Tuesday, June 02, 2020

About Friday Links

Since Summer 2018 I have been posting Friday Links on my blog. There are now nearly a hundred posts of these and I thought I write a little bit about these.

I picked this habit up at my job at Splendia. I can’t remember where it originated from.
The idea is to collect interesting links to share with your team and post them all together on a Friday so people have some reading material for the weekend.
Other team members would then add their own links in the same thread.

By posting these together in one email, blog post or Slack message you avoid the constant stream of notifications you would get if everybody posts these during the week. None of these are urgent reads and they shouldn’t pull you out of your zone to check Slack and then maybe even follow them and read the articles. Allowing to consume these posts asynchronous was one of the main goals.

Another goal is to inform my team about my general thinking. Not everybody will read all the links of course, but because there are some themes that are going through all the posts it gives some insight into my sources and topics I am interested in.
I also have been accused of using these to subversively spread certain messages in the company. I can’t confirm or deny this.

Originally I just emailed these to my team. This started in 2013 when I joined Devex.
Once we began to use Slack I also started posting a shortened version to our #random channel. I removed all the very technical links to make them more useful for the whole company.
In 2018 someone who left the company asked if he could still find them somewhere once he lost access to company email and Slack, that is when I started including them in my blog. So currently there are always three versions of these posts. I was hesitant to include them between my usual posts, but the alternatives were also not brilliant. 
Recently I also included a section with podcasts and videos, because people were interested in these.

The content is quite random. It is a selection from everything interesting that comes across my screen / headphones from one Friday to the next one. Currently it very much focused on engineering management, remote working and agile development. I often include posts about my hobbies, like Linux, cycling, electronic music or programming languages.

To make it into the list it has to be standing out in some way. I don’t necessarily have to agree with the content, but it still might inform my thinking about topics. I really should include some disclaimer in the posts, because sometimes people assume that I agree fully with all of these.

One good example is the Buffer blog, which is from a company very interested in fully remote companies and is pushing that message in a lot of their posts. I personally don’t believe that fully remote companies are as productive as companies with offices. But it is interesting to see how they are dealing with the problems a remote company creates, these solutions can help all companies that have some remote element in their workforce.
Their posts about transparency are also very good.

Most of the links I find come through one of the about 200 blogs I subscribe through in Tiny Tiny RSS. I star all the articles for possible inclusion. This has an RSS feed that creates Pocket entries via IFTTT. Stuff I find randomly through social media or Google I add directly to Pocket. Podcasts get starred in Pocketcasts and I copy the shareable links from there.
Every Friday morning I have 30 minutes booked in my calendar to work on the posts.
I use pocket-reader in Emacs to create the final list and the three versions I post. It is some manual work and some Emacs macros. 

I hope these are sometimes useful for you too.