Week notes 2020-15

  • It’s been a while since updated my WeekNotes. A whole month in fact. I think that’s because I was focused on getting my lockdown head straight and then just fell out the habit a little bit.
  • I think I went through a small dip in lockdown mood, with a few work things getting me down more than they should have done, and that had a knock on effect on other things. But I figured it out and now feel much more on an even keel.
  • I’ve also been reading a lot less and watching far fewer films the past few months. You’d think I’d be gorging on anything remotely distracting, but my brain can’t seem to hold on to anything that requires sustained concentration. I kind of imagine all my synapses reforming themselves into new structures to deal with the ‘new normal’ and having to reject anything that needs focus as being too big a drain on their energy.
  • That hasn’t stopped us mainlining The Last Dance (The Michael Jordan/Chicago Bulls documentary on Netflix). Forget Tiger King, this is the binge TV your lockdown needs. It’s great. Incredible footage from the 90s, awesome soundtrack, a fascinating story and cast of characters. Even if you never watched basketball game in your life you will eat this up with a spoon.
  • One of my favourite pieces of lockdown reading so far has come from the brilliant Jenny Odell: On Taking the Time You Need to Notice, Think, and Grow.
  • I’ve also been really enjoying Matt Webb’s blog and his writing on a post-pandemic work e.g. There is no After:

“…our shift into a new way of feeling about the world has now happened. We won’t and can’t return to our old habit of knowing-but-not-acting.”

  • Obviously Matt wrote that before the death of George Floyd, but it’s interesting to read that post in the midst of the incredible protests that have resulted and to wonder how much the mental shift that Coronavirus forced upon us contributed to what happened next.
  • Something else read a few weeks ago was this post from Doug Belshaw entitled The best place to be is somewhere else?:

“The same goes with social media, of course, except that it’s even more insidious, as an ‘action’ can just be liking or retweeting. It leads to slacktivism instead of making actual, meaningful change in the world.”

“As the web used to be, today podcasting is an open market, with advertising, podcasting, and distribution mostly separated from one another. Distribution happens through an open standard called RSS, and there’s very little behavioral ad targeting. I’m asked on fun weird podcasts all the time; podcasting feels like the web prior to the roll-up of power by Google and Facebook, with a lot of new voices, some very successful and most marginal, but quite authentic.”

  • Oof, that hits me right where it hurts. Because I am someone who was very invested in the web ‘as it used to be’ and is still mourning its loss, and at the same time I am massively invested in Spotify. I have a huge number of carefully curated playlist on there. It’s largely how I discover and listen to new music and I use it as a filtering and sorting system to figure out what I should spend my money on. Hell, I just make a guest playlist for my friend Mark’s Lockdown Spotify ‘radio show’. I have been using Bandcamp a lot more recently, so I’m going to see if I can start shifting my listening habits towards that.
  • Most joyous lockdown read of past few weeks: Stanley Tucci’s Cooking Your Way Through the Pandemic.
  • Close second: Jarvis Cocker on recognizing your calling, the pleasure of being in a band, and the ways music supports us during terrible times.
  • Films I have managed to watch recently: Crime Wave (1953), Jay Myself (2018), Crawl (2019), The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019). Of all of them I can only wholeheartedly recommend Crime Wave. Plus, it’s only 73 minutes long!