More Than a List of Flaws

this too shall pass

September 21st, 2023

Why do I write here? It's a question I find myself often asking to myself. Writing helps me clear my mind, helps me get things out of my brain and force me to think a bit deeper on some elements. When I began to blog, so many years ago, there was of course a need for recognition. I was starting my professional life, I needed to build my presence on the Internet. Then I dwelled into Belgian politics which increased my views even more... reaching even too much at some point.

I must admit there was some joy in watching the numbers grows, seeing many interactions, ... But then I decided to leave politics altogether and to build my life. This blog went through so many phase: my beginner life, my employee life, my freelance life, disappearing for three years and finally this form, a receptacle of my thoughts in some sorts.

Sometimes it feels a bit lonely, I feel like we're not used anymore to interact on blogs, most of those switch to social networks, even I find myself commenting less on the blogs I follow as I read them through my RSS. But that's something I wanted also for this version of my website: to force myself to write for the sake of writing, not to see numbers increasing. The only thing I left to my ego was the small kudos button I built at the bottom of each article. Partly because that's something I wanted to build for some time, partly because seeing it increases sometimes makes the experience a bit less lonely.

Engineers should learn to design

I keep reading articles about how designers should learn to code, but for once, I'd like to take the opposite side and ask why developers should learn to "design" a bit.

At some point, designers and front-end engineers worked closely, striving for "pixel-perfect" designs (for what they were worth), and engaging in extensive discussions about their ideas and crafts. However, the era of pixel-perfect designs faded with the advent of responsive and fluid web design, where they lost relevance (and thank God for that—pixel-perfect has always been an aberration for screens).

This shift forced designers to delve deeper into web media, understanding how it functioned and how a design should adapt and flow across various screen sizes. These changes significantly influenced how we handle design nowadays.

On the engineers' side, companies started hiring more "full-stack engineers." The problem was that many hiring managers were heavily focused on the back end. A significant portion of them displayed a strange aversion toward any kind of UI (like, seriously, Vim?) and viewed design as a low priority.

This perspective was logical considering their roles and responsibilities. The bias, however, lay in their evaluation of their peers' "full-stack" competencies.

Gradually, we found ourselves working not just with Front End Engineers, but with "full-stack" ones who only knew how to use certain UI frameworks (be it Tailwind, Material UI, ...).

Any deviation from these frameworks resulted in extended sprints and deep frictions between engineers and designers. This is what sparked the wave of articles suggesting "designers should learn to code."

It might be tempting to place the burden on designers, considering that HTML & CSS aren't overly complicated (the fear of engineers grappling with complex algorithms all day towards CSS is something I never quite understood). However, dealing with whatever framework the engineering team ended up choosing (often well before any designer joined the project) presents an entirely different level of complexity.

As a result, we find ourselves simplifying design artifacts, aligning them more and more with the default framework. In the Agile process, the focus is on delivering value to the user, often translating to actionable items and revenue generation within a company setting.

Any design input that even slightly extends a sprint is viewed as a threat to the engineers' velocity. Consequently, the significance of any design changes amplifies with the diminishing knowledge of anything front-end related on the engineers' side.

I believe designers should learn to code within reasonable limits. However, I also believe we are witnessing a concerning and alarming decline in front-end skills and craftsmanship on the engineers' side. The "full-stack" role has adopted a back-end mindset, primarily caring about whether things worked, disregarding how they functioned and how they appeared and performed.

If we want the "engineer+designer" pair to work, we should strive to build bridges between those functions. When engineers want to be included in product decisions, designers have to be included when engineers are working on their technical strategies and framework selections.

While we have to teach designers about how the web, the code, applications work, we also have to educate engineers about the importance of a company's brand, of the look and feel, of the experience of the company's applications and websites. Making things work is one thing; making them delightful to use while being functional is where we get the best value.

Growing Automation

I have a mixed feeling toward automation and its impact on the future of a lot of business. Lots of teams around the world are working toward full automation and I can’t stop but wonder what can happen if you scale this automation more and more.

While not being a Luddite, I’m wondering until which point we can downsize human teams by improving automation, this leading automatically to less and less available jobs.

While we are working toward a more automated world, relying on both IA and strong systems, I feel our politic systems and the way we envision our lives don’t move at all at the same pace. While there were several attempts and tests about an universal income, those learnings don’t see to infuse as the majority of people are stuck in a mentality of « we shouldn’t pay others to do nothing » and our politics, instead of being able to plan for the future, are more and more stuck in a shortest and shortest vision, aiming only for the next election.

I wonder what will be the breaking point between this global movement toward automation and its impact.

