What I did this week:
The last few days before a product lunch as always intense. It’s when everyone realises all the things we didn’t quite finish and just gets on with making stuff happen. I love it. I love the pressure and pace of work. I thought about that saying about work expanding to fit the time available but I don’t think that’s fair. I think the earlier, slower work is all about the thinking and learning that makes the later work go faster.
The last session of the Service Design course I’ve been doing is coming up so I’ve built a prototype of an asynchronous project-based learning course. The idea is for people to undertake projects such as building their own website in which they learn to do that as they progress through the course but just as importantly, finish the course with a website, or whatever other tangible outcome. So much training training fails to fill the gap between learning and applying the learning, so I’ve interested in ways of filling that gap. It made me think a bit about my ideas around a social enterprise for teaching life skills.
What I thought about this week:
What changes in digital culture can tell us about digital work
I’ve been thinking recently about how the way we do digital work might not be that great. I’ve been wondering about some of the process-based practices we use, where they come from, and why they feel so immature and ineffective. I thought it might just be because our ways of working digitally haven’t been around that long, but there’s quite a lot of thinking, especially from Bolter, about the ways in which technology have affected culture, so I wondered if the same process might be happening with how we approach digital work.
Weeknotes as reflective practice
I’ve been writing weeknotes for almost five years. They’ve changed purpose over that time and become part of my practice in improving my understanding and so my behaviours. For me, weeknotes are part of the ‘reflective observation’ step in Kolb’s learning cycle, a chance to consider the ‘concrete experiences’ of the week. The ‘abstract conceptualisation’ phase seems to happen more subconsciously and is probably due some optimisation. It might be a bit meta talking about weeknotes in my weeknotes but it’s all about the meta-learning.
On the outside
I’ve had five run-ins with society’s authority figures since becoming a digital nomad. I take this as sign of my growing realisation of myself as an outsider. Watts talks about the outsider and it’s role in society, and how it attracts the suspicion of the mainstream. My understanding of my place is the world is changing.
What I read this week:
I read some design thinking stuff, and a bit of social design stuff, because I think I might use Design Thinking as one of the innovation management methods in my dissertation. The main stance of social design seems to be a critique of human-centred design for putting the user at the centre and not considering the environment, systems and structures that act on them, which I can’t help but agreeing with. They are the design equivalent of humanism vs. post-humanism.
I found this chapter on Digital Bricolage which “investigates how the concept of bricolage translates to contemporary digital artists and tools.” I think it might hold some useful ideas for solving the problem of too much structure and process in digital work. The blog post I mentioned above is an attempt at a quick summary of why our digital ways of working are so much about process, because they have followed in the footsteps of digital culture as it became ‘databased’ (organised, structured to fit a schema, etc.).
The most important conversation
I listened to the Modern Wisdom podcast with Thomas Moynihan on his new book on the history of existential risk. It’s a mind-opener. It has some really thought-provoking examples like where is the biggest gap in effects; between peace and the annihilation of 99% of the human population, or between annihilation of 99% and 100% of the human population. Our intuitive thinking makes jump to saying the first option because it looks like the biggest gap, but that’s wrong. 100% is the extinction of the human species, the end, no way forward, no future. That has a far greater effect than the death of 99% of the human population because it means 1% continues. And aside from existential risk, which is clearly a big enough to be thinking about, they talk a bit about how we struggle to get past applying old ways of thinking to new things, which is one of my rants about digital transformation in organisations.