# All Posts

• ### A Templater script for updating file titles and dates in YAML

This Templater script gives the current Obsidian note a proper YAML title, date, and lastmod field. This facilitates integration with Quartz/Hugo.

It requires MetaEdit (as well as Templater, obviously).

Update file titles and dates with this Templater script

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60  <%* let file = tp.file.find_tfile(tp.file.title) const {update} = app.plugins.plugins["metaedit"].api const {getPropertyValue} = app.plugins.plugins["metaedit"].api const {position, ...rest} = tp.frontmatter; let content = tp.file.content; let newFileContent = content.split("\n"); let isYamlEmpty = Object.keys(tp.frontmatter).length === 0 && !content.match(/^-{3}\s*\n*\r*-{3}/); /* reset selection to the top of the document to make sure the action doesn't clear any text */ let editor = this.app.workspace.activeLeaf.view.editor; if (editor.getSelection === "") { // no text is selected } else { editor.setCursor(editor.getCursor()); } async function updateCurrentFile(someContent, someFile) { someContent = someContent.join("\n"); await app.vault.modify(someFile, someContent); } let propNameForLastModified = "lastmod"; let fileLastModifiedDate = "\"" + tp.file.last_modified_date("YYYY-MM-DD\THH:mm:ss") +"\""; if (isYamlEmpty) { // No YAML yet newFileContent.unshift("---"); newFileContent.unshift(${propNameForLastModified}:${fileLastModifiedDate}); newFileContent.unshift("---"); await updateCurrentFile(newFileContent, file); } else if (rest.lastmod === undefined) { // YAML exists but no date field newFileContent.splice(1,0, ${propNameForLastModified}:${fileLastModifiedDate}); await updateCurrentFile(newFileContent, file); } else { // YAML exists and a date property exists await update(propNameForLastModified, fileLastModifiedDate, file); } /* Now we can assume YAML exists, so let's add the rest of the metadata */ let propNameForDate = "date"; let fileCreatedDate = "\"" + tp.file.creation_date("YYYY-MM-DD\THH:mm:ss") + "\""; if (rest.date === undefined) { // YAML exists but no date field newFileContent.splice(1,0, ${propNameForDate}:${fileCreatedDate}); await updateCurrentFile(newFileContent, file); } else { // YAML exists and a date property exists await update(propNameForDate, fileCreatedDate, file); } let propNameForTitle = "title"; let fileTitle = "\"" + tp.file.title + "\""; if (rest.title === undefined) { // YAML exists but no title property exists newFileContent.splice(1,0, ${propNameForTitle}:${fileTitle}); await updateCurrentFile(newFileContent, file); } else { // YAML exists and a title property exists await update(propNameForTitle, fileTitle, file); } new Notice (tp.file.title + "'s title is now " + fileTitle + ". Last modified date metadata updated to " + fileLastModifiedDate + ".", 2000); _%> 
• ### Why the grass is greener: Making sure that shiny new alternative tool is actually going to help you

“The grass is always greener on the other side.” The popular idiom discourages whoever’s listening from seeking out alternatives, suggesting that other options always look better from wherever we’re currently standing. But it has a funny problem: nobody ever explains why the grass is greener on the other side.

That’s because it isn’t. The truth is that your side is just yellower/trampled on/eaten… and that’s because you’re on it.

Moving to a different place will be fine at first. Then you’ll use it, too, and eventually it’ll look the same as where you started.

(In this metaphor, you’re a goat. 🐐)

In workflow design, in addition to the novelty of “shiny new object,” new and alternative tools are great simply because they don’t have the cruft you’ve built up in the old tool. That cruft might be noisy notes, a lifetime of guilt-inducing task management, or even just bad habits and behaviours. The problem isn’t the tool. It isn’t you, either. It’s you and the tool.

So, after switching, the problems seem to go away… only to re-emerge (possibly in a new form) later because the issues are generated by your usage, not by the tool.

The solution is to fall in love with the problem, not the (shiny, potential) solutions.

1. Determine what your issues actually are, and try to figure out why they’re happening.
2. Then, abstractly identify how you might be able to mitigate the problems.
• Don’t say “I’ll use Bunch,” say “If I standardize certain work spaces on my computer, I can develop muscle memory for using those workspaces, reducing distraction and allowing me to spend less cognitive energy on finding everything I need to get engaged.”
3. Last, identify some tests or success conditions that will tell you whether the solution is actually working. This’ll help minimize irrational perspectives on how well the honeymoon stage is going.

