I never thought I would stay at the BBC so long but today its been 17 years.
I have talked many times how little the BBC impacted in my young life as a young black man in inner city Bristol, immersed in the underground rave scene. So won’t drag that up again, except to say that drive to change the BBC is still very much there.
What keeps me going? Being in a the research and development department is key for me. Its fitting with my personality and my ambitions for a better world. A world where public service can be the viable alternative to the surveillance capitalism and government surveillance. We need different models to keep each one honest, accountable and transparent.
Working with personal data stores, human values, decentralised protocols/systems, in a collaborative manor with the likes of Publicspaces, Mozilla, Nesta, universities like Lancaster, Nottingham, etc. Keeps me excited.
So here’s to another year, maybe one day it will be 20?
I have been working at home since last week Tuesday, a few days after most of my colleagues at BBC R&D. Like most of the country/world who could work from home, we work from home in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic.
For a lot of people working from home is very challenging, for a number of reasons including having kids, job which requires access to specialist equipment, trying to separate work and personal life for a long time. Theres also the mental, social and physical health sides of this all.
So I thought I’d share how I’m managing with staying at home most of the time. Of course take from it what you think is useful.
I now switched to my natural working time of 1030-11am till 7pm. I do get up and do all the things I usually do when going to work including getting dressed, having breakfast, playing podcasts, etc. Where usually I am in a rush for the door, I now relax playing a few podcasts in a row and across my flat.
Physically working I switch between using my standing desk in my bedroom and the sofa in the living room. I also have my dinner table but haven’t used that yet.
I take breaks when ever I want rather than a lunch break as such. It makes sense to me but I’m sure others will disagree
I’m using my Dell XPS 13 to the maximum memory wise (if I could add another 16gig to it I would, but it tops out at 16gig). Because of that I have to keep opening and closing the virtual windows 10 machine to check email. This is actually quite good because I’m answering emails then closing it while I do other things like writing gdocs, a lot of zoom calls.
Media beyond the news
Talking about media, I am currently playing podcasts as theres lots of podcasters recording from their homes, just like the mainstream media. At some point I will start listening to some of the audiobooks I have saved.
Been watching a lot of films and may start watching more TV shows but generally its audio in the morning and videos in the evening.
I’m also considering getting more into gaming as I’m not much of a gamer, but do have a Xbox 360 and Playstation one classic. I actually do have a steam account but never used it so theres something I might explore. I’m also looking for a good gaming site for casual gaming which can be played together with my partner or friends, but is respectful of my data? Any ideas do drop a comment…
Staying in shape
I’m lucky to have a communal garden so can sit outside with minimal risk to myself and others. Its also where I’m going to start doing the diabolo now its getting warmer (thankfully). I have been outside a few times, mainly to get food, post letters and go riding in the pennies on the scooter. I am planning to do some more serious walking for shopping and exercise.
Been wondering if now is a good time to order those Rollerblades to go with my skateboard?
I don’t live with my partner but we are talking everyday. Its good and we find new and good ways to do things together over the phone and videochat.
I have always been in regular contact with my parents but also connecting with my sister more. Been thinking about the massive family I have and I should reach out to them more too.
I’m also making a very conscious decision to everyday get in touch with people I haven’t spoken to in a long time. Think about it, everybody is at home and likely will be very happy to hear from an old friend. Its not like they are out or on holiday. So far its been great and I expect it brings delight to others too.
Keeping my mind in gear
I have a large task list of things to do, not only because of covid-19 but generally. So I can slowly work my way through that while at home. Some of it is computer based, some internet based, some hardware and some physical DIY type things. Been thinking I should physically take up the art of motorcycle maintenance with my scooter.
Taking a look at the list, there is always something I could be doing and I ordered that raspberry pi 4 before this became a pandemic.
I’m taking time out to practice self-care, relax and sleep longer than usual which is helping a lot with my mental health. I’m avoiding the news cycle as mentioned previously but also avoiding lots of the facebook nonsense as I don’t need to use it now volleyball is off for the foreseeable future.
I’m back in Berlin not long afterwards for a look at object based media and how machine learning can work together for the future of storytelling, quite similar to TOA 17 but more exploring and more I can talk about now compared to then.
In work I’ve been having this ongoing discussion about not wanting to be rich and famous just making the world a little bit better a place to live. Its easy to be singled minded and follow the money where it leads, but the harder thing is to live in your means and try and make the world a little better.
So rethinking this… I’ve started to add to this by describing the geek chic/lifestyle as…
Always living life, always learning and always on the go.
This seems to fit well no matter your siltation.
Always living life, can be anything from climbing a mountain, soaking up the atmosphere around you, helping others, what ever; as long as you are living life and pushing yourself, living in the moment and enjoying it.
Always learning, is a hat tip, full head nod (or heck a dab if your into that) for lifelong learning. Never too old to learn and if you are not learning then what are you doing? That is unless you are educating/helping others, although the act of helping others is a learning experience too.
Always on the go, doesn’t necessarily mean going physical places. It can mean other types of progress like reaching out to more people with works, getting ahead in your career, etc. Getting mentally ahead and never settling unless you are ready for it.
