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S03 E06 – Ragbag of Random

Today we talk about random stuff such as newsletters and what is going on at WAO.

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Important note: this is a lightly-edited AI transcription of the conversation. If you require verbatim quotations, please double-check against the audio!

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:22] Welcome to the Tao of WAO, a podcast about the intersection of technology, society and internet culture with a dash of philosophy and art. For good measure. I’m Doug Belshaw.

Laura Hilliger: [00:00:33] And I am Laura Hilliger. This podcast season is currently unfunded. You can support this podcast and other We are open projects and products at open

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:47] So Laura, this is the last episode of season three, which means it’s our opportunity to talk about whatever we like. What have you got?

Laura Hilliger: [00:00:56] Oh well, we could go in a lot of different directions. I have been rummaging around in my digital closet for the past couple of months and I have found loads of stuff from co-op work which we could chat about. Cool. I think we could chat a little bit about, I don’t know, other stuff we do on the internet. I know you’ve got a couple of other projects that aren’t co-op projects or you write like 12 blog posts a day somehow, so we could talk about some of those. Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:01:29] Yeah, well, why don’t we start with the co-op stuff, given that the co-op does actually kind of help support us with this endeavour to some degree, Yeah. Um, and the thing which I think we’re probably both most pleased with over the last couple of months is the launch of a new site that intern’s been working on.

Laura Hilliger: [00:01:49] Yes. Learn with. So we did a little bit of a what do you call what we did on March 1st, a media blitz? Not really, because.

Doug Belshaw: [00:02:00] It was the kind of 20, 2022 version of a media blitz. Yeah. Shall we kind of reveal the secret sauce or.

Laura Hilliger: [00:02:08] I think so. Why not?

Doug Belshaw: [00:02:10] So tragically, I learned this the this technique when a good friend of mine passed away with whom I did the previous podcast I was involved in, which was today in digital education. So when he passed away, I wanted to make sure that people who knew him via Twitter were aware of things to do with like his funeral remembrance, things, you know, marking his death and stuff. And so I ended up direct messaging people on Twitter. He had quite a network on Twitter and messaging them about, say, this tweet, could you retweet this so more people find out in the network whatever turns out that accidentally I learned how to growth hack on Twitter because if you have a tweet which is an organic tweet and that you’ve typed in and then you get other people to retweet and favourite it within the space of like a couple of hours, the algorithm goes nuts, as in like it shares it to people who are one step removed, not even following you. So yeah, we use that for learn with Reopen. And when the blog post went live and we tweeted about it, we had a hit list of people who we knew were friendly and are likely to retweet it. And we reached out to them and asked to retweet and favourite it and they did and it went nuts. And Creative Commons ended up quote tweeting us which our intern honour who did a lot of work on learn with Reopen was very pleased about.

Laura Hilliger: [00:03:42] Yeah, she was very excited. I thought that was very cool of Creative Commons and the folks behind the scenes who got that to happen. I think the secret with this growth hack is that it’s not like a I mean, this is a it’s not something we do every week for every stupid little thing, but stuff we’re really proud of and be. This is one of those return the favour kinds of things. So like a lot of the people that we direct message about learn with are people that we have looked at their projects, we share their projects. I think the reciprocal nature of the network that that I have, that you have, that we have collectively is one of the nicest things about working in the open.

Doug Belshaw: [00:04:25] Oh, for sure. Like I’ve unfollowed people before because they literally, for every blog post they wrote every week, were trying to do that kind of thing. And it can be very spammy and stuff. But yeah, when you’re calling in favours, that’s why you have a network and it got a lot of traction and it was very nice. And this is all free and Creative Commons license resources, hence Creative Commons. Um, retweeting it so people who are interested in this should go to learn with Reopen co-op and we’ll put a link to the blog post about it in our show notes. But for example, it’s where the home page, the canonical link for this podcast resides. And if you’ve ever only ever come across this via your whatever platform you get your podcasts on, um, all of our episodes of the Dao of Wow are embedded as SoundCloud embeds on But what else is. Is on the lower for people who might not have seen this?