At the same time I think a lot of executives are fantasising about what automation can really bring and how much they can get on without humans interacting and solving the quirks. As a species we are quite specialised in edge cases and we too often tend to imagine that working on a « default » system will be sufficient.

This quick evolutions doesn’t lead per se to a shortage of jobs but increase the agility needed to work, as every month brings more and more things to learn, areas to evolve in and competencies to get.

Too often I feel we are building a world that move more quickly than we of our systems are able to follow and I wonder how long we can wait before we collectively need to increase our pace, at the cost of leaving a lot of us behind.

They stole the future

Growing up, the future was bright, interesting, and full of mysteries. I grew up surrounded by the golden age of science-fiction novels, dreaming of space travels and discovering great mysteries still hidden from us. I grew up with the European Union growing stronger, bringing a dream of unity, peace, the removal of borders, and the promise of being able to travel anywhere.

The Internet appeared, and suddenly the future also promised unlimited knowledge, the possibility to find any answer at the tip of my fingers, giving me the chance to delve into anything and quench my thirst. It was discovering that I could talk with people from all over the world, uncovering new cultures, new countries, forming bonds across physical space.

It also offered so much freedom. Entire days were spent riding my bike, playing games with my best friend while his mother yelled at us to go outside and enjoy the sun (the sun and I have never been friends, at least that hasn't changed), building forts in trees, pitching tents to spend evenings in the garden, crossing barriers to explore fields and evade cows, imagining cities buried in the past among some trash left in a field that looked a lot like ruins.

But then they stole the future. The first blow was Dutroux, a child molester in Belgium. Suddenly, our world shrank. I had to call every time I arrived at my best friend's house. We were doubting people who were loved before, spending days outside on our bikes, just the two of us, was a thing of the past. Unsupervised times when we lost ourselves in the woods, dreaming of wonders, building imaginary worlds were taken from us and our mothers, who were once so keen to ask us to play outside, suddenly looked kindly at us spending time behind our computer screens.

Then my grandfather fell into a coma, destroying my refuge, the place where I felt the safest, the person with whom I shared the greatest times of my youth (along with my beloved dog). The unity, safety, and warmth I felt in my mother's side of the family were suddenly destroyed in one fateful day. He never came back the same. Years went by, trying to get to know another version of him, only for him to leave us a second time as we built fragile bridges.

The final blow was 9/11. While it was distant from me, I lived the moment through television, feeling like I was in a dream, totally disconnected. The event itself didn't impact my life much, but it changed the world afterward. Where the world once seemed limitless, it suddenly shrank even further. Borders that were once open were now scrutinised; traveling became a cumbersome idea; strangers, who were once bringers of mysteries, suddenly became bringers of doubts and unknown terrors.

My world shrank, gradually filled with fear. Suddenly, adults were terrified of everything: a train, a plane, a trip to a land a bit "too foreign." And with this fear, they changed the politics and rules that governed our lives. Countries turned inward, blaming "the outsider" for everything, enacting laws after laws enabling more and more surveillance.

The Internet transformed from an infinite space full of knowledge to a wasteland surrounded by a Big Brother surveillance system where every part of our lives was subjected to creating more and more money. Knowledge became hard to find, hidden behind all this garbage, often locked in walled gardens.

Our hopes for the planet were crushed. While in the '90s, we were slowly fighting greenhouse gases, and everyone seemed to want a greener future, suddenly, the momentum stopped. Every possible solution was debated, often giving up on the best ideas because of biased politics or unfounded fears. Looking ahead, I don't know how people are still able to conceive children with the climate projections and the present immobility.

I miss the future "from before." I miss being able to look at the stars and dream of reaching them. I miss dreaming of chrome cities, filled with robots helping us enjoy our leisure time, with clean air and blue skies. I miss dreaming of limitless travels, of building bridges with people beyond physical limitations. I miss being able to see further than the short-term future without being filled with anxiety.

They stole the future and replaced it with the tiniest world, filled with fears and problems they are adamant to ignore until they die. And we are left with ashes of our dreams, waiting for them to depart, hopefully quickly, to at least be able to salvage some parts of them before it all turns to dust.

C'est toujours les meilleurs qui partent en premier

Tu prononces cette phrase et je te regarde. Je ne sais quoi penser, je reste interdit. Certes c'est un dicton, une phrase que l'on sort toute faite et qui s'impose d'elle même. Et pourtant mon esprit s'emballe dans une folle course à la pesée de mon âme.

Si ce sont les meilleurs qui partent en premier, qu'advient-il de nous qui restons? Sommes nous si peu important? Tous ces amis partis, que je chéris encore, étais-je finalement moins bien qu'eux, à rester comme ça sur mon côté de la rive? Ou bien aurais-je du réussir à prendre ce bateau il y a plusieurs années pour rejoindre ces tristes lauréats?

