It’s odd to see how conspiracy fantasies, suspect sources, disinformation and deliberate emotionally provocative or even antagonistic wording are on the rise on my LinkedIn timeline.

I first encountered a QAnon account in a comments section last August, but that person was still many steps away in my network. Now I see things popping up from direct connections and their connections. I had assumed that LinkedIn being tied to your professional reputation would go a long way to prevent such things, but apparently not any longer. In some instances, it’s almost as if people don’t realise they’re doing it, a boiling-a-frog effect of sorts.

One person being called out for some under-informed reactionary content by pointing out that their employer has the capabilities and resources to prove them wrong even responded “leave my employer out of it”. That’s not really possible though, as your employer is in your by-line and accompanies your avatar with every post and comment you make. Seven months after first encountering something like that on my LinkedIn timeline it is now a daily part of my timeline, and all coming from my Dutch network and their connections.

LinkedIn is starting to feel as icky as Facebook did three years ago. Makes me wonder how long LinkedIn will remain a viable tool. I don’t think I will be spending much or any attention on my timeline moving forward, until the moment LinkedIn is as much a failed social platform as others and it’s time to let go of it completely. That doesn’t mean disengaging with the people in my network obviously, but it is not at all my responsibility to help LinkedIn reach a certain level of quality of discourse by trying to counteract the muck. I was an early user of LinkedIn (nr. 8730, look at the source of your profile page and search it for ‘member:’ to find your number) in the spring of 2003, I know there’s already a trickle of people leaving the platform, and I wonder when (not if) I’ll fully join them.

Lukas Rosenstock posted a write-up of a group discussing their personal CRM routines he organised. A little over a year ago I was impressed with how Rick Klau (an old blogging connection) described his ‘homebrew CRM‘.

Lukas mentioned there were three groups in his conversation, one using specialised tools, one group using no digital tools, and one group using more general tools (“like Roam, Notion or Airtable“). I’m definitely one of the latter.

After reading Rick’s posting a year ago I parked it for a while, but when I adopted Obsidian for note taking, after a while I also started using it for some light weight CRM notes. Unlike Rick I haven’t added any process or automation, but I did start creating CRM notes so that something like it might become possible over time.

What I started with is making notes about people I encounter.

LinkedIn has one glaring hole in its functionality and that is allowing me to add something about the context of when I met someone. After using LinkedIn for 16 years I now sometimes come across a LinkedIn contact and then don’t remember how or why we connected. LinkedIn by now does show when you connected, allowing me to browse through someone’s CV to see what that person did when we connected and try to remember the context of that connection. Xing, mostly used in German speaking countries, had this from the start including a field for a few notes on when / how you met someone. That has proved valuable. [UPDATE In the comments Aad points out such a feature has been present at some point. Online search suggests it was introduced in 2013/4 with LinkedIn Contacts, and became a premium-only feature from 2017. By 2013 I had some 2k contacts, 8 years worth of interaction, where such contextual info was missing, and I use the free version, so the general point stands, even if factually not correct since 2013]

Back when I used a wiki on my laptop for notes, I also kept CRM style notes in it, especially 2004-2008. The useful bit was that I could link to a person’s page in the various notes I made about meetings, events etc. That ‘backlinking’ overview in itself was a great way of adding contextual info.

With Obsidian and the use of simple text files in markdown I have that back, and actually in a better way than in that wiki of old. Because those text files can be approached by a wide variety of software tools, not just Obsidian.
I’m not attempting to be complete in these CRM notes, I grow them the same way as I grow the other type of notes: when I encounter someone new I make note of it. Especially when I don’t know someone yet, or don’t have a strong connection to someone I make those notes. Not so much of people that I’m already connected to like colleagues. I’ve started a few new projects in the past few months, which is always a moment when you encounter a lot of new people in a new context. So those I’ve made notes for, as it helps understand a new client organisation, relevant stakeholders and context. For now backlinking in meeting and project notes is the way for adding a record of interaction.

Maybe in a year or so I can start doing more pro-active things with those notes, like Rick has built into his routines. Another element to me is potentially leaving LinkedIn behind at some point in the future, or at least be somewhat prepared when LinkedIn goes away, as all these platforms do.

Do you have some personal CRM-type routines or automation?

HandShakeHandshakes and conversations is what I’m interested in, not marketing instruments. Image Handshake by Elisha Project, license CC BY SA

This morning I watched parts of Andy Matuschak’s stream that shows him working on processing his thoughts and notes from a book he read.
It’s about 100 minutes of seeing him making notes….

