Remember those books?

Design is about removing friction?
I was reminded of a number of design books I read when in College and University. They were held up as the way to do good design. Its something I did explore at UCD gathering last year.

Remember…

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Hooked by Nir Eyal

Made to stick by Chip Heath, Dan Heath (although this isn’t what I remember it to be)

Even reading the titles now makes it very clear how much things have changed.

This is no longer, just some dating yarns

Myself working in a coffee shop
Working away in Ezra & Gil coffee shop

You might be wondering whats happened to the book I’ve been writing: The fictional dating book. You might remember in my new years resolution I had planned to get it done by next year. Of course this is an aim rather than a absolute deadline.

This is whats happened so far…

  • I wrote a bunch of interesting dates down (only the ones which were memorable because something note worth happened, this is no judgement – but we all got dates when you can’t believe that happened)
  • Hannah approached me after a presentation about the future of dating. Hannah took my very rough drafts, rewrote them and turned them into actual stories (I can’t tell you how much hard work Hannah put into this)
  • We went back and forth for a while but got to a place where it was making a really good read. Totally blew me away when I read (listened to) the whole thing in one single night.
  • We looked for someone with fresh eyes to read the book and make comments and edits. Valeska agreed and has done a great job.
  • I am currently going through Valeska’s comments and suggestions (there is a lot of them). Shes also echoed Hannah’s thoughts for more clear structure too.
  • I have also looked around for an illustrator for the chapters and sections. I may have found someone really good for this.
The current book overview
The current book overview, running from front to back cover

So that’s where we are now. 8 core sections with 2-4 stories and a introduction and conclusion for each. 34000+ words and 94 pages (if they are standard A4 and JB6 format?). Originally I was planning to self-publish through Amazon, its something I have done previously with a ebook for thinking digital as a test. but multiple people have convinced me I should share a few chapters or a section with a book publishers. Who knows what might happen? Speaking to a few printer friends and there were good offers to print off a small run of about 25 full bounded books. So who knows at the very least I will have a book and ebook.

The biggest question is what is the book, whats the elevator pitch for the book? This is a very good question and one both Hannah and Valeska have asked me over and over again.

I have described it as a modern take on Adrian Moles diary but its certainly evolved a lot and includes so much more about myself within the book. Even which category would you find the book, is a tricky question. Its mainly fiction (informed by experience), part non-fiction, slightly political and touch of self-help.

Personally I am excited but also a little concerned. Its one thing to write a blog about these things but for it be published is something else. Of course its the work of fiction, which I don’t personally read that much (last fiction book I read was a Cory Doctorow book), making things even stranger.

I’ll also be retiring datingyarns.com for now, which had a couple of my own stories on there. I won’t take them down because the ones in the book are a million times better and who knows I may use the site to promote the book in the near future. Although the book is no longer just dating yarns…

Sleep books compared

Why we sleep by Matthew Walker

I noticed there has been a lot of hype and discussion around the book why we sleep by Matthew Walker.

Neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker provides a revolutionary exploration of sleep, examining how it affects every aspect of our physical and mental well-being. Charting the most cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and marshalling his decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood and energy levels, regulate hormones, prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, slow the effects of aging, and increase longevity. He also provides actionable steps towards getting a better night’s sleep every night

Its a good book but I didn’t find it as in-depth and as interesting as

The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience by Dr. Guy Leschziner

The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret world of sleep by Guy Leschziner.

Dr. Guy Leschziner’s patients, there is no rest for the weary in mind and body. Insomnia, narcolepsy, night terrors, sleep apnea, and sleepwalking are just a sampling of conditions afflicting sufferers who cannot sleep–and their experiences in trying are the stuff of nightmares. Demoniac hallucinations frighten people into paralysis. Restless legs rock both the sleepless and their sleeping partners with unpredictable and uncontrollable kicking. Out-of-sync circadian rhythms confuse the natural body clock’s days and nights.