Ou ne sont-ils meilleures que parce qu'il emportent avec eux les espoirs de tout ce qui aurait pu être? Que cette valeur qu'on leur attribue est construite sur nos espoirs avortés, sur tout ce qui aurait pu être mais ne sera jamais?

Les années s'entassent et à chaque départ, cette phrase me revient en tête. Mécaniquement, par ma seule existence, j'imagine mon portrait descendre encore d'un cran dans une échelle imaginaire de valeur, tenant un bilan comptable à me demander ce que je pourrais encore bien valoir si je pars à 95 ans, tant d'années après tous ces meilleurs.

Drôle d'inversion de la valeur de la vie que cette expression, où l'on transforme ceux qu'on nous a ravit en vainqueurs d'une course absurde. Sur la ligne d'arrivée, je peux très bien discerner leurs visages, et leur manque ne fait qu'accroitre leur valeur pour moi.

Ce n'est pas tant qu'ils étaient les meilleurs, c'est que pour ceux qui restent, chaque instant sans eux augmente un peu plus le souvenir de ce qu'ils ont été et ces avenirs hypothéqués.

Amitiés Unilatérales

J'ai voulu prendre des nouvelles d'un ami perdu de vue depuis quelques années, me demandant ce qu'il avait pu advenir de lui maintenant qu'il avait bougé sur la capitale, où il en était. Mais mon doigt s'est suspendu en prenant mon téléphone.

Dans ma tête je me suis souvenu de toutes ces fois où j'ai initié le contact, ces messages de relances, ces propositions de verres à travers les années. Cette pile d'évènements où je me suis rendu compte que depuis quelques années j'étais le seul moteur de cette amitié.

Certes cette pensée m'avait déjà traversée l'esprit, mais les évènements des dernières années aidant, j'avais repoussé ça dans un coin de ma tête, me disant que tel ou tel ami avait sûrement d'autres chats à fouetter, des préoccupations bien à eux en somme.

Et je ne vais pas juger une amitié à l'aune des nouvelles échangées, ce serait mesquin, une réduction de quelque chose de très beau à une métrique ridicule. Mais peu à peu j'ai réalisé que, pour beaucoup de ce que je pensais être des amitiés, si je ne relançais pas la discussion, je n'avais plus aucune nouvelles du tout.

C'est un goût amer dans la bouche de réaliser que, peut-être, ces amitiés n'avaient pas la même valeur des deux côtés. De se dire que si je pense à ces amis, visiblement je ne dois plus jamais traverser leurs esprits en l'espace de plusieurs années, du moins jamais suffisamment que pour écrire ne serait-ce qu'un "ça va?" . Pour quelqu'un doutant de sa valeur, c'est finalement quelque chose de très destructeur.

C'est aussi une leçon pour moi, d'apprendre à répartir mon énergie dans ces amitiés qui m'enrichissent, qui vivent, qui sont faites d'échanges, de discussions et de rires. Ces amitiés où c'est l'autre aussi qui vient proposer des sorties, des verres, où pour une fois je ne suis pas systématiquement le moteur, des amitiés hybrides en somme.

C'est triste de réaliser que j'ai sans doute beaucoup alimenté ces amitiés unilatérales car je doutais de ma propre valeur. Que je me disais qu'en étant un "bon ami", présent, toujours prêt à aider etc je gagnais en valeur, je "valais la peine d'être fréquenté". Un sentiment tronqué de valorisation que n'aidaient pas non plus les années qui passaient (qu'il était doux le temps où être un twink provoquait des temps de réponse fulgurant).

Parce qu'au fond subsistait toujours ce doute: est-ce que moi, tout simplement, ce petit moi, peut être suffisant dans une relation? Les années ont passées, j'aimerais dire que ma confiance en moi est un menhir resistant au passage des années, mais si elle a réussi à évoluer et se renforcer, elle est loin d'être indestructible.

Doucement je me fais à l'idée que peut être que je suis suffisant pour être un ami, que je n'ai pas à faire tous les efforts, qu'être moi peut suffire. Qu'au final, je ne dois pas être toujours "celui qui prends des nouvelles", qu'être simplement, c'est déjà bien suffisant.

September 4th, 2023

J'ai pris le temps de replonger dans tout ce que j'avais pu écrire sur ce petit lopin du web grâce à la Wayback Machine et à ce petit script. J'avais perdu pas mal des billets à force de bouger, de changer d'avis, d'osciller entre un site personnel et/ou un portfolio à travers les années sans trop savoir. Finalement j'ai pris le temps de tout réimporter ici, 12 années de pensées qui s'étaient éparpillées de par l'Internet.

