Issue #428
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Solidarity with the Ukrainian people against oppressors and those for whom war is a convenient way of distracting/controlling people.

Everything feels less important than war and the death of human beings. But also, the Stoic in me recognises that there's not much I can do about it, so I'm trying not to pay much attention to the news.

Hopefully, this month's Thought Shrapnel newsletter is a welcome distraction. It's always nice to hear from you all, so hit reply or just join me in donating to help Ukrainian people.
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💥 Best of Thought Shrapnel

Of the 27 posts I published this month on Thought Shrapnel, these were my three favourites.
Idea name

Explaining ideas

This comes at things from a branding/advertising perspective, but I appreciate the focus on clarity of language. After all, clarity of language is clarity of thought.
Ideas are thoughts but not all thoughts are “ideas.” Here’s an example of the use of the word “idea” in an agency setting: “I have an idea — let’s do something with augmented reality or Blockchain or make a special lens.” This isn’t wrong; it’s sloppy.

In the traditional industry sense, “idea” means a novel concept. But when it’s used as in this example, it masks the lack of an actual idea  —  like when someone dumps in the word “strategic” before they say something that’s not strategic. It ups the importance of what comes next. The problem: sometimes this works as a meeting tactic but does not lead to good or clear thinking.

Compare this thought with the use of the word “idea” as a novel concept: “I have an idea  —  I want to create a tool that runners can use to track how far they’ve run and then compete with each other by sharing their achievements via the Internet. They’ll track it via this technology in their shoe which will talk to their computer.”
Source: How to explain an idea: a mega post | Mark Pollard
Traffic light

Check your perspective

A useful and illustrative story from Sheila Heen, author of Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most, about why it’s useful to understand other people’s context.

It reminds me, I sometimes tell this story about my eldest son. His name is Ben. He’s 22 now, but when he was about three, we were driving down the street. We stopped at a traffic light, and we were working on both colors and also traffic rules, because at the time we lived on kind of a busy street in Cambridge. So we’re stopped at the light. And I say, “Hey, Ben. What color is the light?” And he says, “It’s green.” I said, “Ben, we’re stopped at the light. What color is the light? Take a good look.” And he goes, “It’s green.” And when it turns, he says, “It’s red. Let’s go.”

Now, the kid seemed bright in most other ways. So I just thought like, what is going on with him? My first hypothesis is maybe he’s color blind, which then that would be my husband’s fault. At least I thought at the time, it’s my husband’s fault. I’ve since been informed it would have been my fault.

So I started collecting data. I’m running a little scientific experiment of my own. So I start asking him to identify red and green in other contexts, and he gets it right every time. And yet every time we come to a traffic light, he’s still giving me opposite answers, because I get a little obsessed with this.

My second hypothesis, by the way, is that he is screwing with me, which I certainly had some data to support. This went on for about three weeks. It wasn’t until maybe three weeks later, and I think my mother-in-law was in town. So I was in the back seat sitting next to Ben, and we stopped at a traffic light. And I suddenly realized that from where he sits in his car seat, he usually can’t see the light in front of us, because the headrest is in the way or it’s above the level of the windshield, windscreen as they say in Europe. So he’s looking out the side window at the cross traffic light.

Now just think about the conversation from his point of view. He’s looking at the light, it’s green; I’m insisting that it’s red, and he’s like, you know, my mother seems right in most other ways, but she’s just wrong about this. The reason that that experience has stuck with me all these years is that it’s such a great illustration of the fact that where you sit determines what you see.
Source: Red Light Green Light | James Sevedge
Medieval Fantasy City Generator

Medieval Fantasy City Generator

The history geek in me loves this so much. And the educator interested in digital literacies loves the fact that you have to manipulate the URL to generate different types of village / town / city!
Source: Medieval Fantasy City Generator

✍️ The rest of Thought Shrapnel

There's other nuggets, but it's up to you to find them! Here's the other 24 posts I published:
  1. Offline for 3 days
  2. Facebook is dying
  3. The hard part of the work is doing the work
  4. AI cannot hold copyright (yet)
  5. Technology and productivity
  6. Hacking the application process
  7. You cannot ‘solve’ online misinformation
  8. The life run by spreadsheet is not worth living
  9. The benefits of taking Wednesdays off
  10. Dark patterns and gambling
  11. Speeding up a Chromebook by allocating zram
  12. Stone Age culture in the Orkney islands
  13. Upgrading an iPod Video for use in 2022
  14. Digital to analogue and back again
  15. Chrome OS Flex
  16. OKRs as institutional memory
  17. Nesta’s predictions for 2022
  18. Blockchain and trusted third parties
  19. On hobbies
  20. Reducing offensive social media messages by intervening during content-creation
  21. The burnout epidemic
  22. Productivity dysmorphia
  23. Twitter’s decline into right-leaning hellsite
  24. BBC Archives and the changing of history

📅 Weeknotes

  • Weeknote 08/2022 — "I’m sitting down to write this on Saturday morning. I’ve done nine days straight of 5k runs on the treadmill at the gym, followed by straight-arm pull-ups. I can see my body shape...
  • Weeknote 07/2022 — "This year seems to be accelerating, and it’s not like I began this year from a standing start. When I look at my calendar for the next few weeks, I’m doing some work in person in a different country for..."
  • Weeknote 06/2022 — "Apparently you can’t diagnose ‘Long Covid’ until at least 12 weeks after infection. Hence I’ve been talking about having ‘Medium Covid’ as it’s been a couple of weeks since..."
  • Weeknote 05/2022 — "Everyone’s heard of ‘long Covid’ but I reckon what I’ve got may be best classed as ‘medium Covid’. It’s in no way a scientific definition, but rather just a feeling that..."

Until next month!

Doug Belshaw
Thought Shrapnel Weekly is published by Dr. Doug Belshaw. You can connect with him by replying to this email, or via Mastodon or LinkedIn.

Some say he's recovered from 'medium Covid'. Others say he's feeling a bit unsupported. No-one thinks he looks distorted.
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