Categories
future of work remote working technology work culture

The Metaverse and You 🙋🏻‍♀️

How are you doing?

I’ve been down the crypto rabbit hole this week—the future of money is digital and decentralised, so I wanted to share some valuable resources.

A big shoutout to Lavinia Osbourne, founder of Women in Blockchain Talks (WiBT), a total badass babe who has planted a seed and got me all excited about the possibilities in this space. I did a two-hour workshop: The Metaverse and Me via the Women in Digital community – a deep dive into the building blocks of Web3—blockchain, NFTs and the Metaverse.

Lavinia’s passion is learning and education, financial wellbeing and female empowerment. WiBT’s mission is to bring 50K more women into blockchain by 2023, see her campaign #Creatingspace4all. In January, Lavinia is launching Crypto Kweens, the first NFT marketplace for female artists. A place to buy and sell NFTs and learn about them—how to create one, sell one, set up wallets, buy crypto and market NFTs.  

NFTs are an accessible way into the blockchain space for many creatives, and there’s plenty of inspiration—check out the women aiming to change crypto bro culture through NFTs

Thank you to Lucy Hall, founder of Digital Women, for your notetaking! 

  • The Metaverse isn’t one thing, and it’s not owned by Facebook (Meta); there are several metaverses of which many exist already, e.g. Roblox for gaming. Although big tech companies are hoping to build future metaverses that we will spend our time in. 
  • Metaverses are already here and will be built on the blockchain in the future. While early virtual worlds were owned and controlled by companies, crypto metaverses are typically decentralised, meaning they are not owned by anyone.
  • The Metaverse is built on a handful of platforms⁠, including the Sandbox, Decentraland, Mirandus, and Axie Infinity⁠, creating an interactive version of the internet where users can play games and explore virtual worlds, and do business.
  • Cryptocurrencies will be how we buy products in the Metaverses, and NFTs are the digital assets we own.
  • Our assets will be viewed in our crypto wallets, and eventually, we’ll be able to show our art on the walls of our space in the Metaverse just like kids do in Roblox.
  • We kind of already do ‘Metaversy things’ like buying digital products in games, so our characters look better. But the ideal vision is that the Metaverse brings the reality of Web3 into motion. 
  • What is Web3? The next iteration of ‘the web’, Web2 or the social/mobile web started in 1998 and connected us like never: social media, the cloud and mobile apps became the norm. But Web3 will include more immersive applications, and for now, we can only guess what these will be…

…and lots more, so if you’re keen to dive in, you can watch the replay here. Super!

Crypto isn’t something I want to do alone—you can’t be naïve in this space!! I’ve been put off by the insane gas fees with Ethereum so it’s good to hear about Layer 2 living. If you’re looking for ways to earn more, collaborate, help, and lift others, check out the WIBT community events.

As Lavinia says, “You don’t know what you don’t know!” WiBT isn’t just for women either because “You can’t clap with one hand.” We all need to work together.

I’ve also signed up for the world’s first free MOOC on blockchain and digital currencies—starts on January 31, 2022 🙌

Heads up: February will be Metaverse month at Digital Women. Lucy will be bringing in more experts to discuss Web3, the Metaverse, NFTs, Crypto and more. So, you understand what’s coming next and how your skills and knowledge can be used. 

Some resources below. Have a read, digest, let it percolate… and think about what you want to bring to this space and how you will position yourself. 

What really resonates with me – there are no barriers to entry, taking a slice of the pie, claiming your space, sharing wealth, and gender equity. Rather than playing catch up, chasing from behind, working within old systems and trying to close the gender pay gap, let’s embrace the new and experiment. 

The Metaverse is still new, and we can be pioneers and help shape it.

Have a fun week.

Nicci 🙋🏻‍♀️

📚 Speaking of the importance of community, I’m reading Noreena Hertz’ brilliant book: The Lonely Century: A Call to Reconnect. A look at what’s driving the loneliness epidemic and a crucial call for governments to rebuild better. Bold and empowering solutions—we have the power to reverse it. Using remote work to repopulate rural areas is one way.