Then there are the extreme cases. A woman in a state of deep sleep who gets dressed, unlocks her car, and drives for several miles before returning to bed. The man who has spent decades cleaning out kitchens while “sleep-eating.” The teenager prone to the serious, yet unfortunately nicknamed “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome” stuck in a cycle of excessive unconsciousness, binge eating, and uncharacteristic displays of aggression and hyper-sexuality while awake.

With compassionate stories of his patients and their conditions, Dr. Leschziner illustrates the neuroscience behind our sleeping minds, revealing the many biological and psychological factors necessary in getting the rest that will not only maintain our physical and mental health, but improve our cognitive abilities and overall happiness.

I’m sure many will disagree, but I’d recommend The Nocturnal Brain over Why we sleep. Although I will admit it is a harder read, due to some of the experiences explained in some detail.

Lost connections: What the best science really says about depression

I read Lost Connections a while ago and was quite blown away by the hypothesis/result. I have recommended it many times, not just to people who have/been depressed; but generally.

Theres a lot of controversy about the book, quite a few people disagree with Johann Hari.

What ever you think, its worth reading and considering.

Not the biggest mark fan but the subtle art of not giving a fcuk is good

A long while ago someone once called the game, a self-help book for men who don’t like/will take self-help. I’m still so-so on that one but seeing Mark Manson review his own book, reminded me of the two books he wrote which I actually found pretty good. (I don’t really like the man but he writes well and his examples are always useful). Not that it changed my life or anything like that. But rather I liked the down to earth advice and there was plenty of things I heard and took on board a long time ago.

For example the fault and responsibility one.

The pandemic isn’t my fault, its also not my fault I’m terrified of medical injections. But it is my responsibility that I have my vaccine injection. In my mind its unfair but its overridden by my responsibility to myself, family, friends and society.

The questioning of death is a important one I learned 11 years ago. I said then and now, I want to push my limits but not in a jump out the plane or climb a mountain way. I’m much more interested in socially pushing myself.

So as a whole I would recommend the audio/e/books, even if you don’t like the punk rock style of Mark himself. I know lots of people love his style and the heavy swearing, I don’t care so much for it, however what comes out from his brain is a wealth of experiences and connecting it with a better way to be more human.

My dyslexic advantage audio interview

During the last few months I have recorded a number of podcasts on a number of different subjects; form Tech for good live blacklivesmatter specials, a late night conversation with Tara Hunt to a discussion with Cathy about the future.

I did also recorded one for Sam talks which will go up soon (about Adaptive podcasting).

However I was very humbled to be asked to recorded one with the fine folks at the Dyslexic Advantage. I half mentioned it previously but it went live last month under the inspirational people category. Its members only content, so I can’t send you a link, however I highly recommend being a paid member if you are dyslexic, are a partner/parent of someone with dyslexia or would like support the further research into dyslexia.

The folks behind the Dyslexic Advantage were happy for me to share this interview and I will remind people (they never asked for this). The Dyslexic Advantage is a 501(c)3 charitable organisation that needs support. Support via the Premium subscriptions and donations are welcomed.

The interview is a in-depth discussion about my dyslexic journey from an early age to where I am now. Listening back to it, it sounds like I had it all planned out but honestly I didn’t. I did have a certain amount of foresight about where I wanted to be based on my experiences. There was certainly a lot of decisions about rebelling against the status-quo and finding my own trajectory forward. If you want to see the full list of recommendations for young people its here.

Don’t forget the book is a great book to get! You can get it in ebook, audiobook and physical form.

The awful state of library books in the intenet age

Manchester Library

I recently I went to town on the ebooks ecosystem after reading this post. Then a few days ago I decided to get back into using the library book system again.

It was pretty easy, heck I didn’t really need to go into Manchester library at all (I have a library number/card already). I downloaded Borrow box put in my details and then browsed for ebooks and audiobooks – easy!

While asking in the library about borrowing ebooks.on eink kindle device, it was a shake of the head. I know in the past Amazon have tried different things in the states, but frankly the borrow box is a step in the right direction, although its not directly like a library book system!

