1 Thinking about thinking about thinking
I have been doing a lot of metacognition, AKA "thinking about thinking", AKA banging on about personal wikis, lately.
I have really enjoyed reflecting on my wiki setup and how I can use it to learn and to create things. I also love a good bit of tinkering, so it's been a lot of fun playing with org-roam and hacking on it a bit.
I feel like I've made a lot of progress with my tools for thought. About 2 years ago I felt like I wanted to produce more and consume less, but struggled to find a rhythm with it, perhaps partly friction in the tools, but also just not confident that I had anything useful to say. Now I'm feeling at a place where I am very well set to seek, sense and share on the things I am interested in.
So I'm feeling a hankering to get learning and writing about other things. The adventures in mental omphaloskepsis (navel-gazing, thanks Wikipedia) probably won't stop, because I'm enjoying that immensely, but I feel like applying some of the fruits of the current deep-dive.
Plus, we are going through likely the defining moment of our generation, and the societal, political, economic (and likely technological) ramifications of this current point of history are likely to be pretty huge. Can't not think about that.
While it wasn't conscious or deliberate, I noticed that I have been avoiding much of the bigger picture discussion around coronavirus - just following enough to know what is and isn't safe to do for me and those close to me. Interestingly, in A Text Renaissance Venkatesh Rao talks about some of these tools as being for extended universe building and escaped reality construction. Perhaps this metacognitive rabbit hole has been a subconscious way of diverting myself from what's actually going on.
I don't feel I have a particular burning thesis I want to share with the world right now. But I'll try to return a bit more to writing about the various topics in my strapline (technology, politics, nature, culture) again.
2 Initial benefits of a wiki graph
Quick followup to yesterday's article about my wiki graph.
As I mentioned there, I'm not (yet) convinced of their utility as sensemaking aids, and the one I have certainly needs refinement.
Despite that, after playing around for a day, it has had some other benefits.
Firstly, soon after I published it, Panda emailed me with a note that he had seen both Jane Jacobs and the Paris Commune on my graph, highlighting a shared interest in these. He shared two great resources with me off the back of that.
Second, by browsing around it I've discovered things I'd forgotten were in there (and its only 6 months old…). This is perhaps an another angle to the 'on this day' feature various sites and individuals use, where you get reminded of things you posted about in the past.
Third, like I said, I noticed a few orphan pages, as well as pages that I knew now should link to something else, I just hadn't done so when I first wrote it.
So I would say the graph so far appears to have potential as a discovery aid, for myself and maybe for others too, as well as a good gardening aid.
Book recommendations is something I'm always interesting in. At base, all it needs is a feed you can follow just of what people have been reading. I've set up a channel in my social reader called 'Good Reads', and subscribed to Ton's list of books, as the sci-fi focus looks right up my street. If anyone else has a feed of read books, let me know!
I am keeping my own list of books I've read in my wiki - sadly not marked up in any useful way at present - something for me to do there.
4 A WordPress theme based on a Commonplace Book
This is a simple, translation-ready WordPress theme that came about after conversations with designer Bec Worth about the usefulness of a Commonplace Book and what it could feel like on the web.
A work-in-progress, but I really liked Piper's previous Notebook theme, so I'm excited to see this new theme evolve, especially given my interest in commonplace books.
A recent discovery for me near my new home town is The Cragg - a mini-peak nestled in the outskirts of the Forest of Bowland.
It's a short (hilly!) bike ride from my home in Lancaster.
Right now, the journey there has a lot of lapwings in the fields, with their distinctive calls, and fields full of sheep, lambs, and cows.
From The Cragg you get a close up view over towards a small hilltop windfarm of seven turbines. I love to watch them.
And it has absolutely stunning vistas - you can see the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, and Morecambe Bay. You're accompanied pretty much all of the way by Clougha Pike.
I feel very lucky to have it so close by, especially right now.