Our era is defined by polarization.

Our era is defined by polarization, warring ideological gangs that yield no ground. Division, however, isn’t the root cause of our unworkable system. There are many causes, but a primary problem is conformism. Facebook has nurtured two hive minds, each residing in an informational ecosystem that yields head-nodding agreement and penalizes dissenting views.

Source: How Silicon Valley is erasing your individuality

Developers and startups are pushed to create viral habit-forming loops that reinforce the echo chamber. Everything in pursuit of the almighty DAU, impressions, engagement. This is the result.

Every comment thread devolves into a two-sided argument. There’s no middle ground. How do we fix that?

Photo by CloudVisual on Unsplash

There’ll always be a need for web professionals.

Websites are the quintessential digital asset for any type of organization.

Yet there are a lot of small businesses out there with no web presence.

New products are coming to market all the time to address that need. GoDaddy’s GoCentral website builder, for example, was launched this year.

These sorts of products are supposed to make it easier for small businesses to DIY. But even with ridiculously easy-to-use products, they will still need help.

Take DNS records, for example. Dealing with DNS records is a lot like setting up the internet in your home. You don’t think about it very much once it’s configured. But if things suddenly stop working? Oh man.

Now we’re opening the can of worms that is technical troubleshooting.

There’s a problem. We don’t know what the problem is. We gotta figure out what it is first. We gotta play doctor. Identify the symptoms. Find the cause. Prescribe a (possible) solution. Administer and wait and see if it works.

Keep reading…

To be trusted, you must first give value for free.

This concept can be applied to any type of products to services: to be trusted you must first give value for free. This requires patience.

Source: How Seth Godin Would Launch a Business With a $1,000 Budget – Louis Grenier – Indie Hackers

Always. Be. Helping.

New to a community? Volunteer. Offer to help. Share your expertise. Don’t have the expertise? Lend your time instead.

Listen and ask and raise your hand. Build your rapport. Build your karma. Build your credibility over time.

Then, and only then, have you earned the right to ask for something in return.

You need to build the trust before you can cash in on it.

(Aside: When you’re given an opportunity to step up, don’t squander it by overstepping.)

Getting into civic tech + Code for Canada’s Toronto open house

What positive impact can technology make on small communities across Canada?

That’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about how local Canadian communities like the Kawarthas can use technology to stay economically strong and culturally vibrant.

I brought this up with my buddy Lucas Cherkewsi at WordCamp Montreal in August. He told me about the civic tech movement, and how it’s focused on these kinds of questions.

How can technology improve the public good?

After chatting with Lucas, I made a mental note to check out the Civic Tech Toronto group, then I attended my first Civic Tech Toronto meetup last week.

It was great. There were lots of people and lots of projects going on.

And those groups weren’t just sitting around pontificating. They were getting stuff done. (And this isn’t a once-a-month thing, either. This group gets together every Tuesday evening.)

As a new attendee, I had to sit in on the Civic Tech 101 orientation. That’s where I heard about Code for Canada.

Coincidentally, Code for Canada was doing an open house just a couple of days later. I went, and this is what I learned.

Keep reading…

Spontaneity leads to opportunity.

Spontaneity will open you up to more potential opportunities and adventures. Falling into the same drab fixed routine is going to yield less unexpected opportunities and fewer possible big gains.

Source: How to Make Your Own Luck | Mark Manson

A few weeks ago I was unexpectedly invited to spend an afternoon on a sailboat.

A few things went through my mind: Is this a good idea? What about the my planned activities for the afternoon? I wasn’t dressed for hitting the water – would that be a problem?

So on and so on.

I hesitated for a moment but ultimately decided to join in. It was great! It was my first time on a sailboat, and I even managed to get some work done while on board.

Never would’ve happened if I didn’t say yes.

(Note: Featured image for illustrative purposes. We only sailed around Toronto Harbour. 😉 )

Takeaways from 1% Better Every Day (James Clear)

Success comes from incremental growth. Incremental growth happens with intentional habits.

You can build your intentional habits by creating an environment that triggers and supports the habits – for example, a visual cue to go and do something.

Make time for these habits by putting them in your calendar and protecting that time. More habits, more repetitions, more incremental growth, more success.

Every milestone or achievement is just another notch on the continuum of progress. Your habits and repetitions keep you going. The repetitions matter.

Put your energy into starting. Don’t focus on the finish line or the outcome or where you want to get to. Focus on where you’ll start. Make it easy to start.

Reward your repetitions. “Change long-term behaviour with short-term feedback.” (Hat tip to Seth Godin on this one.) One tactic: Don’t break the chain. Repeat the same exercise every single day. Don’t break the streak twice. If you fall off once, not a problem. Just don’t fall off two days in a row. Never miss twice.

(I’m sure I missed something, but there you go. Watch the talk just to be safe.)