Chris J Wilson

A brief reflection on hitting issue 50 of my newsletter

I just published issue 50 of my newsletter! (It’s actually a few extra which I didn’t import).

It’s gone through about four iterations during that time but the sketchnote roundup format really seams to have worked for me.

  • I was sharing this content without the newsletter
  • It’s simple enough that I can produce it every week
  • I’ve had some really nice comments as well.

It’s certainly not perfect and I wish I had managed to get a few more subscribers it a bit more, but I enjoy making it so that’s enough for me.

Making the right choice for me.

I spent ages debating whether or not I should call my site Learn Create Share or keep SketchnoteClassroom or do something else.

In the end I changed to Learn Create Share as I wanted an impulse to make sketchnotes about other topics rather than just make sketchnotes on sketchnoting.

That was a fantastic personal decision.

It completely changed my approach and I am really pleased with the sketchnotes I’ve made since then.

At the same time, I’ve basically stopped making any sales of the courses I made since then!

So it was a great personal decision, but terrible “business” or brand decision. And I’m totally happy with that.

Managing vs leading.

I’ve asked some friends for advice on managing a team and a lot of people respond with things on “leadership”.

I find that jump interesting. Of course there’s a lot of crossover between the two but I don’t view them as the same.

Leadership involves setting the vision and prioritise for a team. It’s about knowing where you should go and communicating that vision.

Management is about getting the most out of the people who report to you. Leadership and vision help with that, but it’s not the end of the discussion.

You can set and communicate a great vision with everyone bought in, but there can still be management issues (conflicts between team members, under performance from a team member, one team member needs a different approach, someone isn’t doing their best work) and when the vision is less than perfect, more problems can be added on.

I’m not saying that I’m a perfect leader, but I believe that my management issues aren’t related to my leadership but to my management. It’s even possible that my focus on setting a vision might be interfering with helping my team members. What I mean is I can be so focused on the goal that we should be going towards, that I miss the issues that are preventing team members from reaching that goal.

I suspect that I’m being tough on myself here (as I often am) and overthinking this, but it’s certainly an interesting area for me as I’m in the process of changing my mind on this subject.

Perhaps I’ll share more soon.

A lack of flow

Today I realised that since I became a manager, I have a lot less “flow” time. Instead of the long, multiple hours of focus on one thing, I now have a lot more jumping from one thing to another. Part of it could be changed (by myself and others in the company) but part of it seems to be a natural part of the job. It’s a bit depressing really. Flow tasks feel incredibly rewarding and are often high value. All this jumping feels more stressful and less important work.

My fears about doing a roundup newsletter

Whenever I’ve run a newsletter sharing links of stuff I find interesting, I’ve always worried it will become obsolete. Surely people would just start following the same sources I do and find what I find before I share it. But yesterday I realised that is not true. Many of the roundup newsletters I follow share articles from some regular sources and while I end up following some, I still appreciate when they share something I missed or also read. Plus, I never follow ALL their sources.

I love this as it’s a classic example where from my perspective as a creator, things look completely different than my perspective as a consumer. It’s basically the “Assuming everyone knows what you know.” or “No one else is paying you as much attention as you are paying yourself.”

If you’ve been thinking of making a roundup newsletter but have faced this fear, I’d bet that you don’t need to worry.

awkward product placement in Ted Lasso and The Morning Show

One of the most annoying parts of Ted lasso and the morning show is the awkward use of iPhones. Anytime someone gets a text, it’s shown on the iPhone and the camera has to do a close up of this small text. Shows like Sherlock found an easier way to show texts by making bubbles appear around the character, but these shows don’t do that as they must include the product placement of the iPhone.

🔗 First Look at WordPress’ Upcoming Twenty Twenty-Two Default Theme: “The Most Flexible Default Theme Ever Created for WordPress” – WP Tavern

First Look at WordPress’ Upcoming Twenty Twenty-Two Default Theme: “The Most Flexible Default Theme Ever Created for WordPress” – WP Tavern

Reigstad said the theme will be “built for Full Site Editing first,” with as little CSS as possible, and all theme styles configurable through theme.json wherever possible, so users can edit them through Global Styles.

