Bookmarked Job vs Career (heartsoulmachine.com)

A career contains a multitude of jobs. Some of them are the ones you get paid for, but many of them aren’t. And that’s often where the confusion comes into play. The paid job begins to bleed into other areas, and you associate the paid job with all the other jobs. They get lumped together as a career, but they are distinct and need to be kept separate. It’s our mind that blends them together, so every so often, we need to pull focus, reevaluate and paint in the edges to make it clear what our jobs really are.

https://heartsoulmachine.com/blog/2024/03-11-job-vs-career/ by Tim Klapdor

Tim Klapdor explores the difference between a job and a career. This all reminds me of the adage ‘you are more than your job’ and Mary Catherine Bateson’s idea of ‘composing a life’. I feel that the challenge is to balance between the demand of the job and a wider passion. In my occupation, I often find myself having to justify my professional development desires against the demands of the project I am a part of, however it is often my side interests where my growth often occurs. I wonder then who is responsible for my ‘career’ if it exists outside of any clear notion of ‘return on investment’.

Liked My 100th blogpost in 10 years. (andreastringer.blogspot.com)

Today is a significant milestone as I celebrate my 100th blog post! Looking back to where it all began a decade ago, with the encouragement …

Identity isn’t static; it’s a complex tapestry woven from personal and professional experiences, qualifications, personality traits, and values. Context and role responsibilities also play a significant role in shaping who we are. As I’ve navigated through different experiences and contexts over the years, I’ve watched my identity shift and evolve like a chameleon adapting to its surroundings. Change is inevitable, and it’s only natural that our identities evolve along with us.

Source: My 100th blogpost in 10 years by Andrea Stringer

Read Australia Day

As uncomfortable as it is, we need to reckon with our history. On January 26, no Australian can really look away. There are the hard questions we ask of ourselves on Australia Day. Since publishing his critically acclaimed, Walkley Award-winning, bestselling memoir Talking to My Country in early 2016, Stan Grant has been crossing the country, talking to huge crowds everywhere about how racism is at the heart of our history and the Australian dream. But Stan knows this is not where the story ends. In this book, Australia Day, his long-awaited follow up to Talking to My Country, Stan talks about reconciliation and the indigenous struggle for belonging and identity in Australia, and about what it means to be Australian. A sad, wise, beautiful, reflective and troubled book, Australia Day asks the questions that have to be asked, that no else seems to be asking. Who are we? What is our country? How do we move forward from here?

With Australia Day, Stan Grant continues on from his previous book Speaking to my Country, collecting a range of pieces and ideas tied together, addressing land, family, race, history and nation to answer the question: who are we? The book is a mixture of personal memoir and philosophical exploration. It builds on his earlier book The Australian Dream.

I wrote a longer discussion here.

Read The Australian Dream by Stan Grant

In a landmark essay, Stan Grant writes Indigenous people back into the economic and multicultural history of Australia. This is the fascinating story of how fringe dwellers fought not just to survive, but to prosper. Their legacy is the extraordinary flowering of Indigenous success – cultural, sporting, intellectual and social – that we see today.

Yet this flourishing co-exists with the boys of Don Dale, and the many others like them who live in the shadows of the nation. Grant examines how such Australians have been denied the possibilities of life, and argues eloquently that history is not destiny; that culture is not static. In doing so, he makes the case for a more capacious Australian Dream.

‘The idea that I am Australian hits me with a thud. It is a blinding self-realisation that collides with the comfortable notion of who I am. To be honest, for an Indigenous person, it can feel like a betrayal somehow – at the very least, a capitulation. We are so used to telling ourselves that Australia is a white country: am I now white? The reality is more ambiguous … To borrow from Franz Kafka, identity is a cage in search of a bird.’ —Stan Grant, The Australian Dream

Stan Grant’s Quartarly Essay extends on his speech on racism in Australia at the IQ2 stage in 2015.

Now, you will hear things tonight. You will hear people say, “But you’ve done well.” Yes, I have and I’m proud of it and why have I done well? I’ve done well because of who has come before me. My father who lost the tips of three fingers working in saw mills to put food on our table because he was denied an education. My grandfather who served to fight wars for this country when he was not yet a citizen and came back to a segregated land where he couldn’t even share a drink with his digger mates in the pub because he was black.

My great grandfather, who was jailed for speaking his language to his grandson (my father). Jailed for it! My grandfather on my mother’s side who married a white woman who reached out to Australia, lived on the fringes of town until the police came, put a gun to his head, bulldozed his tin humpy and ran over the graves of the three children he buried there.

