Weekly Musings

Thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, I'm once again taking a small step on to another path. While I do have some thoughts around technology that I want to share, I need to shift away from them for a moment or three. Mainly because those thoughts have, thanks to certain groups of people more than the technologies themselves, veered into the realm of the testy rant. And, to be honest, I don't want to reinforce the idea that I'm a testy old guy yelling at clouds.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On the Expectations of Others

Expectations. Some consider them unavoidable. Some consider them a necessary evil in life and in much of what we do. I consider them a curse.

Expectations, especially the expectations that others apply to us, can often be a barrier. A barrier to your success. A barrier to your happiness. A barrier that blocks you from trying to do what you want to do. From following your passion. From being yourself.

And, yes, I'm speaking from experience. While I've managed to deflect the expectations that others had of me with some success, I did let my guard down once. That was a mistake. A big mistake, as it turned out.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

What you're about to read probably comes across to some as a cranky old guy ranting about the younger generation. Well, maybe just a bit ...

Mainly, though, this musing is a set of thinking point that encapsulate the thoughts of a cranky old guy ranting about attitudes towards technology and attitudes towards supposed generational shifts when new technology comes into play.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Digital Natives

  1. A week or so before put fingers to keyboard to write this edition of letter, I had a long conversation with a friend who is more than a few years younger than me. At one point, he launched into what I can only describe as a barely-restrained rhapsody about the technical savvy of so-called digital natives

  2. If you're unfamiliar with the term, a digital native is someone born in 1980s and after who, if they didn't come out of womb clutching a piece of technology, they're exceedingly comfortable with modern tech.

  3. I spent more than a few minutes bursting my friend's bubble, in a effort to explain that comfort and facility with technology doesn't necessarily equal tech savviness.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

As sometimes happens in this space, what you're about to read wasn't what I had planned for this week's letter. While writing Musing 173, a portion of that edition of the letter got some gears grinding in my brain. Which, when mixed with some thoughts I've been having lately, sparked an idea that took over my attention and focus. Which finds us here.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Travelling Light

Travel's been on my mind for quite few months now. It's been over a year since my last trip — that one was within New Zealand, and it was relatively short. On top of that, it's been almost three years since I last ventured outside the borders of the island on which live. I probably won't take my next trip until sometime in 2023, and it might be another year or three after that before I summon up the pluck to venture overseas.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Don't you just love it when something you're reading lights the fuse of an idea in your mind? That happened to me recently, when my eyes focused on a section of book called Essayism by novelist Brian Dillon. It's a short volume, but one densely packed with ideas and opinions about the titular form of writing, including including some passages that helped expand upon what you're about to read.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Lists

Sometime in 1978, a thick trade paperback appeared on a coffee table at home. I think one of my parents picked it up at a chain bookstore — might have been at a Coles or a WHSmith at a local mall. The book was titled The Book of Lists. And I quickly became fascinated with it.

Looking back, I'm not entirely sure why the book fascinated me. I mean, was just a book filled with various lists of varying lengths. Lists about movies, crimes, sports, and many, many other subjects. Including a few subjects that an 11 year old probably shouldn't have known about ...

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Another week, another edition of the letter grumbling about technology ... Yet again, something fairly innocuous helped push thoughts about this subject to the front of my overworked brain, providing the catalyst for what you're about to read.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Not Embracing New Technology

About a month or so before I started tapping out this musing, a curious email landed in my inbox at The Day JobTM. The email was from the HR team, announcing an employee partner program with Samsung. A program that offered various perks, including a very generous percentage shaved off the retail price of items in the program's catalogue.

Even though I wasn't (and am still not) looking to buy one of Samsung's wares, I signed up. Just for the heck of it. Each day or two since then, a new deal or announcement lands in the work inbox. One that caught my interest was an offer for a several hundred dollars' discount on Samsung's latest folding and flip smartphones.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time around, a continuation of Musing 166. A continuation that includes a number of thoughts and ideas that I didn't or couldn't put into that edition of the letter, mainly because those thoughts and ideas were still taking shape in my brain. But thanks to an unexpected shove, those thoughts and ideas have coalesced into a form I'm ready to share.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On PKM, Redux

A couple of weeks before I started working on this musing, an email landed in my inbox. It was from an acquaintance from whom I haven't heard in a while. He was commenting on post in my public notebook about my personal knowledge management (PKM for short) setup.

