Welcome to my home on the internet! Everything here is free
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license unless marked
This site contains various pieces of writing across my various
interests, and spanning several years. You can
fork this site
on github if you wish.
I’ve just come back from BuzzConf, and I’m so excited by it that I’ve started writing about it even before my first coffee in the morning.
As a unique blend of conference and festival, BuzzConf was good. Really good.
Okay folks, it’s time to talk about mental health again. Today we’re going to be discussing one of the most common and yet stigma-laden topics of all: loneliness.
Lots of people feel lonely. An estimated 20% of the United States population experiences loneliness, and amongst groups prone to social isolation that can be much, much higher. Loneliness isn’t just unpleasant, either; it’s associated with a mortality risk about equal to that of smoking.
But if there’s one thing we don’t like to admit, it’s that we’re lonely.
On Sunday, 16th August I made a pledge. A lifelong pledge to give 10% of my income to causes that do the most good.
This is something I should have done a long time ago, and for years I had found excuses not to do so. I was saving for a house. I was building financial security. It wasn’t my fault that injustice and hardship existed elsewhere in the world.
But it is. It’s totally my fault.
The industrial revolution’s defining feature was the mass-production of machines that could do jobs better than human workers. This was a change so profound that British Parliament passed a law in 1812 making destruction of a robot worker a capital offence. While that law no longer exists, there still exists an ongoing and relevant concern that humans will be replaced with machines.
A lot of the focus is on machines replacing human labour, resulting in technological unemployment; but I’m concerned about something much more frightening: what if machines can do everything better than humans? What if they’re not only better workers, but better authors, better artists, better chefs, and better lovers? What happens when the machines can offer us anything we want… save relevance?
I met Noirin at OSCON, many years ago. Actually, I think it was the community leadership summit before OSCON. I was being me—meeting everyone—and one of those people was Noirin. I don’t remember the conversation exactly, but they must have asked me what I was working on, because I do remember giving them a presentation of my Ignite talk (which I was nervous about) and asking for feedback (which they very generously gave). That started a long tradition of Noirin giving me feedback on my talks; ones that I had done, ones that I was working on, ones that were just thoughts in my head. And as part of that process and the friendship that surrounded it, I discovered something wonderful.
The way in which Noirin saw the world was beautiful.