Laura Hilliger: [00:05:24] I mean, the thing that I’m so excited about is that Anna took. I mean, Anna took like years and years of our brains and made it something that not our brains per se, but, you know, stuff approaches that we use tools that we use spreadsheets, slides, diagrams, like all this stuff that we use to make sense of information. She took all of a very big mess of information ecosystem about the co op or from the co op and turned it into something that has like templates and explanations. They’re learning resources now. They’re stuff that anybody can use and the the templates look amazing. Everything looks like it belongs together. And I’m actually really excited that, like, the Tools and Approaches section is a growing catalogue of different ways that people can work together in a digital environment and like get new ideas, figure out what’s good, what’s bad about a particular area of work. And there’s just a lot of thinking tools.

Doug Belshaw: [00:06:30] So as you said, it’s it’s all kind of in line with our brand guidelines, which we’ve had since, what, last year, year before, which is a nice kind of colour palette that Brian and you and others have come up with. But we’re using Google slides to do the templates and then we’re putting those into Jamboard. What we found with Jamboard is that it’s the lowest friction way of getting people to be like moving sticky notes around on a board kind of thing. And actually one Laura, you just mentioned about it being years of our work, which it is, but in particular when we were helping a bunch of charities during the pandemic with some catalyst funded work, we were, you know, we were kind of having to invent the templates and stuff on the fly. Um, and so we’ve tidied those up, explained how they work and put them in a site that Anna has made look fantastic.

Laura Hilliger: [00:07:28] Yeah. I’m glad that you mentioned the Catalyst charities, because I think one of the biggest challenges for us during this, like working with charities who are just beginning to go through digital transformation, was to find exercises that they could do online in a really simple way. And so a lot of these thinking tools would be super easy for people who have been working in technology or open source or user centred design for so long. But for people who are rather new to working remotely, we needed to find ways to make it easy for them to be able to give their ideas. And that’s kind of how the beginning of this library came about and we keep adding things. So just this, Yeah, Just recently we published a post called Audience Ikigai for the Greenpeace Web Strategy Project that we’re working on. And this is another template that we’ve created to help people.

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:25] For those who don’t know what Ikigai is, it’s not like a disgusting meal, is it?

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:31] No, icky, Ikigai is a way of figuring out how your talents and your passions and your interests.

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:43] Or your life kinf of thing.

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:44] Yeah, sort of. How those things intersect, what you should be doing with your life. And it’s a a Japanese technique. We’ll send a link to the Wikipedia and it’s something that a lot of organisations use to help their staff like figure out which part of the organisation they feel like they belong in or, you know, to, to kind of understand each other. And, and so the, yeah, it’s a, it’s a get to know yourself kind of technique and, but we recently we have been looking into how how can a global organisation like Greenpeace and specifically Greenpeace International communicate with its very specific audience because they’ve got millions and millions of users, they have millions of visitors who are looking at their content. So how do you direct content to a specific user? And we’ve been doing some research and stuff and we came up with this like a way of applying ikigai to audience that is super cool and could work for, you know, could work for any organisation with a couple of tweaks. So I think it definitely belongs on learn learn with because I was really excited to kind of go through that process and see what came out of it.

Doug Belshaw: [00:09:57] So on a really geeky like visual design note and you know, Laura, that this is not my area of expertise. I’m currently working on a sailboat retrospective that, you know, just to let you behind the scenes, dear listener Laura has criticised every single part of the shitty boat that I drew on my diagram because she’s a sailor. Anyway, I’m currently making a new resource, but the Ikigai one’s interesting because the kind of there was a viral blog post or tweet or whatever, which a Venn diagram has three overlapping circles, but when you have four circles, it’s not a Venn diagram and you can’t make them all overlap like completely. So a guy called David McCandless has this blog called and this project and this company called Information Is Beautiful. I’ve got his book, and I remember a few years ago he created like a proper overlapping. Set of ovals in a way which each of them intersected. So we’ve used a version of that for the Ikigai, and I think it looks awesome. Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:11:08] Yeah, that was definitely the thing I love about this audience. Ikigai thing is kind of how it came together because basically Doug and I and Anna were sitting in a Zoom call co-working. As we sometimes do. We’ll get together, we’ll decide what needs to be done, and then we’ll just hang out in a zoom call, maybe face mute, mute, mute, get some work done, and then unmute or face mute when we have a question when we want to talk about stuff. And it’s a it’s a great way for the co-op to like hang out together. And the way that this idea came about was us. Like, I mean, it was really just an organic kind of ramble chat. And then, you know, one of us, I think I said, Oh, we should do some kind of a crazy ikigai. And then Doug remembers this, this organisational or information is beautiful book. And then Anna was like, Oh, I have an idea for that. And it was really just like became this very cool collaborative piece of work, I don’t know.