Of course WordPress would have to tempt me with an upcoming default theme! The tie in with 5.9 makes sense with the full site editing push. Still not sure what I make of WordPress’s direction. It’s surprising how page builders still seem prevalent despite the advances in Gutenberg.

🔗 Scotland's version of 'hygge' - BBC

“But it isn’t just MacLeod’s sumptuous hot toddy choux buns, Heilan’ coo cupcakes or haggis bon bons that have made the soft-spoken chef a viral sensation. By serving his food with a side of Hebridean folklore, Scottish Gaelic tongue twisters and traditional music – as well as the occasional cameo by his wee Westie pup, Seòras – Coinneach’s goal is to bring the best of Hebridean culture to the world”

Scotland’s version of ‘hygge’

A hot toddy choux bun sounds fantastic! Not so sure about the haggis bon bon though.

🔗 Best Habits to Track in 2021. Analyzing Habit Tracking Behavior from… by Coach Tony Coach.me App Medium

Best Habits to Track in 2021. Analyzing Habit Tracking Behavior from… | by Coach Tony | Coach.me App | Medium

Every year I go through our data from Coach.me to see what habits people have started tracking and what habits they’ve stopped tracking. The result is a snapshot of what is becoming more popular and what is becoming less popular.

A really interesting list of habits and what are the most popular (see if you can predict the top five).

Bullet journaling just isn't for me...or is it?

Me two weeks ago: I think I’m finally done with Bullet journaling. It just doesn’t work for me and I’m doing everything in obsidian now anyway.

Me today: You know I like interstitial journaling but it’s a hassle to get my journaling page up and add to it. If only I had a separate window with it…or maybe a note book. I guess I could write in a paper notebook and maybe migrate some items at the end of the ….oh crap I’ve invented bullet journaling haven’t I.

So now I’m looking at getting a new notebook to replace my last one.

How do you know if they're a good app reviewer?

Would you more trust a reviewer who jumps apps as often as they change clothes or one who hasn’t changed app in years? The one who always changes probably is probably too interested in novelty over real usefulness, but the long term user might be too stuck in their ways. I saw a forum discussion with defenders of certain reviewers locked in verbal battle with each other. It made wonder if you really can achieve unbiased reviews. I guess that’s why I try to find a tool I like and then work out how to get as much value out of it as possible. Obsidian may well not be the best of these connected notes apps (and I may not be using the “best” plugins) but it works for me and I’m happy with that.

Podcast Appearance: Sharing and Privacy; Delayed Reaction [Podcast #328] - ChurchMag

Sharing and Privacy; Delayed Reaction [Podcast #328] - ChurchMag

Yes, we know, we know. Apple’s WWDC 2021 happened a while ago. But guess what? Somewhere in the mine conversation post that event there were some gems we just had to share. In this episode Blessing Mpofu and Chris Wilson unpack  two big themes––sharing and privacy, that came out of the event. 

🔗 Why Italian football does not make sense in the English language Serie A The Guardian

Why Italian football does not make sense in the English language | Serie A | The Guardian

Italian football is often criticised for being overly dramatic, with players spending too much time feigning injury, encircling the referee or dropping to the grass with their faces in their hands after they have missed opportunities. These criticisms carry weight but, given the language of the game in Italy, it is hard to see how the game could be any other way. An Italian match is more than just that; it is a performance in which the players are fighting not just to win but to win over the audience. I was reminded of this article while watching the match yesterday. The whole piece is really enlightening about the differences between Italian and English football.

A Week off social

In theory I’m just over a week into my social media fast… But in reality I’ve been breaking it left right and centre. Some has been for good reason (like checking content for work, finding an old bookmark or messaging regarding an upcoming newsletter interview) but a good amount has been “the twitch”.

The twitch

You know, when suddenly you find your phone is unlocked, in your hand, and your thumb has magically found the hidden app icon and twitter is open before you.

How did it happen? You twitched and it was there.

Who knows what the exact trigger was - boredom - being in the “right” location (the sofa?) - reading something about a social network?

