Indirect Work

by Carol Sanford

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Currently rereading this amazing book, as it’s pretty deep. If you think you understand it, you probably not “reading” it. If you’re having a hard time reading it, you’re probably actually reading it.


Life At Its Best


Black Adam

I never said I was a hero.


Touch Me (Original 12″)

by Rui Da Silva

We can only understand what we are shown
How was I supposed to know our love would grow?
You touch my mind in special places
My heart races with you

One of my favourite songs that I stumble across in the last year. Considering that it came out so many years ago, I’m surprised I’ve never heard until now.

Web Technology

Featured Image As Featured Block

The other day while fooling around with WordPress, I started realizing that while it was getting better and better in some areas, other areas still need to be radically reinvented, such as the concept of a Featured Image for posts.

How I came to this conclusion, was that I was remembering people in the past indicating how when Gutenberg and Blocks become mainstream, there would no longer be a need for Post Formats at all. However, when I started browsing some masonry grid themes over on Tumblr and pondered how I could replicate them on WordPress, even if I just used a non-Masonry layout, I realized I couldn’t.

Why? Because WordPress only allows for Featured Images, which are the only visual object to be displayed in the blog list view. Post Formats previously allowed you to have different visual objects in in the blog list view but they’ve been pretty much phased out now in WordPress 6. So the only way to emulate these Post Formats in WordPress currently is if they added functionality that made it possible to “feature” any block, not just an “image”.

In doing some searching, I found one person suggesting just such a thing on the WordPress forums but they got little to no feedback. Digging deeper, I then found a GitHub WordPress Gutenberg thread entitled Rethink “Featured Image” In The Context of Blocks which touched upon it more so but without really any visual action, other than to possibly see about switching the Feature Image option to an Image/Cover Block.

Hopefully if the do decide to do that, it’ll become self-evident in developing it to make many different other blocks have the option of being “featured” in the blog list view as well. Let’s hope! Maybe by next year, we could see at least a few blocks beside an image block have this capability.

Web Technology

Upcoming Changes to WordPress 6.1

While skimming through the latest WordPress 6.1 Product Walk-Through Recap, I noticed some really amazing features finally being added to WordPress.

I actually remember manually coding some of these features myself on Movable Type many, many years ago when that web platform used to be all the rage. Specifically the ability to customize the template for a specific category (8:55) or even a specific post (8:35) is pretty amazing.

I was also highly interested in hearing what Nicholas Diego (37:00) had to say as the Editor Triage Lead for WordPress 6.1. The reason for this is that I find the usability experience for Editor user interface to be severely lacking still, with the key issue being they are overloading the non-techie end user (but even the techie designers & developers as well) with too much functionality at once in the same place. Instead they should be creating different focused context modes that the end user can switch to (similar to Squarespace Version 5 over a decade ago), so they don’t get confused and overwhelmed.

At the very least, if they don’t do this, they should make specific areas of the interface context specific, similar to how they are almost doing it now. For example, the Structure mode area is primarily on the left side of the interface, showing the nested layout of the blocks, whereas the Style mode area is on the right hand side of the interface.

But they need to go beyond this and make the interface function much more consistently within the different modes. For example, right now when you’re using the left hand Structure area and you press a block on the page, the corresponding block within the left nested layout of blocks gets highlighted as well which is nice.

The same thing should happen with the right hand Style area as well though (when it’s open) in that when you press on a block on the page, the corresponding style editing settings for that block should automatically be shown, so you can adjust it immediately. Again because there are no focused contextual modes but rather just these panels, it can become overwhelming for the end user to figure out where to look, especially when playing with the Editor for the first time.

But as it stands right now, the specific block style areas are buried under a couple of submenus which is just crazy. Instead all block styles options should be shown by default when you open the Style panel, yet the default Body and Heading settings for the entire site should be listed at the top of the entire Style list. Then below that, each specific block type should be linked by default to either the Body or Heading style setting but with the option to specifically customize it further if the end user so wishes. This would make the Style area far more user friendly for the new user, creating a cascading style logic that they can understand.