Quite a few people have said good things to me since I posted about reading the dyslexic advantage. On Saturday I finished the whole book and although there are so many great sections the last one had so much to talk/blog about
The last section which is all about work, and so very fitting…
For individuals with dyslexia, good-fitting jobs have several common features. First, they engage strengths and avoid weaknesses. As we’ve discussed, many individuals with dyslexia excel in big-picture reasoning, or the ability to see the overall features, “contours,” or implications of objects or ideas. The occupation or position in which they best display this ability depends upon which MIND strengths they possess, but as a general rule, jobs that fit individuals with dyslexia well stress problem solving, troubleshooting, fixing things, coming up with new ideas, thinking about what’s missing or not being addressed, or telling stories (e.g., sales, counseling, coaching, advertising, entrepreneurship).
In contrast, individuals with dyslexia often struggle with fine-detail processing, mastering routine procedures to the point of automaticity, or rote memory. As a result, they often find that jobs that stress repetition, efficiency, consistency, attention to details, use of procedures, application of fixed rules, or routine processing tasks (especially clerical tasks that involve the manipulation and use of written symbols) are a poor fit.
I can’t tell you the cognitive pain of repetition, I find it super uncomfortable and far prefer the new and unknown. My mind wonders and before long I’m innovating my way out of doing the task as is. Better way to spend my cognitive surplus?
After choosing a job that seems to be a good fit, individuals with dyslexia should work hard to optimize that job environment by being proactive in pursuing opportunities, self-advocating with supervisors and co-workers, building partnerships, pursuing leadership opportunities, and using technologies to maximize their productivity.
Many individuals with dyslexia are especially good at spotting opportunities that others have missed and then aggressively and proactively taking advantage of those opportunities. Professor Julie Logan cited this ability as one of the most common characteristics she’s observed in the dyslexic entrepreneurs she’s studied.
We’ve also observed this ability in many of the individuals with dyslexia we’ve interviewed—and not just in business. Astrophysicist Matt Schneps told us, “One thing I’m very proud of is that I’m very good at taking advantage of opportunities. If I see something I think is useful for me, I think about how I can make the most of it and take advantage of that.” Because of this ability (and strong self-advocacy skills like those we’ll discuss later), Matt has been able to enjoy four entirely different careers over the past thirty years, all with the same employer.
Making and taking those opportunities is a big thing, which I’m certainly hard-wired for. Most people take and give out business cards as a brush off but I take them seriously. I do like to meet or follow up, see if theres a chance for collaboration. I’m also generally interested in the person and if I can connect them with someone else I might know.
A second key feature of jobs that fit individuals with dyslexia well is that they engage interests. While everyone works better on tasks they find interesting and enjoyable, individuals with dyslexia are often especially dependent upon interest to produce their best efforts. In contrast, when tasks fail to engage their interest, they often struggle to perform well and remain focused. This is largely because many of the rote or automatic skills needed to perform routine tasks require more focused attention for individuals with dyslexia. This need for heightened attention can be difficult to sustain unless there are things about the job that are especially interesting. When work heightens interest and mood, dyslexics typically respond with greater creativity and performance.
Absolutely, like most people I assume but I guess I actively find my mind drifting away to more interesting things. Focus is difficult when not in my wider area of interest. I mean I’m curious about lots of things, so its really got to be something poor/bad for me.
A third key feature of jobs that fit individuals with dyslexia well is that they focus on results rather than on methods. Many of our interviewees mentioned that they often perform tasks in unconventional ways—frequently of their own devising. For example, more than half told us that they solved math problems differently from how they were taught by using unconventional methods that made more sense to them.
This is something I’ve known for a long while, I can’t help but find alternative ways to do things. This is why if you tell me a task without the bigger context/picture I find it frustrating as hell. I’m always thinking about the final impact not the individual steps to get there. Those are just details to me. Reminds me of Do you have humility, a sense of craft and can you hustle?
Jobs that allow flexibility can open the door to success for dyslexics. It’s often while devising new methods for routine tasks that dyslexics come up with innovative approaches that save time, effort, and expense and improve outcomes for everyone.
There is evidence that this kind of flexibility is often more easily found in positions very near the top or the bottom of the structures of large organizations but in shorter supply in the middle. Professor Julie Logan has found that although many large corporations have CEOs with dyslexia, fewer than 1 percent of middle managers in such firms are dyslexic.
Some large companies, like his former employer Intel, manage to maintain their flexible attitudes despite their size. Douglas Merrill also told us that supporting this diversity in thinking styles was one of his primary goals as chief information officer at Google. Douglas worked hard to give employees the greatest possible flexibility in choosing the work habits and technologies that allowed them to be their most productive. When a company shows this kind of flexibility, it’s likely to be a good fit for individuals with dyslexia. Of course, there’s no employer that can provide more flexibility than oneself, which is one reason why so many dyslexics start their own businesses.
I have been looking at alternatives; before anybody starts; YES I know IRC, yes I have used IRC in the past and more recently. I get it but I always find it not a great environment, especially for modern work, due to the obscure never-changing syntax and behaviors. I also know people who use slack via IRC and I have tried using Slack with a Jabber/XMPP client but its painful for anything but talking to individual people I found.