But the effect is undeniable.

I’ve been using a scheduling app to continue an experimental social media profile (it’s always good to experiment when marketing is your job) which has certainly helped, but it’s not a miracle cure.

What has been good

It’s not all doom, gloom and failure. I’ve definitely been using social media less. My screentime proves it! Even when I do twitch and find twitter open, I often move over to an ebook or switch the app off. Checking my screentime also reveals that in this second week, twitter is no longer my “pick up” app or even in the top ten. Perhaps the “twitch” is wearing off?

Awareness

Around 2016 I started to feel that personal messaging was the better type of social media and what I should use these services for more. This fast has proven that more to me. I continually find myself wanting less to scroll the feed (although I do want that too) and more to reach out to certain people whom I can only contact via twitter DMs or microblog replies.

It turns out the part of social media I miss the most, is the social part.

And while that’s also a good reason to take a break and invest in more face to face social interactions (thank you easing lockdowns) it’s also something I will invest in more when I do return to social media… however that looks.

(written in drafts to avoid the feed).

A break

Tl;dr. I’m taking the month off social media but will continue blogging.

A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of the idea of a solitude break; a day, weekend or weekend away from everything spent in solitude and silence. It’s a Christian idea I found in celebration of discipline with the purpose of connecting and listening to God but I’m sure atheist and agnostic friends can see value for themselves in this kind of activity.

I approached my wife with the idea, suggesting that she too could and should take a weekend in solitude at some point. I was even happy for her to do so first and I was okay if she said no. She said it was a great idea and pointed to next weekend (10-11th of July) as the best time.

I got excited about the idea and started rereading a few books I’ve read on similar topics.

Then today I felt rushed and thin from work. I could feel the pressure of our deadlines falling ahead of me and my mind skipping from idea to idea. Fortunately, I recognized the impulse, acknowledged the legitimate deadlines and that certain deadlines weren’t real.

I calmed down.

But an itch stayed with me.

The idea that I don’t need to run or be so frantic. That this is not normal and is negative. That the constant always on communication is part of the cause.

I suddenly thought I should take a month of social media and that as today is the first of the month, today is a great day to start.

So no more logging on to social media for me for July. I can blog and I may have some automatic messages shared but I probably won’t respond to comments on social.

If you have one of my email address, you can contact me via it and I’ll respond. Perhaps I’ll respond to many comments when I come back on social media. Maybe I won’t be back on social media.

I guess we’ll see.

🔗 Amazon is using algorithms with little human intervention to fire Flex workers - ArsTechnica

🔗 Amazon is using algorithms with little human intervention to fire Flex workers - ArsTechnica

Locked gates, inclement weather, and bad selfies—all reasons drivers report that they were fired by the bots that apparently run human resources for Amazon’s Flex delivery program.

File this one under dystopia future.

AI as a helper, not a replacement

Me: I refuse to use an AI tool because people are better.

Months later

Me: Urgh! This project has taken so much longer than I thought it would! My brain: You know, maybe you could use that AI tool as a helping hand rather than a replacement and it might save you half the time you’ve spent on this project…that would be incredibly valuable, right.
Me: I’M SIGNING UP!

This was a real thought exchange in my head and the outcome. I’ve just signed up to try a new tool. Maybe it won’t work at all, but maybe it will help.

I’ll let you know.

Podcasts appearance: On Logos Daily [Podcast #325] - ChurchMag

🔗 On Logos Daily (Podcast #325) - ChurchMag

Blessing and I spoke with the guys behind logos daily to discuss the no. 1 Bible study software and how users can get the most out of it.

I really enjoyed this chat with Jason and Ryland and I’m really glad Blessing cut out my terrible attempt at an American accent.

(P.S. I’m going to start sharing more appearances and similar.)

Satisfied with my setup

“Oh! The WWDC keynote has started?!? How did that skip me by?”

