superlifter

weeknotes

It’s always the same during a trip: so many bitty tasks build up. I have a project in my todo app called “Bits” where I put any… bits… that I think will take more than a couple of minutes and aren’t part of a larger project. The first part of this was making sure there are no bits. Some of them:

  • Travel arrangements so I can go to our AGM in December. You know you’re a proper business when you bother doing an AGM. My calendar has a “Festive Jumper Day” event on the same day, which I keep thinking means I need to wear a festive jumper to the AGM. Maybe I should do. Also, maybe I need to rethink my calendar colours.
  • ffconf was so much fun that we decided to go to more conferences. So, we're going to Patterns Day next March, also in Brighton. One day, I will go to a conference that I can walk to.
  • Emails, so many emails. Yet not all of them. Sorry.

Other than bits, I’m trying really hard to pick up no more than three chunky things at a time. Chunks and bits. Right now, the three chunks are:

  1. Sorting IP
  2. New client proposals
  3. Content

I still probably can’t really talk about IP. Work in the open, unless you could feasibly shoot yourself in the foot by doing so. Same with new client proposals.

That leaves content. I’m trying to figure out how this should work for us as a business. We have a long list of ideas and outlines for articles we want to write, mostly derived from past work. We have a wonderful human involved (hi James), helping us build out a content strategy and make words good. But we’re trying to grapple with content whilst finalising business strategy. It would make more sense to sort the business strategy, then do the content strategy, but we can’t hang around. So we’re introspecting whilst driving. We’ll fix it in post.

We’re also trying to figure out how to do this in what looks like an expanding dark forest. There’s a post about this stuck in my head that I need to extract next week.

Media

  • Book: Agencynomics. Taking a while. Every other page is causing me to introspect about how to run a business. Good, but hard work.
  • Article: AI Type Design Workshop. A meditation on how making is deeply connected with thinking, with an argument for doing the thing to learn properly and augmenting with AI later.
  • Soundtrack: Wednesday – Rat Saw God. I keep coming back to this.
  • Social: still rolling with Bluesky. I found a lot of my favourite authors on there, all having a big old author party. Now I want a way of differentiating between chatty-chat posts and announcement posts from the same account, because too much chatty-chat. Please.

#weeknotes

This is week 1 of writing weeknotes, not doing what I'm doing, or being alive. Let's see how long I can keep this going. The last time I did anything like this was (checks notes) 13 years ago. Wow.

This was an entirely non-typical week. On the move, not at home in Edinburgh: a weekend family trip to Peterborough, three days pottering about in Hertfordshire and London, then three days in Brighton. Phew.

So, London. I managed to get to Magma for the first time in years. There are some wonderful bookshops in Edinburgh, but none scratch that design book itch in quite the same way. I picked up What is Post Branding?, ordered Flexible Visual Systems for delivery (way too big to carry around) and flagged Universal Principles of Branding for future investigation. All driven by the realisation that our UI work often involves brand and brand identity but I don't have particularly strong foundations in those areas. Also, books are good.

Cover of Flexible Visual Systems: The Design Manual for Contemporary Visual Identities by Martin Lorenz in Magma bookshop

I also spent a day with my Measured co-founders Chris and Scott, working through our business strategy. We hadn't realised that the coworking space we booked is overshadowed by the BT Tower.

A view over the rooftops of Fitzrovia to the BT Tower

Having the massive physical embodiment of an ex-client floating in our peripheral vision all day was quite motivating.

Anyway. We've been around for 3 mostly-reactive years. This feels like a good time to get intentional. We're pretty sure we know what we're doing after talking for a day, but not yet in a way that's easy to explain. Our next step is to undertake the entirely straightforward task of connecting our vision with the needs of actual customers. I see a workshop in our future.

Next, Brighton, with all of Measured. We've been trying to shake off pandemic-ingrained habits and get together in person regularly. We're also trying to get to more meet-ups and conferences. We even have a tool to keep track of events we think we might attend. This works wondefully well for us, yet somehow I've managed to go to things in London and Brighton but not Edinburgh. I should probably fix that.

So after a day together, we went to Async's pre-ffconf International Show 'n' Tell 2023 edition meetup on Thursday and ffconf itself on Friday. The standout talk from both events was Maggie Appleton's The Expanding Dark Forest and Generative AI. We spent most of our breaks talking about this, and I've spent most of my thinking time since then trying to figure out what implications a web flooded with generative AI content will have in general and for our business.

I saw people in Brighton I haven't seen in person for many years, and some I had never met in person. That was good. I think we need a reason to go to Brighton again, so we'll try for Patterns Day in March 2024.

Other things ticking along in the background…

  • IP lawyering: we're attempting to trade marking things. It's quite a long process. I need to figure out whether it's sensible to talk about this while we're doing it.
  • Content: we're working with an ace content professional (hi, James) to do more formal comms. This is a surprisingly fun and rewarding activity.
  • New client proposals: early doors. I'm enjoying putting on my consultancy hat after a fairly long time mostly thinking about operations.

Media

  • Book: I finished The agile comms handbook. Brilliant. Hoping to write a brief review later. Extra dimenson added after seeing Maggie Appleton's talk at ffconf.
  • Article: We're sorry we created the Torment Nexus, a great deconstruction of the TESCREAL ideology by Charlie Stross.
  • Soundtrack: Louise Chen's Emovember Vol. 1 on NTS: sad guitar music.
  • Social: I'm testing out Bluesky and going for a 2006-era Twitter style (strong preference for mundane, occassional dry nonsense, little to no biz). Meanwhile, colleagues continue to mock me for spending too much time on LinkedIn.

#weeknotes