It seems that my life has been refreshed and I have managed to charge up my batteries. Unfortunately, I have no idea how or why I managed to do it, but the last two weeks have been much better. Reality seems to be coming back slowly but the rising numbers of cases in the UK may change that dramatically in the near future. I hope everyone is staying safe wherever you live, things seem very strange in some countries (looking at you America) but do your bit, and we will all be fine.
I have been going on a bit of a self discovery journey lately and trying to improve my daily practices and generally improve my abilities. Reading and taking notes has become key to this, and I have come to realise the huge benefit of taking in-depth notes about the things I read and the ideas that I have. I have always way scribbled things down, but never digested things properly and committed to learning them fully.
Currently, I am learning front end coding skills, as well as digesting all the information I can find relating to user experience, not just for the web but everywhere else. Part of this is learning the true meaning of design.
Not just making things look pretty, making them usable, easy to understand and creating better experiences for everyone. These skills have opened my eyes to the lack of design and thought that goes into many things in the world, and something that started out as a simple learning exercise has changed the way I look at the world completely.
My town recently has been turned upside down by closing a railway bridge and blocking off traffic from getting through one of the main routes in and out. The signs placed on the approaching road simply read “Road Closed Ahead” and many people still got stuck. People started blaming drivers for not paying attention, and all sorts of random reasons, but it became clear to me that the planners didn’t design their experience well enough.
Road closed signs mean nothing to people that don’t know which road is actually closed, nor that the bridge is closed. The lack of thought and planning the experience of people leads to chaos for a few days until someone realised their mistake. People using routes in and out of the town can’t rely on local knowledge like the planners can, they have inside knowledge that allows them to understand the underlying information, but not see the actually message they are giving.
In everything you create you must think, plan, design and get feedback from others. It is often hard to see thorough other people eyes, and failure to realise that others may not have the same level of insight as you can lead to failure. A few traffic jams are nothing to worry about in the grand scheme of things, but if a customer doesn’t understand where to check out they won't buy from you. If a reader doesn’t understand what you are explaining they won't be a reader much longer.
Design isn't just about beauty, it's about market relevance and meaningful results — John Maeda former president of the Rhode Island school of design
For at leats the third time I have deleted my Instagram page completely. This time I didn’t do it as a spur of the moment thing, I left it around for a little while and logged back in every now and again from the web, but found it becoming less and less value to me.
The adverts are getting ridiculous, half of the trending images are of fake composite images or stollen from other creators, and I got very little engagement from posting. Also add to this Facebooks involvement and I chose to cut it out completely. I wish there was another service, more like Instagram of old, just for sharing pictures of what’s going on and small clips of life.
I did start positing to micro.blog and set up a photos page, but it isn’t the same as an integrated service and it is such a shame Facebook ruined it.
Not A Tool
It could be to make excuses, or it could be to re-assure yourself of usage, but time and time ago I see social media referred to as a tool. Platform owners excuse their business practices because they are making a “tool for communication”, Twitter tries to frame itself as a “tool for change” and the list goes on.
You see, the thing is, tools don’t ask anything from you. Adobe doesn’t send me notifications telling me to open illustrator, Outlook doesn’t try to manipulate me to send more emails, tools just exist and are there when you need them. Social media needs your attention and nothing more, and they will do anything to do it.
Undoubtedly you can communicate on social media, and things like twitter have lead to social change in some areas — but they are not tools. Tools ask for nothing in return and aren’t designed to manipulate you.
Beating Myself Up
There is no-one that gives me a harder time, or talks to me worse than myself. I constantly beat myself up about small things that I find myself doing, or not doing something I know I should be. I don’t publish blog posts because they don’t seem good enough, I give myself a hard time for scrolling Twitter instead of doing something constructive and loads of other things throughout the day.
Some people call it imposter syndrome, some call it being realistic, but I don’t know why I just don’t like myself very much some times. But I get through it, and have learnt recently that this comes a lot of time from my ego. Which is surprising — you’d think your ego pumps you up — but it affects you in so many strange ways. Being mad at yourself is avoiding answering the real issue, and that’s putting yourself in a difficult position. You make excuses instead of doing the hard work, going for a run, hitting publish or just doing something you enjoy doing.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, expose yourself to the hardship instead and give yourself a break sometimes.
After a few weeks of not reading much and posting anything I finished a couple. Ego is the enemy was a great read, although it could have bene about 40% shorter. Most people are not aware of the effects of ego not just on self-assurance, but also its adverse input into failure. I am catching up in the Ben Hope series and finished House Of War, these are very predictable but a good wind down read.
Before I Go
Thank you so much to the few people that decided to support my work, you’re all awesome. The reason I write this newsletter is the same as it ever was, and that is to communicate to people — but a few pounds each month helps to keep the lights on!
Social networks get a bad rep at the minute, and rightly so, but it’s not all bad and as long as you are mindful of its effects and its tricks, it can be useful for people. If you want to reach out to me, you can on Twitter, or drop me an email reply — it’s always nice to get fan mail!
Take the very best care of yourselves.
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