Harry Keller

April 30, 2022

↬ April 2022: maintenance work, cooperatives, good decisions, moby dick

Hey there,
time for the April recap – I’m late and this week was hectic, so here we go without much of an introduction. Thank you for being here! 💛

🚨 What’s new

Looks like we collectively decided the pandemic to be over now. Odd. How soon until I’m the strange one wearing a mask in a supermarket?

Elon Musk buys Twitter. Sigh. All the takes have been shared, all the jokes have been made, but what now? I’ve been on Twitter for almost 13 years and I can’t overstate the role it has played in my life, both professionally and personally; however, this is the first time I legitimately feel I need to get off the platform, seeing all the nonsense Musk is spewing. Twitter should be public infrastructure, not owned by an erratic and pathetic billionaire who is either shitposting or peddling right-wing ideology, with zero good ideas about where to take the service. 
We gotta leave, but where do we go?

I’m currently freelancing on older projects (most of them started way back in 2016 and 2017), updating their software packages, refactoring, documenting. Over the years I’ve discovered that I really enjoy this type of work … the tech industry is obsessed with building shiny new stuff, yet few people want to maintain what’s already there. Most of my projects stay with me for years and I think that’s a good sign. Maybe it means we created something of (somewhat) lasting value. More maintenance and care, less replacement and disruption, please!

What’s good

We had an epic book club meeting about I didn’t Do the Thing Today—it was such a fantastic group of eight people, spanning Singapore, Russia, India and Germany in time zones and we had (I believe) six different nationalities present. So cool, such a multi-faceted discussion. We’re reading The Ministry for the Future next!

Last year my girlfriend and I planted a tree and over the last couple of days it finally unfolded its first leaves after a long winter. It made me so happy. Planting it was one of the most satisfying activities I’ve ever done—it’s hard to put into words how wonderful it is to see it spring back to life now!

Recently I’ve met quite a few people in person for lunch or coffee (hello Andreas, Erkal, Sebastian, Sara, Roberto, Lars!) and we also had a diesdas reunion/farewell gathering yesterday in the office’s backyard. I’ve become a proponent of remote work, but I also have to admit that in-person conversations do have a different intensity compared to Zoom meetings. It’s similar to reading books on a Kindle vs. paper books … e-readers work well, they’re often more comfortable and for some settings/topics they’re entirely sufficient, but there’s also less sensory input for the brain to latch on to, so what I read on a Kindle passes me by, easily forgotten. Feeling similarly about zooming. Hmm. Something to think about, when to make the effort and spend the extra energy to make an in-person meeting happen and when it’s fine to do it digitally.

💡 What’s interesting

I’ve been reading a lot about cooperatives recently and the more I gather, the more I’m in love with the idea of a truly democratic, self-managing organization with the purpose to nurture the social, cultural and financial needs of its members, instead of pursuing ever more profit or capital returns. It feels revolutionary honestly, and like a perfect fit for most smaller tech companies which already throw around (ultimately fake) claims like “it’s also your company”. Cooperatives actually deliver on that promise and to me provide the clearest path to transcend harmful capitalist practices. I guess I gotta found a coop next … who’s with me? 
Good decisions create time, bad ones consume it. Good initial decisions pay dividends for years, allowing abundant free time and low stress. Poor decisions, on the other hand, consume time, increase anxiety, and drain us of energy. […] One heuristic to tell how good someone is at making decisions is by how much time they have. The busiest people are often the ones who make the worst decisions. Busy people spend a lot of time correcting poor decisions. And because they’re so busy correcting past decisions, they don’t have time to make good decisions. Good decision makers understand a simple truth: you can’t make good decisions without good thinking and good thinking requires time.

The above quote is from: “How to Think: The Skill You’ve Never Been Taught”. I’ve always tried to carve out time in my calendar just for thinking, but other people rarely understood why. This is also why I pushed for more async, slower, text-based discussions … it’s simply unlikely you’ll be able to make good decisions on the spot in a meeting, without having had time to ponder stuff first. Creative work needs to simmer, so give it more time, most urgency is fake anyways.

👀 What’s recommended

GT Planar, a positively bonkers new typeface by Grilli Type: check out the microsite

Speaking of type, this one’s also Nice

I can’t wait to see Everything Everywhere All at Once and here’s an interesting behind-the-scenes article on how a team of only five people produced 500+ special effects for it

Consider subscribing to Ed Zitron’s newsletter—his takes on work, tech and culture are spot-on

The most nerve-racking thing you’ll see today: dudes pouring water into a cup

🔮 What’s next

Sunny days ☀️ 
Eating ice cream 🍦 
Watching chilis grow 🌶 
More maintenance work 👨‍💻 
Walks in the woods with Freddy 🐩 
Possibly founding a cooperative? ✌️

📷 What’s in the camera roll

Just four pictures this time:

Freddy’s fresh spring fur-cut and running around in the woods

Left: our pick for the upcoming book club (genre: optimistic cli-fi).
Right: I was delighted to see Moby Dick in Köpenick – if you’re a Berliner you’ll know!

Alright, that’s all for this month. See you next time and I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!
Harry

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Harry Keller
based in Berlin
@harryfk | .com