If only Amazon Kindle ereaders, kobo, etc had a more open system, they could share in the current library borrowing system. All those people buying ebooks not able to take advantage of their citizenry rights.

Interviewed by PyDataMcr for their podcast about data in dating

Beginning XSLT with Jeni Tennison

I had the pleasure of talking to PyData Manchester better known as PydataMCR.

They post their podcasts to Anchor.fm oddly enough but post it elsewhere too, so its take your pick. There is a RSS feed too which was tricky to find at first for us old skool podcasters.

The interview was nice but if you heard me talk about online dating data before you may have heard a lot of it before. It was noticeable how things move in the dating world, should do some more research really.

At the end there is a shout out to a woman who has been an inspiration for me. Jeni Tennison the CEO of the Open Data Insitute. I wasn’t sure if Jeni was the only woman on a wrox book cover ever. Although I did notice both genders on the C# 2005 programmers reference book and Beginning XHTML. Even saw multiple races on Professional Multicore Programming: Design and Implementation. Then I finally found Beginning Java Objects: From Concepts to Code by Jacquie Barker

So I take back, although I was never so sure..

Thanks to PydataMCR for the interview and my chaotic schedule which caused many issues. Remember to subscribe to the podcast here.

Douglas Rushkoff and live team human podcast

There is a author who have been following for many years/decades. His name is Douglas Rushkoff and to be fair I have written about him a few times including the new book at the time, throwing rocks at the google bus.

It all started when I read the Ecstasy Club when I was much younger then Media Virus and Cyberia.

I had no idea about Team Human which he’s been doing for a long while but during FutureFest (blog coming soon) I got talking with Douglas and he mentioned there was a live recording for the podcast in London a few days later on Monday. I was able to juggle a few things and go along with a friend.

Team Human LIVE from Brick Lane, London

It was quite a thoughtful and intellectually stimulating night which I don’t need to describe it because the first podcast is up.

What if we stopped thinking about the future as a noun and started thinking about it as a verb? We can future together!
The second part should be with Rupert Sheldrake, whos TEDx talk was banned from TED.

I’m now subscribed to Team human and look forward to hearing how things turned out…

Clubbed: a visual history of UK club culture

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/41140738295/

I kickstarted Clubbed a while ago, and a few days ago I got my copy in the post. Now its got a proud spot on my bookshelf.

Clubbed: a visual history of UK club culture

Of course its not just about the Hacienda but lots of famous UK clubs and dance nights. Its a beautifully designed booked which reflects the graphic design of the era.

Clubbed: a visual history of UK club culture

Very happy to be a backer along so many others.

She means business

While doing some research around Living a conscious life. I was pleasantly surprised to find Carrie Green had included part of a conversation following the Tedx talk above, with her in North Tea Power in her book.

When I discovered this, I decided well I might as well get a copy for my ever growing library. Today I got my copy…

From the chapter – The little voice in your head

A guy called Ian Forrester climbed up to the stage, I handed him £20, the audience applauded and he went and sat down. A few weeks later we met up over a cup of tea and he told me how a brush with death a few years earlier made him make the decision that he was never going to let anything stand in his way. He said, “People are paralyzed by their fear of what might happen, and so they won’t reach out and grab what’s in front them. And that’s pretty much what I did.”

Thank you again Carrie for the quote and everything, I will never forget the moment.

Reading the dyslexic advantage at last

The Dyslexic Advantage
At long last I started reading or rather listening to The dyslexic advantage. I’m totally blown away by what I’ve been reading. I mean I knew most of this but the science behind it and how it can be a super power; has literally shocked and moved me. I have written about my own dyslexic a few times including in everyday life, in the media and my thoughts about how it may affects relationships.

