Work Writing

Writing fiction vs. blogging

Liked Fiction vs. non-fiction (

I really want to write fiction, but non-fiction keeps coming out of me.

I feel this tension sometimes: am I throwing away fiction writing time on blogging? But like Avenir, I don’t think so. Blogging is a form of thinking and processing that I don’t want to give up. It’s easier and more natural for me than writing fiction, something I do in the evening or weekends that I don’t really consider work, while fiction is always effortful. Blogging is part of (my way of) living, and it’s always a bad call to get rid of the good parts of life to make more room for fiction, much as I might be tempted sometimes.

Blogging is also a short term writing project that can be finished relatively quickly, unlike the massive scope of a book project. Shipping a blog post gives tangible evidence of thought and effort that is hard to get during the process of writing a novel.

Culture Food Learning Technology

The mindset of innovation

Liked Better eats – Works in Progress by Nick Whitaker (

The kitchen of 2020 looks mostly the same as that of 1960. But what we do in it has changed dramatically, almost entirely for the better—due to a culture of culinary innovation.

The change has come in the form of things we cannot touch or feel, but nevertheless matter: new ideas, recipes, and techniques. And that tells an equally important story: of how intangible capital has grown in importance in our lives and the wider economy — a less visible, but just as valuable, form of technological advancement as the advancements in tangible capital we made in the half-century before.

Ooh I like this framework. It’s not just the physical technology that matters, but how people use it and what they use it for.

The central thesis of Anton Howes’s Arts and Minds, a history of the Royal Society of Arts, is that the Industrial Revolution was driven by a new “ideology of innovation.” This ideology held that everything could be improved by careful tinkering and experimentation. And this ideology spread from person to person. People become more inclined to experiment when they see others doing it and succeeding.

It’s interesting to contrast the movement of advancement in cooking with the recent reports of stagnation in scientific progress and the boringization of culture. How can this mindset from the realm of the home cook expand to other disciples?

Business Entrepreneurship Featured Relationships Society

Build a reputation instead of a personal brand

Replied to The personal brand paradox (

When we position ourselves as a brand, we are forced to project an image of what we believe most people will approve of and admire and buy into. The moment we cater our creativity to popular opinion is the precise moment we lose our freedom and autonomy.

But rather than manufacturing a personal brand, why not build a reputation? Why not develop our character? Imagine what we could learn from each other if we felt worthy as we are instead of who we project ourselves to be.

I think it’s interesting to look at personal brands through the lens of insecurity. I imagine many people think of it as “positioning” or storytelling, but underneath, those are needed if you’re afraid you won’t be enough on your own.

I think it can be helpful to consider personal branding as a form of self discovery, a tool to help determine what you want to do, but there can be a risk of self containment.

Art and Design Relationships

Gifting art

Liked Reflections for 2022, Aspirations for 2023 :: Notes On Attention Paid — by Michael Bogdanffy-kriegh (Reflections for 2022, Aspirations for 2023)

I also aspire to move my production and distribution of art work into the gift, or sacred economy. This is an approach in which the work is offered up as gift. To family and friends without expectation of return, to interested individuals at whatever cost works for them. In exchange, they can give me something they have made, or make a contribution of whatever amount of money it is worth to them.

This reminds me of Lucy Bellwood’s Boat Gnome pin exchange.

I keep seeing this book Sacred Economics recommended, maybe it’s time to give it a try.

See also: Rethinking Success of Art Outside Profit

Art and Design

Guidelines for Brutalist Web Design

Bookmarked Brutalist Web Design (
Culture Learning Lifestyle

No streaming

Replied to (

This feels complementary to David Cain’s idea of a Depth Year — because without access to an endless, immediately satisfying catalog of online streaming, the amount of content you could consume would probably be a lot less, which could nudge you to give what you do take in deeper consideration.

This is something I think about occasionally because I naturally tend towards a MORE MORE MORE intake mindset. This mind garden is one tool I use to push myself towards more contemplation, and using more of my time for thinking versus reading or watching.

I also can see the appeal of taking a break from streaming with the frustration I’ve had with Tidal and the poor quality of streaming movies I’ve seen (e.g. sound sync problems in Dune, dithering in Tangled) 😉 But… someone’s suggestion in the comments of trying a month feels way more doable 😂

Personal Growth Self Care Society

Finding joy by rejecting a scarcity mindset


When we view our lives through the lens of abundance, we live in a state of flow. Success is not taken from others, but created with others.

