Hello! Here’s to you, here’s to 2020—let’s take this one with gusto, shall we? (Or, y’know, with whatever we can muster. I’m here with and for you regardless.)
My morning writing time evaporated when I fell down a rabbit hole of searching the Library and Archives archival collections catalogue and poking around digitized microforms in Héritage. What’d I find? Lots of potentially interesting records about postal service in Canada, for the most part. Update: I just spent another half hour poking around the archival collections. Oops. But also, yay! Maybe something for future research and writing.
I wrote this in my phone last night, as I started out on a walk:
A good walk does not start out warm. It starts cool, or, in the terrible days of summer, comfortable. Then you walk vigorously and warm up, opening a layer or two as you go.
This left me thinking about the qualities of a good walk. In no particular order, here are a few:
- The weather and your outfit allow the walk to carry on indefinitely. Energy is the only major constraint on the duration or distance of the walk.
- It’s got enough quiet in it. Occasional noise (like a busy street) is usually inevitable—and sometimes even welcome!—but a sense of silence or calm definitely enhances the walk.
- Maybe it’s with somebody else. It’s usually nice to share a walk with somebody, but sometimes you need solitude. If there are other people, preferably not too many—unless it’s meant to be a big group, like a walking tour or walking group. The more people, the harder it gets to keep a steady pace or decide where to ramble.
(Apologies if my use of “you” jarred you. It’s an internal debate of mine.)
As you can probably tell, my brain is a bit scattered today. I haven’t had much need to develop a coherent thread of thoughts for a few weeks—that’ll come back, soon enough. To close, then, I’ll share a few interesting links from my recent browsing:
- Uses This is ostensibly a site where people share their go-to gear. But sometimes people share neat tidbits about themselves and their philosophies. Some interviews I read recently and particularly enjoyed include: Sarah Werner, Lincoln Mullen, Kieran Healy, and Megan Prelinger. Also: there’s such a cool range of occupations out there!
- Canada’s federal government used to be, uh, really transparent about public servants. The Civil Service List, published until 1918, named every public servant, by department, including their position, salary, tenure as a public servant, and age. You can see all the lists or dive into the last one published, from 1918. The sunshine list has nothing on this! (Also, uh, we don’t have a sunshine list for the federal government anymore.)
- Audrey Watters holds nothing back in her list of the 100 worst ed-tech debacles of the 2010s. Watters is a really important voice in this space, always speaking truth to power—her list demonstrates a wide range of things to stay vigilant about. (Not that the burden’s all on you to be vigilant about all things always! That’s a lot to ask. But reading a list like this can widen the horizons, helping to realize where surveillance and other not so good things creep into our daily lives.) This stuff isn’t stopping—it’s just getting more pervasive and harder to refuse.
- Alex Soble and Elizabeth Ayer at 18F wrote in defense of “long-term teams, not sudden handoffs”. This is really on my mind lately—how do we fund, encourage, and enable sustainable teams? How do you prioritize people (both on your team and those you serve) over (waves hands) the rest?
- Robin Rendle shares a frank assessment of creating design systems, urging us to acknowledge how hard the work is, to discuss the messiness that lurks underneath. I love this, because it’s about being honest about the human messiness beneath the surface of, well, everything. Humanity isn’t straightforward, and that causes a lot of problems! Let’s not gloss over that, let’s dig in.
- Eric Clapton and Pavarotti singing “Holy Mother” is a beautiful duet. Opening with Clapton (who plays solo for almost half the performance), then waiting for Pavarotti’s glorious entrance—what a treat.
That’s all from me for today. I hope you’re doing well. All the best for the week ahead!