We were never supposed to see our own faces this much

I’ve been saying this ever since the company I work for moved to remote work during the pandemic. Thankfully, for me, it decided to stay that way when many other companies shifted back to the office.

Imagine you walk up to someone to have a conversation and you hand them a small rectangular mirror and say, Would you mind holding this so I can study my every facial expression as we talk?” That’s pretty much what the standard settings on most team collaboration or video chat services are creating. I wish the default setting could be set to hide self-view”, but in the platforms I’ve used, it is something you have to toggle on a per call/meeting basis. Microsoft Teams gives you the ability to do a quick self check” before joining a call, which has value, but hiding the self-view once you are in the meeting would be a welcome default.

I turn the self view off not because I’m overly self-conscious about my appearance (though I recognize this is something that makes it even more stressful for many people), but because I can’t help but get distracted by my dog in the background or looking to see what item I may have left on the table behind me. Sometimes, I become focused on my facial expressions. No matter the distraction, these are all things that can be avoided by disabling the self-view and focusing the attention on the other people, as you would in an in-person conversation.

One point I’d never considered:

Before mirrors were invented, the earliest type of mirror” used was nature — reflections in ponds, lakes and rivers when waters were calm enough to reveal a flat surface.

Isn’t it ironic that we seek out these same locations for their serene peacefulness, likely never using them as a selfie-eval tool in modern times.

2024 Feb·21


Vitsœ: A Purpose

Paynter Jacket Co. did an interesting feature on Vitsœ for their site. While they’re a jacket maker, they have insightful blog posts under the Stories section.

I’m familiar with Vitsœ from the documentary film Rams. I knew that Dieter Rams had worked with Vitsœ for many years and his fingerprints can be seen on the company’s website and products to this day. I learned a lot more about the company from this article and the current managing director, Mark Adams, has a few insightful quotes throughout it.

Focus on better, not on newer. Why are we obsessed with the new? We should be obsessed with better. That is what drives us at Vitsœ. After all, it is the way that the natural world operates: constantly improving, not launching new species.

This seems so logical, yet almost none of the companies making the products we all hold in high regard foster this ideal.

The other quote I highlighted was about his wardrobe:

My wardrobe is a ruthless kit of parts. Everything goes with everything. Much of it lasts 20+ years. It is repaired. Shoes from Northampton. Socks from Leicester. Shirts from the US. Polo-necks from Derbyshire. Better, not newer.

I look forward to the day that I can say this about my own wardrobe.

2024 Feb·21


Audiobooks Are Books and They’re Also Practice

Simon Harris, writing about his love for audiobooks and the reasons he believes they can hone a skill vs. merely informing or entertaining.

Listening is a skill. One you should take seriously and one that might have atrophied in recent times. I can’t prove this change, though I think we can infer it a little from changes in media — for instance movie scenes, cuts, and dialogue have all been shortened over the decades. Generally the pacing of nearly all media has quickened. Possibly the delivery of more, faster” is the result of a too-great respect for novelty as an artistic flourish. I think these changes, and maybe others I can’t see, affect how people choose to make conversation in their daily lives, and make it shorter and faster too.

I agree with these points. I’m often saddened by the short duration of great songs today. Efficiency has infected conversation. Many folks would rather have several short burst message threads vs. one long-form meaningful conversation either verbally or in written form with a single person.

And you can practice this lengthening by listening to audiobooks.

I never thought of it as the practice of listening.

Keeping the thread of an uninterrupted narrative, holding your concentration and attention for it against all the other forces, this is a muscle worth stretching. You might find that over time you get better at it, you absorb much more, and it will make you a better listener elsewhere, too.

Having recently written about wanting to become a better listener, this resonates.

If you try to listen to them on 1.5x speed you are absolutely going the wrong way.

Guilty as charged… I may try 1x speed, unless the narrator is unusually slow paced.

2024 Feb·20


Steve Jobs Archive Logo

I was looking over the Make Something Wonderful book from the Steve Jobs Archive. I don’t yet (and may never) have a copy of the physcial edition, but they did such a great job on the website version. I’d heard about it on several podcasts when the book was first released.

What struck me while on the site was what a great logo the Steve Jobs Archive has.

Steve Jobs Archive LogoSteve Jobs Archive Logo

It’s simple, yet it has complexity that the Apple logo lacks. It’s perfect for the use and I wish there was more about it’s creation. I would venture a guess that Jony Ive had a hand in its creation, but I can’t find any reference to it online.

If anyone knows more about this logo’s creation, reach out with a link or to share, please.

2024 Feb·19


Workspaces 394 - Sean Woolsey

The awesome Workspaces newsletter featured craftsman Sean Woolsey’s workspace. I have been subscribed to Workspaces for a long time, but this workspace floored me in the best way. I was studying the images, wishing I could be standing in this space. I like seeing that someone is making their tech investments as long lasting as Sean. He’s using an Apple Cinema display and the Apple Magic Keyboard with the AA battery tube (both products I’ve owned).

There are so many lovely touches, but my favorite has to be this.

Figured maple bowlFigured maple bowl

I also noticed that Sean’s pen looks like an adaptation on a brass nail setter. The etched grip on a nail setting makes for the perfect texture for a pen grip. The irony that my last linkpost was on the topic of driving the nail to the perfect depth in our life endeavors.

That inspiration wall is amazing. What an amazing space.

2024 Feb·18


Hammered

Cole Schafer, writing in his newsletter, The Process:

We should create art in much the same way that a master handyman drives home a nail. Once we’ve hammered in the nail, we should stop hammering as not to bruise the wood. Once we’ve created whatever it is we originally sought out to create, we should lift the pen from the paper, the brush from the canvas or the fingers from the strings and and have the courage to say, I’m done”.

This is good advice with a great analogy.

2024 Feb·17