Part of my worry is slack trying to be the end point for everything. Its seductive and easy like Facebook is, but scratch one of the sides and you find the walls are more concrete than expected. Yes there are permalinks, bots and markdown content but it feels very hidden?
I’ve recently been talking to a few women via some dating sites and I got into an interesting conversation about passion. I asked one woman what she was really passionate about? She had a hard time deciding what. So after a long time chat, I sent a link to Steven Kotler on Forbes. I was kind of surprised I hadn’t written about it previously. Although I do share 8 traits to be great with friends.
My simplistic view on it is…
Make a long list
Search for overlapping items within the list, those overlaps are hints to your passion
I also got talking about my work/life balance and reflected on the fact I don’t really have a work/life balance because what I do is what I love. People recently have asked me if I’m going to Berlin, Bucharest, etc for work or pleasure? I usually ask, is there any difference? Although I guess at the customs gate, I have to be very clear and questioning about this all.
Theres tons of junk and hookey out there (just have a look through thoughtcatalog) but I found these things pretty reasonable. I guess part of the problem is stopping enough to think about all this stuff. Its certainly not something most people think about.
A few friends have decided it might be for them but I also received a email about vrumi from Claire. Vrumi is different from places like Zipcube because its tackling the long tale of usually forgotten spaces; spaces like my own living room!
Could my flat be the perfect place workspace during the day?
London is full of rooms that lie empty during the day because their usual inhabitants are out at work, away at university, or have left home altogether. There are all sorts of spare rooms – box rooms, underused dining rooms and sitting rooms – gathering dust. And there are rooms that were designed for a specific purpose – a home gym or music room, for example – which don’t get the use they might.
What if all this empty space, in a city in which property is at a frankly eye-watering premium, could be put to work? And why stop at London?
I like the idea and think its a good one but not quite for me personally. Don’t get me wrong I know quite a few people who have been inspired by sitting in my flat looking out the windows. A few of my Airbnb guests have sat and marvelled at the view, while others have felt inspired enough to get a ton of work done. Heck when the Tesco delivery people come, they always say something about what an amazing view.
I consciously take my full hour or sometimes a little more, to balance the amount of time I sometimes work (I quantify my work time with hamster time tracker, so know how much time I have worked)
I very rarely eat at my desk, although many of my colleagues do it regularly. To be fair I have mentioned eating at the kitchen table (we have communal kitchen tables on each floor) but they always blame meetings or not enough time.
Take Back Your Lunch. In the best of worlds, that’s something we all ought to do every day. At the very least, I want to urge you to take back your lunch on Wednesday, and then on every Wednesday this summer, wherever you are. To find out where people will be gathering – or if you’d like to organize a Take Back Your Lunch Meetup in your city or town
Sounds good to me, reminds me of some of the early breakfast meetups there use to be in London.
Organizations are often run according to “the superchicken model,” where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. And yet, this isn’t what drives the most high-achieving teams. Business leader Margaret Heffernan observes that it is social cohesion — built every coffee break, every time one team member asks another for help — that leads over time to great results. It’s a radical rethink of what drives us to do our best work, and what it means to be a leader. Because as Heffernan points out: “Companies don’t have ideas. Only people do.”
Even before I watch the video I’m in agreement. This reminds me of my favourite cluetrain rule.. #7
This is a generation of employees with technological fluency that is willing to live at home longer until they find a company that they truly want to work for. In other words, organizations must shift from creating an environment where they assume that people NEED to work there to one where people WANT to work there.
Need and Want… I believe this to be true in the creative classes, but certainly not for many out there unfortunately. Now thats something we should be working to change…
Pretty much every week I tend to work away from the office. When I first started getting back to work from #mybrushwithdeath, I would work from home quite a bit but now I’m back full time (since early last year) I’ve found myself working out of the Northern Quarter every week. (for those outside Manchester, the Northern Quarter is like the East end of London. Its full of run down shops and a independent vibe)
Some would say, something like yeah yeah working from the Northern Quarter, yeah yeah really!
But to be honest I tend to get a ton of stuff done on those days when I’m in the Northern Quarter. Maybe even more than I get when I’m at work sometimes. How can that be? I have no idea, till I heard Paul Fenwick on ITConversations.
When I’m in my office, I’m much better at working.
When I’m in the cafe, I’m much better at thinking.
When I’m at home, I like to think I’m better at working on my talks but i’m much better at mindcraft…
It isn’t that I work more effectively out of a coffee shop like North Tea Power than Media City UK. I’m actually experiencing a different kind of workflow while in North Tea Power, a creative work flow. This explains why I wrote most of my techpaper for Perceptive Media while sitting drinking tea. So from my point of view lots of things getting done including adhoc meetings, lovely lunches and interesting discussions.
Of course I’m not saying I don’t get this at work but its certainly quite different…
I’d certainly like to get RescueTime installed (they claim to be creating a official x64 version for Linux very soon) so I can get a better grasp of what I am doing differently… But in the meantime, I’m certainly reaping the benefits of being able to work in different environments, I’d highly recommend more people do the same if ever possible