Open Thinkering


Tag: writing

First version of report published sharing findings from Zappa project user research

Illustration of a bear, fox, badger, and squirrel looking into a fire. Taken from the Bonfire website.

Over the last month, I’ve been working with the Bonfire team to perform some initial user research on the Zappa project. The aim of the project, funded by a grant from the Culture of Solidarity Fund, is to empower communities with a dedicated tool to deal with the coronavirus “infodemic” and online misinformation in general.

We ended up speaking with 11 individuals and organisations, and have synthesised our initial user research into the first version of a report which is now available.

📄 Click here to access the report

Reflecting on #100DaysToOffload

Last April I completed a #100DaysToOffload challenge. The results can be found here.

Although I did not do the 100 days consecutively, the expectation to write one hundred blog posts within a calendar year focused the mind somewhat. I wrote about things that I’m sometimes hesitant, for one reason or another, to post here — or that I sometimes include in commentary over at Thought Shrapnel.

As I documented in the first weeknote of this year, my past year review of 2021 led me to a decision to avoid spending time on Twitter and LinkedIn. This was mainly to do with how they make me feel; in the case of Twitter it makes me angry, and in the case of LinkedIn it makes me sad.

Mastodon and the Fediverse I feel more neutral about. Posting there seems like a good place for semi-ephemeral thoughts, but there’s nothing like publishing something in a space that you own. In addition, writing something on a blog lends an expectation of coherence and attention to spelling/grammar that isn’t always there on social media.

So, as with much of what I write here, this is a note to myself to lower the bar for the kinds of things that can appear here inbetween my regular weeknotes. It’s useful, for example, to be able to immediately respond with a blog post when someone asks how to plan a workshop. Or to remind myself how I felt a year after a friend died. Or perhaps to remind myself that side projects are worth doing.

Is there anything that you, increasingly-rare visitor to this forest clearing, would like me to write about? Let me know in the comments below 😊

Inputs and outputs

Abstract image of purple and blue lights

When I signed up for the #100DaysToOffload challenge in June last year, I honestly thought I’d be done by Christmas. A few posts per week? Easy.

If I’d included weeknotes, which I compose every weekend, I’d perhaps have finished on time. But, for some reason, I decided not to — thinking, perhaps, that it was somehow ‘cheating’ to do so. Whatever the reason, I’ve realised that I haven’t been writing as much as usual during the pandemic.

In general, I find the quantity of my outputs are determined by the quantity and variety of my inputs. The more my information diet and everyday activities revolve around the same things, the less I’m likely to compose something new. I miss travelling in that respect. Not only does it open the mind, but meeting new people and having serendipitous conversations explains the arc of my career in a way that my LinkedIn profile does not.

As a member of the tight-knit Team Belshaw, travelling also gives me the kind of freedom from familial obligations that allows my mind to roam a little. I met my wife at university aged 18, so I’ve never truly lived the bachelor lifestyle. Conferences, events, client meetings, and mountain training enable me to travel both physically and mentally to other places in a way not afforded by other means of escape.

In particular, there’s something about travelling on planes, looking out the window, that gives one perspective on life. Given the environmental impact, I can’t see myself wanting to travel via that method in the future unless I can avoid it, so I think I’ll have to make do with the view from the top of mountains. The added benefit, of course, is that walking to the top of them not only provides exercise, but gives one time to think.

So, on reflection, it’s no wonder the quantity of my outputs have diminished in proportion to the variety of my inputs during a global pandemic. I’m very much looking forward to a bit of travel as the lockdown in the UK eases. Hopefully, that will have a knock-on effect on both the quality and quantity of my writing here, and elsewhere.

This post is Day 96 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at Image by Anton Maksimov juvnsky.