Second-hand books are great.

They're cheap, and unlike Kindle books, the more popular they are the cheaper they are. If I know there's a good chance it will only cost me a few pounds to get a copy, I'll be more likely to ask for recommendations and keep track of things I want to read.

If I really like a book I've got second-hand, I can display it in my house, or better yet give it to a friend. If I don't like it, maybe I know somebody who will - or I can donate it to charity.

Thanks to this realisation, I went from reading 8 books in 2017, to 16 books in 2018.

Having a book on hand also fits right in to a digital detox, though it's even healthier as a regular part of my mental diet, rather than a last resort.

Who's making new tools for artists?

There has been a lot of attention on tech in the past ten years or so, and it touches us all the way from us-as-customer (what do we want to buy?), to us-as-us (what do we want to do?).

All this attention has created a lot of new things. Tech is where new tools are made (Trello, Slack), where new ideas come from (agile, the service economy). There are new tech-focussed courses to enroll for, and even new tech-focussed colleges to study them in.

So how can I help in my corner? How can I help make new tools for artists? How can I innovate? How can I make my own life easier, and help other people be excited about making art?

Congratulations, you died

I've recently started playing RPGs again, at a local tabletop gaming group. It's been a strange experience joining in as a player instead of a Dungeon Master. But it's also been educational to see how our DM, Jack, encourages his players to make really interesting decisions.

A big part of this comes down to rewarding the players in fun ways. At the start of the game, Jack normally asks for the players to recap — remember where the party were travelling, what bounty they were trying to collect, which mysterious wizard they were seeking out. If you wrote any of these details down, Jack gives you an action point, something immediately valuable in the game to that player.

Even when things don't go well, like when my character was slain by a banshee, I got a fun sticker in the shape of a twenty-sided die for my trouble. The players who have been with Jack the longest have a whole series of these stickers decorating their notes, dice boxes and laptops.

It's left me thinking, what other relationships in my life could I improve with just a small generous gesture?

Check the box

Diversity is an important part of how any modern company talks about their customers or their own staff. At its core, the problem isn't too difficult to understand: people want to see a reflection of themselves in the work the company does.

So, in my own experience, why does it seem so difficult to talk about diversity with clients? And why do those conversations so frequently go in the direction of a 'spec' or check list?

Because if we can formalise something like diversity, if we can make it a series of check boxes, then we don't have to fully engage with the idea of diversity.

If the marketing team can have a list of required minorities to include in their next campaign, it gets them off the hook. It stops them from having to think more deeply about inclusion and representation, and what important wins could be made for underrepresented groups.

Doing it

It's hard to do creative work when you're dead stuck. Like, just 'do it'. Even when you do push through, it feels alien and weird, as you leave the well-trodden ground of the doldrums, and enter uncharted territory.

There's no let's-play of your doing-it to explore before you decide to make it happen. There's no book with a table of contents to browse. It's just a big blank page, and that's scary. But if you push through, if you ship, you come out the other side in a beautiful and exciting place you've never seen before.