J'ai trouvé ça assez amusant de retomber dans le temps et de me voir réfléchir avec une décennie d'écart. Réaliser la simplicité de certains raisonnements, ou au contraire parfois retrouver les mêmes idées filées différemment à travers les années. Je me suis rendu compte aussi de ce que je voulais garder à travers ce petit tamisage, et qu'au final tout ce qui était technologie, avis sur le travail, ... m'importait peu face aux ressentis, pensées et vécus de ces instants.

C'est aussi amusant de constater tout ce que je mettais avant sur un blog et qui a maintenant une place ailleurs. Mes avis sur les films se retrouvent réduits sur IMDB à une simple note, mes commentaires sur les livres que je lis sont sur Hardcover (après avoir longtemps hésité entre GoodReads, Bookwyrm, Storygraph et consorts), quant aux applications j'ai pris un gros tournant pour un certain minimalisme parsemé de self-hosted et de logiciels libres qui se trouve réussir mieux à l'épreuve du temps que tous les logiciels dont j'avais pu parler à travers les années (je pense que sur 30 billets, un seul existait encore).

Je me suis aussi mis moins la pression. Le site de mon moi jeune était un portfolio ouvert au monde, d'un jeune qui devait y trouver sa place, un travail et défendre ses compétences. Empli d'une envie d'ailleurs aussi, c'est pour ça que j'avais fait très tôt le choix de l'anglais, pour sortir du carcan si compliqué de mon petit pays complexe. Les années ont passées et j'ai de moins en moins besoin d'un tel portfolio ou de devoir me défendre, je peux donc m'occuper de mon jardin virtuel comme je l'entend.

Il y avait aussi beaucoup de billets ayant trait à l'état du design, de l'expérience utilisateur et autres. Je reste en accord avec la plupart d'entre eux mais c'est quelque chose sur lequel j'ai beaucoup moins envie d'écrire au jour le jour (d'autres le font bien mieux et de manière très extensive et intéressante: iErgo et Stéphanie Walter pour n'en citer que deux).

Si l'expérience utilisateur est mon travail, c'est ce qu'elle reste pour moi, en dehors j'ai envie de parler de la vie, des rencontres, des émotions, des expériences que je vis, ... Et parce que si je prends le temps d'écrire aussi, c'est par plaisir de m'ouvrir, de mettre à plat ce qui passe par ma tête et qui va largement au delà de ce que je fais pour payer une vie de luxe à mes chats.

Cette plongée dans le passée a été intéressante. Elle m'a permis de m'assurer de ne plus perdre tous ces petits bouts de moi éparpillés, mais elle m'a aussi ouvert les yeux sur ma façon de grandir à travers tout ce temps. Je suis heureux d'avoir enfin pu centraliser ces douze années d'errances virtuelles en cet écrin.

Adieu l'oiseau

Il m'a fallu du temps (et le bannissement d'un de mes comptes), pour décider de prendre mes bagages et décider de quitter Twitter. Ca peut paraitre étrange, mais ce site m'avait tellement apporté avec les années qu'il m'a fallu beaucoup de temps pour réaliser qu'il était devenu une sorte de relation toxique où le temps que j'y investissais était transformé en maux de ventres incessants.

Twitter a été le lieu où j'ai rencontré pléthore de personnes centrales dans ma vie d'aujourd'hui. Il a été le lieu aussi qui m'a fait rencontrer mon fiancé (et bientôt mari). Il a été un lieu d'échange fort, un lieu qui m'a poussé à m'investir en politique (avant de m'en dégoûter totalement). Il a été le lieu d'échanges intellectuels intenses, mais aussi de fous rires. Pour un introverti peu à l'aise dans des gros groupes, ce petit site a été une occasion magique de rencontrer des personnes uniques

Mais Twitter a aussi été la source de bien des maux. C'était certains cercles impénétrables où l'on te faisait sentir que tu étais mal venu, c'était des trolls combattant des flamingants imaginaires qui prenaient un plaisir à harceler des personnes de plus de 20 ans leurs cadets jusqu'à m'en faire trembler et pleurer dans la nuit. Mais c'était aussi ce réseau qui m'a donné une amie qui m'a tapée sur l'épaule et dis "laisse, je prends le relais, je connais, je vais gérer à ta place" (merci du fond de mon coeur pour cette soirée Marie).

Des amitiés et des cicatrices il y en a eu beaucoup à travers les 15 années que j'y ai passées. Des souvenirs, des soirées, beaucoup. Des personnes trésors énormément, elles éclipsent d'ailleurs les cicatrices. Mais plus les années passaient, moins je reconnaissais ce réseau.

