This week I have some quick updates about what I’ve been up to lately: doing research on remote work and what’s going on with the Hopper (spoiler alert! There’s a name change in the works). I’m also going to share an introduction to my thinking on evolution and the concept of emergence—a topic I’m quite fond of and is finding ways into my worklife.
I know, this week is a bit of a mixed medley of information. Feel free to skip to the part(s) most interesting to you—I won’t be upset (or know) you didn’t read the whole thing! 😉
📒The Holloway Guide to Remote Work
A month or so ago, I learned on Twitter about a company called Holloway, and they were looking for freelance writers to develop content for a Guide to Remote Work—a comprehensive and practical resource on the topic. I was mostly interested in the qualitative research approach Holloway was taking to develop the Guide: including review of relevant publications, interviews with experts, and researching products that support remote work.
I’ve been working remotely for almost 4 years now and have a lot of experience in qualitative research. I figured I’d throw my hat in the ring to help in any way I could—my role didn’t have to be as a writer. So, I contacted Holloway, told them about my experience, and offered my help. Much to my surprise, and delight, I heard back from a woman named Courtney, the small startup’s editorial director. They were all set on writers, but did need help with research and interviewing. I was psyched! This was an opportunity for me to use my research and interview skills outside of the health field.
One of the best parts of the project is it directly impacts me and Meaning. We’re building a remote company, and digging into this area through the Guide to Remote Work is a perfect way to unearth useful resources. Not to mention, collaborating on a project with Courtney and interviewing different companies is a great way to network.
I’ve been doing research on over 120 companies that offer products that support remote work. Collecting some basic information on who the companies are, when they were founded, brief descriptions of their product offerings, what their pricing models are, etc. This is actually how I found Workfrom, the remote work community that I’ve really enjoyed being part of.
Next week, I have my first interview with a remote company. I plan on asking about their experience with remote work: how they encourage communication, what software tools they use, if there are any special management techniques they use in facilitating the remote work experience for employees, and more.
The Guide is due out in the Spring of 2020, and if I encounter any good insights from the interviews I conduct—I’ll let you know!
🤔From Hopper to Ponder - Our Work Continues on the Prototype
A couple of weeks ago, I explained how we’re going about building the prototype of the Hopper. We now have the prototype operational and Dave’s working with the user interface. It’s been fun to play around with, but there’s still some kinks to work out. After those are ironed out we’re set to test it out with a small cohort of people in the coming weeks.
But more importantly… we’re ditching the name “Hopper” for our product. Mostly because everything is called a Hopper.
If not Hopper, then what? We’ve being pondering the name Ponder. It explains the gist behind our app: it’s a thinking tool. I like that it’s a verb, because it’s a tool to be actively used. Dave’s exploring some illustrations to get a feel for how the name looks and sounds. So far, we like it.
The hard part now is figuring out which domain name to buy. Domain real estate is a curious business indeed. People are squatting on domains, not using them, just waiting for someone to offer them money. Any domain name that is remotely catchy is taken. Which means we’ll have to be super clever—and we can definitely do that.
🧬Evolution and Emergence
In my undergraduate studies, my first major was biology. I loved learning how biological systems worked—my favorite class was chordate anatomy and phylogeny. It was a look at the changes and increasing complexity of different animals biological systems over time.
How cool is it that the same circulatory system in a dogfish can be mapped onto the human circulatory system? It’s not that the two species circulatory systems are the same, but there are similarities and if you study a number of different species, you can actually see the evolution of these bodily systems.
This bio class may have been my first taste of evolution, and I ended up switching my major to biological anthropology where I studied human evolution. I became very interested in what made humans human, that is different than other animals. Things like the position of the hyoid bone in our throat which enables language production.
The main focus of my study of evolution was through the lens of natural selection. I learned how variation in genes amounted to differences in appearance and behavior, and the most advantageous variations were selected for.
Fast forward to current day. I’ve started researching the concept of “emergence”. I’m interested in how ideas emerge into the world because a lot of time spent as an entrepreneur is coming up with ideas. Using my knowledge of biological evolution seemed like a good starting place—how do new biological forms emerge through evolution?
I realized that in all my time studying human evolution and natural selection, I never thought about how genetic variation arose in the first place. In simpler terms: what is the origin of novelty?
My research into emergence has led me on a winding path, so far I’ve had two main stops along the way:
- Self-organizing systems, including organizations—a move away from traditional hierarchical approaches
- Creativity—what is it, exactly? How does it work?
Over the course of the next couple of newsletters, I’ll share a bit of what I’m learning in these two areas. This is all a work in process: evolution and emergence is an open project for me, and probably always will be.