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Hello again friends, hot innit. I hope you've found conditions to your liking. I've put on Sly & The Family Stone and filled the bath with ice-cubes; it doesn't get cooler than that.

AMATEUR HOUR: The latest Cosplayers to trainspotters, sports fans to hikers. The makers and the spectators. I like enthusiasts of all kinds; I've been reminded of this by Stack sending me Profane, a magazine dedicated to the enthusiast. A pursuit guided by enthusiasm is a noble endeavour, and the enduring appeal of shows like Bake Off or Sewing Bee proves you can't beat watching people doing what they love.

Thing is, amateur has a disparaging overtone. It suggests ignorance, incompetence, haphazardness and short-termism. Somehow non-professional became unprofessional; this might seem like a semantic point but the vernacular has pervaded common thinking.
Amateurs! Can't see it? Obviously you're a not a golfer.
I first started thinking about the difference between amateur and professional back when I took a couple of years away from the computer screen to work as a carpenter. I have no formal qualification, so making a living was just an extension of doing it for love. In the case of carpentry, aside from the money, I found only two differences between amateur and professional: you have to get a lot faster, and you have to be good at getting repeatable results. Both of which come not from money, but from practice.

But does professional mean better? While the enthusiast might be overconfident thanks to a lack of self-insight, the professional's fear of failure risks making them dogmatic and averse to innovation. We start out as amateurs and, given that professional decline is imminent or our luck is soon to run out, that's where we ultimately return. We should practice stuff we love more. And instead of asking people what they do, perhaps we should ask what they love. πŸ’•
πŸ‘ƒ There's Nothing Wrong With Your Nose: an essay on noses and beauty, starting with Fleabag and tracing back through literature.

πŸ‘Ά The Taj Mahal becomes first Indian monument with breastfeeding room: while public breastfeeding still carries a social stigma in India, where mothers are expected to be covered head-to-toe, hopefully this statement will be the first of many.

🧠 Why brilliant people lose their touch: Tim Harford examines fund managers that have gone off the boil to try and understand what it was they had in the first place. How much is skill, how much is luck, and why would each run dry?

πŸ—£ Police create 'chat benches' to combat loneliness: the story is a little twee, but don't let this mask an exceptional example of community policing in action. What better way to combat silent suffering, particularly amongst elderly people.

πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Tech Role Models is a new project to create an open, inclusive space for finding and sharing positive stories of women in tech.

πŸ“› Mastercard will begin offering to display users’ chosen names on the front from next year. According to its research, a third of nonbinary or transgender customers have difficulty (and may even be attacked) trying to make purchases when the name on their card doesn’t align with their gender presentation.
We could be amateurs:  Seeing people love what they do is what made me fall for the internet, back in the Nineties. You too, perhaps. With the tools for mass publishing and global communication in everyone's hands, there transpired a levelling of the playing field. What had previously been possible only for organisations with infrastructure fell into the hands of hobbyists. But it didn't stop there.

The term 'blog' emerged over twenty years ago as people started publishing regular updates to their self-operated websites. Yet the web, supercharged by mobile adoption, evolved so quickly that almost nothing of how the word is used today would've felt familiar then. It felt like blogs amateurised journalism, when in fact the web democratised everything.

Ever since, independent and truly original stuff exploded all over the web, by the hands of dedicated enthusiasts. But as some of the internet era's own wunderkinder grew to become dominating tech giants, it's evolving further. Today, those giants are looking more like conventional media that they themselves had a hand in disrupting. If the golden age of YouTube is over then those enthusiasts eagerly filling it with their creativity might move back out to the web at large. πŸ”Œ
Finally: The Sony Walkman changed how we listen to music: The Verge marks the 40th anniversary of the first portable music player. [thanks MS] 🎧

My giddy aunt, we've reached the bottom of the email. More for you next week. Do you know someone who likes interesting things? Let them know! They can join in too at momorgan.com/blast. πŸ’Œ

Found something I'd like? Is there something you'd like to see more? Or anything else; I'd love to hear from youβ€”hit reply! If these emails are not being delivered correctly, try adding this address to your contacts. Meanwhile all back-issues are in the archive.

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