I wrote this line in bed. While I woke. So that I would not be facing a completely blank page when I got to my desk.
It worked. I already have 26 words in the bag. Only another 1816 to go.
Prepping, travelling to and from, plus delivering a workshop this week took up all the time I would normally have to make notes for this dispatch. But it was worth it. I learned a lot and I hope others did as well. Or they were at least reminded of how better to use stories to communicate and connect.
Last night the #BlueTick cull had me thinking about my relationship with Twitter.
I joined Twitter, not long before it started and have shared so many adventures there. I built my best network filled with inspiring, intelligent people who not only taught me a lot, but also joined me while I worked around the world, jobs inside war zones and a number of places while when alone, I never felt it.
I will be honest and say it’s hard, watching it being slowly dismantled. But I will always have a soft spot for the place that taught me a network is a community and not an audience.
Every single one of those people were a serendipitous link to other places and spaces, offline and on. With their own stories, and adventures. And I treated it as such.
We never knew what might happen. But in some instances you’d learn quickly.
Like when I rolled my Land Rover in early 2008 and on climbing out of the wreckage broke my own news into a Nokia N95.
Or when I was invited to blog a high-level news event in a room that only previously invited journalists, and my lifestream was faster from my phone than Reuters main feed.
Or when during the Syrian conflict people sat on the sofa at home could listen with me as I realised it wasn’t thunder in the background of my audio, but mortar bombs falling a short distance away.
I could go on. From my son's first cries as he entered the world. Mourning my Mother as she died too young. Or when I got my Grandmother on Twitter and the questions she got asked had her share stories for the first time.
All these things are intertwined with my feelings for the platform and the amazing connections made there. Physical, digital, neural.
I can only speak from experience how amazing everything felt back then. About my time in a place once over run with good people.
A real time, hubbub of excitement and connection as we collaborated, crowd sourced, assisted and shared with each other. From the smallest missives to our most important moments. Every day, hundreds of wonderful people doing lovely things. Just from my immediate network.
Perhaps it was naive of us back then to think it would continue to grow in that way. We had a laugh at our addiction because many of us gleaned most of our work through Twitter. It was a revolving door of constant serendipitous opportunity.
But with the infinite scroll came shifts in mental health, amplification of harmful stereotypes and increased discrimination. Twitter had started to try and fix things and a lot of us hoped there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.
But then came Musk and the platform devolved even more. Now, while a billionaire uses the online consciousness of millions as his play thing, amped up algorithms prioritise sensational or controversial content.
Good things are still in there. But you have to dig deep. Past the misinformation, polarisation, and extremism.
We are entering a whole new chapter of woe. Not for all. Some seem to thrive on the chaos as they welcome in a new dawn of devision and segregation. But me and a bunch of oldsters who remember better times have dispersed to other places. Waiting it out or starting afresh.
Not all of us have trodden on our rose tinted glasses. The optimistic will always find hope. We have stopped worrying about what we can't control and turned our attention to what we might build.
The internet is a big place. And there is always somewhere you can find goodness in people.
Some of my other places include Flickr, Strava, Untappd, Vivino, YouTube, Mastodon (search Documentally@octodon.social), a ham radio newsletter called 73 from G5DOC or search ‘Documentally’ on Wire.
A great critique.
This is beautiful. Especially when the pulse becomes the music.
If the only way we view the world is through our devices, then we will have a very warped perspective of what’s really out there.
Great article lead by a brilliant graphic looking at the intersection of privacy, technology, and personal agency in the digital age. What do we mean when we say the internet is reading our minds?
I took the time this week to draft an Ethics Policy. It says things like “The views and opinions expressed in the Documentally dispatch are solely those of myself and do not necessarily reflect any official or implied policy or position of Substack.” There is a lot more said in there. If you see an error or think there is something I need to amend please let me know.
I told Hamish McKenzie COO and Co-Founder at Substack that we really need an update on where moderation is going. That there is a chance of reader numbers dwindling as subscribers now ask writers to move elsewhere. I said we need some kind of action from the platform that proves good intentions.
So I read this as “The team is committed to learning and iterating to create a better discourse experience so watch this space.”
Well, I am watching this space. As well as Mailchimp, Patreon, Ghost, Buttondown, and Beehiiv.
[UPDATE] Seconds after posting this I saw a new post from Hamish.