🔗 Links

Virtual land in the Metaverse dominated NFT sales over the past week (Cointelegraph)

NFTs can be a good pathway to draw women into crypto (Cointelegraph)

Metaverse – a guide for virtual enthusiasts and a Whitepaper (Vault Hill)—an extended reality Blockchain-based Metaverse designed to make you feel more human.

Crypto Kweens: The female-focused and female-led NFT marketplace 

What has blockchain got to do with me?! (with translated editions) (WiBT

What have NFTs got to do with me?!

Workshop: Create your own NFT (live recording) 

Women in Tech, BITCOIN & Financial Wellbeing w/Lavinia Osbourne—Women in Blockchain Talks (Cryptonites)

Free MOOC: Introduction to Digital Currencies (UNIC)

Goodbye Gas Fees: Hello Layer 2 Living (Almanack)

Global Report on Women, Cryptocurrency and Financial Independence by Marina Spindler (The Defiant)

Matthew Ball VC: The Metaverse Primer – a 9-part series on what’s to come… 


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Categories
digital health Neuroscience technology Wellness

The Shift: How to build a life 😍

How to build a life 

In my 20s, I left a journalism job in Peterborough to freelance in London. I wanted to work on women’s magazines and thought I’d be happy once I got my dream job in the big city. The reality was quite different. Precarious work on low pay was stressful. When I landed shifts on glossy titles, I didn’t enjoy working in an all-female environment that felt competitive. I wasn’t very happy but I stuck at it – living the dream, right? I’d be happy once I was sorted with a proper job and a home. Then I could relax and enjoy London for all it has to offer.

I now prioritise my happiness and realise it’s a skill we can work on. I can’t control my thoughts or the outcome of my pitches and projects, but I can control how I spend my time. Rituals and habits are the building blocks of my day. I do the Writers’ Hour with London Writer’s Salon and a walk/run. I thought having a routine and doing the same things every day would stifle my creativity but I think you can boost creativity through constraints – as long as they are the right ones that make you happy (for me, that’s working remotely and being around for Julieta, and having a studio space I love).

The challenge is to stop thinking I can be happy by being busy. Trying to do too much leads to time poverty, which means I don’t get joy from anything. So, being mindful about how I’m working and creating little moments of joy to boost my energy and bringing that to others. Yesterday, I told a friend I love her to bits and I’m happy she’s in my life. It made me feel great (and her too). I need to do this more often, as well as writing down the things I’m grateful for.

What’s the secret to happiness? After looking at thousands of studies Arthur C Brooks, author of How to Build A Life concludes enduring happiness comes from human relationships, productive work, and the transcendental elements of life.

Make a list of the attachments in your life you need to discard. Then make a plan to do just that. The fewer wants there are searching inside your brain and dividing your attention, the more peace and satisfaction will be left for what you already have.

I’m getting rid of stuff that doesn’t bring me joy.

Enjoy this issue 🙂


Tools for thought 

😍Wellcome Collection’s On Happiness, a season of free events, activities and two exhibitions: Joy and Tranquility – bringing together voices from across cultural, scientific and spiritual fields to reflect on happiness. All very timely – how do we rebuild happiness for our current times?

🎞Short of the Week: Steve Cutt’s Happiness. The story of a rodent’s quest for happiness and fulfilment through the tropes and traps of modern society. The dehumanising effects of capitalism and consumer culture. Surely his best film to date 🙂 Soooo much juicy detail in the background.

🧠Ness Labs – Build a lab for your mind with neuroscience-based content and conversations. How to practice unbounded learning, self-education, a library of content, a weekly book club – expand your antilibrary. Co-working sessions and meetups with a brilliant community.

👀 How to help your kids be responsible digital citizens, from a tech exec (and mom). When you give a child their first smartphone, don’t send them into the digital world unprepared. Practical tips (and a template) from Jennifer Zhu Scott on how to be a digitally responsive citizen and make smart choices – whatever your age.

📕Sarah Hawley’s biggest project to date is Growmotely, an all-in-one global platform for remote hiring. Brilliant podcast: Conscious Culture – The Evolving Future of Work. ‘We’re just warming up so I imagine it’s going to get juicier and juicier!’ I’m also enjoying her new book: Conscious Leadership – A Journey From Ego to Heart.