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t watch a wwdc keynote. The annual tradition of waiting for the -papal- corporate decrees of this year’s bug fixes and new features across Apple’s product lines had become a mini ritual for me. But this year was different. It’s not that I dislike my Apple devices and their software; far from it! In fact, that may be the reason for my absence. Unlike in past years where I had clear wishes for iPad improvements, this year I am satisfied with my setup. It gets work done and let’s me relax. The new features I’ve seen sound like they will bring some improvement in both areas but I could have happy continued with my current setup. Of course, I’m sure I’ll jump on the beta train at some point but I’m in no hurry like I was with iOS 8, or 9, or 10!

Do a rep

I’ve been skipping my reps.

No, not weightlifting or machines at the gym, hand lettering and calligraphy. A couple of years back I discovered calligraphy was a fantastic way to deal with the stress and overthinking I was struggling with. The intense focus it required help me block out the world and just engage with a task.

At a point in my life when I was really struggling with purpose, calligraphy helped me just create. It also had the benefit of making my sketchnotes a smidge more beautiful.

Well after half a year or so life started getting in the way and I stopped doing my regular practice.

Fast-forward to today and I rarely do a calligraphy practice or try to copy a hand lettering design (they are not the same thing by the way). Instead I tend to jump in to trying to make my own original design or sketchnote. While there’s nothing wrong with either activity, I haven’t improved and have possibly even gone backwards a bit.

It’s like a football player who doesn’t spend time doing their drills but just plays practice games. Sure, they’ll get better at some aspects but they would improve more with some drills too.

So I’ve found some old hand lettering designs and I’m going to do some practice again.

🔗 Eric Carle Very Hungry Caterpillar author dies aged 91 - BBC News

🔗 Eric Carle: Very Hungry Caterpillar author dies aged 91 - BBC News

In 2019, he told the BBC why he thought the story endured for five decades. “For many years, my publisher and editor and I did not know the reason for The Very Hungry Caterpillar being so popular,” he said. “But over time, I’ve come to feel that it is a book of hope. And it is this hopeful feeling that has made it a book readers of all ages enjoy and remember.”

I remember reading Eric’s books as a child and it was a joy to introduce my daughter to them. The style of his graphics has stuck with me since then. I’m sure he has just gone into his cocoon now and will emerge again as a beautiful butterfly.

Netflix Reportedly Hiring Executive For Expansion Into Video Games

🔗 Netflix Reportedly Hiring Executive For Expansion Into Video Games

In a report released by The Information, we’ve found out that Netflix has approached several veteran game industry executives regarding their want to expand into video games, though we are not yet sure which executives. Despite the lack of specifics, we do know that Netflix is considering offering a bundle of games that would be similar to Apple’s online subscription.

That’s pretty interesting. Netflix expanding into other verticals now to provide a comprehensive package seems like a great business move for them and would be appealing as a consumer. Apple Arcade never really got me.

Why I love being in the Apple ecosystem

I took a screenshot to show some changed that haven’t been made. I was going to edit in preview but then saw an iPad icon…WAIT! I can draw! So I highlighted and wrote on my iPad what needed changing. Then sent from my Mac in our chat app. Apple certainly has issues and is pricy but examples like this are the combination of hardware and software working so well together that Apple loves to boast about. I’m definitely going to use this feature a lot more!

When simple is more complicate.

As I was thinking about how to manage publishing obsidian notes to my digital garden, I was saying I wanted a “simpler” solution. That was partially true. Really, I wanted a simpler solution for me, the user, even if it meant a more complicated backend. The danger is that complicated workflows are easier to break.

This is true of other areas of life too. We try to make things “simpler” for ourselves but under the surface there is a sea of (hopefully) hidden complexity.

The danger, is those dependencies will fail and our system comes crashing down or grinds to a halt like a shipping cannel clogged by a boat. Simple solutions may end up needing more maintenance than the “complicated” option.

So perhaps a simple drag and drop isn’t the worst thing in the world after all.

A technique for producing ideas sketchnote summary

A quick little book summary sketchnote of a quick little book: a technique for producing ideas. Main action takeaways are 1) dig deep in your initial research. 2) be curious and collect information about general interests as well as the problems you are investigating. 3) when you are stuck, do something emotionally stimulating.

sketchnote, a technique for producing ideas.

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