That’s the Australian Dream. I have succeeded in spite of the Australian Dream, not because of it, and I’ve succeeded because of those people.

Grant elaborates on the challenges associated with his personal history, the idea of indigenous people as ‘migrants’, and the layered nature of identity. I found it a fascinating book to read, especially in light of discussion around the referendum for a voice in parliament. For me, it highlights that there are no quick answers, instead it is always complicated.

Read novel by Franco-Czech writer Milan Kundera, published in 1998 by Contributors to Wikimedia projects

Identity (French: L’Identité) is a novel by Franco-Czech writer Milan Kundera, published in 1998. Kundera moved to France in 1975. Identity is set primarily in France and was his second novel to be written in French with his earlier novels all in Czech. The novel revolves around the intimate relationship between Chantal and her marginally younger partner Jean-Marc. The intricacies of their relationship and its influences on their sense of identity brings out Kundera’s philosophical musings on identity not as an autonomous entity but something integral shaped by the identities of others and their relations to your own.

The short novel explores the idea of identity and perception through the relationship between Chantel and Jean-Marc. Central to the story is Chantel’s comment “men don’t turn to look at me anymore” and everything that stems from that.
Liked Are You the Same Person You Used to Be? by Joshua Rothman (The New Yorker)

The passage of time almost demands that we tell some sort of story: there are certain ways in which we can’t help changing through life, and we must respond to them. Young bodies differ from old ones; possibilities multiply in our early decades, and later fade. When you were seventeen, you practiced the piano for an hour each day, and fell in love for the first time; now you pay down your credit cards and watch Amazon Prime. To say that you are the same person today that you were decades ago is absurd. A story that neatly divides your past into chapters may also be artificial. And yet there’s value in imposing order on chaos. It’s not just a matter of self-soothing: the future looms, and we must decide how to act based on the past. You can’t continue a story without first writing one.

Replied to Who am I? (Bianca Hewes)

If I’m in a non school based teacher position… am I really a teacher? And what does it even mean to be a teacher?

Thank you for sharing your reflection Bianca. I have been out of schools for years and have found identity one of the biggest challenges.

Although I still clearly work within ‘education’, a lot of my work has morphed to working behind the scenes. My title is ‘subject matter expert’, whatever that means. Really I find myself doing the work required, whether that might be. This is not the job of a ‘teacher’, but it is also not the job of the admin either. Strangely it is a continuation of what I was doing in school, but out of the classroom, whether it be timetabling, daily organization, academic reports, data management etc … These are legitimate activities with clear outcomes that need to be done, just not sure they create a very clear narrative.

Liked Donald Glover Interviews Donald Glover (Interview Magazine)

Who do you model your career after?

Oh. Willy Wonka. That’s the world I like. You have your factory, you make something, put it out, and then close shop to the public for a while.

Is that why privacy is so important to you?

I don’t think life is real unless some things are just for you. Things that should not or cannot be shared. I think the younger generation is going to have a hard time distinguishing whether something is for them or for others, and I think it could play out as a diminished sense of self. You really have to know what you would do if no else was watching.

Like the story about Robert Redford when the elevator door is closing and someone asks him, “Are you the real Robert Redford?” And he said, “Only when I’m alone.”

Exactly. I mean, how do you know otherwise?

Liked My Music App Knows Me Way Too Well. Am I Stuck in a Groove? by Meghan O’Gieblyn (WIRED)

What remains more difficult to predict are the qualities that make you truly distinct: your thoughts and beliefs, your personal history, the unspoken nuances of the relationships that have made you who you are, and the unbounded expanse of moral and imaginative possibilities that constitutes your own mind. Attending to those aspects of yourself is the work of a lifetime—and far from boring.

Bookmarked A Cow with a Hole in It | Jess Zimmerman (Catapult)

When editors ask you to be vulnerable, what they really want is for you to be permeable, for the windows you place in your defenses to offer a sense of the area beyond. The walls don’t need to be breached, and they don’t need to come all the way down in a way that puts you in danger. Hence our guiding light, the cow with a hole—who is in no danger at all, but whose innards are in easy reach for those who need to understand them. Putting a cannula in a cow is not opening the cow up to further damage; it’s surgery-level safe, unlike all usual ways of putting a hole in a cow, and it only reveals what it needs to reveal. But it makes the cow penetrable, so that some things that might otherwise be mysteries can be investigated directly.

Jess Zimmerman argues that rather than vulnerability in our writing, we should be aspiring for permeability. She uses the metaphor of a cannulated cow, a device used to gain insights into the digestive system of a cow without cutting it open.

there’s a limited amount you can learn about cow digestion from (sorry, gruesome image follows) just cutting a cow open and letting its guts fall out. Even if you then proceed to look at those guts with a microscope! The structure is gone; they stand in no relationship to each other, or to the cow as a whole.

