2022: Optimism, Simplicity, Focus (Omission: NFT anything)
It's 2022 - a fresh new year, with lots to be optimistic about. Before I dig into where my head is at for 2022, let me quickly look back at 2021 and my commitment to Blog Every Day.
2021: Blog Every Day
I blogged for 108 days in a row before calling quits on my little experiement. It was productive, and not just in terms of written output. Many blog posts led to new virtual or real life conversations and debates. I've connected with - and stayed connected to - lots of fantastic people as a result. Always a good thing.
Writing every day helped me refine an approach I'll take with me through 2022 and beyond. I have many long and short form pieces either in the works or in my writing "backlog" - though most of these will come to life on a (soon to be refreshed) developerecosystem.com later this year.
I'm as bullish than ever on the Jamstack and doubling-down on this way of building for the web. There's lots of buzzy talk about a "decentralized web" these days - Jamstack is the ultimate manifestation of this, without all the buzzy nonsense (the web is, and has always been, decentralized). Experimenting through this blog has helped me evolve my own Jamstack "stack" - more on this a different time.
I've managed to carve out time to revisit some personal passions beyond technology, too. Golf has been missing from my life for almost ten years, until late 2021. Between work, a (growing) young family, and juggling everything that comes with a pandemic it's been tough to find the time - but it's been great to get out for a few rounds of golf again. Hoping for more of that in the second half of 2022.
All-in 2021 was a challenging year, but I feel like my brain has been rewired a bit - in good ways.
Which sets things up nicely for 2022...
2022: Optimism, Simplicity, Focus (Omission: NFT anything)
For 2022, there are three themes I'd like to focus on and double-down on, and one clear omission. Because something's an omission doesn't mean I'll ignore it completely - it just means i'll tune out of the radio signal and see what I can absorb in other ways.
The past two years have been tough for everyone - some more than most. I count myself extremely lucky. I'm in good health, as are my family, and I'm definitely not classified as a frontline worker. We owe a huge amount to the people who don't have the privilege of working from home through this pandemic. They deserve more credit than they get - in so many ways. It has been tougher on them than most of us.
Yet - and thanks in large part to their efforts - there's a lot to be optimistic about coming into 2022. Science is on our side, and a growing % of the global population is vaccinated. Those of us lucky to live in wealthier countries have even been boosted for the first time. We did not have this privilege a year ago. A lot has changed. But - specially over the past few weeks - you'd be led to believe nothing has changed.
Right now I'm looking at a headline on the front page of a well known Irish news website. The headline reads "China ends 2021 with worst Covid week." If you're aiming to write a negatively spun clickbait title to lead readers down a path to doomscrolling, that's a pretty good headline.
However, when clicked, the headline magically morphs into something different: "China ends 2021 with biggest Covid tally since pandemic began." So, basically, China is just like the rest of the world right now - Omicron cases have far eclipsed case numbers of other variants. That, however, doesn't mean it's "worse." Omicron is less able to cause severe disease. This, plus vaccines, means lower hospitalizations and fatality rates. Yet we don't hear much about this. Just the doom, gloom spin on it.
I've been following @RiochtConor2 on Twitter, who has provided more optimistic - data driven - commentary on where we're at. Worth a follow. It's easy - specially for the privileged - to be pessimistic if our perfect privileged lives aren't as perfect as they were yesterday.
I'll definitely take stock more often and be more grateful for all that I have in my life in 2022. And take a more optimistic view where possible.
With child #2 on the way in April 2022, I'll be spending even more time thinking about - and working on - being the best dad I can. Child #1 has made me a better person in so many ways. One of those ways: taking a simpler approach to life, to make sure I have more time for the most important part of my life (my family).
Simplicity takes many forms - counteracting overcomplicated thinking is just one of them. I'm definitely guilty of overanalysing and overcomplicating many aspects of my life - including parenting and work. I'll be taking a simpler approach to both in 2022. Nothing is ever perfect, and no human can ever be perfect - aiming for perfection is pointless. It's good to make mistakes and learn from them. It's also a much simpler way to learn for everyone involved.