Have a great weekend 🌈

Nicci 


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is a newsletter about humans, technology and wellness. Rethinking how we live, work and play. Weekly curated tools for thought and ideas to share ✍️

Question or comment? nicci@niccitalbot.io
Enjoy the read? Share it on TwitterI run on caffeine and Amaretti biscuits.
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Categories
digital health technology The internet writing

Eat well: how to go on a content diet 🍕

Weekly curated tools + resources for writers – thinkers, makers and builders ✍️

I set myself a goal at the beginning of the first lockdown to do 100 days of fitness and get out every day for a walk or run. I paid for the Peloton app, bought new running shoes and set my goals on Twitter. I’ve been on a gluten-free diet for a couple of years to help reduce inflammation in my body. I’ve prioritised my physical health and made exercise a daily habit, and I feel much better for it. 

But I can’t say the same about my content diet. I’m not addicted to working, but I have an information addiction – a thirst for knowledge and curiosity about what I don’t know. I like learning new skills, going down internet rabbit holes, discovering online communities and parallel universes. I spend most of the day on my laptop and justify it as necessary as I run an online business and do social media and content for clients. It’s my job to keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world.

I’m happy to put the hours in as I love working for myself and building digital products that scale – working towards my end goal of financial freedom. I also love the internet and enjoy working with cool people 🙂 

‘I’m just pottering in the garden’ has become ‘I’m just pottering online’. I actually said that to my sister last night 😳

The downside of knowledge work and all this scrolling is the feeling that I’m never done. The treadmill never stops. It leaves me with low-level anxiety – have I done enough research on this topic to publish it? Could I have tackled that situation in a different way? It can leave you feeling drained even though you might not have much work to show for it (internet browser history aside!) There’s also homeworkers’ bum🔻 and mouse arm syndrome – I asked Siri to scroll a website for me this morning, but she didn’t understand. And with smartphones, work is in your pocket.

The information superhighway – we’ve never been so connected, but the irony is there’s not that much information out there on how to manage all this information.

Grow a bigger brain and have better thinking 

Polina Palinova wrote a brilliant piece last year on how to improve your content diet and says, ‘what you eat is who you are, what you read is who you become’. We spend a lot of time talking about food and celebrity chefs but far less about our information diet. She quotes NYT columnist David Brooks and his ‘theory of the maximum taste’ – the idea that your mind is defined by its upper limit – the best content it consumes and that exposure to genius has the power to expand your consciousness. You’ll grow a better brain and sharpen your thinking.

You’re not the average of the FIVE people you surround with. It’s way bigger than that. You’re the average of all the people who surround you. So take a look around and make sure you’re in the right surroundings – David Burkus.

So, the first step…

1/ A content audit – where and how am I consuming content?

Some digital gardening required.

  • Gmail inbox – I’ve spent hours pruning it, but it’s now back up to almost 3k emails
  • Social media feeds – Twitter, Clubhouse, LinkedIn, and YouTube are my main channels. Also: Reddit, Indie Hackers, Product Hunt 
  • Newsletters – direct to my inbox and via Substack Reader
  • News websites
  • Podcasts/music/film – Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Netflix, iPlayer 
  • Slack/Discord communities – many! Bookmarked on my laptop 
  • iPhone – notifications are off, but I’m usually connected 

2/ Setting goals

It’s not about doing a digital detox but having a better balance and a higher quality information diet. I want to read more long-form content, books, newsletters, podcasts and spend less time scrolling news feeds and Twitter – not a relaxing user experience. 

3/ Paying attention to my habits and how I’m feeling

I walked to work in a cafe this week, had a massage at lunchtime, and bought a magazine, which gave me a lift. What I miss about newspapers is the feeling that you’re done – there’s nothing more to read until the next issue. I’ve printed out all my UX coursework to relax and read offline (all course material needs a print button). I’m also craving podcasts which I listen to when I’m walking. This tells me my information diet needs some work.

4/ Using Mailbrew

build your own digital newspaper

I’ve been experimenting with Mailbrew this week. Tagline: Like RSS but better. I’ve been looking for something like this for a while – Feedly is great for RSS; Substack Reader and Stoop for newsletter curation, but the UX is a bit fiddly. Mailbrew is a pleasure to use – a simple interface and easily customisable. It’s like building your own digital newspaper. I can put all my feeds in one place – calendar, RSS, newsletters, tweets from people I follow or Twitter lists – and read it as a daily digest in my inbox at 9 am. I also like how the emails are numbered, Digest #2.

