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  • Doug Belshaw 6:35 pm on January 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Contemplation vs. distraction 

    CC0 Massimo Mancini (via Unsplash)

    One of my favourite newsletters is that which hits my inbox from Christian Payne (a.k.a. Documentally every week. I have to admit to sneaking a peek at each issue of Backchannel while on hiatus…

    In the most recent issue, he states eloquently something I’ve certainly felt since becoming self-employed:

    I’m lucky to have my office at home and yet it’s hard to differentiate work and playtime. The smart will only work when paid to work. The rest of their time can be put aside for thought.

    If I’m not being paid to work, I can easily find the time to work towards the paid work. Workshop preparation and free consultation can eat into the time where I’d like to be just sitting and thinking.

    I’m beginning to crave the space to be creative. Not seen much of my shed and I’m in need of some ‘fertile solitude’.

    Not just the snatched moments around midnight when everyone else is in bed. For me there has to be a balance between solitude and communion. Time for contemplation and creation.

    I’ve been pretty good at putting the ‘instruments of distraction’ aside. German philosopher Walter Benjamin wrote that in a capitalist society contemplation was replaced by distraction. I’ve a feeling more than a few people will be redressing their relationships with their devices in the coming year.

    Thinking time is vital. To organise, create, reflect. To ask yourself questions. I’m currently pondering what part of my job I really enjoyed doing this year. Is this something I should develop for next year, or is there something new I’d like to try?

    As I’m writing this I’m pausing regularly for thought. I can hear a wood pigeon walking on my roof. Two finches fighting over the best spot on the bird feeder. This moment, this week, sits at the end of one imaginary block of time and the beginning of a new one. Time to sigh and take a long deep breath.

    I’m on a bit of a mission in 2017 to remove all ‘busy work’ from my life — particularly as so much of it is self-inflicted. And I’m going to make sure that I have that ‘Doug day’ I promised myself every week, as it began to slide a bit towards the end of last year…

    Image CC0 Massimo Mancini

  • Doug Belshaw 4:04 pm on January 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Your smartphone works for corporations 

    CC0 Rami Al-zayat

    One of the things I’ve been doing while I’ve been ‘away’ is trying to move as far as possible over to using Free and Open Source tools and software. 

    I’ll write more about that soon, as after selling and buying various products, shifting workflows, and opening and closing different online accounts, I’m almost, but not quite, at the point of resolution.

    While I’ll save my George Bernard Shaw quotation for a follow-up post, I was struck by this from the ever-insightful Seth Godin. His words feel particularly pertinent in the light of the struggles I’ve gone through over the last few weeks:

    But most of the time, your phone works for corporations, assorted acquaintances and large social networks. They’ve hired it to put you to work for them. You’re not the customer, you’re the product. Your attention and your anxiety is getting sold, cheap.

    When your phone grabs your attention, when it makes you feel inadequate, when it pushes you to catch up, to consume and to fret, it’s not working for you, is it?

    Important words in these strange times.

  • Doug Belshaw 1:29 pm on January 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    I’m back! 


    Just a quick note to say that I’m back from my digital hiatus. I’ve done plenty in the last month, including celebrating a birthday, becoming a pet owner, earing my weight in mince pies, and moving even more over to free and Open Source Software. 

    More anon. Happy New Year!

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