35. Frosty

Photo by Richard Hodonicky on Unsplash

This week was a week of connecting. I’m actively building a network of cool people doing cool things in Brisbane (if that’s you, say hi!), so I’m starting with people I know, and asking for introductions to one other person who is doing cool stuff. It seems to be working so far; the people I’m meeting are great.

We had some family drama early in the week so I had to postpone seeing some friends, but we’ll make it up.

I also came to Sydney to have a meeting about a potential role, so I’ve spent the weekend in nearby Canberra. They’ve had their first Gelato Messina open up, so I had to do my duty as a devoted ice cream aficionado and go eat three scoops. It was glorious. Thus the frosty title – it’s damn cold here. I really should remember to pack warmer clothes.

Work

I hate jargon and lingo in business. It’s just a barrier, another gatekeeper preventing understanding and clarity in the task to be done. So this article about using “real world” language when explaining a problem or design is 👌

Reading

The 25 Year Journey of Magic: The Gathering (The New Yorker, 30 mins)
“Since its beginning, Magic has spread to more than thirty million human operating systems. Today, those humans play with some combination of the game’s eighteen thousand unique cards, in eleven different languages. Magic YouTube shows like Geek & Sundry’s “Spellslingers” regularly draw hundreds of thousands of views. In a video on a channel called “openboosters,” a man opens a very old pack of cards and his gloved hands begin to tremble when he finds a “Black Lotus,” the most coveted card in the game. That video has six million views. Last year, I spoke to a game-store owner named Jon Freeman about the cultural resurgence of Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy mainstay with a much higher profile than Magic’s, and he told me that, in his store, “if you want to look at the sheer number of people who are playing games, Magic far exceeds all of the above.” ”
With eSports on the rise (Melbourne eSports Open is this weekend, the AFL is buying eSports teams, prize pools are well over $1m, and Twitch is awesome), I think it’s important to look back on the history of games as social platforms – D&D, Magic, board games. And what happens when large communities form. “I think Magic people pride themselves on trying to be inclusive, and that’s what makes other people feel comfortable there.” This article from The New Yorker was timely.

The History of the FI/ER Movement 2.0 (ERD, 33 minutes)
“In 1993, the web didn’t exist. CompuServe and AOL were in their infancy. USENET, so I hear, was 90% porn. Google was the misspelling of a gloomy Russian author’s name. And in the absence of online resources it was almost impossible for those of us who’d conceived of FI/ER to find each other and share our knowledge. And so: much of what you’re about to read is history I lived.”
Early Retirement Dude covers the history of my financial approach. It’s from a US perspective, but it’s interesting nevertheless. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. FI has been around for an age, and will be still. I’m just glad I found it when I did. If you’re a history nerd like me, you’ll love this article.

The shady world of beauty influencers and the brands that pay them, explained (Vox, 10 mins)
“The problem is disclosing the information of being paid to talk about a product so fans can make an informed decision on their purchases. Influencers and brands alike are to blame for this lack of transparency.” 
I’ve been thinking lately about Twitch, and media, and the removal of gatekeepers – allowing a creator direct access to their fans/patrons. A single person with 7.5 million followers on YouTube has more global influence than the mayor of a town. And the creator can say, and do, whatever they want. The creator builds content, which attracts an audience. They create a niche audience of people who love them; then the circle expands to people who like them; then out to people are kinda aware they exist; then the people who don’t care at all. It’s a heady mix of power, and when you add in that you can make money from the attention of this audience, the dynamic can change from providing service out of joy to providing service out of commercialisation. In some industries (eg. sports), a player may be sponsored but the fundamentals of the game continue regardless; the sponsorship doesn’t change the production of the content or delivery of the service. But in this gatekeeper-less arena of content creation (beauty influencers, Twitch streamers, YouTube reviewers), the influence of commerce can change the entire production. Your content is coloured by the coin of your patron, without the defence of a traditional framework that has inherent checks & balances. Your patron could be your fans; it could be your sponsors, your “paid placement”, your career ambitions. I believe that it can be a dangerous slope, and one that a new generation of public figures may not be prepared to handle properly. The creators wield so much power, but the thing that makes it wonderful – a system without gatekeepers that allows anyone with talent & drive to succeed – is also it’s greatest threat. Unless the creator has a clear understanding of the responsibility they have, and has consciously made decisions about the grey areas, then the risk of hurting their audience skyrockets. I don’t believe a good person would choose to hurt their audience; but there are some grey areas where that is an unintended side effect. For example, creating a negative product review because their competitor was paying you – and you didn’t tell your audience that fact. You didn’t mean to cause harm. But you did. Spiderman had it right.

Listening to / Watching

Never too small – a tiny 35m2 apartment in Melbourne. As I look for a place to live soon, I’m inspired by a future where less = more. I don’t particularly want a LARGE space, because space constantly asks to be filled. I quite like the frosted glass / open wall element.

Loving

Everything in the House Awards 2018 site (you can filter by shortlist/commendation/award if you want the good stuff). I’m a sucker for Grand Designs UK, so this speaks to me on a “daaaang that’s nice” level.

Best Life

These instructions to quickly change your phone from colour to greyscale – superuseful! And it takes mere moments to set up.

The week ahead…

I feel like the week ahead will deliver some change in the form of job offer/s. It’s also Birthday Week, so I’ll be treating myself to a few adventures, foods, and quality time with family & friends. Birthday Week is the best week of the year. I’m also starting a new D&D campaign on the weekend, and we’re doing an inaugural Wing Crawl on Sunday to find the best chicken wings in Brisbane. I may be vegetarian, but I make exceptions every now and then. This is one of them.