From the very start the book sets its agenda, to look at dyslexia strengths and less about its weaknesses…

Most books on dyslexia focus on problems with reading and spelling. While these problems are extremely important, they’re not the only—or even the most important—things that individuals with dyslexia find critical for their growth, learning, and success.
As experts in neuroscience and learning disabilities, we’ve worked with hundreds of individuals with dyslexia and their families. In the process we’ve found that individuals with dyslexia often share a broad range of important cognitive features. Some of these features are learning or processing challenges—like difficulties with reading and spelling, rote math, working memory, or visual and auditory function. But others are important strengths, abilities, and talents; gifts we call the dyslexic advantage. While these features differ somewhat from person to person, they also form recognizable patterns—just as the different musical works of Mozart are distinguishable yet recognizably the work of the same composer.

Theres many paragraphs but I wanted to share some of the key ones I’ve read so far. The whole book focuses on M.I.N.D strengths, which are the 4 key strengths dyslexics share or in parts.

I personally have a strong amount of all 4. They are not saying its only dyslexics which have them but much more likely and much more strongly. Think of them like the Big 5 personality traits rather than Myers-Briggs types.

  • M-Strength for Material Reasoning, which is primarily reasoning about the position, form, and movement of objects 3D space
  • I-Strengths for Interconnected Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to spot, understand, and reason about connections and relationships (e.g., analogies, metaphors, systems, patterns)
  • N-Strengths for Narrative Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to reason using fragments of memory formed from past personal experience (i.e., using cases, examples, and simulations rather than abstract reasoning from principles)
  • D-Strengths for Dynamic Reasoning, which is the ability to accurately predict using patterns derived through experience the future or the unwitnessed past

The I, N & D Strengths are very much a key part of me (M too, but maybe a little less so). I always seen the world in one massively connected ecosystem. Everything is connected and its hard trying to explain to others how it all meshes together.

Patterns are observed and seem to stick in my mind. They seem to exist as a narrative or at least are stronger as narrative. This is extremely useful when finding my way places again unfolds as a narrative rather than a map or directions.

For dyslexic brains, excellent function typically means traits like the ability to see the gist or essence of things or to spot the larger context behind a given situation or idea; multidimensionality of perspective; the ability to see new, unusual, or distant connections; inferential reasoning and ambiguity detection; the ability to recombine things in novel ways and a general inventiveness; and greater mindfulness and intentionality during tasks that others take for granted.
Nondyslexic brains often excel at applying rules and procedures in an expert and efficient manner. Dyslexic brains often excel at finding “best fits” or at ad hoc problem solving.

I hadn’t really thought about it this way but makes so much sense. Maybe this is why Art just makes sense for me. Its also clear a gist, conversation, sentence or just a word can spring tons of connected thoughts. For example the idea of “local evil” which was a title for a event had my mind cycling for weeks.

The cluetrain manifesto is another example, from the 95 rules I could almost tell the thesis as a complete narrative without reading any of them. My favourite being #7 Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

The power of Interconnected reasoning lies in its ability to link all of an individual’s knowledge, ideas, and mental approaches into an integrated conceptual matrix. This integrated matrix is incredibly powerful because it allows objects of thought to be approached from many different angles, levels, and perspectives, so they can be seen in new ways, related to other phenomena, and understood in a larger context. The three core skills, or I-strengths, that help form this conceptual matrix are the abilities to detect relationships between different objects of thought, the ability to shift perspectives or approaches, and the ability to reason using a global or top-down perspective.

Can’t tell you how useful this is, its sometimes hard when explaining to others different angles or the bigger picture. Maybe this is why the end of interstellar just made such sense and I actually use it in a few presentations.

Variations not versions
While talking about D-strengths and the incredible power of insight, this point was made.

“Given a problem and an hour to solve it, we typically spend the first three minutes intuiting the answer, then spend the other fifty-seven backtracking . . . to check our results through data collection and deductive logic.” According to Sarah, this intuitive approach “functions in leaps rather than by neatly ratcheting intervals” and is “less lineal than iterative or circular.”
This intuitive approach—used very heavily by individuals with dyslexia who excel in Dynamic and Narrative reasoning—can be very powerful, but it does present a problem: when viewed from the outside it can look an awful lot like goofing off.

Absolutely… Its always painful to backtrack and explain the leaps in thinking. I know its a important part of the scientific process but it doesn’t stop it being not the way our minds are wired.

