Weeknotes #2235 - Meeting Fatiguing

July 24th, 2020 • 4 min read #weeknotes
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Cranking out this week's notes in rapid fashion and keeping it especially short and sweet because:

  1. I don't believe anybody is actually reading these.
  2. Ergo, I'm practicing faster output with almost zero risk.
  3. I don't want to break the chain of six weeks in a row of weeknotes. Writing these notes is my signal that it's time to kick off my weekend. Zeitgeber, indeed!

On to the notes:

  • This was a bit of a grumpy week for me; I felt often like I was spinning wheels or unnecessarily procrastinating on what should have been trivial tasks. It's probably time for a long break, honestly.
  • On Monday, I watched the livestream of Halsey Burgand and Francesca Panetta about their project, In Event of Moon Disaster. We will be collaborating with these artists as we introduce some provocative AI topics into an exhibition in our new museum.
  • The livestream inspired me to write up a draft of a mini-essay about deep fakes and digital artifact provenance. This is fodder for blog posts or a newsletter, but I'm still struggling with the "just ship it" part of the content creation equation. I have, now, about a dozen 80% done essays that can be published with a small amount of polish. Of course, I should just stop overthinking and start racking up launches.
  • This recalls something I sent something I sent to a museum Slack channel. This, too, is fodder for future "content."

    The phrase "yak shaving" is EVERYWHERE in programming communities (refers to all the little side tasks people do on their way to getting the work done that the actually intended to do... like, "I'll write up a paper, but first I need to format my Word document just the right way... and then I need to organize my reference files... and now learn how to use Excel to plot out a pie chart for my data... Is Excel the right tool? Hmmm... Let me go learn R..." etc)

    "Yak Shaving" came from MIT (a CSAIL researcher repurposed the term from a Ren and Stimpy cartoon), It is part of programming culture & lore & fairly recent history (i.e. people involved are still alive and quite accessible).

    My question: what would it mean and require for our museum to add the phrase "Yak Shaving" to our collection? (similar like MoMA collecting the "@" symbol)

    I suspect there are myriad examples of programming culture like this from the past decades at MIT.

  • I'm noticing my reading and media ingestion habits are already changing based on a lens of whether the thing I am consuming will support some future writing I might do. Not everything, though. There are things I'm watching, (ahem, Warrior Nun, ahem) that fall strictly into the "turn-off-the-brain" category, but I'm also starting to filter more aggressively a lot of the fluff that has been crowding out the good stuff.
  • Similar to refocusing my input diet, I confessed to a couple of colleagues this week that I'm suffering from quite a bit of meeting fatigue. If I'm being honest, while I certainly enjoy participating in many of these discussions, I'm starting to realize that the value I'm extracting or contributing to them is quite minimal compared to the time they chew up in my weeks; it's been hard to find uninterrupted blocks to do meaningful work. So, tactics:

    • I've tried to "background" the meeting and turn off the camera, so I could work on other things during calls. However, multitasking is the enemy of productivity and I just get distracted and sucked back into the call -- but only halfway and usually not adding meaning.
    • In previous roles, I had no problem cutting meetings short and just walking out, "convince me in the next 3 minutes why I should stay" and cut people off if they haven't. Admittedly, that makes me a jerk, but who likes meetings, anyway?
    • Similar jerk attitude: my time is actually, relatively expensive for the museum. It's irresponsible for me to not be full-on when it's time. I should be a little less accessible & much more scarce.
    • The post-COVID meeting offers up an interesting affordance. We have been recording our exhibitions meetings for note-taking (and perhaps archival) purposes. This means I could skip many meetings and just listen to them at 2.5x speed (like I do podcasts). I could contribute asynchronously, and with thought, later.
  • Some fascinating MCN board discussions this week about the future of the organization and new models of operation. I gave an AMA people interested in joining the board with Desi Gonzalez and Yvonne Lee. I honestly think now is a very exciting time for the organization as it, along with the rest of the planet is reconfiguring. Watch this space.
  • Continued work on our upcoming Polaroid virtual exhibition.
  • Not much tweeting this week.
  • (On preview) I need to do some CSS formatting work on this blog -- especially with lists. #yakshaving

Photo by Adrien Olichon on Unsplash

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