Loin d'accuser Twitter de tous les maux de nos démocraties, je le trouve un triste reflet de l'époque. La polarisation "à l'anglo-saxonne" a touché tous les pans de la société. Là où on échangeait, on discutait, on grandissait, désormais l'on invective, on cherche la répartie cinglante et blessante pour pouvoir compter les points. Chacun se campe sur ses positions, bombardant allègrement de l'autre côté sans la moindre parcelle d'intelligence. La généralisation fait loi, la répartie est acide.

Twitter est devenu aussi un puit sans fond de colère humaine, de frustration à ciel ouvert. Là où certains avaient créé un fichier listant l'indignation du jour, beaucoup ne semblent pas avoir saisi le ridicule de la chose, et l'on devrait désormais passer à l'indignation de l'heure pour suivre le rythme. D'un endroit où je venais chercher comment occuper mon ennui, où je prenais plaisir à aller rencontrer d'autres personnes et me faire de nouvelles connaissances, Twitter est devenu un ulcère à ciel ouvert.

Cet oiseau bleu a accompagné mes plus belles années bruxelloises, il a formé mon noyau dur d'une époque tristement révolue, mais dont certains persistent même si de manière moins présente. Les années ont passées et certains (dont moi) avons fait nos valises (réelles cette fois ci) pour partir l'un dans une autre ville, l'un dans un autre pays. D'autres malheureusement nous ont quittés (putain de crabe), laissant des souvenirs impérissables qui quelques soirs me font monter la larme à l'oeil.

J'ai verrouillé mon compte, je n'y retourne que pour les messages que mes amis encore présents m'y envoient (et les jolis messieurs quand même ne gâchons pas le plaisir) et j'ai déplacé mes valises sur Mastodon. Tout n'y est pas parfait, l'ambiance y est même beaucoup plus punk / queer que ce dont j'avais l'habitude, mais peu à peu j'y retrouve un peu le plaisir d'avant.

Mastodon demande d'être un jardinier, de bien filtrer, sélectionner ceux qui reproduisent les schémas qui m'ont fait partir, ... mais j'y retrouve un peu cette joie de discuter avec des inconnus, d'apprendre, d'échanger librement, de sauter dans une conversation au hasard.

J'ai mis un pied dans Bluesky aussi, qui m'a reproduit à l'identique mes abonnements Twitter d'il y a 10 ans et où j'ai un peu l'impression de vivre des retrouvailles de lycée, mais où l'on sent quand même chez tous les marques que les années ont laissées. Mais Bluesky reste trop attaché à Twitter, et si Musk a fait beaucoup de dégâts, je n'oublie pas ceux que Dorsey avait déjà fait avant lui.

C'est donc un adieu à l'oiseau bleu que j'avais besoin d'écrire pour exprimer ce que ce site m'avait fait ressentir et m'avait apporté à travers les années. J'en garde le meilleur, ces personnes trésors que je retrouve parfois lors d'occasions trop rares, mais qui me font toujours autant de bien.

Quinze années que je referme avec un goût aigre-doux sur le bout de la langue, mais dont le temps se chargera de faire le tri pour ne me laisser que le meilleur. Et une nouvelle aventure à tracer pleine d'inconnues que je suis déjà impatient de découvrir.

Merci pour ces rencontres. Merci Wilhem, Xavier, Lionel, Marie, Melissa, Sophie, Audrey, David, Simon, Anne-Julie, Arnaud, Ben, Nico, Greg, Louis, Lukasz (sorry j'ai pas ton L bizarre là), Medhi, Fred, Amaury, Adrien, Patrick, Pascal, Florence, Ulysse, Seb, Anthony, Steeve, JF et j'en oublie sûrement. En espérant se revoir bientôt ailleurs, et autrement.

Starting the engine and changes

Like I said previously, I love tinkering and I've spent quite some time on this blog. You might have seen some changes, that's because I've transformed this little blog in a tiny blog engine open to anyone. It relies on markdown files and was made to be easily installable anywhere you want as long as there's a php server.

It's really light (around 220kb), gives space to customisation and is totally RGPD compliant as it uses no script, cookies or whatever you see everywhere. Also you won't need to open any terminal window nor install node, ruby or whatever. Just have a FTP access to your server, drop your markdown files and it's done and updated.

I've added some tweaks for this blog, like a small fade of the text as long as you go. I wanted something to represent how my mind slowly forget things the longer they are back in time (don't worry this doesn't happen in the RSS feed).

I liked the metaphor so I wanted to implement it here only as this little space on the Internet represent a part of my mind and experiences. So for those who pass by here, this is me waving through the window and hoping you'll have a pleasant time here!

August 28th, 2023

Sometimes there's a lingering feeling across the corner while I'm making my way through life. I often laughed about those people going through a crisis around their 40 years old of things like that, but suddenly I find myself asking more and more "is that all there is?".

