The 2024 Newsletter Plan

The 2024 Newsletter Plan

Andrew Lovett-Barron

The plan for 2024's newsletter and writing

Hi! It’s been a while.

You’re most likely reading THIS because you were one of around 500 subscribers to Diverge, a newsletter about design, research, and creative process. Alternatively, you might have signed up to or been a coaching client. If getting this email is unwelcome, you can opt out here. Otherwise, let me share how I’m restarting this newsletter.

Where are we now?

I put Diverge on hold because it needed a change and I had to focus on finishing my masters thesis (while being a parent and working fulltime as a design director). In the intervening period, I joined a low-code infrastructure startup that has recently laid 80% of the team off, so I’ve had a bit of time to refocus as I figure out what’s next.

I’ve missed writing a consistent newsletter for a while now. First, the community side was wonderful. Many of you responded to my writing and it was always a joy. Second was the “maker” side of my own practice — writing makes thinking “concrete”, forcing you to iterate and hold your beliefs up in the sunlight.

What’s to Come

When I ended diverge, I had an idea on how to restart it.) I now have less of an idea. But here are a few topics that you can expect which will start “collected,” and may evolve or segment as time wears on:

Writing about Design Process and Practice

Design and creative process remain the big foci in how I think about our (design or structured creative) work, what I talk to other designer friends about, and how I interpret our field.

Given that I’m job hunting at the moment, I’ve also seen that the thing that most roles seem to want out of designers isn’t process, but product. The one begets the other, but being unable to engage with the process in a critical and collaborative fashion means the product that emerges is thin — lacking context and critical exposure. This commodification of design process (particularly in the software world) has meant that the entangled and Ouroborean (I don’t think this is a word) nature of design work has become captured, diffused, or displaced.

Climate, Food security, and Systems Intervention

My masters thesis) ended up being about food security and climate change in Syria, and this has remained an overarching interest. It’s changed the way I think about systems and intervention.

First, I want to develop principles for where and how to intervene in systems (we’re getting into hyberobject) territory here). Second, I want to approach these topics from the standpoint of a critical and practical optimism. Some of the first essays I’ll be posting hit on these topics.

Building in Public

There are a few projects that I’m working on at the moment. One to share is my first PCB design which is fitting into an idea of parasitic vs symbiotic products — or building things into existing infrastructure. In this case, the circuit I’m designing is meant to expand on the “promise” of a product unfulfilled. Anyway, this will happen more.

How to do it (practical and technical)

Finally, I’ll talk about how this is all going to happen.

The writing will be less frequent than the weekly diverge approach: I’m going to aim for once every other week, but may move to monthly. Thankfully, as of writing this I have about 30 posts outlined and ready to write, and I write quickly. I’m going to be a bit more careful about editing this time, so will endeavor to write shorter overall articles.

Over the past year, I’ve started using a tool called Obsidian) pretty extensively as my way of capturing information and bringing it together. It’s also how I publish my blog (an Astro site that consumes Obsidian markdown). So i do all my writing in Obsidian and then it gets published.

When a new post goes up, it is sent to Airtable via my rss feed). From Airtable, I then fill in some extra information, and move it through an edit and review flow to where it gets published via Buttondown through some automations and then goes to you.

This is a modification on my approach with Diverge that I’m hoping will make for easier and more consistent publishing. I love thinking through automation and operations like this (P.S. This is something you can hire me for), and I’ve a lot of thoughts from my experience with Diverge, PKM systems, static websites, and newsletters that bear implementation.

Going forward, once more

There’s a lot of intent wrapped up in this, and I’m always a bit anxious when sharing “plans.” To be honest, I’d rather make the plan in private, gather my resources, and then go. But I’m not convinced that’s the way.

Previously Diverge was about me sharing my writing in a way that boosts a particular way I saw design and the role of designers as craft-focused strategic generalist. I still believe that the best designers have that shape: a defined craft, a strategic zoom lens for their understanding of any given situation, and a dangerous tendency to say yes to unknown situations. But as the cadence and polish of Diverge developed, I felt like it lost its focus a bit — with more “content” at times than real substance. Though some of my favourite posts came from the last few months of Diverge.

Now, the thing I want from this newsletter has less to do with pushing a particular lens, but rather creating discussions and re-establishing community around these topics that I care about.So please, if you choose to stay subscribed — respond to the emails, share your thoughts and critique, and schedule time to chat (let’s call them office hours).

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Monthly updates from Andrew Lovett-Barron, mostly writing about design practice, theory, and projects. Occasionally, I may link out to a new project.