Andy's Commonplace

@andymci

A curated collection of interesting reads and commentary from around the web (and beyond)

1,217 words

https://andymci.ca @andymci Guestbook
You'll only receive email when Andy's Commonplace publishes a new post

Autocracy is making a comeback

Autocracy is making a comeback, seeping into parts of the world where it once appeared to have been vanquished. But it is a sleeker, subtler and, ultimately, more sophisticated version than its authoritarian forebears, twisting democratic structures and principles into tools of oppression and state control. It is also, quite possibly, far more potent and enduring than autocracies of old.

Source: The new autocrats (Washington Post)

Working for yourself & the freedom to choose

From an interview with Paul Jarvis, author of Company of One:

"I’ve always wanted a business that supports my life, and not a life that solely supports and exists to serve my business. This is why I work for myself, from home, as a company of one: I not only have the freedom to choose what I work on, but I also have the freedom to choose how the work is done."

Source: What It's Like To Work Remotely On An Island (Penguin Books Ltd.)

Productive procrastination

I’m a big fan of productive procrastination: a kind of promiscuous working in which I procrastinate on one project by working on another, sometimes switching between two or more projects until all the projects are done.

Source: The trouble with being lazy (Austin Kleon)

Writing is exercise for the mind

Deep down, I know that part of what has held me back from writing more is the feeling of shouting into the void. There is not a large reader base waiting for me to publish again, and so the pressure is less than in other areas of my life. However, throughout the course of this year, I have learned that writing is a helpful exercise for me and my mind. I do not need an audience. I am my audience. The act of processing my thoughts sufficiently to express them is healthy and productive, and requires no other validation to be worthwhile. Hopefully I can remember that.

Source: Just Write (Ben Norris)

Amen. I started writing a semi-daily journal while on vacation. It was therapeutic. I looked forward to the end of each day, or the start of each day, as a chance to jot down thoughts for nobody other than my future self.

There's no pressure to write 2000 words and optimize for search or worry about content discovery or audience profile fit. It's just writing for the sake of writing and, honestly? There's nothing wrong with that. Go back ten, fifteen years -- to the old-school blogging days of Livejournal and TypePad and Blogger -- and that's exactly what it was.

People wrote for the sake of writing. And it was good. The slice-of-life snapshots were stories. A hell of a lot more compelling, in many cases, than the here-and-gone visual scrapbook of Instagram or Snapchat.

That's why I like this platform (Standard Notes + Listed) so much. I don't feel pressure to do anything but write. I'm not overwhelmed by the infrastructure like I am in WordPress, but I'm still pushing words out to the Open Web through free (as in speech and beer) software.

The corrosion of democracy

"If you spend hours each day on social media fuming about your opponents, you are still participating in the corrosion of democracy, even if you are participating from a morally impeccable position. And so the conventional wisdom among the politically clued-in – that what this moment calls for is more engagement with the news – may be the opposite of the truth."

Source: How the news took over reality (The Guardian)

Start paying attention

From Crazy Egg:

Customer Success, Support-Driven Growth, Consultative Selling, are all subsets of a broader philosophy: paying attention to the people who are paying attention to you.

But it's more than just attention. It's about respect.

Ten financial tips for tech professionals

From Troy Hunt's "Personal Finance Lessons for Technology Professionals":

  1. Money buys choices
  2. Money you earn young = most valuable money you'll ever earn
  3. Invest in financial literacy
  4. Learn the tax system
  5. Know good debt from bad debt
  6. Diversify earning potential and risk
  7. Prepare for luck
  8. Put a price on your time - and family
  9. Have a goal
  10. Financial prosperity is a partnership

Keeping these in mind as I figure my shit out.

"If you're working in tech, you're working in one of the most well-paid industries with the greatest growth potential and career prospects out there. Your financial potential almost certainly exceeds that of almost everyone else around you. You're already winning just by being here and my hope is that whilst the first tweet in this post might have provided motivation, the post itself helps provide inspiration."

HubSpot launched a free tool, drove stellar growth

"So, working on those rough numbers, the email signature generator has generated approximately $64 million in net-new customer revenue for HubSpot since it's inception."

Source: The world's most effective B2B marketing campaign (via G2.com)

...dunno if that really counts as a campaign, but hey, splitting hairs.

Practical content design

Digital 2019: Global Digital Overview (via DataReportal)

One of my favourite examples of practical content design. Long-form written content with embedded slides. Slide design matches page design. Feels like a cohesive whole rather than a bunch of images embedded within an article.

Consistency builds relationships

"One great experience rarely creates trust or loyalty. You need consistency across channels and interactions (digital and personal) to develop real relationships with customers."

A good read from Help Scout on the value of customer relations.

Work like a banker

“Do you ever feel like no matter how much work you do, you can or should be doing more?"

"If you get into that productivity trap, there’s always going to be more work to do, you know?

Like, you can always make more. I think that’s why I’m a time-based worker. I try to go at my work like a banker. I just have hours. I show up to the office and whatever gets done gets done."

https://austinkleon.com/2019/05/15/working-with-time/

(Austin Kleon is my spirit animal.)

Twitter + Highly = Sharing quotables

"Quotes from articles are much more eye-catching than links on Twitter, so the social giant is scooping up the team behind highlight-sharing app Highly. This talent could help Twitter build its own version of Highly or develop other ways to excerpt the best content from websites and get it into the timeline."

As a highlight-collector and excerpt-sharer, I agree.

via https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/17/twitter-highly/

See also: https://www.highly.co/

(+ Just added Highly to Chrome. Prepare thyself, Twitter.)

(++ Update: The extension sucks. C'est la vie.)

Make time management a habit

"No matter what time management method you choose, you have to continue it until it becomes a habit. Only then, when you do it without even thinking about it and by focusing on your work, can you start experiencing all of the benefits of managing your time."

Personal routines make all the difference.

https://rafaltomal.com/manage-time-more-productive/

Links welcomed back to the Facebook feed

The FB feed was all about links. Then it wasn't. Now it is again:

"Last month we explained that as a part of our continued effort to show people relevant posts, we were surveying people to ask what posts they thought were worth their time. Based on these surveys, we are updating News Feed to show people links we predict they will find worthwhile."

We'll see how long this lasts.

https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2019/05/more-personalized-experiences/

Storytelling with intention

"It’s important to begin any storytelling project with intention. Before you start making things, you should have a clear sense of who you’re trying to reach, what you’re trying to say and the scope of your project on all platforms."

https://training.npr.org/audio/a-blueprint-for-planning-storytelling-projects/