Old buildings

I love old buildings , and I usually feel a strange sort of curiosity mixed with nostalgia for the people and cultures that made them. Just in the UK I’d love to see the castle garrisoned by knights and squires, the barn full of hay and animals, the old mill humming, the Tudor pub in its heyday, the telephone exchange building at its historical cutting edge, the cathedral decked out in coloured paint, the rows of clerks in the bank, the WW2 airfield lined with Spitfires and Glen Miller on the gramophone…

Dead buildings – either ruins, or frozen-in-time museums and country houses – seem that much more evocative than the ones that manage to stay in use for centuries, which end up watered down and bastardised…

But that’s probably because we’re paying attention to the wrong things. We fixate on a neat snapshot of a culture at a moment in time, forgetting that these places grew out of a messy and dynamic culture just like ours, were disruptive (and probably disturbing) when they were built, and were evolving from the moment they were finished. We’ve always been leaving the village behind, and we couldn’t stay, and we couldn’t go back – even way back then.

Buildings stay alive and socially profitable when they stay relevant – when we keep them alive by changing them and use the old spaces in new ways – often new ways to achieve old purposes.

The alternative is a building’s slow and expensive death as the network of life around them shifts and ceases to nourish them, at which point they decay and disappear until those that survive become old enough and scarce enough to become interesting again, and the past that they represent is far enough away from us to be the subject of nostalgia and museums.

And all of this is true of our organisations, too.

*See also: How Buildings Learn (wikipedia) and Youtube

Gifts

What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Paul of Tarsus – First Letter to the Corinthians

Count your gifts: knowledge, skills, dispositions and attitudes; assets, wealth, health, time; places; people.

  • Where did they come from?
  • What are you going to use them for?
  • Are you going to leave more of them, or less?
  • What are you going to give, and who is it for?

Keepy uppies

Try playing keepy uppies with your projects:

  • Do something every day, however small, to move them on and keep them alive
  • Find friends for the project – people doing similar work, people interested in what you’re working on – and maintain a conversation about what you’re learning
  • Keep half of your free moments empty – moments when you’d pick up your phone, snatch five minutes reading a blog or book or watch a video – and think about your project, keeping your head in the game
  • When you learn something new, take the time to think about (or even better, articulate clearly and write down) how it might apply to your project

The ball’s in your court – keep it in the air.

The AI menace that no-one talks about

He wants your job.

File:Bradypus torquatus BCN.jpg

The maned sloth (Bradypus torquatus), also known as the ai (/ˈɑːi/),[3] is a three-toed sloth that lives only in Brazil. It is one of four species of three-toed sloth. Source: Wikipedia

198

DC had 198 views in March, from 82 visitors. In internet terms, this is a pitiful statistic. Almost no-one reads anything I write.

But I love it. Even apart from the fact that I write DC for reasons other than its enormous readership, I love it. I mean, apart from this, when was the last thing anything I’ve written was read 198 times?

And while I take a bit of pleasure in seeing how many people visit (welcome, by the way), I get enormous pleasure in seeing random people checking in from around the world. He’s the map for March 2019:

So if you’re reading this… thanks for coming.

Seasons

Seasons are a great tool for starting and ending well. They allow low-stakes launches and clean breaks. They make intensity easier by allowing fallow time and regeneration.

Seasons make it clear where you’re going, and for how long: “Season one will be six episodes, then we’ll have a fortnight off.”

Seasons make it easy for people to get off the train, and for making sure those that who stay on are committed: “We’ll do a month’s worth of meetings without fail – then everyone who wants to continue can re-register.”

And seasons often develop their own character: particular combinations of people; emerging themes; clusters of lessons learned. We remember them more vividly than endless, dusty summers; they season our lives.

You snooze you lose

… is a fact of life.

  • It means if you’re not alert, you’ll miss out.
  • It doesn’t mean that it’s okay to snatch something out of someone’s hand just because they’re not looking, or that we shouldn’t set something aside for someone who’s running late.
  • It means that if you’re not in the game, you can’t score.
  • It doesn’t mean that we all have to play the same game, or keep score in the same way (or at all), or that other people’s score should be important to you.

You snooze, you lose…

Except, of course, when a nap’s just what you need.

Top posts from Seth Godin

This is a list I’ll update from time to time

The digital divide is being flipped

About inequality at the foundations of education in the 21st century.

Non-profit overhead

What matters is your impact. Hugely relevant to anyone building an organisation that raises money.

Social media is a symptom, not a tactic

The Mona Lisa has a huge social media presence.


The narrative of social media grooming is a seductive one, but it’s as much of a dead end as spending an extra hour picking out which tie to wear before giving a speech.

Seth Godin

Quality and Effort

A post about the importance of building systems to improve quality – he’s not as far from Michael Gerber as he thinks he is  : )

Added 08/12/2018 :

Bear shaving

Brilliance on not solving the real problem.

Added 20/12/18

Do we value attention properly?

On the value of attention and trust, and not wasting either.

Added 23/04/19

It’s not the bottom, it’s the foundation

On creating organisational culture that works for everyone, encouraging enrollment, responsibility and creativity all the way through the organisation.

Added 03/06/2019

Roads or Buildings?

On the importance of infrastructure over specific institutions

Fruit now

This post was lost in the Crocapocalypse – I’m reposting it with its original date.

I had a reminder from a friend that our ‘long now’ still includes right now.

We plant seeds, we grow to fruitfulness – and we enjoy the fruit that’s here for us now.

We often struggle to do one or the other, and you’re not flourishing if you’re not enjoying fruit in the moment.

William Carlos Williams is just about the best on this:

This is Just to Say

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox



and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast



Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold


William Carlos Williams