Doug Belshaw: [00:12:09] And then when you went for lunch and by the time you came back, she pretty much done it. And then we tweaked it a bit. And then when I woke up this morning, you’d written a blog post. So yeah, that’s how work happens in our co-op, I guess.

Laura Hilliger: [00:12:19] Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:12:21] Um, what’s. What’s this amazing kind of smooth segway here? Laura. One of the reasons we get to work so seamlessly in the co-op is because we work openly. And one of the things that we try and help organisations whom we work with is to set open standards for their projects. One of the organisations that we’ve been working with over the last few months, Julie’s bicycle, one of they they when we were talking about working openly, there was a mismatch in terms of what was understood by that. And so Laura, you wrote a blog post about setting open standards for your project based on the work that we’ve been doing for the last decade or more.

Laura Hilliger: [00:13:05] Yeah. I think I mean, there’s a couple of things here. I’m sure listeners who have listened to this show before or who read our posts and stuff, they they’ve probably come across some of these terms that are that I include as the bare essentials to an open standards kind of framework. So the architecture of participation is something that we’ve definitely talked about on the show before. Um, and there’s a couple of other like little bits and pieces that I think are really important when you are coming into an organisation that that maybe has never experienced open before. So some of those, some of those resources can be used for advocacy to help leadership understand why open is a good idea and necessary. Some of them are used for organising community like the architecture of community participation. Some of them are, you know, really good for just to help people understand how open works and some of the underlying ideas like release, early release often is something you hear in open source all the time, but how do you apply it to an organisation that doesn’t do code? Isn’t writing code? What does that mean? How do you kind of break out of the behaviour of holding things too close to the chest and so can.

Doug Belshaw: [00:14:22] You can you remember a few years ago in fact it must be. Quite a few years ago now. There was that academic paper that I well, a few of us used to refer to quite often on first Monday called 50 Shades of Open. And one of the difficulties of using a word like Open in English is that it means different things to different people, like literally. So a door being open or a window being open versus people being open to experience or open for business or open in terms of the way that we’re talking about here, an open culture and open source. And I think one of the the really good things about this post is the way that you have visualised what is meant by open. So you’ve got the system ecosystem built, which I want to ask a little bit more about in a moment, but you’ve got like the communication ecosystem and workflow. And I can remember when you did this, you were like, Do I need to do this? This sounds super obvious, like surely, but for organisations that haven’t worked openly before, it’s really, really important. And the thing which they often don’t get and I’m going to make a very spurious analogy here, is the link between stuff. Now when I used to train teachers, they used to have amazing. They used to spend ages like student teachers making resources and figuring out what they were going to say at different parts of the lesson. But they didn’t understand the how those things were going to link together. They’d have standalone things. And I think the point that you’re making and we’re making with the system ecosystem, which again comes from some of the catalyst work and we’re using here with Julie’s bicycle, is that you might have some standalone stuff. Can people access it? How do they link between them? Is there a narrative and story? How do people get involved?

Laura Hilliger: [00:16:02] Yeah, I think I mean, there’s a couple of. I think the system ecosystem is a really interesting thing because for a project like this one, for a project like Julie’s Bicycle, the system ecosystem is really related to how a project runs openly and what are the tools that the sort of the project team or the core team is using in order to communicate with the community or other stakeholders? And that is one kind of system ecosystem. And in tech, a system ecosystem might just be a map of all of the systems that an organisation is using or for a particular piece of software. If it’s something quite complex, that map is going to show you, you know, things like where microservices come in, where’s the data bank, what’s middleware, you know? So a system ecosystem can be a really simple thing, but it can also be like a massively complex piece of technical architecture. And I think in the past people have tend to tended to think, okay, if it’s a system ecosystem, then that’s something that’s really complex. It’s it’s a, it’s technical. But I think that using similar phrasing and implementing it in this rather simple communication communication area is an interesting thing to do when you’re kind of onboarding organisations or staff or people into the world of technology because at some point, Go ahead.

Doug Belshaw: [00:17:31] I was going to say what I found really interesting doing it with the Catalyst Project because we did it a few times, was that it was very when you do it visually, it becomes very obvious where the bottlenecks and the problems are in your organisation. And so many times it was like, Well, you know, we don’t have anywhere to kind of share when we talk to people and what the results are talking to people are and you’re like, Oh, you mean a CRM? And they’re like, What’s that? And then you’re like, That is the missing piece of your puzzle or, you know, something which allows you to post between platforms like a Zapier or something like, Oh, wouldn’t it be great if there was this tool that did this thing? And you’re like, Of course there’s that tool because other people have had that problem too, and visualising. It really helps. But people don’t take the time to do that because they to your reality, especially when you’re working remotely, are the tools that you’re using. You don’t step back and think about it.