Only after taking those three steps should you choose a tool. Find something that can implement the abstract principles you’ve articulated, and be sure to follow-through on the tests.

In doing this, you’re actually creating and implementing a rough design theory. You’re using design science to make your work as easy and engaging as it can be! High-five for that.

Want a quick, hands-free, one-step method to capture reminders and tasks into Obsidian? Take advantage of Reminders, Shortcuts, and Shortcuts’s automations feature.

This Shortcut will extract all reminders currently incomplete in a given list and append them to your daily note.

Here’s a screenshot of the full Shortcut

Download it and set it up (i.e., answer all of the configuration questions). Then, create Shortcuts automations (via the Automations tab in Shortcuts) that run on whatever triggers you want (e.g., “Whenever the Obsidian app is opened” and “9am”). Add a “Run Shortcut” action to that automation, then select the shortcut you’ve just configured.

🎉! Whenever the shortcut is triggered, the reminders in the designated list will be added to your daily note.

You can now say e.g., “Hey Siri, add ‘Pick up milk’ to my Obsidian list,” and that item will (eventually) be added to your daily note.

# # Talks and workshops at RSDx and RSD11

Recently I helped host a set of workshops and sessions as a part of RSDx, an online series developed as a part of the Systemic Design Association’s conference programming and as an addendum (or perhaps pre-dendum? I don’t understand Latin, I’m afraid) to RSD11 (more on that below).

I designed one of the sessions, a workshop addressing the question “How should systemic design’s scholarship system work?” The session featured provocations from my friends and colleagues Lewis Muirhead, Stephen Davies, Marie Davidová, and Birger Sevaldson before groups split up to develop some design principles for supporting scholarship in systemic design. It was based on one of the discussion papers I authored for the conference:

Then, the 11th Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium was the following week, held at Brighton University in the UK and everywhere you can connect to the Internet. I had a couple of contributions:

# # Intuition is confident abductive-inferential thinking

In a recent episode of Hello Monday, Jessi Hempel interviews Dr. Natalie Nixon on creativity and her new book, The Creativity Leap. Natalie’s PhD in Design Management—plus her work in fashion, design, and business—led her to a catchy and compelling description of creative work. We accomplish creative work, she says, “by toggling between wonder and rigour.”

In the podcast conversation, Jessi and Natalie talk about intuition—and I was struck by something. “We don’t talk about intuition,” Natalie notes at about 6 minutes in. “We don’t talk about intuition in business school, in law school, or in medical school.” And yet, she says, “I observed that really successful leaders—especially really successful startup leaders—in their origin stories, there’s always this moment where ‘Something told me not to do the deal. Something told me to work with her over him.’ […] Every successful leader really reckons with incorporating acting on their intuition to make decisions.” Jessi agrees, noting that intuition comes up often in her interviews with leaders on Hello Monday as leaders cite it as the reason for their success.

The thing is, just because we don’t name intuition doesn’t mean we aren’t talking about it. That’s because intuition is really just confident, logical thinking.

Charles Sanders Peirce was a philosopher. He investigated how we inquire into and discover new knowledge.1 Before Peirce, we generally recognized the logical processes of deduction and induction. Deductive thinking helps us identify what must be true about a situation in order to explain it. When we deduce something, we look at the general rules and principles we know of and draw specific conclusions from that evidence. Inductive thinking involves drawing general conclusions from specific, limited evidence.

Peirce argued that effective reasoning follows a pattern: we determine the specific consequences of an idea (deduction), and then we judge whether the available evidence fits that idea and its consequences (induction). But how do we develop ideas?2

Abduction is the name of the logical process Peirce described for developing ideas. To think abductively means to generate and choose ideas that fit the situation at hand. A good idea should be verifiable—we should be able to use evidence to judge its fit—and should help us resolve the situation at hand. Peirce also had criteria to help choose the best ideas to test. He suggested that we should strive to conserve resources (e.g., those that most are most efficiently verifiable and usable in the situation), identify the most valuable ideas (specifically the “uberty” of an idea, or how likely it is that a possible idea might bring about an innovation), and the most relevant ideas (e.g., those that may apply beyond our current focus, too).3

Abduction is clearly an important step in any innovative process—but it is no more important than testing and using the ideas you generate. What, then, if you don’t have enough evidence to truly test and prove your ideas?