This blog - and developerecosystem.com - will benefit from a simpler approach in 2022. The tools I use will evolve and change, and my approach will evolve with it. For example, minutes and hours of eliminated maintenance can mean more minutes and hours to spend in family friendly ways. Well worth optimising for.
I've always been a fan of Dieter Rams' approach to life (and design): Less, But Better.
Focus is extra hard when distractions are everywhere. Time thievery is a pandemic of its own, and the volume of unsolicited messages (on LinkedIn and elsewhere) from time thieves is a growing problem. If your contact details can be bought, you'll be the subject of time wasting, interruptive nonsense. Interruptions are a multi-billion dollar business.
When people try to hard-sell you on something that you've never expressed an interest in, they're wasting your time for their benefit. Never forget that, and don't ever be afraid to - politely or otherwise - cut them off at the source.
In 2022 I'll do more to combat time thieves, and fight my own urges to go broad, not deep. Deeper is always better, from work to relationships and beyond. I'm confident this will lead to better outcomes for my family, me, and my career (in that order).
Optimism + Simplicity + Focus = a better balance. I'll be optimising for a better balance in 2022.
Which leads me nicely towards my 2022 Omission.
Omission: NFT anything.
Before I write anything about NFTs, let me start with this Tweet:
Christmas 2021 was just like Christmas 2020 for hundreds of millions of people - they either spent it alone isolating, or limited to single families to protect their loved ones. Those who were fortunate enough to spend Christmas with a variety of households were the lucky ones.
The idea that a special occasion - even more special in these strange times - should be hijacked by NFT early adopters to "sell" their family and friends on it is insulting, at best. This behaviour also looks and feels like the type of thing you'd observe from early members of a ponzi scheme.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but the NFT bros aren't convincing the rest of us to get involved with Tweets like this. Or this:
At first glance, nothing too crazy here. Except for the language. The NFT community has a way to go to explain - in simple terms, and without jargon - the value of NFTs vs other asset classes. If NFTs are as solid as other, more proven asset classes, the community will need to rely on retail investors to join the party for it to become a compelling investment. Exclusionary language doesn't help here.
I also worry about NFT and Crypto advocates hijacking the "Web 3" conversation. Web 3 surely can't be only about NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and wallets-as-identity? There's a frequently-made argument for "decentralization" as part of the "Web 3" hype, too, but the internet is already decentralized.
Jamstack - as a way of building for the web - further lends itself to a distributed approach. Before looking at the Blockchain as a decentralized way to build for the web, it would be worthwhile looking at some of the Jamstack-friendly platforms out there - like Netlify, Vercel, etc. You don't need to pay them with Bitcoin, either - it's free to start building on all of them.
NFTs - in their current form - remind me of Beenz back in the day. Not necessarily a bad concept, but the approach and hype doesn't (yet) make sense vs my observed reality of it.
I bought, sold, and transacted online with cryptocurrencies this year, and am still not convinced they are (yet, again) a medium of exchange. An asset class, yes they certainly are, and a risky one at that. But the idea that cryptocurrencies are the "future of the web" is far fetched, at best (but I could, of course, be very wrong).
One thing to keep in mind for people who argue that Cryptocurrencies are a solid replacement for Fiat currencies: where do the roads you drive on come from? It's not just tax dollars that pay for them. The Deficit Myth is one of the best books I read last year - highly recommended on this topic.
I don't disagree with those that argue Fiat currencies will eventually be devalued and die (or, be replaced as happened with the Irish Punt to Euro twenty years ago). Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order by Ray Dalio is a solid read on this topic. Fiat currencies die, but they are always replaced by Fiat currencies - governments, democracies, and currencies are already decoupled. And will remain so.
So, that's it - my longer than usual 1st of the year scribe, to set out where my brain and priorities are for 2022 (and beyond). A lot to be optimistic about, a lot to be hopeful for, and a lot to look forward to. A few things to be sceptical about - but just a few.
I've never been more bullish on the future of the web, and the ability for anyone anywhere to create value on or through the internet. I'm also more bullish than ever about life in general. Fun times ahead.