It is interesting to think about this alongside Ian O’Byrne’s reflection on ‘writing identity as a facsimile’.

Bookmarked Memoir and the Creative Process | Dr. Ian O’Byrne (Dr. Ian O'Byrne | Literacy, technology, and education)

The truth is that I’m absolutely fine. I needed to come to terms with some skeletons in the closet. The funny thing about skeletons in the closet is that when you don’t deal with them…they not only stick around, but they start lifting weights and getting stronger.

I’m fine. If I wasn’t…I wouldn’t have written that post.

Thank you Ian for your openness and honesty. I like your point about ‘the skeleton’s doing weights’. I was left thinking about comment about being a facsimile.

While talking with a friend after my last post, we both agreed that I’m not truly myself in my writing in these spaces. I’m a facsimile of what I think others want to see from me.

This had me thinking again about Chris Wejr’s post about not always being able to share who you are.

I was going to write another post about the importance of sharing who we are… and I still believe this is important;  however, it is much easier for people with a life that is more acceptable in society.

Although blogging allows you to step-away from the templated self of social media, there is still the contraints of society. As Edward Snowden touches on in his newsletter:

From the blue checks to the red pills, we all want to be free to speak as ourselves, and to be recorded as ourselves, without fear of persecution, and we all want to be able to decide what that freedom means, to ourselves and to our communities, however defined. My family back home in the States, along with many of my friends in the States and in Europe, are lucky enough to now be going around unmasked, but millions — mostly in the world’s poorer countries — have no such privilege. It’s here that the analogy with speech freedoms comes into starkest relief: until the air is clear for all, it’s clear for none.

I was also thinking about your point about speaking to an audience.

Identify one person that you know would value or connect with your words or content. Find one specific person that your message would resonate with. Your words and content should be directed specifically to them.

What then does th being truly yourself means for your audience?

Bookmarked I’m A Man Who Plays As A Woman In Games, And I’m Definitely Not Alone by Nathan Grayson (Kotaku)

Physically speaking I’m attracted to women, but that’s not usually what drives me when I’m rooting through my virtual skin closet to decide what I’m gonna wear to the big bash.

“Jamie Valentino” in The Joy and Liberation of Customizing Your Avatar | WIRED ()
Bookmarked Identity and ideas (Seth's Blog)

If our ideas are equated to our identity, then talking about ideas is very much the act of talking about yourself.

Seth Godin discusses the association between ideas and identity. He suggests that we can either become attached to an idea or instead embrace improving our ideas.

One way to define our identity is to fall in love with an idea (often one that was handed to us by a chosen authority). Another is to refuse to believe our identity is embodied in an idea, and instead embrace a method for continually finding and improving our ideas.

This reminds me of Angus Hervey’s practice of ‘holding on tightly and letting go lightly’:

Don’t say “I’m right, and you’re obviously wrong.”

Say “at this point, given all the evidence I’ve considered and having made a genuine effort to try and see if from the other side (point to some examples), the balance of the argument seems to rest on this side for these reasons, so for now that’s what I am going with. If new evidence, or a better argument comes along I am totally willing to change my mind about this, and I’ll also be pleased because it will mean I’ve gained a deeper understanding about the world.”

Liked I Was Never Good At Anything Until API Evangelist | Kin Lane (Kin Lane)

You see, my whole identity is wrapped up in the world of APIs, and while most of the time I am fine with that, I find myself in these moments feeling that I need much more than just performing in this online production, and where I always get stuck is with the reality that other than API Evangelist I really haven’t been good at anything in my life—I have been pretty much stuck in mediocre white guy mode.

Bookmarked Herb Quine Interviews Herb Quine (Kicks Condor)

Some time ago, I had a reader send me a very curious e-mail. It was an interview that they had conducted. In fact, they had interviewed themself! At first, this was very puzzling.[1] But, on some reflection, I realized what a gift this was! I don’t like my part of the interview very well anyway. This is the answer!

Kicks Condor shares an interview featuring Herb Quine interviewing himself. This is an intriguing exercise as it provides different perspectives from the one person. Something similar to the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

This is an insightful exercise. Alongside #DigiWriMo alternative CV, Doug Belshaw’s letter to the past and Seth Godin’s letter to the future, these prompts offer a range of approaches for unpacking our sense of identity.

Replied to Writing Myself Into Existence | Dr. Ian O’Byrne (Dr. Ian O’Byrne | Literacy, technology, and education)

In her book, The Art of Memoir, Karr shares “an incomplete checklist to stave off dread” as a way that she approaches the process. From this, I culled the following guidance.

