Developing your niche

    The website of the guy behind this post is a bit too heavy on the self-marketing for my liking, but I did like the diagram in this post about developing rather than ‘finding’ your niche.

    The diagram is contrasted with the kind of Ikigai approach you usually see which, he points out, doesn’t tell you where to actually start.

    First, you need to take a courageous leap.

    You need to ignore the negative voices of self-doubt, and you need to ignore feelings of “imposter syndrome.”

    Next, you need to begin exploring the odd thing(s) you find fascinating. I call this phase, the “Zone of Fascination.”

    Next, you must find a congregation of people who share your irrational fascination. For myself, I found this in r/Zettelkasten.

    After this, you need to exit the congregation and go deeper than anyone else in a specific area. You must undergo three challenges. Think of these as “quests” in a hero’s journey.

    Source: It’s Not about Finding Your Niche, It’s about Developing Your Niche | Scott P. Scheper

    Optimising for feelings, ceding control to the individual

    It would be easy to dismiss this as the musings of a small company before they get to scale. However, what I like about it is that the three things they suggest for software developers (look inward, look away from your screen, cede control to the individual) actually constitute very good advice.

    So, if not numbers, what might we optimize for when crafting software?

    If we’ve learned anything, it’s that all numerical metrics will be gamed, and that by default these numbers lack soul. After all, a life well-lived means something a little different to almost everyone. So it seems a little funny that the software we use almost every waking hour has the same predetermined goals for all of us in mind.

    In the end, we decided that we didn’t want to optimize for numbers at all. We wanted to optimize for feelings.

    While this may seem idealistic at best or naive at worst, the truth is that we already know how to do this. The most profound craftsmanship in our world across art, design, and media has long revolved around feelings.


    You see — if software is to have soul, it must feel more like the world around it. Which is the biggest clue of all that feeling is what’s missing from today’s software. Because the value of the tools, objects, and artworks that we as humans have surrounded ourselves with for thousands of years goes so far beyond their functionality. In many ways, their primary value might often come from how they make us feel by triggering a memory, helping us carry on a tradition, stimulating our senses, or just creating a moment of peace.

    Source: Optimizing For Feelings | The Browser Company

    The certainties of one age are the problems of the next

    Black-and-white photo of a man with beard emerging from shed

    🏙️ How the spread of sheds threatens cities — "A white-collar worker who has tried to work from the kitchen table for the past nine months might be keen to return to the office. A worker who has an insulated garden shed with Wi-Fi will be less so. Joel Bird, who builds bespoke sheds, is certain that his clients envisage a long-term change in their working habits. “They don’t consider it to be temporary,” he says. “They’re spending too much money.”

    😬 Transactional Enchantment — "The greatest endemic risk to the psyche in 2021 is not that you’ll end up on the streets next week or fail to fund your retirement in 30 years. The greatest risk is that you’ll feel so relentlessly battered by the weirdness all around that you’ll go numb and simply disengage from the world entirely today."

    🕸️ The unreasonable effectiveness of simple HTML — "Are you developing public services? Or a system that people might access when they’re in desperate need of help? Plain HTML works. A small bit of simple CSS will make look decent. JavaScript is probably unnecessary – but can be used to progressively enhance stuff. Add alt text to images so people paying per MB can understand what the images are for (and, you know, accessibility)."

    💬 Convocational Development — "The fundamental difference between the convocation and traditional open source is that energy is put into facilitating discussions between users, coders, graphic designers etc. Documentation and instructions are often the weakest part of an open source project, and that excludes people who don’t have the time or ability to assemble a mental model of the open source software and its capabilities from just the code and the meagre promotional materials. The convocation starts as a basic web forum, but evolves tools and cultures that enable greater participation in the development process itself."

    📈 GameStop Is Rage Against the Financial Machine — "Instead of greed, this latest bout of speculation, and especially the extraordinary excitement at GameStop, has a different emotional driver: anger. The people investing today are driven by righteous anger, about generational injustice, about what they see as the corruption and unfairness of the way banks were bailed out in 2008 without having to pay legal penalties later, and about lacerating poverty and inequality. This makes it unlike any of the speculative rallies and crashes that have preceded it."

    Quotation-as-title by R.H. Tawney. Image from top-linked post.

    How to run an Open Source project

    Although I don’t use elementaryOS on my own laptops, we do use it on the family touchscreen PC in our main living space. It’s a beautifully-designed system, and I very much appreciate way the founders interact with their community in terms of updates, roadmap, and funding:

    Every month this year, we’ve published a blog post outlining all of the updates that we’ve released during that month. We’ve made a strong effort to support Loki with regular bug fixes, new features, and other improvements. We’ve also made some big policy and infrastructure changes. It was a busy year at elementary!
    This is the kind of thing I'm looking to emulate with Project MoodleNet in 2018. 

    With their upcoming ‘Juno’ update based on Ubuntu 18.04, I may just switch to elementaryOS, as ‘Loki’ was good enough for me to voluntarily pay $25 for it, in an age when even proprietary operating systems are ‘free’ 

    Source: elementaryOS blog