Artisanal Internet Movement

The the artisanal internet movement is something I can get behind.  TBH I’ve been behind it for a while as I seek increasingly to build things ethically and increasingly remove myself from (social) media outlets.  I’m not convinced about the name myself, it doesn’t quite flow off my tongue.

Slow food. Organic. Decentralized. Back to the land.  These are the kind of words being used to describe it.

For consumers, this means forgoing convenience to control your ingredients: Read newsletters instead of News Feeds. Fall back to private group chats. Put the person back in personalization. Revert to reverse chron. Avoid virality. Buy your own server. Start a blog. Embrace anonymity. Own your own domain. Spend time on federated social networksrather than centralized ones. And when a big story breaks, consider saving your appetite for the slow-cooked, room-temp take.


Back to basics with community building and creating civilisations!

Recently I’ve been re-inspired with the whole concept of community.  Whilst it’s always been in my heart, it’s easy to let life overflow with other things.

I’ve always enjoyed software testing, but the ability to create a community is really what has continually sparked my fire.

I’m currently really enjoy reading The Art of Gathering.  This one is really inspiring me to make important, sometimes subtle changes, to how we do things at TestBash and Ministry of Testing.  I came across Priya on a podcast on The Good Life Project.

I’ve been slowly going back to Flickr as a user recently, which also reminded me of Caterina Fake.  Tim Ferris had a podcast with her, I’m currently going though some others that I find of her.

Caterina has laid the path for so much community inspiration.  I love how the podcasts above clearly show how Flickr was a community first, and a pioneer in ‘social features’.  Communities, like Flickr, were about the conversation and connecting honestly with people.  Caterina sees social media as the corruption of communities.

And this doesn’t apply only to what we call “social media.” There are many communities online: Marketplaces. Crowd-funding platforms. Content sites.  And many of them are thriving, because they recognize, as Caterina does, that what you’re creating is a civilization. You are the framer, the giver of laws, the establisher of norms — and the way you lead your first generation of users will shape how they lead the next generation and the next.

That’s why I believe every founder of an online community has to shape the culture from day one, because the tone you set is the tone you’re gonna keep.


I like how Caterina refers to community building as creating a civilisation, it is very much what Ministry of Testing feels like to me! 😀

And interestingly, the framing, the establishing of norms is something that Priya talks about in The Art of Gathering.

Braving the Wilderness was another book that I enjoyed recently, it’s all about belonging. And very much aligns with all things community, as to me, belonging is very much about finding your tribe.

All in, I’m feeling super positivity about intentionally diving into all this community stuff again.  Feels like I’m coming home again 🙂

Removing Google

There’s definitely a trend of people doing their best to rid their lives of the likes of Google and Facebook.

I find it interesting to read how others are doing it.  Bogdan Popa shares why, and within his post also explains what he has done.

Why go through all this trouble? I’ve grown increasingly concerned this past year with how much access Google has to our lives. They are the world’s biggest advertising company and they have access to most of our web browsing via Google Chrome (62.5% market share – although given the amount of broken websites (some explicitly Chrome-only!) I’ve found since switching to Firefox, I believe this number may actually be higher), all our website visitors via Google Analytics and Google Fonts. Much of our communication via GMail and Google Apps and much of the content we consume every day via YouTube. I’m not even going to get into all the information they gather from people who use Android phones. While I don’t believe that folks working at Google are actively trying to do harm, I believe that, due to the sheer size of the company, no one is truly at the helm and this massive organism will tend toward maximizing profits at whatever expense so I’ve decided to do my best to support the smaller alternatives that are out there.


Building Local Communities Can Work

I love community building and have done my fair share of creating local communities. I see so many communities fail.  Or businesses approach them in such the wrong way.

Front Porch Forum is an online yet local community that has slowly and steadily grown to support local areas, in and around Vermont.  You can only join if you live there.

I find this story amazing, especially as it has grown despite the rise of social media and the likes of Facebook.  But even though I find it amazing, I’m honestly not surprised that it is working.  I wish more people would start grass root efforts and to show that we don’t always need to be dominated by the giants.