I’m not the only one who’s excited about this product. David Heinemeier Hansson, the founder of Basecamp says he’s leaving Twitter to use Mailbrew. But then he’s using Twitter as a content feed more than for social interaction.

Of course, it’s an artificial construct – I can jump online at any time if I want to be social which is what ‘social’ media is for after all, but let’s see if it recreates the sense of finishing and gives me back more time and control.

Thinking about UX, I’m trying to design my day and curate my environment for better ideas and creative thinking. To be more intentional with my time and habits, and use the internet as a tool more than entertainment – hard when you’re using the same devices for both. Roll on the tiny inbox – from 🍕 to 🍉  and a sharper 🧠

A friend ditched her iPhone for a Doro flip phone – she loves the simplicity and accessibility of the design, and the satisfying snap – DONE. She said she feels more relaxed during the day. In his book Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport talks about an underground movement of executives that use dumbphones like the Doro. For the most part, in finance, i.e. hedge fund managers are moving millions of dollars in high trades every day. Hence, it helps to shield yourself from distractions of market information that could bias decisions and cost money. 

Not ready to give up my iPhone, but I can see the benefits of switching between the two or using separate devices for work.

I’m also going to buy a wall planner and stick work and personal goals on it so they’re visible – something Steph Smith talked about last week which made me think. We’re great at creating to-do lists for work, but how often do we track our personal goals?

How are you going to improve your content diet this year? 

Goings-On(line)  

Projects + pieces from around the web.

🗞 Your personal daily newsletter(Mailbrew – my affiliate code) – free to use with premium features.

🍉 How to go on an information diet(Ness Labs). This is the first time in history that humans have been exposed to such a constant flow of information and our brains can’t cope with it. Simple ways to deal with overconsumption based on the Michael Pollan Diet: ‘Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants’. For information: ‘Seek. Not too much. Mostly facts.’ 

📬 How to improve your content diet in 2021(The Profile). One of the biggest discoveries I’ve made in the last few years is simple but overlooked: What you eat is who you are, and what you read is who you become.

📚 The Information Diet(Clay Johnson) on the role information has played throughout history. How to stay smart, productive, and sane. He managed the online part of President Barack Obama’s first campaign for the White House.

📹 The challenge that fixed how I consume online content(My Student Voices) – Diogo Lança’s extreme experiment to tackle his YouTube binging.


Playlist of the week 


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is a newsletter celebrating writing, good design, creative independents, remote working, growth, and technology. If you enjoy the content, please share it with friends or on social media.

Work Better. Live Smarter. Be Happier.

Question or comment? Email nicci@niccitalbot.io.
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Categories
flexible working future of work London technology

How flexible working is a battle for equality

London Rising new online event series

#LondonRising on what’s next for workplace culture

Great insights into the future of work from Annie Auerbach, founder of Starling trends agency and author of FLEX – the Modern Woman’s Handbook; designer Thomas Heatherwick and Kevin Ellis, Chairman of PwC.

  • The office is evolving. It’s becoming a collaborative space for meeting and training. The strange old design briefs that banged on about workers as ‘cogs’ in the system and banged on about efficiency are disappearing. We’re now thinking of emotion as a function. If the five days on/two days off model is reversed, we’ll see more professional promiscuity, which means…
  • The office needs to work harder, not the people. The quality of experience will need to be higher. I love this: ‘The exciting bit – finally – the place of work needs to be a temple for the values of that organisation, not a gruntwork factory where the onus is put on the front desk.’
  • How do we make the office extraordinary? Like a shot in the arm delivering the company’s values? Take inspiration from religious buildings and how they engage people’s emotions and provide a nurturing environment. 
  • Creating meeting spaces that bring teams together. Clubhouse has a town hall update every Sunday, which regularly has overflow rooms – if this was a physical space, I’d imagine something like this – the Roman amphitheatre. Togas optional 😉
  • No one wants to work in an ivory tower. Companies are making changes, encouraging staff to go out for lunch instead of using the staff canteen to support the ecosystem around offices and connect with the community. The flipside is with WFA, you can support your local high street and get to know business owners for half the London price. 
  • Flexible work is an expectation, not a perk. Remote working has been gaining momentum for years, and Covid is the tipping point. ‘The genie is out of the bottle’. A recent survey said half of UK employees would quit if denied flexible working post-pandemic. And there are plenty of senior people who work part-time and keep it a secret.
  • Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, calls for flexible working to be normalised – a move that will boost employment in areas away from major cities and help turbocharge opportunities for women – who are twice as likely as men to work flexibly. 
  • All businesses are in a war for talent. Pioneering companies understand the need to ride the wave to get the best talent by giving people choice and flexibility. Great to hear PwC plans to roll out a flexible working policy that will allow its 22,000 UK staff to split their time between home and office. We should extend flexible working to blue-collar workers as well as white-collar.