Like the idea of “an abundance-based community” — her example is authors, who “realiz[e] that readers are not a scarce resource to be squabbled over, but a community to be cultivated. The goal is not to get people to read one book over another, but to get more people reading period.”

I dig the rising tide lifts all ships idea, even if it’s hard to remember sometimes with my own work.

[S]top saying “I’m so old,” which effectively hides another scarcity statement: “I have so little time left.”

Oops, I am guilty of this 😅 She’s got a point though…

Art and Design Websites

Defining visual minimalism

Replied to What Is Too Minimal? – Carl Barenbrug (Carl MH Barenbrug)

A product designer and creative director at Minimalissimo

A minimalist design approach adds only what is needed, and takes away what is not; that doesn’t mean it must be devoid of ornament or color.

Typically, people want their website’s branding to:

  • be distinctive and memorable to visually distinguish the brand, so visitors know without checking the URL or byline whose work they’re seeing
  • present text so it’s easy to read
  • convey a vibe aligned with their mission

Color and ornamentation may be key to those ends, in which case, a minimalist design could incorporate both, though using the least needed to provide function, establish a brand feel, and accomplish their goals.

Which colors raises many questions; our cultural vision of a neutral minimalism has coalesced around black on white or white on black. With minor changes in styling, these simple pallettes can become classy, chic, brutalist, academic, anything really. But I think too often black and white websites are underdone; they are often not visually distinct.

That’s where color comes in, and another discussion point about minimalism: is it about the number of elements or the feel of the design? A hot pink and yellow website would feel loud, but only have two colors, so might qualify as minimalist if simplicity is the intent. If minimalism is more vibe than construction, that begs the question of whether all vibes count as minimalist — are certain moods inherent to minimalism, while others are excluded? Perhaps it’s a matter of sensation: should a minimalist website provoke our senses as little as possible (e.g. avoiding loud color combinations or bold colors like bright red)?

In short, is minimalism an aesthetic or a philosophy?

It’s possible that someone could intentionally create a website that’s visually difficult to read (please don’t), or that they don’t care about taking credit for their work and don’t care about distinguishing their brand. Yet to choose no styling is a design decision — arguably not a good one for readability (at least set a max text width!), a decision nonetheless. Unstyled is more of a philosophical statement than a visual neutral in the context of today’s web.

Via Leon.


Internal comms as external comms

Liked Why these Welsh weeknotes are so good (

These notes are published on the web. They’re open. They’re external comms as well as internal governance.

This is an attribute of good agile communication: rather than doing the work, then crafting careful PR-style messages about how brilliant it is, your task is different. You do the work, and you peel back the wrappings so that the outside world can peer in and see for themselves how brilliant it is.

History Science Society

The same scientist created fertilizer and TNT

Watched The Scientist Who Killed Millions and Saved Billions by Geoff Barrett from

Fritz Haber is the scientist who arguably most transformed the world.

And chlorine gas as a chemical weapon for use in the trenches.

And a poisonous gas used on the Jews in the Holocaust (after his death).

And from the concept of harvesting energy from broken or formed chemical bonds, used for TNT, only another twenty years till nukes (my connection so may be factually incorrect)…

But his discovery of a process to extract atmospheric nitrogen into usable form allows four billion more people to live on Earth than it could otherwise support.

So how should we think of him?

I both like and dislike Derek’s framing at the end to consider the inventor irrelevant, that someone else would have done it if he hadn’t. I appreciate the thought of not creating a hero or villain out of ordinary people who don’t know what their research may yield. I also like pulling back to the perspective that other scientists were working on the same problem, so even if he hadn’t found these, someone else would.

Yet, I’m wary of absolving responsibility for our creations. This goes straight back to Frankenstein, not wanting to deal with his monster. But in the real world, I hold Truman responsible for dropping the atomic bomb, even if it could have been FDR if his health endured. And I hold the scientists of the Manhattan Project responsible for their creation. Taking responsibility is the first step in repairing and recompensing harm, and excusing those who actually made or did something bad feels like denying any move towards restoration. It is possible to do harm without the intent; you are still responsible for the harm you cause, even as we can grant more grace for mistakes when they are admitted.