Bookmarked You’re learning a lot, but is it valuable? (

The more you’re learning is about discovering how to function in a dysfunctional situation, the more wedded your skillset is to those types of situations.

The more you focus on learning that is transferable and valuable, the better off you will be.

Oliver Quinlan reflects on productive learning in response to new situations as opposed to learning to cope with a dysfunctional workplace. Thinking about my current work, I wonder if learning to live through dysfunction is simply the first step towards more productive learning? Something of a foundation for deeper work maybe? I think that although these activities in fixing up problematic workflows or clunky technology may not seem ‘transferable’ as a set of skills to be listed on LinkedIn, what I do think is transferable is the mindset in how I approach these situations. I am not sure if it is related, but this has me thinking about the Solo Taxonomy, but maybe that is different. Not sure.
Replied to The drag of experience by Oliver Quinlan (Oliver’s Newsletter)

I can see how people start to become more resistant to change. When you’ve got lots of legacy stuff to unpick it can be a lot of effort to do things any differently.

But all that experience is incredibly valuable. It just needs a bit of curation every now a then. A lot when you make a big change. You get to a point where it just isn’t possible to start from scratch, you just have to unpick things a bit and keep on building.

Really enjoyed this reflection Oliver. I must admit that I was a bit latter to things than you, but I still care about my digital archive even if I do not ‘blog’ as much as I used to. One of my biggest frustrations with my archive is that I didn’t start earlier. I really rue not having a digital copy of my Honours thesis. Fine I have a scanned copy, but it is not the same.
Replied to Do you really know how you use your time? by Oliver Quinlan (Oliver’s Newsletter)

The clearer the understanding we all have of how we are spending our time, the more intentional we can be about this.

Another interesting piece Oliver. I always cringe when people are asked in meetings to provide an estimate about how long something will take or how much time they have spent on a particular task. I always feel like we over / under estimate such situations, especially if there is not a requirement to bill the hours.

Working in a role where I wear multiple hats, support, development and testing I really struggle to keep track of where my time goes. I wonder if the challenge is not only being aware, but also being in control of your time? I think this goes for both home and work.

I’ve read things like Cal Newport’s piece on getting things done and tried things like batching emails and responses. The problem I have every time I try such strategies is to get others onboard.

I am left with a question, how much of time is a shared resource? As you suggest, maybe I need to have a go a logging my hours.

Replied to Everything* is learnable (

You simply can’t learn everything and some things are very long undertakings. There are contextual limits too – some things are very expensive to access for example. However, my general approach to things personally is that things are learnable until proven not to be. I accept that I’m extraordinarily privileged to rarely hit the contextual limits of this. For people who experience these sorts of constraints much more regularly it must be very difficult to adopt this mindset.

Oliver, I really enjoyed your reflections on mindset and learning. It is always intriguing watching things like 16 Levels of Piano. I think that the issue sometimes is that we do not know the next step. This inability to break things down leads people to talk about supposed magic:

I may not have all the answers, but I think I am good at capturing particular problems at hand and with that drawing on past practice to come up with possible solutions. I am going to assume this is why people come to me with such diverse questions and quandaries.

I often think that the real magic is finding the time to take the next step.

Replied to

I’m glad I am not the only one Oliver. I have built some many workflows, whether it be custom HTML buttons and my use of Quotebacks. Yes, I could do this with blocks, but I don’t need to.
Oliver, I really enjoyed this breakdown of how you turned a jam into a track. Growing up, I never quite knew how it all worked, especially in regards to sequencing. (Life before YouTube.) Even with all my dabbling with synths and software (particularly Fruity Loops), I could never quite make sense how some sounds and songs such were made. I think that I thought DJing was just a guy with a crate of records.

At one stage many years ago I had a Roland GR700 and would press hold on a note and just explore sounds with the Roland PG-200 that you could attach. However, all I had to record with was a tap deck, which I never properly saved. I recently bought a Korg Volca Modular, thinking that might be something of an entry point, but again like the PG-200, it feels like it has its limitations.

I recently came upon and think that this might be my next point of exploration. I would love to build my own, as Chris Beckstrom has, just not quite sure about the time and space. (I knew I should have kept my reference monitors.)

One question, what are the trigger pads? I assume, like a Launchpad, they are linked to Ableton that allow you to trigger samples and/or midi tracks? Or are they triggering a module within the rack?

Replied to Taking conferences online during the pandemic by Oliver Quinlan (

Tips we learned for running an online conference:

  • Have a very clear programme with all the timings, URLs to access resources and meeting spaces.
  • Stick to timings and chair ruthlessly – it can really mess things up if people in different spaces are not synchronised, and if things start to drag then engagement drops more quickly online.
  • Run a staffed green room for presenters – it worked so well getting everyone prepared and ready to transition smoothly between presentations.
  • Have plenty of staff to help with any technical challenges or people who need help.
  • Have a staff backchannel to co-ordinate and discuss issues away from the content. We used our organisation’s Slack instance.
Thank you for the breakdown of your experience Oliver. I really like the idea of a virtual green room, even though it seems obvious it is not something that I have seen discussed. It was also interesting the way in which things were mixed up to accommodate the move online, such as moving the keynote.

Guess no one knows what the future may hold, however it will be interesting to see what sticks long term.

Listened Mentat Mix 1 from SoundCloud

Kidnap – Aurora
KIKDRM – Little Helper 311-1
Cari Golden & Dance Spirit – Wash Me Clean (Dance Spirit’s Hyperspace Dub)
Kölsch – In Bottles
Moon Boots – First Landing
Yotto – Chemicals (Mentat’s Way Out West Edit)
AEONIX – A Star Is Born (Clint Stewart Remix)
Guy J – Airborne
Nick Warren & Tripswitch – Voight Kampff
Max Cooper – Resynthesis
Dino Lenny & Artbat – Sand In Your Shoes
Arthr – Balloons (Mentat Mix)
Alex Metric & Ten Ven – Otic
Sonin feat. Swedish Red Elephant – All Of My Teenage Crimes

Replied to The myths we live by, limitless tools & silent study by Oliver Quinlan (Quinlearning)

Faced with limitless possibilities, creativity can really struggle. But there’s no reason why we have to use all these possibilities. In fact, a lot of what I learned about visual artists when I was at school was how they often seek to restrict themselves. The George Fitzgerald interview linked above really got me thinking, as rather than just showing off all his music equipment, he really gets into why he uses a room full of ageing 70s and 80s electronics when he could emulate it all in a laptop. It all comes down to restrictions. He takes each limited piece of equipment and finds the few ways in which it can do something special, then repeatedly uses these to create music that sounds unique.

It has been interesting to see the transition in soft synths Oliver. The interview with George FitzGerald reminded me a short clip involving Jack Antonoff. He too restricts himself to original equipment:

Antonoff condenses months of creativity into eight minutes. It left me think about how much learning is assumed to get to a point of understanding the technology to get to a point of control. I remember when I was young, I had a Roland G707. I would use a cassette player to record tape after tape of tweeking with the various sounds. There was something about the physicality of it that was never matched when I moved onto Fruity Loops.