The last years have been quite eventful and the coming months will bring a lot of joy (getting married yaaaay) but what are the next "steps"? I've grown with some kind of plan put in my mind: find a stable job, a good spouse, buy a house, ... Sure we'll end up buying a flat (in this economy?! I know right), and I still have some steps I can climb in my job but then what?

When I look back 10 years ago I'm happy of course. I've left a job that almost burned me two times, I'm in a stable and loving relationship (not getting anxiety from a relationship was a first!), I'm getting married and have a lot of friends. But sometimes I'm feeling a bit lost and wondering if I hit a wall, or what I could do next.

I feel like I have some struggle setting new goals aside from those my education taught me especially in nowadays context (I won't paint a picture but focusing on my little life is how I'm able to keep my sanity). I'm a bit at loss also on where to invest my energy as there's a limited amount of things I can cope with to keep my mind balanced.

August 26th, 2023

I always loved tinkering. As far as I can remember, I see myself buildings things with blocks of woods or Lego, taking my father's tools to build a cabin in a tree (well, in my head at least it was one), trying to get things to work by reading their manuals, discovering new functionalities and trying them on.

At around 12 years old I had the chance to enroll in some side scientific experiments classes. That's when I discovered I could also tinker with a lot more things in chemistry, physics, ... This lead to pretty funny experiments (depending on who you were asking at the time) like putting stone stairs on a blue fire, creating a smoking effect with a ping pong wall, ...

Then I discovered computers. There was something quite magical about those machines that attracted me. Like a realm of endless possibilities, fed by the games I discovered through them. Although imperfect and mostly made of colored cubes, those helped me image more and more universe to dwelve into.

Around 14 I had the chance to take programming classes, that was when I discovered I could also ask the machine to do what I wanted. For some reasons, my teachers where trying hard to understand why my code was working when it was absolutely bonkers but for me it was magical and unique. From this moment, I was able to build anything I could imagine if I tried hard enough.

I'm not a developer now, but I think, deep in my heart I'm still a tinkerer, and it something that never left me throughout the years. I'm still spending my week-ends tweaking programs, gadgets, this website, my server, ... and nothing brings me more joy than this. Sometimes you have to look back to understand what exactly makes you happy and for me it's simple: fixing things.

July 30th, 2023

Sept années. Parfois j'ai le vertige à voir le temps qui s'est déroulé depuis que je me suis retrouvé au bord de ce précipice. Me demandant souvent comment j'ai fait pour aller de l'avant, persévérer malgré la destruction qui m'avait sapée dans ma quasi entiereté.

Il m'a fallu du temps pour me rendre compte que je ne m'étais pas reconstruit totalement, que j'avais reconstruit mon être autour de ce puit de douleur. Du temps pour accepter aussi qu'un autre fût moi, cet autre que je pensais encore toujours être ou pouvoir être. Pourtant on change profondément.

Si des sentiments peuvent nous porter si haut, ils peuvent aussi être source d'une destruction sans pareille, nous forçant à nous réinventer et à réunir ces bribes de ce que l'on a été pour construire un nouveau nous que l'on doit apprivoiser.

Sept ans que j'apprends peu à peu ce nouveau moi que je suis, avec ses errements, ses interrogations, ses surprises.

Au delà de la douleur, cette reconstruction m'a aussi forcé à doucement vers le deuil de choses que je pensais parties intégrantes de ma personnalité, me forçant par exemple à dire adieu à mon hypersensibilité qui me faisait pleurer à chaudes larmes à la fin de certains livres ou de films.

Si la douleur s'est éteinte, ou comme on dit j'ai grandi autour diminuant son emprise, cet apprentissage, cet effort d'être à nouveau, de se réapprendre et réapprivoiser est pourtant un travail constant depuis sept ans. Et si le chemin parcouru depuis s'est avéré important, cette impression d'être parfois un inconnu à soi-même perdure.

J'ai longtemps souhaité n'avoir jamais connu ce qui a provoqué cette destruction, cette douleur. Mais dans son sillage elle a amené tellement de choses positives qu'il m'est maintenant difficile de les dissocier. Alors on va de l'avant, fier de cette reconstruction, apprenant chaque jour un peu plus qui je suis désormais.

May 30th, 2023

I'm feeling a bit lost lately, noticing how fast the last years went by. Without realising, my hair slowly faded to a dark grey, something I didn't even notice in the mirror while the weeks went by. Years pile up without you really realising it and when you look back you're suddenly facing the teenager you once were and feel the gap between you.

