My name is Duncan. This is the beginning of my new newsletter, which happens to also be named “Beginning”. You’re getting this message because at some point you signed up to receive newsletters from me.
I have always loved beginnings. They’re so full of promise. At work, I love the beginning of a new project, where the possibilities stretch out in front of you. In videogames, I love the blank, unexplored map or the newly-created RPG character. A vessel to be filled. When travelling, I love setting out, getting going, embarking, taking that first step.
This irregular newsletter will chronicle the beginnings in my life, past present and future. I will rarely mention the ongoings. I will almost never write about the endings.
That’s not to say that ongoings and endings aren’t important. They are. This 2016 article by Andrew Russell and Lee Vinsel sets out the compelling case for maintainers, rather than innovators, being the real heroes of the world, and of course it’s important to finish at least some of the things that you start.
But the beginnings are where I find that I have the most to say about things. The most to share, the most to learn. So that’s what I’m going to focus on.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that things look a bit different to the last message I sent you, at the tail end of 2018. I’ve shifted the backend of this newsletter to Buttondown, which lets me write in Markdown. Did you know I used to write all my newsletters in raw HTML? Doing links was a nightmare. That’s at least part of the reason why I stopped. Buttondown also does a bunch of other nice things - automatic link checking, live wordcounts, decent analytics. Craig Mod recommended it, in his recent (excellent) essay on newsletters, which is what gave me the impetus to write to you again.
You might also be wondering about my gratuitous use of the 🔰 emoji. It’s called the Shoshinsha Mark, and must be displayed by drivers in Japan for one year after they receive their licence, a bit like an L-plate in Britain.
It’s also used in other parts of Japanese society to mark out beginners. In Tochigi, new mothers are issued a card with the mark on it to indicate their experience level to health and child care support staff. New employees of companies may also have the mark on their name badges until they become more experienced.
It seemed a suitable way to flag up my inexperience in the things that I’ll be writing about. To let people know that it’s a beginner behind the wheel.
So, I’m going to use this newsletter to write about the new things in my life - new hobbies, new projects, new places and people, new experiences. I’ll be writing from the perspective of an enthusiastic amateur. A knowledge sponge. A beginner.
If you know anything about the subject I’m writing about, even if you’re a beginner yourself, I would love to hear about it. Hit reply and send me a quick note, even if it’s just a few links to look at or things to consider.
In my next message, I’ll be writing about beginning a new job, which I did at the start of the year. In the meantime, I would love to hear about your beginnings. If you’re starting something new, tell me about it. I’m always interested to hear the whats, and hows and whys of people trying new things. Again, just hit reply and scribble a few lines. I read all of them.
Looking forward to hearing from you,