Laura Hilliger: [00:18:28] I think what’s really funny about what you’re saying right now is that do you remember when we were putting together this exercise for I think it was the was it the definition, the catalyst definition program? I think when we were putting together this exercise, we tested it on the co op and we made a system ecosystem for the co op and we found all of these systems that we were not using that didn’t connect together, that had outdated information that we were paying, you know, server fees or whatever to maintain. And we and we weren’t using them. So even just, you know, and it’s I mean, it’s not an activity you need to do every single year or anything, but it is really interesting to take a look at what your, you know, your system ecosystem actually is. So yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:19:16] So yeah, that whole post is great in terms of people getting to start getting started with working openly.

Laura Hilliger: [00:19:23] Yeah, we have a couple, we have a couple how to posts. So we have this one, the how to set up open standards and then like on our architectures of participation page on the website, which will also link to we have how to use architectures of participation for your charity project or how to use it for open. We have a couple of different variations on some of these things that might be interesting if you’re looking for a lens, kind of.

Doug Belshaw: [00:19:53] So we’ve mentioned that we’re doing some work. We’ve mentioned the Learn with Reopen site, we’ve mentioned some work that we’re doing with Greenpeace. That’s one project and there’s another one we can’t mention. There’s the Julie’s bicycle work that we’re pausing for a bit, but that’s got a good base. And then there’s the work that we’re doing with Participate, which is called Keep Badges Weird. And there’s a particular blog post that we’ve linked to here called Emergent Community Building. Now, Laura, you’ve just issued Mark and Julie at Participate Badge today, and we don’t issue many badges as a co op. So what’s so special about this one?

Laura Hilliger: [00:20:35] Well, yes, we do not issue many badges, but we actually have decided that Mark and Julie at Participate. Hi. Mark and Julie have earned the very rare and very coveted Whisky test badge, which is a badge that Doug and I accidentally came up with, what, like two weeks ago when we were talking about the kinds of collaborators that we like to work with. And we were just kind of ramble, chatting and. We came up with this this idea of a whisky test, which is essentially if you can show up to a meeting with a glass of whisky and continue to just do what you need to do without having somebody look at you sideways, probably the person that you’re collaborating with is, you know, understanding of you and your vices and maybe even laughing. I don’t know. How would you explain the whisky test?

Doug Belshaw: [00:21:31] Yeah, I think it came from me saying that I know I’ve made it in life when you know I can just drink whisky in the middle of the day like someone off Mad Men or something like that. And we joked about where the line would be drawn in terms of shooting up and stuff. But there is something about accepting people as they are and being able to have a bit of a laugh with people and stuff. And we very much enjoy working with Mark and Julie and others at Participate, and the work we’ve been doing has been interesting too, because it’s been focussed on focussed on learning design, open badges, it’s been talking about, but also communities of practice, which isn’t just the the way that you end the sentence communities. It’s actually a theory, um, which. What’s up?

Laura Hilliger: [00:22:21] Oh, nothing. Just the cat is going absolutely bananas at the moment. She’s, like, running around. Sorry, you looked a bit freaked out.

Doug Belshaw: [00:22:30] I forgot what I was saying, but, yeah, on the internet, people can’t use the word community without adding of practice on the end. But it’s not just any old community. It’s an intentional one as value cycles. And we’ve been kind of doing that work together. And this week we hit 200 members of the key weird community and there’s all kinds of people in there. There’s people who are brand new to badges. There are like OGs, people who’ve been around for more than ten years, a real mix of people. And we’re issuing them badges, of course, and we’ve got a new well, we’ve had a domain for a very long time, but we now actually get to use it.

Laura Hilliger: [00:23:06] Yeah. I yeah, I don’t even remember when we bought that domain, but it’s been a number of years and yeah, so if you go to right now, then you will be able to find the key badges. Weird community you have an easy link to badge wiki. It’s just, I mean it’s literally just a signposting site, but badges dot community is really easy to remember and mean. We’re excited to see what else.

