Between the years I started to work on a “year in review” post but I couldn’t finish it. There are a couple of things I simply can’t write about that were so dominant throughout the last year that if I wouldn’t have written about them it wouldn’t have felt right. And still, no, sorry. So, yeah, 2017 had it’s ups and downs like every year, but I’m afraid the ups were largely drowned out by the downs. And unfortunately (the main reason I can’t really write about it) the most important downs were personal. But, of course, the state of the world has something to do with it. And, reflecting on my own behaviour and especially my media consumption while trying to write that retrospective, I realized that I needed to change things a bit.
So, since the beginning of this year, I stopped reading my Twitter stream daily. I almost never open Facebook anyway, so I got that covered, too. I also, for now, stopped posting on twitter. If you use Mastodon (or any of the compatible things), you can follow me there, I am trying to post more over there.
Now, this is a two sided issue. On one hand, I feel like this is helping me already by cutting down on negative influences. On the other hand, I used twitter very explicitly throughout the last years as a tool to cut through my privilege by following people outside of my white, male tech bubble and, if I do say so myself, quite effectively at that. But at this point I am relatively sure that I need to take this step as a protective measure for my own mental well being. We’ll see how this pans out in the long run, but I just had to admit to myself that at one point, twitter, instead of being this awesome tool to bring friends (and potential friends) and colleagues much closer, turned into this messy outrage amplifier with racist tendencies, in other words into that one shitty uncle who always ruins xmas. FOMO still pretty much glued me to the screen but I did notice it often brought me down, especially in times when other people needed me not being the gloomy self I (even before twitter) tend to be on my own.
So, yeah, this is an experiment. One of quite a few I’m starting the year with.
Another one is a thoroughly positive one: I am, after 2014, trying for the second time to participate in a thing called Weeklybeats. It’s a website and a community that tries to pushes you to publish at least one piece of music per week. I did way too little music in 2017 and I have so many awesome things lying around that want to be turned into sounds and music that I had to take on that opportunity. You can follow my progress in two places: My official Weeklybeats profile where tracks will be available precisely after each deadline or the soundcloud playlist I intend to update on the respective mondays.
Here’s another experiment that actually started during the last work week in 2017: I’m going to change my work schedule. For most of 2016 and 2017 I worked a couple of days (2-3) for my clients (Novation still being the biggest one) and then, for the remaining days of the week, I would hustle for Depfu. Now, this has worked fine in principle, but the task switching was somewhat taxing and in 2 or max 3 days it became quite hard for me to deliver substantial value in a week for Depfu. What we’re trying now is working in larger chunks of a few weeks. Right now I’m on the finishing touches of our current iteration for Novation and next week I’ll start my first big block for Depfu and we’ll find out how much better that will be for actually delivering substantial stuff in reasonable amounts of time.
Speaking of Depfu, running your own SaaS business is still both a constant source of joy and frustration. The things that keep us pushing are a) really nice feedback from our existing clients and b) a lot of encouragement from fellow business owners that tell us that the struggle indeed is real and that success first and foremost takes a lot of time and effort.
One thing that I also plan to do in 2018 (but this currently tagged with a looooong list of caveats) is to do more with Video. I have a couple of ideas I want to try out if time permits.
Also, and possibly slightly related, I am now the owner of a cheap 3D printer thing. It works but currently mostly prints hardware updates for it self. I have already printed a few practical things like stands for my Volca synths and, and that’s something I need to document in more depth, some parts that finally allowed me to restore a duct on my exhaust vent in the kitchen. Getting the printer to work (reliably) is still quite a bit of a problem, but I’m slowly getting there.
One thing the printer motivated me to do is generally get back into playing with hardware a lot more, so let’s see how that goes.
I want to close this weird meandering post with a more general outlook. Like I wrote earlier, last year wasn’t great for me. It was worse for others and so I don’t want to use this as an excuse but there were indeed times where I was happy to get through the day (or the week, or the month) and I wasn’t able to do much beyond what I would call my job. For this year, this needs to change. And so, as with the Twitter decision, I will try very hard to use the start of this year to push myself to a more positive, optimistic outlook. Because, as much as I sometimes think that all is lost and the world is going to hell, I know that this attitude does not help. If we want to have a shot at reversing the trends of 2017 (hashtags: racism, xenophobia, nepotism, autocracy, kakistocracy, misogyny), we can only do so by counter the negative narrative by our own vision of how we want to live and that has to come from an optimistic perspective. And that’s true for both society in general and us as individuals. By leaving the discourse to either our own nagging thoughts of existential angst or the right wing narrative, we can only lose. And it’s not as if we had an endless amount of shots left.
I know, going into 2018, that my energy will be somewhat limited, so I will first and foremost focus on myself here. If I can drag myself out of the hole I dug for myself in the last years, I will hopefully be more helpful than I have been for a long time now. Helpful to whom? Everyone and me, basically. And here’s a plea for help: If you see me, in a public setting or in private, giving in to negativity or even only the usual cynicisms, please call me out on that.
To all of you: I wish you a happy new year - Let’s get moving, there’s a lot to do!