the last decade. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve ever asked someone for a selfie. I also had the privilege of meeting up with Jess Klein, friend and former Mozilla colleague who is now at the Wikimedia Foundation.

As I flew out and back in two days, there wasn’t much point in putting my body through the torture of changing timezones. That’s why you would have found me in Times Square at 04:30 on Wednesday morning taking a video to share with my family back home, who were five hours “in the future”.


Other than that, I worked on MoodleNet-related stuff on Monday and Friday (and, let’s face it, plenty other times inbetween). The team is nearly done fixing the issues that prevented us from doing a live demo at the Global Moot. I’ve been working on a draft roadmap with Mayel and other members of the team, and I’ve got a three-hour meeting scheduled with Martin Dougiamas next week to get that nailed-down.


I’m off social media now for December and have downed tools on Thought Shrapnel until 2020. However, if I was composing a newsletter this weekend, I’d include this post from Jason Kottke that he wrote a few weeks ago about how he’s learning to love winter:

Sometime this fall — using a combination of Stoicism, stubbornness, and a sort of magical thinking that Jason-in-his-30s would have dismissed as woo-woo bullshit — I decided that because I live in Vermont, there is nothing I can do about it being winter, so it was unhelpful for me to be upset about it. I stopped complaining about it getting cold and dark, I stopped dreading the arrival of snow. I told myself that I just wasn’t going to feel like I felt in the summer and that’s ok — winter is a time for different feelings.

[…]

So how has this tiny shift in mindset been working for me so far? It’s only mid-November — albeit a mid-November where it’s already been 5°F, has been mostly below freezing for the past week, and with a good 6 inches of snow on the ground — but I have been feeling not only not bad, but actually good. My early fall had some seasonally-unrelated tough moments, but I’ve experienced none of last year’s pre-winter despondency.

Jason Kottke

Great stuff. I think the run-up to last Christmas was the first one I actually enjoyed. I’m endeavouring to ensure this year will be similar.


Next week I’m working on MoodleNet from Monday to Thursday, and then attending the CoTech Winter Gathering on Friday and Saturday, rather handily located this time around in Newcastle-upon-Tyne!


Photo of me presenting from a tweet by Christine Wolff-Eisenberg

The Ontology of the Web (Or, Why I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Learning Standards) [DMLcentral]

My latest post for DMLcentral is now up.

Entitled The Ontology of the Web (Or, Why I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Learning Standards), I manage to cram in references to Clay Shirky, William James, Plato, and John Dewey into just over a thousand words.

At the beginning of 2013 the Mozilla Foundation announced its intention to work with the community to create a new learning standard for Web Literacy. I’m delighted to say that we’re well on course to release v1.0 of that standard at the Mozilla Festival in London at the end of October. In this post I want to give an overview of how I went from being initially skeptical to an enthusiastic project lead – all because of something I learned about ontology from Clay Shirky.

You can read the post in full here.

css.php