Looking at old pictures I can see the hurdles I went through, the pain, the stepping stones of those years and how much they learned me. Still I would love to embrace this teenage me and prevent him from all this. Yes it did get better, but how I wish we didn't have to go through so much.

It's a kind of nostalgia with hints of regrets, I wish I had learned yesterday what I know today. I wish I could get all those years back to erase the pain, to enjoy them as much as I should have, to stop doubting myself so much, to stop allowing people to hurt me so much because I thought I didn't deserve better. But time goes by and we can't grasp even its tiniest part.

It's kind of a vertigo, looking back at all those years, all those trials wondering if they were truly necessary to arrive where I'm at today. There are still so many trials left, so many things on my mind I'm still fighting, will I ever look back on where I am today and wish I was able to tell myself to let go of all this weight and finally start to enjoy those great years too?

Every day that pass me by I'm trying to let go of some of the weight I carried over the years but I feel like there is still so much work to be done. I just hope one day I'll be enough for myself.

March 28th, 2023

I've been on ADHD medication for almost a month now, after years of wondering, months of talking to a psychiatrist and various medical checkups. I can say that it's already changing my life quite a lot and improving my daily life quite a lot. I'm finally able to pay attention through long meetings, to understand things that take time, and I'm also listening more finally.

One of the things that I had a harder time controlling was that my nervousness baseline was high. Usually, my left leg would always be moving, I'd be biting my nails all the time. Now, except when going through a stressful event, I'm finally calm.

For the first time (since I can't remember when) my mind is also quiet most of the time. When I'm not focused on something for work, I can finally enjoy a silent mind with no intrusive thoughts, no infinite to-do list building, ... It's interesting, at the end of the day I'm way less exhausted than before, it's like as if I was spending so much energy every day for nothing. At night I'm able to go to sleep much quicker.

All of this makes me wonder quite a lot about how my life would have been different if I had been under this treatment previously. One of the reasons I left university was because I was unable to focus for long hours, even more, to study in front of a desk for weeks. I wonder what I could have accomplished if I had been in the same state I am now. I'm proud of where I am in life right now, but still, the what if's are still there.

March 1st, 2023

I've always felt the need to feel useful. Thinking I didn't deserve any attention aside from my usefulness, getting really lost and depressed when I couldn't. It has taken quite a toll over the years, reinforcing existing vulnerabilities and anxiety.

Each time I felt lost and ignored by some people, I felt that I deserved that, that perhaps I could have done more, be more relevant or whatever. Unable to think that people could like me for something else than being useful or that perhaps simply people didn't valuate me at the same level as I valued them.

I try my best to determine what people expect and to meet their expectations. In a way, it's sad to realise that my best relationships often come from work, as they happen in an area where expectations are clear and I know I can meet them. Often in my private life I realise that I don't get what people expect, perhaps because I always think they expect something from me when it's not the case.

I'm trying more and more to reframe my train of thoughts but it's complicated. It's a system I've built for years that I slowly have to deconstruct piece by piece and, sadly, has become quite part of my personality. I just hope that one day I'll be able to get people right.

February 24th, 2023

You always tell yourself you’ll have the time, that you will see them next time, that this time your schedule is too packed, too crowded, … But life pass by and your schedule doesn’t matter to it and when it does you wish you had made room to see those persons, to spend time with them even for a short time, for a blink.

Another friend left tonight, taken by the big fucking crab, left me feeling like my grandma reading the obituary, listing the friends it took from me. I wish I made time to see them, but knowing their illness I acted out of fear, distancing myself to avoid the scar that I know was coming. Now they’re gone and I will never have the chance to share another moment with them ever again.

We are always taken by our lives, trying to make time to see the people who make life worth living in between our daily lives. Too often we end up forgetting that it is those people who make life worth living and I made this mistake again and again.

I will miss you funny motor rider, I will always remember the funky chicken and the metal Abba covers. I’m reading the book you advised, I wish we had the chance to discuss it but life took an unexpected turn. Lie in peace my friend, I wish I was there.

Portrait in black and white of my friend Fred Wauters

February 2nd, 2023

Two things gave me a lot of thoughts lately. First was this post from More to that, second was an event from my birthday. As someone struggling with self esteem over years, I slowly realise that I will never be able to change everything I would like to change about myself, that I would probably never be exactly like I would want me to be.

Looking back on the road so far I also feel that I spent way too much time worrying on how I looked when I shouldn't have. Realising also the amount of friends around me as I was crossing my 35 year on this earth made me think that I didn't have to be perfect to be appreciated, and that each one of those person must have found something in my little person that made sense to them and made me a bit loveable.

I don't think this will switch totally how I think about myself, unfortunately a lot of those thoughts are deeply ingrained in my mind and there are years of patterns to dismantle. But still, bit by bit the darkness in some corners in my mind recess and it makes me feel a bit better each day.

