The One Where I Make A New Thing (Week 6)

Captain’s Log

Week 6

January 23rd, 2017

Hello friends! This week’s newsletter is short and sweet. I haven’t had much time to write because I’ve been swamped with responsibilities and obligations. Bother! Those things always get in the way of fun.

Which CoC Should I Use?

In one of my previous newsletters, I presented a counterargument to an argument that is routinely presented against Codes of Conduct and argued for the inclusion of Codes of Conducts in all online communities. I got several replies from individuals who wanted recommendations on good Codes of Conduct to include in their communities. It was really great to see a lot of people coming to me with this question and I started to think about creating a single resource that I could share with individuals interested in implementing Codes of Conduct in their communities. So I did what any good engineer would do, I made a diagram! Check out the handy dandy flowchart I’ve started to create. It’s made using Mermaid, a Markdown-like syntax for creating diagrams, and the code is available for you to fork/clone/take on a first class trip to Tahiti on this GitHub repo.

A New Writing Project

At this point, I’m a pretty subpar writer (bear with my self-deprecation please), but I won’t let that stop me from launching something new! After watching former (ugh) President Obama’s Farewell Address, I started thinking about what I could do in the next four years to make a positive impact (or at least calm my active mind). For a variety of personal reasons, protests and marches are not viable options of resistance for me. Instead, I can nag my representatives on the phone (I’m an amazing nagger, ask any of my ex-boyfriends), donate my money to relevant organizations, donate my time, and write. I started to think about what the most impactful kind of writing might be in the next four years and had an idea.

In one of my earlier newsletters, I mentioned how I was reading The Federalist Papers, a series of essays written by some of the Founding Fathers urging Americans to ratify the Constitution. I think it’s time for someone to continue the work of our Founding Fathers. This time it is paramount that someone chronicle the need for citizens to aggressively protect our democracy from the forces that threaten it. My new writing project, The Federalist Papers Continued, will dissect actions committed by the Trump regime that are contradictory to democracy, discuss precedent for those actions, and analyze what the public can do to maintain a democracy against those undemocratic actions. It’ll also present some commentary on the political events that happen in the next four years and (likely) beyond. The project has a grandiose title — but I’ll maintain the authentic voice and quirkiness that I always write with.

New essays will go up every Wednesday morning on the blog. You can expect the first post this Wednesday (eee!). To get updates, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or following me on Twitter. As I’m quite a paranoid individual, I’ll also be maintaining multiple digital copies, several printed copies, and a handwritten version of each essay.

I don’t anticipate that anything I say will be revolutionary or world-changing. The least I can do during these difficult political times is leave a record of my perspectives, my thoughts, and my visions for future generations. I’ve sat quietly through too many painful moments in my life. I don’t plan on being quiet through this one. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m doing this for me but sharing it with you.

How To Not Suck At Writing

If you’ve been a subscriber to my newsletter for a while, you know that I’m often guilty of having quite a few typos in my writing. I don’t have any good excuses for this. I’m not a professional writer. I write most of my newsletters in the middle of the night or just hours before I need to publish them (oops!). As a result, I rarely have time to get them proofread or edited by friends. I know, I’m a terrible excuse for a writer. There are also occasions when I don’t want my content to be proofread by a third-party because I want to maintain an authentic voice or I feel uncomfortable having something read before I simultaneously share it with everyone.

So I’ve formulated a set of hacks the I employ to help me improve my writing as a solo part-time self-proclaimed writer. Hopefully, they will come in handy with you!

  • Use an editor that helps you focus on the text. I love to use the Writer app by Big Huge Labs to create my content. I write in Markdown and I find that this generally helps me focus on the words as opposed to the formatting.
  • Use a text-to-speech engine to read aloud the content you’ve written. It’ll help you pick up on typos that grammar and spellcheck miss.
  • Proofread your content by reading sentences from the end to the beginning. It’ll keep your mind alert for mistakes!
  • Create a list of your common grammar/spelling mistakes and check for them in every piece of writing you create. I’ve got a few words that I’m guilty of misspelling all the time. Can you guess what they are?
  • Proofread in iterations! Do an initial proofread where you focus on spelling, then another with a focus on a grammar, then another with a focus on clarity, and so on. Breaking up the relatively large task of proofreading into smaller chunks will help you perform it better.

Go forth and edit! Perhaps you can use the hacks above to find some typos I missed in this one? Harharhar.

What Am I Reading Now?

While my Kindle charges, I figured I might share some good reads with everyone. Let me know if you get a chance to check any of them out!

  • How Close Are We To Creating Artificial Intelligence?: This long read by David Deutsch, a physicist at Oxford University, dissects one of the possibilities of artificial general intelligence and the intellectual breakthroughs that will need to happen in the coming years to make it possible.
  • Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt: Computers have resulted in innovation in a lot of industries, but this innovation comes with a lot of baggage. This book by Michael Lewis explores how the complexity and lack of transparency in interconnected computer systems gave rise to the murky world of high-frequency trading.

Did you like what you read here? Consider supporting me! Who knows? With your help, perhaps I’ll be able to fulfill my dream of moving to the woods in the American Northwest and spending my days writing and running.

Until next week, engage!



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