Roden Explorers Club

“When I began that Nakasendō walk, I set a number of arbitrary rules. One was that I had to take someone’s portrait by 10 a.m. each morning. Or else what? Or else I was a dope, a hack, and I would be forced to self-flagellate my way through the rest of the day. This turned out to be a great forcing function.”

Process: Words and Pictures and Walking (Roden)

I love Roden Explorers Club. It’s a newsletter from Craig Mod, a brilliant writer-walker-thinker-photographer type.

People can’t scale up

Deepfakes. Targeting children on Instagram. Cancel culture. Bad YouTube recommendations for kids. Constant surveillance culture. Those same video cameras getting hacked. The fall of journalism and the rise of Buzzfeed. Mass Whatsapp hysteria. The fall of creativity online. The spread of anti-vaccination information on social media platforms. An increase in anxiety and depresion due to the use of social media. Facebook moderators dying on the job. Apps circumventing your privacy settings. No file ownership. Scammy Amazon reviews. Yelp extortion. Gaming Google results. Data rot. Bad self esteem on Instagram. Weird Brand Twitter. Social Credit Monitoring. And, of course, TayBot.

Why is it like this? We took this beautiful thing with so much promise and trashed it. Why are WE like this?

Because we as people are terrible at grasping web scale in our minds. People cannot scale up like machines. We can’t possibly think through all of the consequences of creating behemoth sites and systems that impact billions of people. No one has so far, and no one will in the future.

Humans are not web scale (Normcore Tech)

Building schedules through timeboxing

There are two types of schedule, which I’ll call the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour. […]

When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule (Paul Graham)

I’m riding the fence between a manager’s schedule and a maker’s schedule through aggressive timeboxing. I block off my mornings for focused time (typically from 9am – 12pm) knowing that my afternoons will be chopped up by interruptions and meetings.

Whenever possible, I try to stack my meetings — often on a Tuesday or Thursday — so I can drop another block of “Get Stuff Done” time on my calendar for Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.

Colleagues who don’t understand timeboxing get confused — “why is your calendar fully booked?” — but it’s for a reason: to make sure there’s protected time to do the deep work.

My timeboxing estimates aren’t perfect. If a task takes longer to accomplish I’ll extend the time or add more time elsewhere in the week. But the exercise itself, of carving the hours out of my daily schedule, is incredibly useful.

United States Web Design System

USWDS is a library of code, tools, and guidance to help government teams design and build fast, accessible, mobile-friendly government websites backed by user research and modern best practices. USWDS 2.0 is an important update to the design system — it introduces a powerful toolkit of new features to help make creating useful, consistent digital services faster, simpler, and more fun.”

U.S. government… issues… aside, I appreciate that the Digital Service puts out their work like this for other organizations — including other governments — to learn from.

Related: Canada’s Web Experience Toolkit (WET)

24 ways: The advent calendar for web geeks

24 ways is the advent calendar for web geeks. For twenty-four days each December we publish a daily dose of web design and development goodness to bring you all a little Christmas cheer.”

24 Ways

The annual tradition of 24 Ways has chugged along since the nascent days of Web 2.0. Every December, a group of web designers & developers come together to share useful tips and tidbits for their peers. It’s a fun trip down memory lane and you may learn a thing or two along the way.

P.S. Merry Christmas…!

Rules for writing, according to famous writers

“Most writers have their own special “rules for writing,” even if they don’t talk about them. A lot can be learned by reading about other authors’ approaches to writing.”

40 Writers’ “Rules for Writing” (Authors Publish)

A roundup of “rules for writing” from 40 authors.

Good writing is table stakes for the future of work. I’m not a great writer, but I’m trying to improve every day, usually by learning and borrowing from others.

Micro optimizations for WordPress

“Most of us have heard of the generic advice – use smaller images and don’t forget to compress them, avoid too many plugins, pick a faster host, leverage browser caching. But if we’ve done all that and want to improve further, what next? How do we further optimise our WordPress websites to boost our speed, improve our responsivity and encourage Google to rank us higher?”

10 Micro Optimisations for a Faster WordPress Website (Jem Jabella)

Found this useful compilation of WordPress speed optimization tips while cleaning up my Todoist backlog.

A good sentence

“A good sentence imposes a logic on the world’s weirdness. It gets its power from the tension between the ease of its phrasing and the shock of its thought slid cleanly into the mind. A sentence, as it proceeds, is a paring away of options. Each added word, because of the English language’s dependence on word order, reduces the writer’s alternatives and narrows the reader’s expectations. But even up to the last word the writer has choices and can throw in a curveball. A sentence can begin in one place and end in another galaxy, without breaking a single syntactic rule.”

How to write the perfect sentence (The Guardian)

Retaining more of what you read

Knowledge will only compound if it is retained. In other words, what matters is not simply reading more books, but getting more out of each book you read.”

7 Ways to Retain More of Every Book You Read (James Clear)

From James Clear: A helpful list of tips for retaining more of what you read.

I’m giving this a shot by treating every book as if I need to write a report on it afterwards. That means a lot of note taking. I’m hopping between physical notes on steno pads and using Notion more frequently as my personal knowledge base.