Notebook Processing

These are all turned around because I don’t want anyone to see the titles written on the fronts.

I started trying something new over the winter break, inspired by Jeff Lemire’s notebooking practise.

The brown one on the far right is a development notebook for a suite of ideas I want to locate and isolate. If it turns out that one of the ideas in that notebook looks like it has enough juice and heft to go somewhere, it gets broken out into its own notebook for further development.

For many many years, all my heavy development work has gone straight into txt files on the computer. Composing directly into the machine. Last autumn, I figured it was time to start challenging that practise. I’ve obviously been comfortable with my process for over a decade, if not longer. At some point I wondered if that comfort was an obstruction to getting to new places. So I decided to introduce some new friction into the method to see what happens. It’s always worth running tests on the way you work.

marks 20jan20

These insane devices surfaced by UT Design on IG.

Immune discovery ‘may treat all cancer’ – BBC News

The next big privacy scare is a face recognition tool you’ve never heard of

It’s a Peter Thiel-funded company called Clearview AI, and its service matches faces from images you upload with those in its database of some three billion photos. These pictures have been scraped from ‘millions’ of websites, including Facebook, YouTube, and Venmo. In addition to having a massive database, Clearview AI also boasts the ability to match faces even when you upload imperfect pictures, i.e. taken at odd angles or from a height, like from a surveillance camera.

The tool is said to be able to match faces correctly about 75 percent of the time, and it’s already helped nab criminals. What’s worrying is that it hasn’t been tested for accuracy by any independent party before it’s been made available to police forces…

Jay Springett does a deep dive on his extremely fine tuned bullet journal practise. I don’t bullet-journal and this rich process is still interesting to me.

My iPad Is A Radio

I have an iPad 2 that sits in a stand on my office desk. It doesn’t go anywhere any more. It’s old and thrashed out, permanently plugged into power, jacked into the desktop speakers and good for very little. It is, essentially, a clever office radio.

It runs nothing but TuneIn Radio, SomaFM, my podcast app Downcast (which syncs with Downcast on my phone), and, in theory Bloomberg Radio+ and Monocle 24. Though I haven’t tried those two in a while.

The iPad is so old that it won’t run BBC Sounds. This is a sadness to me, but TuneIn, Soma and Downcast gives me more than enough.

Given that I probably picked this thing up in the summer of 2011 and that it was sunsetted by Apple in 2014, I feel pretty good about it still being useful in 2020. I mean, they don’t even make the stand it’s in any more (a “Ekit Universal Tablet Stand 9+10 Inch Compatible” which I picked up in 2013).

Devices that degrade into a limited set of functions can be interesting. I mean, I don’t think the machine could even handle typing in an email these days. All the fancy high-end stuff and the cruft have fallen away, leaving a very specific set of uses that still operate very well. I’ve used touchscreen radios, and this is better.

I could do this with an old phone working off wifi, too. And I probably will, once this old iPad next to me finally joins all the other radios I have loved, from the massive radiogram chest to the two-deck cassette AM/FM machine I used to record John Peel and Annie Nightingale on, back in the dark ages…


One of my smaller whiteboards is headed “PENDING” and it’s filling up fast.  Part of my job now is to ask people questions, track materials, keep tabs on deals and processes, and other organisational shit that I am historically Very Bad At.  Hence the PENDING board.  Write everything down on something that’s going to be in front of you all the damn time.  I dearly wish there was something like the old iOS Panic Status Board (which I still run on my ancient iPad 2 in the office) that was Windows-based or web browser accessible so I could throw it up on the external monitor. 

I remember being fascinated by the hacks on old Kindles that turned them into glanceable ambient information radiators.  (example)  They were mostly way too hard to implement but wonderful ideas nonetheless. It’s impossible to get the Echo Spot to display anything useful. Everything went backwards. So now I scrawl on whiteboards and scribble in notebooks and mark up a paper calendar.

(Kanban boards wotk for people I know, but they send me blind.)

My whole setup is extremely primitive.

That’s right.  Binder clips, a calendar printed off from the web, adhesive hooks. Nothing in here is fancy.  Just find what gets the job done.  You can fiddle about and make it pretty later if you want to.  Function first, detail later.  I can look up over the top of the monitor and see everything that’s on deck, and the time-sensitive stuff is in Google Calendar. (By “time sensitive” I mean things like “definitely start X today” or “you need to call X at 5pm on Monday.”)

I know someone who was working in a small space and did this with post-it notes on the wall next to their laptop.  It doesn’t take much.  Just having the idea and implementing it in minimum viable form.


I should be working on this script today, and will probably put in a couple of hours on it later, but I woke up with another idea in my head, so I may just switch off and lean back with a notebook in a bit. Inbox 15, but I believe it’s a public holiday in the US today, so the water shouldn’t get much higher.

Although.. while I was sitting outside with coffee, I made a note to self to explore the latter part of Peter Greenaway’s output, having last night unearthed my copy of BEING NAKED PLAYING DEAD, the book about his early and mid-period work (UK) (US), and what do I find, clicking around, but a new Peter Greenaway film.

So possibly I’ll lose more time to clicking around today.


Pushing three o’clock and I still haven’t done much of anything. If I can clear my head for a couple of hours I should be able to lay in the spine of this issue of BATMAN’S GRAVE in front of me, an episode which is currently resisting everything except detail and dialogue.

Listening to the new Gaetir The Mountainkeeper, inbox holding at 11. Sometime this evening I will grab a notebook and start reconfiguring the newsletter.

Quote, Krasznahorkai

The incidental resemblance to or concurrence with reality of any of the characters, names, and locations in this novel are exclusively due to wretched happenstance, and in no way express the intention of the author.

— Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, Laszlo Krasznahorkai

(I’m reading a lot of Krasznahorkai again, so maybe this should be a blogchain. We’ll see. I spent last night marking up his Paris Review interview.)

My Personal Instagram “Lifehack”

Make a new email address. Don’t give it to anybody.

Use it to make a new Instagram account. Don’t tell anybody.

Plug the new account into Grids for Windows (or Mac OSX) or whatever similar app your operating system uses.

Don’t add anyone you know. Use it to find beautiful things, so that it becomes a proper window on the world. Grids will slowly update the feed on its own, so the windowframes shift.

It goes up on the external monitor on my desk. It’s calm. It does not engage. It’s a receiver. The value of receivers is a thing that could stand to be rediscovered.


Via Experimental Cinema:

The first film in the style of “trash”, filmed in the USSR.
Throughout the film trilogy the main character goes through a series of temptations that destroy his soul and bring, eventually, to the madhouse. In a General sense, allegorically the film shows the tragic path of the Russian lumpen-intellectual, lost between past and present, not finding the strength to accept and comprehend it fell down on the unexpected change that occurred in our country twenty years ago. In a global sense – a tragic cycle of Russian history.