January 13th, 2023

"When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure" — Charles Goodhart

Companies are slowly switching to different target systems, one of them in tech being the OKRs which seem to encounter a lot of success. While those objectives make sense in a company macro level, they become troublesome when you ask individuals to define goals on their side following the exact same principals.

We human love target numbers, they are easy to measure and easy to follow. My problem is that for a lot of jobs they are in fact too easy to define the complexity of one's job. You end up defining steps and outcomes to work on instead of working on ways to improve and evolve. It becomes even more dangerous in "support" professions like analytics or design, where a big part of your daily work is supposed to be to help other teams achieve their goals. Therefore your goals are supposed to evolve over time, depending on the team needs and objectives. One of the main objective for support function ends up being something that is hard to calculate but makes way more sense than any other arbitrary metrics: helps other teams to reach their goals by doing good work.

The other problem with numerical targets is that, as Goodhart's law says, they become the sole objective. We human beings are faillible and also, let's admit it, quite lazy when we want. For a lot of us, if a metric says to reach X, we will stop putting efforts once the X is reached. And the problem is that a lot of the time this X will be a possible projection that might or might not be close to the reality (or just an impossible target sometimes). Targets might also get in the way of doing the real work.

I've seen too often people trying to push for absurd decisions just because some of their objectives asked them to do so while it made absolutely no sense on the business level. This ends up causing a lot of harms on the projects side, but also on the individual side who feels like they have to chose between sacrificing themselves and get bad reviews or help the company do good work.

For example, one of the most absurd thing I encountered in my work life was a marketing team pushing to play a TV spot ad on the top of a landing page which was itself leading to this landing page. The aim of the page was supposed to convert the visitors into buying something, but after weeks of tense discussions we realised that the reason why the marketing team was pushing so hard for the pole position of the page to be the tv spot was because they were incentivized on the number of views of the video, which made absolutely no-sense in terms of business.

I think that by trying to apply the OKR system on an individual level, we are doing more harm than good as we totally ignore that things that are good on a system and macro level might make absolutely no sense on the human level, forgetting a lot of our behavior and psychology. By asking humans to define easy metrics like those we are also ourselves falling back in our laziness pattern, as those metrics while giving the aspect of being objective and measurable are, in the end only easy to measure and nothing else.

January 3nd, 2023

«To absent friends, in memory still bright»

Sometimes after all this time, I’m afraid I will forget your faces, that those memories I have of each of you would fade away and that I would forget your names.

I wanted to leave a small trace of you in my digital journal, a poor token for the impact each of you had on my life. As imperfect as it is, I hope this would help keep your memory alive.

To Jerry, Fred & Aude, marvellous friend taken way too soon whom I wish I had the chance to walk a longer path with.

January 2nd, 2023

I feel like all the communication around design is pretty bloated. Medium is dying under filler articles speaking about the same basic things again again, where the only important part seems to give a little bit of visibility to its author. Add to that the paywall behind the number of articles you can read on Medium and it's getting harder and harder to know what is interesting to read in the end. Hence why I decided to stop almost anything coming from Medium, because the ratio of time spent on it versus things I could learn from the articles were way too low.

Unfortunately I feel like there's a gap to fill that we are a bit lost on how to feel. The easy part of our job is easy to be found (and honestly, made to look way too easy that it's becoming ridiculous), the hard part is through academic papers or heavy books, but we seem to suffer from a lack of middle level informations (where most of the time you end up on the NN Group website or Carine Lallemand book anyway).

I can see two parts about this absence of middle-ground. First one is the infamous impostor syndrome. Being honest, I often want to share about my day to day job, techniques and things like that, but I always feel that I won't find a clear way to express it or that I won't be as rigorous as some of us want to be (looking at you academic side).

The second one is that most of us in a medior or senior position are blocked by so many NDA that it's simply not legally possible to write about our daily works, even when we tackle mondain problems that every one of us might encounter one day or the other. This is especially true in enterprise UX and in-house applications: most of the problems we encounter are shared by other companies, but we're not allowed to discuss it. So we tend to oversimplify, to erase the experience part to provide with basic rules that lack the clarity that might be provided by experience.

I'm a bit lost on how we could tackle this problem but I feel we should both challenge the mandatory-NDA mentality for projects that don't bring any commercial advantage or anything and also be more open and dare to share our experience. But by sharing our experience, we have to admit the truth that design evolve and is different in every setting, that rigorous theoretical rules and systems often make no sense in the face of reality (looking at you quadruple sapphire process or whatever). I hope we all might evolve toward a more open future for our profession and in a more qualitative way, while staying open minded and kind.

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