I said no to an interview for a senior editor role this week as ‘they’re looking for someone to be in the office full time.’ So they will be hiring someone who can afford to live in London or commute in easily. I said I’ve been remote working for years as a single parent with a disability living outside London. What is the point of commuting to an office five days a week? I’d be too knackered to give them my best.

And good to hear Tony Blair (with his fab new hair – Brad Pitt or Gandalf?) talking about how we can move forward by working together. Covid isn’t ending – we’re in a new world and have to prepare for it. We need to use aid to quickly vaccinate the globe so countries aren’t isolated, and improve our cloud-based genome databases.

Tech is a huge opportunity

I disagree with what he said about remote working as a problem for new starters – we don’t need to be in the same room to learn – tech makes it possible to have many mentors virtually, and we can learn faster. Sharing confidential information online can be a challenge, but we have encryption and old school phone calls!

The business and tech event is on 12 May, exploring how the pandemic has impacted women and how technology can help us set better digital boundaries. I’m looking forward to hearing from Nicola Mendelson, VP EMEA Facebook and mum of four, on her challenges; Facebook’s research on how small businesses have been affected by the pandemic, and an insider view on the future of AR/VR – Facebook’s upcoming new smart glasses. 

The recurring theme at all the events I’ve been to lately is on building NEW, not building back better. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent how we live and work, so let’s not waste it. London should be shouting from the rooftops, loud & proud that it’s open for business with jobs and career opportunities for all.

Make flexible working a right from day one and build the kind of place where people want to work. Then we won’t need to talk about flex working anymore 😉

Interesting to see how things are going in Sydney – they’re a bit further along. Labor’s new policy would force companies to publicly release gender pay gap data to help close the gap.

Sector-themed events are convenient but they keep us in a box. It would be brilliant to see more cross-industry events like Creative Women, bringing people together from different sectors to network, brainstorm and help each other. More diverse experiences and perspectives can boost creativity and help with problem-solving.


Go deeper 🛠

new survey of 32,500 workers in 19 countries paints a picture of a global workforce that sees the shift to remote working as just the tip of the iceberg. We’re ready to build new skills, completely retrain and focusing on entrepreneurship.

Government taskforce urges permanent job flexibility for all workers. Millions could benefit from new rights to work from home once the pandemic is over. Even civil servants are now working flexibly ‘to capitalise on productivity gain’ – a bit of a u-turn, Rishi 😉

How flexible work is a battle for equality. New analysis – male-dominated firms want workers back at their desks… and are choking out diversity by cementing in less flexible working policies. 

A refreshing, optimistic take on the future of work from Elizabeth Uviebinene, author of The Reset: Ideas to Change How We Live and Work. ‘The future of work is community.’

Get ready for the new workplace perks. Out go gyms and free meals, in come gong baths and financial advice. It will be interesting to see how big tech companies adapt their giant campuses if more people choose to work remote. 

A Sydney fintech company’s approach to flexible work—and what lessons it can offer to companies elsewhere. And Atlassian’s ‘Team Anywhere’ policy.

What the tech world is doing to counter burnout. Microsoft’s new Outlook settings reduce meetings by five to 15 minutes. Give yourself regular doses of micro self-care.

New gen Tokyo conference room explores new workstyles to foster creativity. An experience to excite all your senses… 

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