this is the archive for the ‘rants’ category:


nothing matters

TGD: It takes a certain amount of confidence to sketch something and throw it out there without second guessing yourself. Do you think that comes from having done so much of that, from such a young age?

Adam: It’s scary to release something that might not be perfect, but there’s a lot of stuff out there on the internet, and no one’s looking at any of it. So who cares? Literally, who fucking cares?
Less than 1/4 of your audience will ever see your less-than-perfect Instagram post, thanks to the algorithm. And of that 1/4 that does see it, the ones that don’t like it will just keep scrolling. The people who love your work may not even sign in that day. The reality is, nothing actually matters that much, and I think I’ve felt that for a long time.

TGD: It’s easy to get caught up in it and to think, What if this doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to? What about insurance?

Adam: Then again, you have to remember that nothing ever happens the way you think it should. So, nothing matters! Nothing matters is becoming kind of an accidental mantra. (…) Nothing matters, and it’s extremely liberating! Things are only what we say they are. Things only carry as much weight as we give them.

from an interview with adamjk on the great discontent.

“nothing matters” can go one of two ways: either you fall down a pit of despair agonizing about the uselessness of everything you do — or, alternatively, you realize how freeing it is that no one is actually looking, and you can experiment, improvise and make stuff to your heart’s content.

i wish more people would realize this — nobody cares, and nothing matters all that much. so just get out there and do your thing! dance to your heart’s content, eat cake, write meaningless posts on your blog that nobody will ever read — but do it!

the long run

some time ago, we were talking with a friend who works with kids at risk — many of whom the parents seem to have simply given up on as “too much trouble”… and it got me thinking about the long run.

whether you’re raising kids or doing something else, the long run is always where it hurts. the beginnings feast on our initial enthusiasm, but keeping it up over time requires work and putting the hours in. it’s made of tears and struggle and the sheer boringness of maintenance.

i can get really enthusiastic about new ideas, so inevitably, i end up struggling with the long run, as i believe most of us do. our blogs are filled with links to projects that have disappeared, stuff that stopped being updated, and i’m guilty enough of giving up on stuff too. interests and priorities change, the enthusiasm dries up… and after the initial burst of energy is exhausted, things naturally come to a stop.

and yet, sometimes, they don’t. sometimes, there’s someone who won’t quit, who will put in the effort, day in and day out, because they believe in something strongly enough to pace themselves.

when you think about it, behind every kid that turns out great, or behind every project that turns 10 (or 20!), there are always humans who were relentless and didn’t quit — and that’s remarkable and worth celebrating.

the gdpr

george dantzig’s story goes a bit like this: he got late for class in college one day, saw 2 math problems on the board, assumed they were homework and copied them down (not knowing they were famous unsolved statistical problems). so he got to work, figured out the math and delivered the homework sometime later. easy-peasy.

one of my university teachers used to tell this story and the lesson wasn’t so much that you can accomplish anything with some ingenuity, but more along the lines of “give a student an impossible task and a deadline, and he’ll come up with something — anything”. it was certainly true in my experience of university, where it feels like we were scrambling most of the time, trying to improvise a solution that would somehow answer a question… though not always THE question.

and sometimes it feels a bit like that with the GDPR too, as if everyone is just struggling to grasp the concepts and come up with a solution without much confidence of a good result. in theory, “don’t be a jerk with other people’s private data” should cover it… but the devil is always in the details, isn’t it?

as an european entrepreneur, these past few months have brought some frustration and simultaneously, an interesting learning curve. but as an internet user and EU citizen, i’m definitely looking forward to may 25th, and the rights and freedoms now enforceable. hurray for the GDPR!

“all that red on the map, like a blood stain”

the morning after the US election, i heard someone utter that description of the results and it stuck. stunned and spinning and scrambling for explanations, the world puzzled at the websummit, the theme unavoidable on every panel.

in the weeks since, disbelief gave way to real fear. everything else has felt rather small and meaningless, in comparison to the big elephant in the room.

spinning

and then, slowly but surely, this cold helplessness in the pit of my stomach has transformed into a kind of determination. i’ve realised there is something i can do — which is, after all, exactly what we’ve been doing for the past 11 years through postcrossing: randomly connecting strangers.

if this project has taught me anything, it’s that people everywhere want the same things: to be happy and healthy, to keep their loved ones safe, to be heard and understood. when we randomly match two of these strangers across the world, we disregard their religion, skin colour, political stance or nationality… and yet, whoever they are, they share this brief moment together, teaching and learning and smiling for a few seconds. it’s beautiful.

it’s of little consolation, i’m sure, in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something. the more we know of these “strangers” out there, the more we understand them. and the more we understand, the less we fear.

and this — this i can do.

sir nicholas winton

on the same day the postcrossing stamp was launched, czech post also launched a stamp to honour nicholas winton. sir winton is known as the british schindler, for having saved over 600 jewish children at risk from the nazis in 1938, by resettling them with british families.

sir nicholas winton

it’s not lost on me, the irony of celebrating a man who gave all these children a second chance at life, while we close borders and stop others from coming in. who will we be celebrating, 50 years from now?