Long time no see. There’s been a creeping inevitability to 2020, hasn’t there? From music festivals and a friend’s wedding cancelled back in March/April, we’re in a more known situation but not favourable to big plans. I hope this impingement on social freedoms has served you well, and I wish everyone safety, security and calm in navigating the conditions.
The silver lining, for me has been open time that would have otherwise been spent on trains. There’s been an opportunity for reflection and reading. Since I’m not chatting with y’all down the pub, I’m making this another outlet to let thoughts form and flow.
I’m going to experiment in Weeknotes as a format for the rest of the year. A collection of links, thoughts ands reflections of things that are going on. Consider this week 1, and a commitment. I’m scheduling the posts now. Best fill them!
📯 From the World
The Regenerative Life
I’ve been slowly reading The Regenerative Life. The book sets our nine social roles that we can find ourselves in across our lifetime. It uses foundational frameworks and principles alongside journal entries to highlight their interplay. Carol invites us to take it personally, and instead of devouring this book I’m processing it slowly as the principles are worth sitting with.
One of the core concepts is the Levels Framework for seeing the world and our work in different ways. This progresses from Value Exchange, to Arrest Disorder, to Do Good, to Regenerative Life. It reminds me of The Dreyfus Model, in which we can handle increasing levels of abstraction and complexity. And Carol alludes to this as learning a new skill forces us down the scale. Yet, it’s more like improving the quality of our consciousness, or meta-cognition.
Carol warns: “By using the levels of paradigm as a framework that describes a hierarchy of value and potential, we avoid the mistake of treating these different perspectives as equivalent. They do not represent a menu of options that we can put on or take off at will as though no consequences follow from our choice. It matters very much which paradigm we adopt.” By bringing a higher-order level of thinking, we create different results. Journal entries highlight seeing social dynamics being at, typically, the Arrest Disorder level, and thinking outside the yes/no dynamic breaks down the impasse.
I do find myself getting caught in loops that are very much trying to Arrest Disorder. Opening up to wider patterns is something I’d like to cultivate. The basic principles described in the book help open up that space. Inside, Outside, All-Around sums it up. By finding what is irreducible, and seeing the relationships between things we gain a much broader perspective of the impact we’re having on a web of connections. The discussion with Gordon White gets into the details here.
Sevdaliza on Repeat
I’m going to quote thejaymo on this one: “The new Sevdaliza album is transcendent. I’ve listened to it 3 times already today.” Thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t listened to an album on repeat like this for a while.
Regenerative Life Reflections: Retro
Moving from “start-up” to “scale-up” phases of a project leads us to having a weird lack of feedback. We know that our products work. We know our process works. Things are running smoothly from sprint to sprint. Yet, as we feel more comfortable working on larger projects we are loosing connection with the impact that our work has. After discussing that last month, I tabled it during our retro.
Using the sailboat format as a starting point, I asked what our goal was. We got things that were on Value Exchange (diverse revenue) and Arrest Disorder (website reliability) levels. I raised the stakes by asking what is valuable to the customer, and presented ideas on the Do Good level (conceive baby, walk down stairs as result of supplement).
I was aiming for thinking at a Regenerative level, but I think I missed them mark. I’ll settle for the smaller reframe that I achieved. Carol warns Do Good leading to sounding like a zealot. Half the team were onboard, but the quieter half, I’m less sure. Being more attentive to the potential for disconnect is something to look at and follow-up with.
At the Do Good, reaching more customers is an extension of this. Regenerative thinking is hard, as we are asked to be “radically particular”. Which is hard in front of a virtual whiteboard in an hour. The Tech role is naturally a facilitator, and it’s worth reflecting on what can be done.
🔥 Alchemy of Creation
- I’m doing Weeknotes now. May write about this more in future. I’ve been using Roam and Nat Eliason’s process was the last of many nudges to just start.
- I bought a guitar practice amp recently. Now have decided that I’m likely to want to do keyboard based stuff in the near future. We’ll see whether I stick in that direction. I’ve been putting aside some time each week for creative work and have been rebuilding my process from scratch. My kit has been scattered and moved due to working from home. Having the piano keyboard in a different room is helping, my practice is taking shape even if I don’t have anything to show right how.
📍 A Point on the Timeline
London, 28th August 2020
I went to the Tate Modern and then walked up from the river to Kings Cross. London is London. Definitely felt quiet at the Tate, and on the roads, but there were still people about. I did the permanent collections, and it’s interesting what leaps out on different visits.
A lot of street photography caught my attention this time. These images are normal scenes. I was reminded of the days of disposable cameras; knowing you have to use them up by the end of the trip. Pictures of shop windows and people sleeping ensue. As normal as these scenes are, they were definitely not from 2020. I went down with a camera, and I went out and took more pictures than I otherwise would have. Just like looking back at photos of the 70s evokes human similarity and temporal difference, looking back at the streets of 2020 is going to become unfamiliar to us.
The other series that really stood out was by Claudia Andujar, who had spent time with Yanomami communities in the Amazon. Logging, deforestation and exposure to the loggers introduced diseases like measles to these peoples. And, as a result vaccination. Yanomami customs over names have taboos of secrecy, so the images show the numbers they were identified with during vaccination. A simple yet striking overlapping of worlds.