Doug Belshaw: [00:23:36] That we wanted to signpost people to badge wiki which is just literally That’s not a hard one to remember, but the participate platform in its current iteration, I think they’re building a new version of it has very long unique URLs and it would take from now for a while to read out those urls. So badges dot community is a lot easier and you can just click on.

Laura Hilliger: [00:24:01] I mean we could have just used like a Bitly link or something, but we happen to have and it is way cooler than a Bitly link.

Doug Belshaw: [00:24:09] So cooler.

Laura Hilliger: [00:24:10] Yes, way cooler.

Doug Belshaw: [00:24:11] So we’ll be doing some other cool stuff as well. We’ve already talked on previous episodes about Brian going dormant. John rejoined the corp, Anna being our intern. All that stuff’s going on in the background as well.

Laura Hilliger: [00:24:28] It’s been a pretty busy Q1.

Doug Belshaw: [00:24:30] It really has. I’m not used to Q1 being this busy, usually coming out of a pandemic.

Laura Hilliger: [00:24:35] Yeah, usually I mean, in in the past, January has been like a nice month full of crickets when we can, you know, check our processes and build some stuff and like quietly plod forward and, you know, New Year’s haven’t really like gone crazy until about, I don’t know, the first, second week of February when people are back from winter slash summer breaks, depending on where you are in the world. Yeah and but this year no, we I mean, we really had to hit the ground running and there’s lots going on, which is interesting.

Doug Belshaw: [00:25:11] So one thing I’m doing, as you know, in fact, I’m meeting you in Amsterdam is I’m going to the Netherlands for ten days. Now, previously, this would have been a, you know, a reasonable sized trip before the pandemic. But having not travelled for two years, going to the Netherlands, doing a presentation, my wife flying over, hanging out with her, then hanging out with you and your husband, then hanging out with someone else, then going and presenting in three different places in the Netherlands and then hanging out with someone on the Friday and then coming back home. Feels like a big thing and much bigger than it did previously. And March is always busy and I’m not only doing that, but I’m also throwing into the mix perhaps too hastily planned walk of Hadrian’s Wall, which is the Roman wall, which goes across the north of England. So yeah, March is we’re not going to be having a new season of this podcast until May when you’re back, probably.

Laura Hilliger: [00:26:13] Yeah. Yeah, probably. I mean, I think it would be really interesting to hear from listeners. Maybe we should do some actual listener outreach. I think that might be a way that we could keep keep the Tao while kind of going while we take a little pause. Um, but maybe we should. Yeah, maybe we should write a blog post and send it around. Use our secret growth hacking on. I’m kidding. I was kidding. Twitter growth hacking. No. Yeah but but I think if you’re listening to this and you’re like, oh no, the Dao of wow is going to be gone, don’t worry, we’ll be back. But it’s getting a bit busy and this is the end of season three. So, you know, we tend to take an undetermined length of time between seasons.

Doug Belshaw: [00:27:04] Just when you were saying all that, right, I’ve just realised that what we need to do because people do like this kind of stuff and you might be listening to this thinking, I wonder how Laura and Doug like record the Dao of Wow and like publish it and stuff, and we could call that the How of WAO.

Laura Hilliger: [00:27:22] Ooookay.

Laura Hilliger: [00:27:26] Mind blown. The how of wow coming to a blog near you soon. The how I’m writing it down.

Doug Belshaw: [00:27:34] The How of the Tao of WAo is a blog post which needs to happen. So write on that bombshell. We’re not going to end this episode. We’re going to move on to talking about our newsletters. So, Laura, you send out a newsletter at some point on a Friday. Why do you send out on a Friday?

Laura Hilliger: [00:27:53] Uh, because for me, it’s not work. It’s a labour of love. And I figure that the the weird, eclectic output of my brain on a Friday morning or Friday afternoon, depending. Uh, yeah, I send it out. It’s, I mean, I send, I send it out on Friday because I feel like it’s so random and all over the place that it’s not a thing that anybody really wants to read while they’re in the middle of the week and trying to focus like it’s not. I don’t feel like my newsletter is particularly focussed and so I wouldn’t read a newsletter like mine unless it was like a Friday or a Saturday or a Sunday. So that’s why that’s why I send it out on Friday. Yeah. You’re on a monthly schedule now, right?

Doug Belshaw: [00:28:43] Yeah. So I have this annoying habit. Like I put more pressure on myself than anyone else in the world. Other than my dad when I was younger, maybe.

