March 2024

Recollection of March 2024 - what's been happening in my part of the world.

The Vibe

March this year was a lot of fun from the family and social aspects. We spent a lot of time together as a family, getting out and doing stuff together. Ms A. has settled into high school life and has started making new social connections and so we have had a bunch of visitors to the home. This has led us to the discovery that Frankie has a "self-defence" mechanism where he excretes a god-awful rotting fish smell when strange men (dads sent in to pick up their daughters) come into the house! He's all bark and no bite, but the smell is savage!

We started on our V2 of kitchen renovations, so I've been busy pulling together our ideas into a format for the joiner to draw up some plans and give us a quote. That's taken up a large part of my creative energy for the last couple of weeks. I'm really happy with the result - maybe less so with the cost, so I'm hoping we can make a couple of changes to reduce some aspects, and now it's off to the bank to see about a loan. We've been lucky, given the rising house prices, that despite not doing anything to improve the value apart from sitting on it, the local neighbourhood has risen quite a lot, so it shouldn't be an issue for the bank.

Kitchen Design

On the career front, I'm not feeling that great. The Job is a struggle. I love my team and my peers, but there is a constant background from leadership ... not leading. If you're going to lead, you have to act and do things that empower your people - at the moment, it is the complete opposite of that. And if there is an opportunity for the operations team to move and get things done, it gets shut down. So rather than moving forward, we are spending extreme amounts of energy and capacity moving backwards — because despite the team's need to move forward, we are being dragged back into the old default ways of working — hierarchy, power dynamics, information asymmetry, whispers and favourites. I don't know if I feel this more than others because I'm more aware of the issues, but I can't seem to move the needle on this. I have tried to communicate the issues and offer a ton of solutions, and yet there is zero engagement, let alone any acknowledgment. The culture is becoming more and more toxic around me, and while there is a desire just to put my head down and stay out of it, it's impossible.

This has led to me having less energy to devote to my career other objectives. The job is just one part of all of this, my aim is to build up more aspects of my career beyond the job. And that's happening! I had a couple of real bright spots this month with a couple of people reaching out over LinkedIn to discuss my work and some web stats pointing to some intriguing engagements.

I had two fantastic conversations with learning design colleagues about the work I've been doing around Learning Design Systems. They were great conversations and made me and the work I've been doing feel valued (sometimes more so than The Job!). I loved the fact that both conversations came from people stumbling across my work, finding blog posts and websites that I've worked on but never fully "finished". It annoyed me as I did submit a paper to Ascilite last year, which Reviewer 2 didn't like, and so it didn't go through, and while I understand the system, it was disappointing. I didn't have the energy to push back on the decision or really look at resubmitting elsewhere, but I probably should have because it was an attempt to document the system as a whole. I think I might stick it up on here on the blog.

The other interesting find was the use of Learning Patterns. I turned on some basic web analytics to get a sense of engagement and saw a spike in visitors from Spain. Hmmmm, I wonder why? Looking through some of the logs I found this resource "Challenges of medical education. Importance of planning". I don't speak any Spanish, but I love the fact that this exists and that the video demonstrates how easy it has become to translate something on the web these days — a click of a button in the browser and all of a sudden, my English site becomes natively Spanish! I hope they say good things in the video - but to be honest, I love the fact that this exists!

Taken from a bigger perspective, the career progresses well even if The Job is spluttering along!

Healthwise - things are OK. I'm doing well on the walking and general activity. My Apple Watch informed me I was averaging 10km a day - so that's good. I need to work on getting to the gym more - adding an extra session or two would be great, but have found the balancing act of schedules hard to manage. Eating is OK too, but could certainly be better - this last week wasn't great with socialising, being out and Easter all happening.


I went and saw Mr Bungle with Dave and Stu. It wasn't what I expected or anticipated - being basically a thrash metal gig rather than anything close to any from California. It had its merits, and it was good to see members of Slayer and Anthrax, as well as Mike Paton, strutting around the stage.

Ms A and I also went to Womad on the Sunday. It was a stinking hot day, getting up into the 40s and so the struggle with the heat was very real. We saw Wildfire Manwurrk, Connie Bailey Rae, Witch, Dubioza Kolektiv (probably the first band that kicked it the day off as the sun was going down and they had a great selection of ska/gypsy/reggae and rap. Was great fun!)., Ibibo Sound Machine (great club funk sound) and Moonlight Benjamin - who were my pick of the day. We watched the whole set and it was mind-blowing! Described as a "voodoo queen priestess" Benjamin was truly amazing and captivating. I swear she was casting spells on stage and had the audience captivated. She had the perfect frontman persona, strutting on stage and working the audience. The rest of the band was great with a fantastic Vox driven raw and heavy blues rock sound.

Clare and I celebrated our anniversary of being together - 24 years! Had a great meal out at Bandit in Unley and did the Feed Me Menu there (not this one!).


Morning colours


I got through a few different shows - but would recommend the following documentaries:


I'm still listening to a lot of Four Stroke Baron.

Big month of podcasts this month and quite a few I would recommend:


The Rot Economy episode of Ed Zitron's podcast led me to one of Ed's blog posts.

Public and private investors, along with the markets themselves, have become entirely decoupled from the concept of what “good” business truly is, focusing on one metric — one truly noxious metric — over all else: growth.

“Growth” in this case is not necessarily about being “bigger” or “better,” it is simply “more.” It means that the company is generating more revenue, higher valuations, gaining more market share, and then finding more ways to generate these things. Businesses are expected to be - and rewarded for being - eternal burning engines of capital that create more and more shareholder value while, hopefully, providing a service to a customer in the process. In the public markets, that means that companies like Google, Meta, and Microsoft were rewarded for having unfocused, capital-intensive businesses that required mass layoffs when times got tough, because the market loved the idea that they’d found a way to save money. They weren’t punished for their poor planning, their stagnating products, their mismanagement of human capital, or their general lack of any real innovation because the numbers kept going up.

This analysis is pretty spot on and can be evidenced in a number of ways:

  1. Zuckerberg burnt through $10billion, didn't produce a product and remains in charge.
  2. The massive variations in HR over the last few years where we see swings of up to 20% of their workforce being hired or fired.
  3. The on going degradation of services and products to the point we now have a new term — "enshitification".
  4. The lack of any real and meaningful innovation from Silicon Valley for the past decade.
  5. A lack of real products from Silicon Valley - we've actually gone beyond needing customers or delivering services - it's literally just the Ponzi scheme now - see Crypto!