The Traps of Being Helpful

I have a problem in that I like to help people out. Of course, that’s not really a problem in itself. It’s when the lack of balance comes.

Where I put other people’s needs before my own.

Mothers can easily identify with this. Mothers always come last.

Entrepreneurs know this too. It’s often a lonely world with many sacrifices made along the way. I’ve put the 10 years of my career, at the most important time in my life, at risk to build something that could quite easily being a waste of time.

When you build a community and try to lead, it’s not you that really matters. It’s the people and the outcome. It’s so easy to not put those important boundaries around yourself.

I know that people don’t really see me as selfish. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling that way, when I wish I could be doing more.

I’m getting better at dealing with it.

I’m learning to detach myself so that negative situations don’t drag me down.

I’m learning to better focus my time on things that matter.

Ultimately, these days, I’m trying to do less so that I can focus on a better me.

Less to me doesn’t mean not doing stuff. It means working on and really figuring out what is good for me. Slowing down when everyone wants to speed up is hard!

I’m sure a better me is better for everyone.

Write for yourself, not others. You will thank yourself later.

I’ve slowly been getting my writing mojo back.  2018 was a lot about tidying stuff up in my digital life.  Life was a bit mad for a few years and I didn’t get the chance to mentally or physically clear up the mess.

Whilst I’m still not back at writing proper articles, I feel myself developing that consistent habit of showing up.

I’m not necessarily writing every day. I don’t enforce myself into rules of writing x amount of words or otherwise I fail.  It’s more of developing a habit and a system that I feel happy with.

Part of writing, to me, is developing the habit of logging things, so that when I sit down to write I have plenty of things to choose from and focus on one or two at a time.

  • I’m reading more proper books and taking notes on my phone or highlighting in Kindle, I then put these book notes on my website.  These notes are for me.  I put them on my website for ease of access for me.  Anyone can access them if they look.
  • Trello cards – I have a few different boards for ideas of what to write, whenever I see something with a potential idea, I had it as a Trello card. Screenshots, text, links, images, whatever.  It’s so easy to add a card from my mobile or laptop.
  • Pocket – I add stuff to pocket that I would like to read.  When I get around to reading the stuff I’ve bookmarked then I’ll decided whether I should add a trello card for it.
  • Feedly – I’ve subscribed to many blogs, news sites, etc.  I dip in and out of this on a regular basis.
  • Collecting links – I’ve also collected a bunch of links of interest to me and testing here.  I will probably change this to be not just about testing, but about all the business and tech things I’m interested in.

As I’ve cleared things up I now know I most definitely do not have a shortage of ideas on what to write about.  I also realise this is a process that I’m quite happy to adapt and improve over time.

I tried to find the one or few tools out there that would make writing and publishing easier, and discovered that tool was in front of me that whole time – my wordpress website.  Go figure.

The stuff I’m writing at the moment falls into these categories:

  • timeline on this website – instead of tweeting or posting to Facebook, I’m posting to my own curated timeline on my website (this is just a category called ‘timeline’)
  • blog posts – sometimes I write blog posts here (and trying to do more so on UnSchool.Me)
  • Club Posts – this is the forum over at MoT, there is so much we should be talking about from a testing perspective that isn’t being discussed.  I have a big list of things to add, not sure I’ll ever get through it, but I do my best to post 1-3 new posts per week as discussion starters.
  • content for MoT – I’m still keen to write about testing stuff at times, or gather information that is there to present better to the community.  All my efforts for testing content naturally go into MoT.  I don’t have time to write for anyone else. I keep trying to kid myself I can contribute elsewhere. I have to get better at saying no.
  • notes – I know my brain can’t hold stuff anymore (or perhaps it never did) and I hate it when I can’t recall or revisit loosely the things I’ve been learning and researching. I’ve created a notes section for myself.  It’s messy and raw.  It will change over time.  But at least I have some place to consistently dump some things until later.

The truth is that I write all these things for myself.  I don’t care who reads or shares this, though I do hope some find it useful. Whether someone does or doesn’t engage with my content won’t stop me from writing all the little or big things that I care about.