All said and done, I’m still excited and interested in trying out WordPress 6.1 when it’s released. Oh and for those who want to see more of Nicholas Diego’s work on the Editor (aka Full Site Editing), he has a bunch of videos on WordPress.TV you can check out as well.

Computer Technology

Augment: An AI Productivity Assistant

I’ve previously indicated that Mark Zuckerberg has everything backwards. Instead of mining people’s data and using it against them, he should be charging people to mine their own social media data to help them understand themselves better.

It looks like a company called Augment AI Corp is kind of taking a step towards this in creating an AI assistant called Augment that “learns your needs” and “supports” you with your productivity.

Augment is a first-of-its-kind context-aware AI, dedicated to helping you excel through your hectic work day, freeing up time for you to do the things you love. It learns your needs and provides you with the type of support that we used to only dream about.

No more being caught off guard by another calendar alert because of back-to-back meetings, wasting time trying to dig for context, or struggling to take notes. Your Augment tells you everything you need to know about the meeting, including what led up to it; takes notes; captures the presentation materials, and summarizes it all for you afterward. It’s AI that actually works for you as a true ear-whispering, task-doing assistant.

In my opinion, the real potential of AI technology will be when it can analyze what your interests are in terms of the personal knowledge management flows that you’re aggregating (i.e. reading, watching, etc) and then analyze the patterns and relationships within it to provide insights on understanding who you are on a deeper level.

In effect, there’s a lot of hype these days about understanding your passion and purpose, with a lot of people misunderstanding what that actually means. It’s not surface things (i.e. job, interests, etc) but rather the patterns and relationships between everything you do that’s often hidden below the surface of your life but which unifies your life as a whole. I honestly believe the right AI technology that’s optimized for this, could actually help a person to reflectively become aware and “know thyself” on a deeper level.


Prince Samuel IV of The Flying Monkey Brigade

Watching the Queen’s funeral procession a bit the other day, I was reminded that our own “royalty” is nearing his time of passing soon.

Considering his age, Sam actually looks amazingly well for a cat of 18 years. While he has lost a lot of weight the last six months or so, he’s still eating and drinking ferociously, not to mention he’s as vocal as he’s ever been.

“Prince” Samuel IV (aka “Monkey Boy”)

More than anything lately though, it’s his vocal need for fresh food and water at all times of the day and night that is becoming exhausting. Because of this, we’re lucky if we can get an entire nights sleep in without being woken up before 7 AM in the morning. Usually if he does wake us up, I try to get up and close the door to the bedroom so my wife can continue sleeping, while I attend to his needs and then crash on the sofa.

Once his food and water needs are met, he usually joins me on the sofa and starts snoozing while cuddling on my chest. While he’s always been one for being physically affectionate, he’s definitely seems more so lately. All said and done though, he’s had a pretty amazing life, considering one of our other previous cats had his life cut short due to a tumour.

Always looking handsome and regal, we started calling him “Prince” because of his vocal demands beginning at an early age. His more common affectionate nickname though is “Monkey Boy” which is of Buckaroo Bonzai origins. He got that name because he literally races around the house like a monkey boy, leaping from furniture to furniture, almost flying at times like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.

Smart Home Technology

Sonos Working On “More New Categories Than Ever Before”

My conventional work from the past used to focus on simplifying technology for people, which included everything from computer hardware and software, home electronics, to everything related to Web development.

Today while I still somewhat stay on top of all of these things, I’m primarily just interested in mobile computing technologies (i.e. iPhone, iPad), smart home technology (including voice assistants), and Web platform technologies (i.e. WordPress).

One company that I love using their products at home and have been tracking them for some time is Sonos. The main reason for this is that I typically dislike the hard-coded functionality in most products today (and hard-coded behaviours in companies) but Sonos products actually allow for a lot of decently flexibility in terms of the different music services and different voice assistants you can use with them but also third party services like IFTTT that can be connected with them for more advanced home automation.