Laura Hilliger: [00:28:54] But that’s a that’s a different season.

Doug Belshaw: [00:28:57] Hi, Dad. But having gone through therapy, not because of my dad are the reasons I have realised that I’m quite hard on myself. And I turn things which used to be fun into things which are just work. And so I turned my newsletter, thought shrapnel into something which just end up being work. So now doing it monthly. And what I do is I publish stuff on thought and then I put it all together and wrap it up into a thing monthly and a couple of things. Firstly, it takes the pressure off me. Secondly, no one ever goes to thought apart from clicking through my newsletter. Which is quite interesting.

Laura Hilliger: [00:29:39] I feel like. I feel like I have to resubscribe to your newsletter on a regular basis, and I’m not sure if it’s me or if I like accidentally unsubscribe or if I get thrown out. Um, but yeah, it is weird. Like your newsletter for me is very sporadic. It’s probably exactly once a month, but I feel like it’s sporadic. I’m not.

Doug Belshaw: [00:30:03] Sure. Does that. So I remember having this conversation with Brian mothers. Hi Brian. If you’re listening and he purposely makes his dollop of visual Thinkery newsletter. Have no fixed schedule because he wants to provoke delight.

Laura Hilliger: [00:30:20] Yes, he does too. That newsletter is very delightful.

Doug Belshaw: [00:30:23] Newsletter provoked delight.

Laura Hilliger: [00:30:27] Oh, yeah, for sure. Yes, I it definitely provokes. I have to admit, I don’t read every single thing that you write. I usually I usually get into I usually.

Doug Belshaw: [00:30:38] 30, 30 articles law. I mean, how hard can it be.

Laura Hilliger: [00:30:42] No. Well I read them along the month anyways because you publish regularly but sometimes I, you know I look at a title and I kind of skim and I’m like, I don’t have time for that. And then I forget and my pocket is like 50% hot shrapnel stuff.

Doug Belshaw: [00:31:00] I have to say, my Fridays are not complete. Like if you miss a Friday, I definitely notice I know you publish a different times and stuff, but I’m like, where is freshly brewed?

Laura Hilliger: [00:31:10] Thought I have some other there’s some other newsletters that are, you know on a on a random basis. I think that’s an interesting, an interesting tactic and technique. I don’t think that I could do random like I need the.

Doug Belshaw: [00:31:25] End up not doing it. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Are there any particular newsletters? I know we haven’t planned this, but are there any newsletters that you would recommend to listeners because you particularly enjoy them?

Laura Hilliger: [00:31:36] Oh yeah, lots. So, um, I probably everybody that listens to this podcast is already subscribed to dense Discovery, which is a newsletter that is it’s technology, product, art, inspiration and a very cool climate focussed person in Australia. There’s I like super granular a lot. Do you get that one? That one’s very random. Um, and you know, comes, comes just every once in a while I have been thinking, I don’t know if I should do this or not, but I have been thinking about unsubscribing from, um, what’s it called now? It used to be Brainpickings.

Laura Hilliger: [00:32:27] Um. It’s now called.

Laura Hilliger: [00:32:29] What is it called now?

Doug Belshaw: [00:32:30] Unsubscribe from that. Quite a while ago.

Laura Hilliger: [00:32:32] Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:32:33] I was like, every time it comes, I feel like I should read this. And I never do.

Laura Hilliger: [00:32:38] I do. I read some of them. I don’t read all of them. But I’ve noticed that in the past three, 4 or 5 months or so, there’s a lot of sort of repeats, a lot of stuff that I’ve read and thought about in my own time, and I find myself deleting it a lot more. Um.

Laura Hilliger: [00:32:57] Yeah. I don’t know. I get quite a few newsletters. I also get Brian’s newsletter and he does invoke delight whenever whenever I get it.

Doug Belshaw: [00:33:12] I get a lot of newsletters. I’m trying, so I subscribe to. Quite a few and some are subscribed by RSS in Feedly and some are subscribed by email. And so one, there’s a guy called John Norton who’s like been around forever and he writes in The Guardian and he’s got one called Memex, which he writes every single day from his house, which I think is in the south of France. Um, British guy and another British guy, Dan Horne, who lives in Silicon Valley. He writes things which caught my attention and that is very sporadic. But some days it can be. Sometimes it can be every single day and then nothing for three months. Orbital operations. I don’t really want to go into the politics of Warren Ellis and stuff and getting cancelled and that kind of thing, but he is back after all of that. I think we might have mentioned in previous podcast, I can’t remember and I do enjoy his writing and his perspective on the world. And then John Norton Memex kept referencing Andrew what’s his surname? Andrew Currie, who does one called just two things every single day. And I found out that Andrew Currie is also a long suffering Sunderland Football Club supporter. And I messaged him and he emailed back straight away and I’m a brand new subscriber, so that made me feel awesome.

