2022 was the second full year that I’ve been sending out these newsletters. Many thanks to those of you who’ve been here since the beginning, and welcome aboard to those of you who’ve joined this year. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the things I’ve written, and I hope 2023 has lots of wonderful things in store for you.
I don’t know about you, but for me 2022 was probably the most difficult of the last three deeply abnormal years. (We all know why; who would’ve guessed that adding a horrifying war and a financial crisis into a mix that already included a global pandemic would make things more stressful?)
Nevertheless, there have been brief flashes of light amongst the cheerless grey, and I think it’s important to focus on the nicer things as well as the awful ones.
One lovely thing that happened to me towards the end of the year, but that also resulted in me not getting very much sleep, was this guy:
I was lucky enough to spend a month in Rome in May, fell in love with it, and managed to take lots of photos despite the trip being slightly marred by injury. I made a little microsite for them called Romer.
I launched a few other side projects in 2022, too:
And, last but not least, I wrote a lot here on Roblog, which is after all the reason you’re reading this. So I thought I’d finish things off with a roundup of the best things I wrote and linked to here in 2022.
As ever, if you know someone who would find these newsletters interesting, you can forward this email onto them or direct them here to sign up.
I hope you’ve all had a brilliant festive period and have a great 2023.
Is there such a thing as too much efficiency? Absolutely – as the global economy has spent the last few years painfully discovering. This piece from August looks at the twentieth-century roots of our fanatical quest for efficiency above all things, and what we’ve lost as a result of it.
I’m fascinated by the role luck plays in our lives, and in the cliché that we make our own luck. In August I looked at how it might be possible to organise your life to get more serendipity – chance events that lead to fortunate outcomes.
I became really interested in the work of Sidney Dekker this year; he’s former pilot and aviation safety expert. One idea that’s stuck with me is the “drift into failure”: how the very things that make an organisation successful can sow the seeds of its downfall.
Josh Barrie’s tongue-in-cheek rule of pub visits, particularly accurate in explaining why “two pints is nonsense behaviour of the highest order”.
A beautiful, slow-paced documentary about Italian truffle hunters and their relationships with their dogs (and, in some cases, their long-suffering wives). It’s still on iPlayer for another month for those of you in the UK.
One of Clive Thompson’s best this year, a reassuring look at the slow and indirect genesis of great ideas.
Toby Shorin’s fascinating summary of “the era of lifestyle”, his view of culture in the 2010s, and what might replace it.
Paul Ford’s brilliant view of how we’ve come to think that buying “stuff for our stuff” is acceptable, and the problems that leads to.