That acquaintance is a librarian and, by extension, an archivist. He's also surveyed, to some degree, the PKM landscape. He mentioned that even though he's a librarian, he doesn't understand why some PKM adherents collect everything they do. And some of them collect everything.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, a mix of opinion and rant. About one of my favourite topics on which to opine and rant. I'm sure what you're about to read might annoy a few of you. But I also hope it'll spur you to think about technology, to look at technology from a slightly different angle.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Low Tech

Features in and of themselves are not a problem. It’s about adding the right features and only the right ones. — Patrick Rhone, in Enough

My relationship with and feelings toward modern technology are ... well, they're mixed. While technology is obviously useful, it can also be frustrating. It can be annoying. It can be vexing.

A lot of that is wrapped up in the complexity of the technology before us. Technology trying to do too much, packing too much into it, trying to be too much. With loads of features, functions, and extras that try to one-up the competition. That try to be a differentiator.

And yet we continue to grab at that complex technology. Embracing it seems to be wound up in the idea of value. More precisely, what people perceive to be value. You can capture that in this equation: more features = more value = more usefulness.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This edition of the letter isn't the one that I intended to send your way this week. The planned edition didn't want to let me finish it in time, so I had to switch gears. Sure, I could have skipped this week but I didn't want to break the chain of consecutively-sent letters I've been forging. So, you get this instead. I'm hoping to get back on track next week.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Being Stuck in the Middle

No matter what you're doing, what you're trying to to, or what you're learning or trying to learn, you invariably reach a point at which you've acquired a certain level of skill. A certain level of proficiency. And while advanced ability and mastery is closer than when you started, it's still far away. Sometimes, it seems impossibly far away.

I call that being stuck in the middle. The point at which you can do a few things, but you can't do them at the level you need or want to. We've all been there. I have more times than I care to admit or remember.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

In this edition of the letter, I'm continuing to go off on a slightly different tangent. While I'm looping back in the direction of writing about technology, the subject of what you're about to read is an aspect of technology that many of us tend to overlook or ignore.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Maintenance

Innovation. That's the big byword and buzzword these days, isn't it? Innovation, we're breathlessly told, is the key to our futures. It's where the cool kids play. It's the forge in which the heroes and rock stars are formed. It's the space that's most interesting, most challenging, most cutting edge. It's where you want to be if you want to make a difference.

The drive for innovation also clouds our perceptions. It warps our view of things. Everything must be innovative. If it isn't, it's boring. It's destined to fail. It's not worth mention or attention. If something's not innovative, it's worth our derision.

Stemming from that mindset, for example, are all the however many negative reviews of releases of software or apps I've read over the years. Reviews bemoaning that there was nothing new in those releases. Reviews that unleashed a torrent of negativity because developers had the sheer temerity to fix long-standing bugs, to make sure that software or app was stable, that it kept running smoothly.

How wrong those reviewers were.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Maybe it's because my own clock is ticking down. Maybe it's because thoughts around productivity have been invading my gray matter. But lately, some of my thoughts have been in orbit around the concept of time — how much we have, how much we can use, alla that sorta thing. Which informs this edition of the letter.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Time and How Much You (Really) Have

How often have you heard yourself say If only I had more time ... Those words have passed my lips in far too many instances for me to remember.

If I only had more time ... Well, you don't. Period. And all those little hacks to save a few seconds here and a few seconds there have done little, if anything, to change that. You can't make time appear out of thin air, no matter what the productivity gurus online tell you.

You have a set amount of time during the day. And to be productive, you have to understand how much time you really have. And you need to adapt to that constraint.

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