I found this breakdown of a passenger aircraft tape player more fascinating than I probably should have. (Via HarmonicRichard)
We use our voices so instinctively we rarely if ever stop to consider how our accents are so intertwined with our identity or how others might perceive us. A podcast from the BBC, Sideways - Do I really sound like that?
I love Roger Overall’s rebrand of his humorous, food, files and podcast. It’s perfect.
Check out TheGastronomer.net Especially his recent post on genetically grown mammoth meat.
My lad says he’s in a minority of kids in his school who don’t vape and it’s a majority that do. At one point he told me kids his age and younger were vaping on the bus. After the school started taking the bus passes off kids who were caught, this seems to have stopped. Here is an interesting video from a little while back that is aimed to educate kids on the dangers of getting sucked into a growing issue.
I have done over a thousand miles on the motorbike now and every moment is still a joy. I’ve noticed that the waterproofing in my jacket was lacking and so treated myself to this Oxford Mondial Advanced Textile jacket.
I have no affiliation with Sportsbikeshop but have linked to them as when asking for a price match to one I saw in a sale online, they knocked £70 off without batting an eyelid. It wouldn’t fit in my backpack so I stuffed my old jacket in there and wore the new one home. Right into and through a torrential downpour. Where I’m pleased to say it kept me bone dry. Not as sexy as my wax cotton jacked but a definite recommend considering it was less than half the price of similar jackets.
After delivering a story making workshop this week I was asked if I could link to some of the things I had with me in the class. Issue 394 already has a few of these things listed. The MeFoto Backpacker Air, the QuadLock tripod adapter and the Rode Wireless Go II kit. But I also had with me the Amazon basics smartphone mini tripod, Microphone windshields, although I have just ordered some of these from eBay for half the price. I’ll let you know if they are any good. This is a great hand held audio recorder. And this is a great Lav mic you can use into an iPhone if you have this adapter. Or if you have a little more cash then this SC6-L duel mic adapter. If your phone/laptop/iPad takes USB-C in then this adapter should work. I showed a few people my Ambeo smart headset that records binaural audio. They are a bargain right now. Not great for interviews, but fantastic for creating immersive 3D audio soundscapes. To finish we talked cheap phone holders, video lights, simple tripods and back up power. ←[Most of these are amazon affiliate links.]
This is obviously only some of my gear and new lists will no doubt surface soon. Especially as I’d really like to get my hands on the new 32bit Zoom recorders.
I must thank those that have stuck with me and pay to support my endeavours here. Last week I mentioned that I was going to sit tight and see what new moderation tools or policies Substack come up with. Although that is still the case, I’d like to know if you’ve found anywhere that works like this (payment system, plus audio/video hosting). If things don’t change I’ll have to reluctantly jump ship and I’d like to know there is a life raft waiting for me.
In the interim, a few of you have asked if you can support me directly, i.e not through Substack. the answer is yes. However much you donate via PayPal I will give you the equivalent amount in subscription time and some. Thanks again… And thank you for reading.
Thanks to John Bevan for pointing me towards @BetterPlatform_ where it’s possible to write A People's History of Twitter. If Twitter and the community you had on there meant something to you, share your story at betterplatform.net🦜
What is design thinking.
Greetings Ivan in Bratislava who added themselves to the Documentally community map. Have you?
How to run your own LLM
Pretty sure it’s not aliens.
I forgot to mention that I had 12 ducklings and their mother leave a nest in my garden again. They get trapped once they drop from a tall hedge. I galled Graham the rescue guy and he has been bust curing birds who have avian flu! So donate to the charity and if you have any cash left…
Next week I’m spending a couple of days working at Leeds university. There are a cluster of you folk up in that neck of the woods. If you see me wandering/cycling the streets say Hi! Have a great weekend!
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” ~ Alphonse Karr,
See you out there.
This is really odd. I'm a subscriber, but for the past 3 weeks or so I've not had either the newsletter via email (yup, checked spam) or via my Substack app inbox (or on the web). It just doesn't appear anywhere. Only newsletter that seems to be affected.
Before I drop a line to the Substack people, this hasn't happened to anyone else, has it?
Always interesting! My opinion was a bit divided on the Hamish latest announcement, I like it but it’s also a bit flawed, feels like a stance from the privileged position he’s in. Vaping, urgh. Rife in my son’s school too. What is it all about?! I miss old twitter too. It was so great when it wasn’t so big. Have met some of the best/ most important people in my life there. Hoping Substack is the cure, open to other spaces too. Have a great weekend!