Laura Hilliger: [00:34:39] Have you got an episode or have you have you read it yet? The just two things. Have you. You just said that you’re a brand new subscriber. Have you already gotten your first newsletter from just two things.

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:51] Oh, sorry.

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:51] When? I mean brand new. I mean, like three weeks.

Laura Hilliger: [00:34:54] Oh, okay. Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:56] But it is very good. And he’s like a kind of academic futurologist, but also just interesting cultural stuff. And I think you’d love it. Laura What I’ve just noticed is that all my favourite newsletters are written by men. Um, but.

Laura Hilliger: [00:35:08] And mine, and mine. Come on.

Doug Belshaw: [00:35:11] Mhm. That is true. Apart from.

Laura Hilliger: [00:35:14] Oh wow, good hesitation.

Doug Belshaw: [00:35:18] The connection isn’t as good today, I have to say, for our recording, it might be my internet.

Laura Hilliger: [00:35:27] You shared another. Another newsletter. And um, Anne Helen Petersen, she still.

Doug Belshaw: [00:35:38] I did actually.

Doug Belshaw: [00:35:38] Start paying for hers. But then I realised that her target demographic is definitely women. And so the stuff I was paying for was actually the. Like. And like I’m trying I’m going to say this the way that I feel it, like a women’s solidarity discord channel and like stuff around that. And all of the recommendations for if you go into the inner circle bit were all like. Quite stereotypically things that women would like rom coms, books to do with feminism, that kind of stuff. And so when, bizarrely, when I started paying, I felt like it was less for me. And so I stopped paying, which was weird, but that’s what happened.

Laura Hilliger: [00:36:32] Yeah. I also read orbital operations. I also like Warren Ellis style. I like. Yeah, it’s kind of a dark, gritty, humorous, cynical kind of style. I think it’s actually quite similar to my writing style. Um, I mean, not that I’m anything less talented as Warren Ellis or anything. Just just as an aside, I tend to be attracted, you know, attracted to that, that kind of writing. So I was I did read a lot about the politics of, of him and what happened and you know as a yeah. Don’t really want to talk about it but I do like his writing style and I am actually pleased that he’s writing again because I was I was surprised when the first one came back in my inbox.

Doug Belshaw: [00:37:22] So other ones I enjoy, you know Ian O Burns newsletter.

Laura Hilliger: [00:37:26] Yeah, Digitally literate.

Doug Belshaw: [00:37:28] Yep. Um.

Doug Belshaw: [00:37:29] I enjoy, um, I enjoy that one. I enjoy University of winds by metre. Williams Mr. Williams. Um, like a Cory Doctorow’s pluralist one. Um, obviously Stephen Downes is Orwell Daily because if there was only one newsletter, I’d get that one. Um, Kafka’s noticing, like there’s just a million hacker newsletter. I get one called Hacker Newsletter, which is all of the top stories on Hacker News every week.

Laura Hilliger: [00:38:08] Yeah, I get that one too.

Doug Belshaw: [00:38:10] Why would I subscribe to that when I go to Hacker News every day and I still miss some of the links and see. So it’s useful. Emma Craig has won. Emma. Hi. If you’re listening called gathered thoughts that often has some interesting stuff. Craig Mod Um, we’re going to have to listen to this back to get all the links.

Laura Hilliger: [00:38:31] But um also thinking Aaron I can’t remember his last name. Who actually included learn with Yeah. Davis Yeah. Um, in Australia I believe.

Doug Belshaw: [00:38:44] Mckinley Valentine got one called the Whippet. There’s one called Kneeling Bus, which I’ve subscribed to recently. Derek Sivers has one. I’m just literally scrolling through my inbox. It’s okay.

Laura Hilliger: [00:38:55] But stop.

Laura Hilliger: [00:38:56] Because we’re making a laundry.

Doug Belshaw: [00:38:58] List. Benedict Evans, formerly Andreessen Horowitz, has a very kind of capitalist kind of researchy one. Anyway, I’ve got very much time left and there’s a few things I think we wanted to mention. You’re doing some work with the open organisation again, you’re doing some stuff.