To be honest, I felt like its not just the education system which is trying to kick this out of us but also society. Partly if you look at the systems which surround us and who is writing them.

One day at work she was standing by her office window staring serenely out at the mountains while trying to let her mind “ease itself around a problem.” Her CFO walked by her door, looked in, and saw one of “his people” staring out the window, so he snapped at her to get back to work. Sarah calmly replied, “You work in your way, I’ll work in mine. Now stop interrupting me.” Sarah later wrote of this episode, “What this CFO didn’t know was that staring into space is precisely how we work. It is our capacity to throw our brains into neutral and let connections assemble . . . that makes it possible for us to see connections that others can’t. We relax into the work.”

I can’t tell you the disbelieve some people have around me working in the northern quarter. The different buzzy environment completely changes the way I think, like staring out the window or being less focused.

This need for patient reflection can also create enormous problems at school, where time for reflection is in critically short supply. Try convincing a teacher that staring out the window is how you work best or that “getting busy” means you’ll get less done. Yet this passive and reflective approach really is a valid problem-solving method, and there’s plenty of scientific evidence to support its validity and effectiveness. In the research literature, this method of problem solving is referred to as insight.

Absolutely… Says it all! Always said hours does not equal effort. I’m personally more effective late at night, when I’m in a more relaxed state and have room/space to think wider and larger. There was a period when I found it hard to sleep because my mind just buzzed away.

Although insight-based problem solving is very powerful, because much of its connection-making process takes place outside the person’s conscious awareness, it can often seem second-rate, mystical, shoddy, or even slightly disreputable. But there’s an observable neurological mechanism underlying insight that’s been well worked out over the last decade by researchers.

Yes insight is always seen as hooky, non-scientific or a joke. There is a large section debunking insight as this but its well worth a blog post on its own. But I think this is a fitting end to insight discussion.

…As teachers, parents, co-workers, and bosses, we need to be watchful for individuals who frequently reach the right results through insight, and when we find them we need to treat their different reasoning style with the seriousness it deserves. Not all staring out the window is productive reasoning, but quite a lot is; and it’s important to understand that some people—including many of the most creative—really do need to “relax into their work.”

I haven’t even finished the Dyslexic advantage but I’m already raving about the book. Its clarified many things and given much more fuel for the things I kind of knew was true but found hard to explain. Gaining deductive logic or insight about my insight (ha!)

This is the kind of book with some tweaking could be a very powerful book for young dyslexic children growing up. Its a little inaccessible but the audio book is great and having both really works.

DatingYarns.com fictional dating stories based on real experiences

internet changed my life

I decided after my TEDxManchester Talk, that enough is enough its about time I stopped talking about my dating stories and just
started posting them. So I bought a domain name – datingyarns.com and setup a tumblr blog on it. As it says, its fictional dating stories based on real experiences. I change peoples names, change places and maybe combine the start of one date with the end of another in the rare case, as most don’t need much crafting at all. I’m mainly changing them to stop myself being sued or causing upset to those involved.

Its also not going to be anything like the tale of Jared Rutledge or even 52 First dates. Nobody will be picketed outside vivid lounge calling for my castration (I hope). Its more like no bad dates just good stories but with very dates stories?

I was thinking about posting them here on cubicgarden.com but I decided I really wanted to have others post their yarns/stories/tales too. As some of them are far better/tragic than the experiences I have had.

Its all a bit of fun (a good yarn) and I hope you will enjoy the stories and have fun working out which bits are fictional and not. You will be very surprised… Maybe I’ll meta blog about a few of them sometime.

My first yarn/chapter/story is up and its called Everybody lies online right?

Enjoy! I have many more where that came from…

Can you pay me back for the Coffee? #OcadoAndChill

date @ simone's 2324

When Hannah sent me a link to the metro piece about one of the bloggers I follow a bit

Basically person A meets person B, things don’t go so well on the chemistry front. Person A decides things to call it a night or go home. Person B goes away then a few days later, contact Person A wanting compensation in return.

