Letting the light in

A-okay by Twan van Elk

Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.

― Isaac Asimov

I have decided I want to start an experiment. I want to try out not using most of the social features of WordPress. So, at least on the front-end of this blog you won’t see likes and follows anymore. I already wasn’t using the Facebook, Twitter and what-have-you integrations, but now I’ll cut the WordPress ones out also.

There’s a bunch of reasons why I want to try this.

First off, a lot of spammy, weird, accounts were starting to show up in the likes as well as the follows. (No, not you.) That probably had something to do with me showing a big list of the followers of my blog on every page of the website, as well as the accounts that left likes under each article. More exposure means a higher possibility of click-troughs, right? Well, no more.

Furthermore, I don’t want to write for likes and follows. I think that if I am more aware of those, I start to write differently. I want to write because I need to and because I want to put it out there, that’s it. Whatever happens after that, happens.

I don’t even want to write for the comments, actually, but those I will leave in for now. Because I want to give you the chance to easily leave your thoughts if you’re so inclined to share them here. That is okay. If you have your own blog and want to write there and then link to me, that is even better. Think about it: you stay in control of your own comments and you will be adding new content to your own blog at the same time. Win-win!

That is also how I want to handle my own reading and reacting. No more follows and likes in the WordPress ecosystem, just reacting when I feel the need to or have something to add. On my own blog. You get a link to your content and I stay in control of mine.

Blogs I regularly want to check into, I will read via their RSS-feeds, which means that I can freely add and remove feeds when I want to, without having to think about the blog owners maybe feeling that I don’t like or support them or something like that. That whole a-like-for-a-like and a-follow-for-a-follow thing. It shouldn’t matter, but I don’t even want to go there. If you have an account on WordPress you probably know what I mean.

So. What else? Oh yeah, today’s playlist: I used to have a voice.

Out there

Mind your own business

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson were reflecting on their company Basecamp. As always they tried to bring it back to its core, treating Basecamp, the company, as a product. They came up with 6 things that needed to change in their eyes:

  1. No more heated discussions about sociological or political issues on the company account, that account should solely be about the work they’re doing at Basecamp;
  2. No more meddling with personal lives by pushing certain benefits, like fitness or education. What employees do —or not do— on their own time is their own business, not the company’s.
  3. Put the decision making back in the hands of the people who were hired for that. So no more committees, working groups, bureaucracy. Back to individual responsibility.
  4. No more indecisiveness or lingering. Explain it once, and then move on.
  5. No more 360 reviews, or ‘peer feedback’ for employee performance reviews. Yeah, ’nuff said.
  6. Be super aware of what it is you do, as a company. Usually that isn’t getting into social issues or getting behind certain movements. Just be responsible for what you are there for as a company.

I don’t know about you, but this so resonates with me, I just love it. Bring it back to the basics, to what is about: the work. And do not be nostalgic about perceived or assumed togetherness or camaraderie at work, just because you are being together in the same building, behind a desk from nine to five or in lots of back-to-back meetings.

That said, I am really curious where my own work and/or work in the Netherlands in general will go. Right now it is all still about digital and working remotely and all is great, as far as I am concerned.

But I fear that as soon as people start thinking there is any room (e.g. because of vaccination or infection numbers going down in some other way), there is a big chance all the steps taken could be thrown out of the window again, and we’d be back at the old ways of doing things in no time. That would be such a shame.

Let’s see what happens.

About: Changes at Basecamp

Bad faith

We are our choices.

― Jean-Paul Sartre

I did not know, but apparently it is World Book Day and Anindita Ganguly asked: “What are the books that you keep reading often? Do you have any favourite book/ books?”

To answer that question: I do have some favorite books, but I don’t actually reread. There are too many books I still want to read, before I again start looking up books I already have read.

Favorite books though… Well, off the top of my head these come to mind:

About Haruki Murakami… ‘Kafka on the shore’ was the first one I read of him and it is pretty special to me. I was really into the atmosphere that Murakami manages to put into his storytelling. Murakami’s ‘Men without women’ I read on the plane, when we were flying back from Indonesia in 2019. I bought it at the airport in Jakarta and I just blazed through it. When we touched ground again in Amsterdam, about 14 hours after takeoff, I was almost done with it.

And while I was watching the Yann Martel interview about ‘Life of Pi’ I link to in the list above, I was thinking… this could actually be a book that I could read again. – Immediately followed by: hold on, I also still have to read his ‘Beatrice and Virgil‘, that is lying around here somewhere.

When I started thinking about other books that I could add to my list, in my mind I went back to books that I read in my… erm… youth, and that I know I really liked:

Truman Capote’s ‘In cold blood‘, ‘De kellner en de levenden’ (in English: ‘The waiter and the living‘) by Simon Vestdijk, Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses‘, Umberto Eco‘s ‘The Name of the Rose’ and his ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’.

I know I loved those books, but when I try to remember what they were about, I just have vague recollections, not an outlined idea of what their stories were really about. So, perhaps I should start rereading some of them. Why read something, love it, and then lose the plot right after? (Erm… Yes.)

A question then came up. Why did those stories not stick with me?

I think it had to do with my age and with the way I gave attention back then. I have always tried to get my hands and eyes on as much information and influences as I can. And I still do. The internet is great for that and I have a hunger for it. I don’t consider it a bad thing. But sometimes it has to be focused, reigned in again, you know? Shout “Whoa boy, calm down!” and meanwhile pull down hard, something like that.

The slower I go (read: the older I get) and the more I become conscious of my surroundings, the more I can appreciate the value of certain things that, when I was young, I would have passed without noticing. I’m also pretty sure that I miss a lot of things that my younger self would have noticed without noticing it. 

It is what it is.

Hey! It’s Friday again! Who’d have thought? (God, I can ramble sometimes.) My son has just made us some nice coffee and brought me a big mug of it, and my wife just called to tell me she can probably finish work early today. Yesss…

Man

Can a dog catch an eyelash?
Can a fly prepare a meal?
Can a fern think up three wishes?
Knows a fox which crown to steal?

Does the grass shake off bad thoughts?
Does an ant live on its own?
And do cows look into space?
Or hawks at what they’ve grown?

Can you hunt, kill and devour?
Without remorse, cause then you’re fed?
Sit on a twig, flap your wings?
Always keep swimming, till you’re dead?

Can you just stand there? Give me air?
Breathe the life just back in me?
I don’t think that you can do that,
So what are you then, to me?