Laura Hilliger: [00:39:19] Yeah, but I’m going to save it for next season. I’m writing. I’m writing a paper with Heather Leeson, who is one of my contemporaries, has been working a long time inside the International Red Cross Red Shield, and she’s been bringing open to humanitarian organisations. I’ve also been working in non-profit between the space, between open and non-profit for a really long time. So we’re writing a paper together and I’m hoping we can get it done and actually get it published and talk about it on the show in the next season. And you wanted to mention the Bonfire project. I think you mentioned it before, but do you want to mention it again? Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:40:00] So just to remind people, Moodle nets, which is what I was working on, 2018 to 2020 was all open source, all of the team and I kind of quit at the same time in 2020 and forked the project took a different direction. I have been on the periphery giving some feedback but not really on the team. They’ve all been working together, got some funding and the project is specifically around thinking about an extension to this kind of federated social network, which would help with disinformation and misinformation. So a wonderful job of going to talk to very smart people from like simply secure and the new design Congress and people who are climate scientists and working to help refugees and all that kind of stuff and working talking to them about misinformation and disinformation and how that affects them. And I ended up writing a report which the first version is available in a mindmap and all that kind of stuff. So that is there. Um, and as part of that, Ivan, who’s helping lead that project, the bonfire project, he quoted my stuff around ambiguity, around sitting with ambiguity before you decide what it is that you’re going to do. And I realised that he was quoting some stuff which was like more than ten years old of mine. So I end up writing a blog post on my very neglected ambiguities blog about sitting with ambiguity for innovation projects or just life in general and different types of ambiguity.

Laura Hilliger: [00:41:30] I read that one.

Doug Belshaw: [00:41:32] And also loads of people were talking about crypto and not really getting it and trying to apply it to education. And this might have we might have mentioned this in a previous podcast, but um, yeah, I wrote a post about defining crypto stuff in a boring way.

Laura Hilliger: [00:41:46] A crypto episode.

Doug Belshaw: [00:41:49] Well, I don’t know.

Laura Hilliger: [00:41:50] I don’t know either.

Doug Belshaw: [00:41:51] We should want to mention is that there is a war going on at the moment, as we there probably will be for quite a while. And you mentioned how the Leeson I’ve realised there’s very little I can do for Ukraine. I’m not opt for virtue signalling on social networks about any of this, but I have donated and my kids have donated from their charity kind of savings to the International Red Cross. And there’s all kinds of stuff which is things that we know, but is becomes even more real when it’s applied to wartime. So stuff to do with refugees. And I know that you’ve donated in a very material way. Do you want to talk about that before we talk about.

Laura Hilliger: [00:42:30] Uh, well, I mean, I. I live in a city that is only. It’s quite close to. I mean, it’s not close. It’s about eight hours away. But we’re kind of one of the. The last German cities nestled between the Polish and the Czech border. And so there’s a lot of activity and a lot of convoys going to try and help people who who are coming across the border from the Ukraine into other countries in Europe. Um, yeah, but I’m also not up for virtue signalling on social media. I’m just doing what I can and also trying to protect my own mental health with with the situation.

Doug Belshaw: [00:43:13] One of the things that the kind of repurposed was some of their guides from, you know what chat apps to use and stuff. And long story short, I’ve had a persistent backchannel with my wife for over five years. In Telegram, we switched to signal and rest of my family to signal codes end to end encrypted. Um, but yeah, that has been quite a rag bag of stuff we’ve been talking about.

Laura Hilliger: [00:43:36] Yeah, I feel like we just like went through like a giant list of links and sharing. It’ll be interesting to listen back and see what we, if we said anything smart.

Doug Belshaw: [00:43:47] It was a ragbag of random and all the stuff we wanted to talk about in previous episodes, but we didn’t get a chance to. So let’s end it there. If you have enjoyed this season of the D’avoir, you’re very welcome to donate, to keep it going and also to give feedback. And the best place to give feedback is either in our email inbox. So Doug at urbancorp or Laura at urbancorp or indeed podcast at we urbancorp anything that we urbancorp, to be fair, will get to us. Or you can go to SoundCloud and you can click on the very specific part that you want to comment on and you can leave a comment. So you could do that too.

Laura Hilliger: [00:44:21] Thanks for listening!

Doug Belshaw: [00:44:23] Cheers!