Here’s the story as my date told me

My mystery into who pays on the first date stemmed from a journal I wrote on OkCupid when I went on a date with a previous woman. She had made a bit of a song and dance about paying and I kind of innocently wondered, out loud. I do wonder sometimes if I should wonder a little quieter. This time my post on OkCupid caused a small flurry of comments and discussion (and I guess more dates).

My date brought up who pays on the first date and we natter away about that date. However My date told me a story which literally made my chin drop for ages.

On her previous date, she had gone after a bit of chat back and forth. The man had come across quite strongly and My date decided to give him a chance anyway. On the date he wasn’t really make a good impression, and when the bill came she offered to pay half. The man didn’t think this was a good idea and insisted on paying for the whole thing. My date said again, she was willing to go dutch and split the bill. Again the man insisted to pay for everything. Feeling like she may have insulted his inner ego, she backed down and let him pay.

The man walked her to her bus stop and suggested another date should be on the cards. My date righly said maybe she will see. The next day he called her to see how she was and about the second date. She broke it to him nicely, there wasn’t any chemistry and there wasn’t going to be another date sorry. His answer back was frankly shocking…

He said WHAT? I couldn’t believe it… I felt like I had misheard My date in the low level buzz of Bakerie.

“He said he wanted his money back!”

Yes the man My date had last dated wanted his money back after My date had offered to have pay half orginally.

My date must have sat there looking at my face of shock and horror for about 5mins. Every once in a while I would repeat her words again… “he wanted his money back?”

Both are pretty shocking to be honest even in the face of Dating awkwardness.

As nobaddatesjustgoodstories says,

I don’t come with a money back guarantee. Dates aren’t commodities.

I actually felt angry, because as you’ll know if you read this blog often, I am a massively big believer in women always offering to pay for dates.

His response is just beyond me!

Absolutely… I can not even imagine what it must be like to be treated like this.

However my date had a very good reply, one that was genius…

After a while we broke up in laughter, when it had all sunk in and I could ask what happened next?

My date was a strong willed woman and I just knew that couldn’t be the end of the story. It wasn’t… She told me.

She explained how hurt she felt but she thought on her feet and told him, to send his address to her and she will send him a cheque for the exact amount of the money to the penny.

Oh my date was good! I commented to her… Yes she continued. And I have not heard anything from him since.

I pretty much fell back and clapped my hands, attracted a few glances around the Bakerie environment. “Amazing!”

My date was amazing, and what a story. I thought my dates were bad but she had taken the biscuit, put cheese on top and eaten it whole.

This is only one chapter out of a collection of stories in a book/blog keep meaning to make public… Maybe its about time?

Think and a Drink with Frank Rose

Frank Rose

Having been invited to join a panel about new forms of storytelling in Gateshead, with Frank Rose in Newcastle. I was looking forward to meeting him and hearing what he had to say.

Frank ran through a bunch of examples of how storytelling and narrative structures have hardly changed over the years. Most I assume is in his book which he was quietly promoting (I bought a copy, even through I admitted to Frank I would end up buying the ebook version and the book would be lent out to friends who are interested).

The event went pretty flawlessly but there was no real disagreement, so hence no conflict. I did find issue with the lady I was sitting next to (Agnes Wilki). Her comment about quality of content I hear a lot from people within the BBC. So I had to point out that quality can be two things (actual pixel quality and the more subjective idea of quality of the overall concept) some audiences care about one over the other and some don’t care at all.

The overall talk was good but really needed more time for the discussion which started but never really got going unfortunately.

Straight after the talk, was food and the food choice was pretty excellent. The only shame was the lack of flat surfaces to really eat and chat. Frank signing his books the art of immersion and I got talking to a bunch of people including Frank’s wife about the differences and similarity’s of the UK north and south with the American north and south. As she asked me about the BBC’s move to the north of england.

Overall the event was good and well worth visiting if your in the North east. Glad to be part of it and I look forward to coming to more of them in the future. Its also worth mentioning Franks blog on the same subject is full of gems.