Recently with many companies preparing to transition their products to the Matter smart home protocol, allowing their products to interconnect and interoperate with other company’s products, I’ve been wondering if Sonos was going to make a larger move in the smart home space due to previous technologies they’ve acquired over the last couple of years, specifically their voice assistant technologies which were released this year.

In a recent interview on Yahoo Finance (shown above), it seems as though the CEO of Sonos specifically stated that they are “working on more new categories than ever before”, so it will be interesting to see if anything new is released by Christmas of this year. Strongly rumoured is the introduction of wireless headphones with the ability to listen to music at extremely high quality levels, thus far superior to typical Bluetooth connections. I also hope they figure out some way of integrating Apple Siri voice assistant support in their products without requiring an Apple HomePod Mini device (which is ludicrous that Apple would require that for the integration).


My Life’s Work

Working for social change at work using the liminal space between MMORPGs and The Future of Work

In rewatching this video below with John Seely Brown, in which he discusses how World of Warcraft players are innovating on a level that most businesses can’t imagine or even achieve, I’ve come to the realization that this is pretty much the essence of what I want to be doing with my life’s work.

“But it gets back to this notion of passion, it gets back to this notion of curiosity, and it gets back to this notion that this is an interest-driven phenomenon that unleashes exponential learning of a dimension that’s almost unimaginable any other way.”

John Seely Brown

The primary difference between John and myself though is that he’s mainly focused on the innovation occurring within the social organizations (aka guilds) around the game. What I want to do is even go beyond this and utilize the game elements themselves as metaphors to not only help people make sense of how The Future of Work will work but how we will achieve the necessary social innovation via creativity to actually get there in the first place.

For example, in massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs), players level up their character within the game, thus gaining new capabilities that enable them to take on challenges of increasing complexity. For society to reach the The Future of Work, we also need people to level up their consciousness, thus gaining new capabilities that enable them to take on challenges of increasing complexity as well. That’s because The Future of Work is effectively “a whole new game” that’s paradigmatically different from our conventional World of Work, thus requiring people to change the way they perceive their world and themselves as well.

A new paradigm, informing a different way of experiencing and working in the world, will require the development of different capabilities than most of us have now. These capabilities are difficult to acquire or sustain outside of a community and culture within which mutual support and learning can occur. The trick is to build or evolve culture at a level that doesn’t simply reproduce old patterns of thought, and this requires the development of consciousness. Consciousness, in this context, refers to the ability to recognize different levels or orders of world.

Carol Sanford, Indirect Work

However while our approaches might differ, I think the primary method that John Seely Brown is so effortlessly using is one that I’ve been struggling to find and replicate myself, that being lightly touching on the game elements as an opener but then deeply describing their translated meaning afterwards. For example, he talked about a typical “guild” doing a “raid” within World of Warcraft but then translated what that means for innovation within the workplace, describing how the self-organizing social structures of these online communities are allowing them to do unprecedented things compared to the conventional World of Work.

All said and done though, if you had told me a little over two decades ago that today I was going to be standing within this liminal space between MMORPGs and The Future of Work, I probably would have said you were crazy. That’s because at the time, while initially building online communities around video games personally on my own, I had successfully made the jump to professional work as a Senior Web Development building online community hubs around video games for some of the largest video game publishers, such as Sierra, Activision, and Konami. So my life looked like it was perfectly on track and going in the right direction, with nothing to stop me.

But when the Dot-Com Bubble burst shortly afterwards in 2001, imploding my entire life and work, that’s when I began questioning the way that work worked altogether, leading me on a quest of researching The Future of Work, social innovation, creativity, and vertical development which strangely enough over two decades lead me full circle back to the innovations I had previously experienced within these video game communities. Like John Seely Brown said, “there is something going on here” in these spaces with people playing in these “complex worlds” and I hope to reveal just that in the days ahead.