  • Find your voice – Write what you know. Be yourself. This is a challenge and one that I struggle with up to this day. Hence the point of this post, even with the amount that I’ve already written.
  • Inner conflict drives the story – We often struggle with two opposing motivations in our heads. These may be based on beliefs, needs, or the viewpoints of others. Try to unpack that in your writing.
  • Use the tools of the trade – Show as opposed to telling as you fill your writing with sensory language, metaphors, images, and details. From a blogging perspective, embed multimodal content (links, images, figures, GIFs, video).
  • Go meta – Meta means about the thing itself. Seeing the situation from a higher perspective instead of from within the situation, like being self-aware. Consider the impact of your actions and writing, as opposed to simply acting it out.
  • Tell all parts of the story – Find the beginning, middle, and end of your story. Readers expect to find each of these pieces as they engage and connect. From a blogging perspective, this will mean that you may need to chunk content.
  • Revise, revise, revise – The first draft is almost always crap. Commit yourself to constantly improving your writing to make every word count.
  • Strive for honesty, not truth – Don’t lie to your audience. Don’t lie to yourself. Dishonesty and performative actions will stick out for all to see. If you have trauma, neglect, or sorrow to contend with, be a human and reckon with it.
Ian, I really enjoyed this reflection. I really enjoy writing my short reflections associated with my newsletter, however I usually struggle with the balance of what to share. I particularly like Mary Karr’s message to ‘strive for honesty’:

Strive for honesty, not truth – Don’t lie to your audience. Don’t lie to yourself. Dishonesty and performative actions will stick out for all to see. If you have trauma, neglect, or sorrow to contend with, be a human and reckon with it.

I have also been thinking about identity and memoir while digging into the work of Beau Miles.

Bookmarked Social Networking 2.0 (Stratechery by Ben Thompson)

Facebook and Twitter represent the v1 of Social Networking; it’s a bad copy of the analog world, whereas v2 is something unique to digital, and a lot more promising.

Ben Thompson discusses the evolution of online identity from a mirror of offline reality to an existence that is only possible online. He describes this transition as a move from social networking 1.0 to social networking 2.0.

To the extent that v2 social networking allows people to be themselves in all the different ways they wish to be, the more likely it is they become close to people who see other parts of the world in ways that differ from their own. Critically, though, unlike Facebook or Twitter, that exposure happens in an environment of trust that encourages understanding, not posturing.

It is interesting to think of alongside Ian O’Byrne’s discussion of building up your digital identity and Kin Lane’s exploration of personal API’s. It also seems in opposition to Dave Eggars’ TruYou. I wonder what this means for the notion of a ‘canonical’ self?

Bookmarked LF10 – Permissionless Identities (Little Futures)

For both full timers and independents, career growth in a permissionless world is increasingly going to be a modular and iterative process vs the step-change enabled by the old world of gatekeepers.

So don’t wait for permission. If you’re unsure about the future of your career – don’t look for answers, don’t look for validation or labels – look for experiments, new networks and narrative air-cover. And remember that this networked permissionless world has enabled the opportunity to simply write your way into a new way of thinking and being

Big futures are permissioned. Little futures are permissionless.

Tom Critchlow discusses blogging and thinking out loud as a form of narrative institutions.

One way to create narrative stability is through creating “narrative institutions” – these are projects, websites, businesses, side projects, hobbies or activities that you can lean on for stability. While formal things like career, job description or professional label are in flux we can rely on our narrative institution to provide stability.

I wonder how this relates to Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s discussion of anti-fragility?

Liked The companies that help people vanish (bbc.com)

Each year, some choose to ‘disappear’ and abandon their lives, jobs, homes and families. In Japan, there are companies that can help those looking to escape into thin air.

TThis piece is based on a BBC Reel video produced by Andreas Hartman, and is a text reversion of a radio piece for the Rulebreakers series from BBC World Service in collaboration with the Sundance Institute. Adapted by Bryan Lufkin.
Liked Letting go of my pre-pandemic self by Doug Belshaw (dougbelshaw.com)

So I’m considering this time as a gestation period, as a time when I’m still in the chrysalis, waiting to emerge. I’m not sure what that’s going to look like in practice, but instead of looking back to being a caterpillar, I’m instead going to focus on turning into a butterfly.


Unlike the physical transformation that the caterpillar undergoes, my metamorphosis might be less obvious to those around me. Shifts in worldview and outlook sometimes are. But it’s an important thing to note for me: to give myself permission to let go of my pre-pandemic self.