Recently I’ve found myself talking for a time into a muted skype-abyss.

A number of doodled people drawn in red over a yellow ground.

I’ve been on a skype call and it’s just been the sound of my voice for what seems like ages. I’ve had to stop, just to check I wasn’t on mute myself, and that audience is indeed following along. It’s hard to imagine a solution for this, especially without better video connections but it seems like a particular kind of problem right now. I have also found myself doing extravagantly over-the-top thumbs-up gestures or extra-vigorous nodding when video is available.

Also, I wrote a bit of screed email on a topic that I have been thinking about for some time. Some topics that I’ve had bouncing around for a while end up getting this treatment. It’s not very productive because typically I get no response to the email. Partially this is expected because I acknowledge that what I’ve written is a bit long for some, but also I suspect people get the sense that replying would be akin to prodding a bear with a stick! Still, later on in the week, someone made reference to it in another skype call and I realise that it’d struck a chord. That was nice. They say in a complex environment you need to conduct safe-to-fail experiments. I tend to feel the environment I work in is complex in this way, so I regard the conversations, calls, emails and a lot of the other work I do as experiments of this sort. Some of them generate an immediately positive reaction and I can amplify what I think is working, others tend not to and I let them wither or actively dampen them.

Sometimes the problem is making sure I have some kind of basis on which to judge. Sometimes the signals are weak. Sometimes they arrive a long time after I thought the experiment was over. Sometimes the same experiment returned to again (out of sheer stubborn faith) will produce a wonderful outcome on, like, it’s fifteenth outing.

Sometimes though, there’s no feedback at all.


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