There is much value in getting an insight in how other people actually do their work (the master-apprentice model is important for a reason), and it is not often you get to see how knowledge workers organise and do the things they do. It’s why I e.g. documented the way I currently use Obsidian for my PKM system. As a resource for my future self, and as a way to offer others a glimpse so they may take some part of it that fits with their own practices.

Andy Matuschak basically took the idea of live streaming your gaming adventures, to live stream a note taking session. And it’s highly fascinating. Because it shows it is actual work that takes time and energy, digesting a book, following lines of thought, doubling back, referencing earlier material, looking things up in the book in question etc. Also of interest is he is focusing on the tensions that what he read causes with other things he knows and has read. He’s not just lifting things out that chime with him, but the things that cause friction. Because in that friction lies the potential of learning.

I had come across this video earlier already this summer, and then only watched the first few minutes. Then I was expecting something else, that the video would show his set-up. I didn’t have time to watch someone go through their actual process. Now I re-encountered it in a different context and the video made much more sense this time 🙂

Browsing through Andy Matuschak’s public Digital Garden is also interesting to do.

The pandemic causes a variety of social ‘firsts’ for me, to take place online. Today it was a farewell party for a colleague at Frysklab who is retiring. On the plus side doing it remote means it’s easier to attend, but it is also harder for everyone to ‘mingle’.

Last weekend I suspended my FB account. During the months of the pandemic I increasingly felt the irritation with FB build up again. Two years ago I deleted my previous Facebook account, after having stopped using it half a year before it. I did it then foremost to delete the existing history, and created a new account. I told myself it was the only way to connect to some people in my personal and professional network. That isn’t false, but it’s also not true in the sense that this is an overwhelming effect. FB is not without use, I’ve been able to keep up with the lives of various people I care about, and have been able to respond to their life events because it’s easy to share for them, and easy for me to respond on my own terms. That is a valuable human connection. Yet, when you’re having fun in a toxic swamp, you might be having fun, but you’re also still in a toxic swamp. I cherish the interaction with people around me, but rather do that in a pleasant environment which FB is most definitely not.

My original intention this weekend was to leave the account suspended for a few weeks to see how that felt and to maybe get back in later. I realised that that is basically to let the skin irritation of the toxic swamp fade away for a few days and then expose myself to a next batch of irritants.

Then today two things happened.

Om Malik wrote about FB’s toxicity as a company, and to vote with your feet. One vote in itself isn’t much. Yet “If you don’t make good use of your vote, you enable those who would … destroy what we value. Facebook is no different. You might be one person with just one account, but you are not powerless. Being a part of Mark Zuckerberg’s algorithmic empire is a choice. If you believe that Facebook is causing long-term damage to our society, and you don’t agree with their values or their approach to doing business, you can choose to leave.” He left FB half a year after me, but still maintained his Instagram and Whatsapp account. He’s ditching that now too, because of FB the company. He’s right. If you think you’re in a toxic swamp, why stay at all within its vicinity?

The second thing was that the mail man came. Bringing a lovely hand written note from Peter. With kind words about our friendship and how our blog writing and adjacent interaction crosses the ocean between us. His card was a great example of having fun outside of the toxic swamp. Not that I think that I should return to sending postcards only, it just points to the spectrum of other channels we have at our fingertips that aren’t FB.

20200603_131512

So, like two years ago I deleted my FB account again today, and in 30 days it will be gone. FB is betting I will try to log in within that time. I know I won’t. Because unlike two years ago I have no hold-out reason left to go back into the toxic swamp. On top of that, if I did then I’d have to return here and eat my words 😉

Today we joined the HSTM20 Unconference, organised by our friend Oliver with logistics support from Peter, who live on Prince Edward Island in Canada. HSTM stands for Home Stuff That Matters, that last bit is a nod to our STM birthday unconferences, so this is as Peter said today, another branch on the evolving tree of unconference events.

The Home, in Home Stuff That Matters points to us all being home due to the pandemic, and to the two questions we discussed. What have you learned from the pandemic that you want to keep for the future? What do you like about the place where you live?

We were over 25 people, from around the world, across ten time zones, so from morning coffee time to end of afternoon, and evening. It was a nice mix of familiar faces and new ones, spending two hours in conversation. It was good to see dear friends, as well as meeting people again we first met last year when we visited Peter, Catherine and Oliver on PEI for a face to face unconference.

The event also showed how well Zoom works. With over 25 participants from literally around the world, with a wide variety of bandwith and tech savviness it worked without issue, splitting up from a plenary into multiple groups and rejoining into a plenary. It’s in a different class than other tools I’ve been using, even with its dubious information ethics.

Regrouping ourselves as Oliver’s tribe this time, it was an excellent way to kick-off our weekend.

Part of Oliver’s tribe in conversation today