My saddest thing is that I took so long to get around to this.  I really feel this is helping my authentically being myself.  Away from the social media eyes and a focus on just creating something of use to myself.

Of course, before someone calls me out for being hypocritical, it won’t stop me sharing some of the things I write on social media, but I am much more selective about what I choose to share.  And unless something goes crazy then I will pay little attention to who shares or likes my stuff.

2019 for me is about developing better consistency, small constant improvements and habits around all of the above.  I know I will thank myself later for this.

Fingers crossed!


Using Email To Replace Facebook

I’ve been mulling over for a while on how to replace ‘all’ social activity with other things.  Increasingly I’m thinking more inward to myself and how I want to connect to people better.

I don’t feel like I can ditch the platforms entirely, but I’m certainly using them less as I become increasingly uncomfortable in how these companies operate and dominate our lives.

Chad mentions here his strategy of moving away from Facebook my using an email list (Mailchimp in this instance).  It’s one worth bearing in mind.

Keeping up with close friends and family post-Facebook: a simple email list

People in my life didn’t have much to say about me leaving Facebook but I did get a few
plaintive emails. How will we keep up with you? How will we see photos of your child?The implication was that without Facebook, all would be lost and we would lose contact forever. I’m exaggerating a little but I was legitimately surprised at the sense of finality that some people seemed to feel, as if there would be no other possibilities for us to connect to each other once I left. Sure, Facebook might be the most convenient way to connect but I never thought of convenience as the hallmark of good relationships. That said, there were people I did want to stay in touch with so I came up with a plan: start a very small mailing list via Mailchimp’s Forever Free plan to stay in touch with very close friends and my family.  I’ve sent three emails this year and it’s been a great overall experience.


A Model for Better Business

The website design annoys me, but the ideas look interesting from a ‘forward thinking’ business aspect.

Over two years, in partnership with CITIZENME, we’ve spoken to 7,000 people in 5 markets about the role of business in the world today. Last year, in RADICAL EVERYONE, they told us they want fundamental change, and they want businesses to drive it ‐ ahead of governments, charities and activists.

This year, that feeling continues. Only 6% of people think businesses should carry on with existing methods. Everyone else, regardless of age, seniority and geography, believes they should challenge convention and create new ways of doing things.


Quality, Analog and Unscaling

Pretty much how I’m doing, trying and aiming to live.  Unscaling is a term I haven’t come across before, but is something I very much do and support.

  1. Shift focus from quantity to quality: For example, unfollow news outlets — they are all playing the attention-grabbing game and all it does is causes stress, even without knowing the facts. Instead, follow people who can analyze and contextualize the news cycle. For me, The Economist is a good option for world business stories. Others like Barry Ritholtz are a good follow for me. For those interested in technology news, again look for people who add context and analysis. Also, read and follow science publications. By making smart choices, you are declaring intellectual independence.

  2. Go analog: In this digital age, it makes sense for us to be analog. It allows us to control the pace of time and allows us to create an environment that helps bring sanity, quality andrelative ease on a daily basis. For example, go to museums, find places to have coffee or dine, where they know your name.

  3. Unscale your life: This is actually a very big idea, because as Tariq rightfully points out that scale is no longer the force of good. Amazon, Facebook andGoogle are three examples of scale gone wrong. AT&T, Comcast andothers are examples of scale-gone-wild. How to fight the scale-goonies? Well, how about favoring independents — stores, services andpeople. In other words, get off the platforms as much as you can. After quitting Facebook a while ago, I am looking to wean myself off Instagram and for 2019, I want to shop less on Amazon — Prime isn’t as much of a convenience as it seems to be.


Braving the Wilderness + Community

I just finished reading Braving the Wilderness (see my basic notes) by Brené Brown.

It was a lovely read.  Whilst there was a lot to take in, I got completely sucked in and read it quickly.  Throughout it all I was thinking of how so much of what she talks about is or could be related to building stronger communities.

The book is all about belonging, and that is a core part of all communities too.  People who start or run communities need to understand the idea of belonging better.  Myself included!

I would like to explore this concept further…!