The process Peirce described—abduction, deduction, induction—is the ideal. However, we do not always have time and energy to follow the process diligently. Instead, we quickly make creative judgements based on a few observed qualities. This requires two related processes.4 The first Peirce called “abductory induction,” and it combines the first and last step of the inquiry process. We observe the qualities of the situation, and we generate possible ideas to resolve it based on those observations. The second process is known as “inference to the best explanation” (IBE).5 IBE is exactly what it sounds like. Given a number of possible ways of resolving a problem, choose the best one. (Peirce’s criteria, noted above, apply here.)

So what does all this have to do with intuition?

Intuition is the confident application of these shorthand logical approaches to creative problem solving. As Jessi and Natalie noted, we aren’t often explicitly taught about strengthening our intuition. Yet, everything we learn supports its development. The more we have to draw on in order to pull into the processes described above, the better our intuitive decisions will be.

I say that intuition is the confident application of these processes because they only work when we follow through. In reality, we use abductory induction and IBE all the time. When we engage in creative problem solving, we’re not only using information from the evidence in front of us. We’re drawing on our lived experience and our knowledge base. Even if we don’t directly recall or reference that background information, it is drawn into the creativity of abduction and it defines the general rules and principles we use in deduction. It provides us with the heuristics we use when engaging in IBE. But if we don’t have a bias towards action and instead operate with e.g., perfectionism, we fail to actually execute on these ideas. Thus, we need to have confidence in our abductory induction and IBE processes.

All this is simply a gentle challenge of the idea that we don’t talk about intuition. I think that all knowledge management practices and forms of education are actually fundamentally about strengthening our intuition.

That said, Natalie’s work is fascinating. I recommend the episode of Hello Monday and plan on picking up her book!

2. Peirce was actually specifically concerned with science and hypotheses generation, selection, and testing. Here I refer to generating, selecting, testing, and using ideas to apply these concepts to problem-solving more broadly. ↩︎

3. He also cautioned not to produce ideas that stop the inquiry process—e.g., magical thinking, or by suggesting that whatever happened must be a complete mystery. ↩︎

4. Actually, the difference between these two processes is the subject of substantive, controversial debate. This is in part because the scholars who study inference to the best explanation have also used Peirce’s term “abduction” to describe it. This understandably caused extensive confusion, but also probably a lot of philosophical debates and scholarship, so maybe it was for the best. ↩︎

• ### Researchers detail huge hack-for-hire campaigns against environmentalists

The report concludes that the campaigns represent “a clear danger to democracy” and could allow powerful organizations to target their opponents. “The extensive targeting of American nonprofits exercising their first amendment rights is exceptionally troubling,” Citizen Lab’s report says.

We didn’t want this part of cyberpunk sci-fi…

# # Why are we exceeding the Earth’s carrying capacity?

This is a quickly-sketched model created from a breakout group conversation during the MUN School of Graduate Studies’ “Earth’s Carrying Capacity” dialogue.

• ### Roger Martin, Bianca Andreescu, and systemic strategy

According to designer/strategist Roger Martin, a strategy is an imagined possibility with which we ask the question “What has to be true for this possibility to become real?”

In this episode IDEO U’s Creative Confidence podcast, Roger talks about how that approach helped unlock Bianca Andreescu’s success at the Grand Slam singles championship in 2019.

One of the fascinating things about this approach is that it acknowledges the need for system-wide changes. By asking “What has to be true?”, a strategist must consider all of the conditions of a system that should shift to make the imagined possibility a reality. Of course, most approaches to strategy do require some appreciation of the state of the strategic environment (e.g., the five forces model). None, however, emphasize the need to guarantee these systemic conditions quite as explicitly as asking “What must be true?”

• ### Systemic lessons from South Korea's Patient 31

This changed with the emergence of “Patient 31.”

Reuters’ coverage of the “Korean clusters” provided the world with a vivid glimpse of the volatility of COVID-19. One person showed poor judgement, and in turn caused cascading catastrophe in her communities.

Events like the COVID-19 pandemic are thankfully rare. Moments like these—when a lot happens all at once, and the experience is shared by a collective—shape future history like nothing else. We are learning a lot from this. Not only are epidemiologists now a famous profession, but we’re all learning exactly what it takes to provide good healthcare, what good governance looks like, how public health is community health, and more.

Patient 31 holds a simple lesson for systemics: the fragility of apparently solid social systems. South Korea seemed to do everything right. Yet, due to the volatile nature of this particular socio-health system, a single “free radical” caused immense damage.

Similar volatility is evident—but more subtle—in other social systems. Consider how memes spread. Our massive communities may seem immovable at times, but it’s clear that the wrong (or right) phenomena can spread rapidly and deeply.

Stay safe.