Hello friends, it's Ben here.

Welcome to another Extra Practice Newsletter. 

Now that springs officially in season, I hope that some of the tips we wrote in our last newsletter are coming in handy. I, for one, have been enjoying watching the pigeons attempt to climb down the spindly branches of the tree outside my house as they pluck the blossoms in the mornings. They usually end up hanging upside down and it makes me lol.

In this months newsletter, I wanted to write about something without necessarily knowing where it would end up. So please bear with me, and also bare with me ~ ~ ~ 

On the 27th of March I made an account on Wikipedia. I'm not quite sure what led me to do it, other than the intrigue of seeing what it was like to edit something made by someone else online. I didn't have any intention to edit, I guess I was just curious.

You see, online I am mostly a lurker. I sign up, look around and then don't post, interact or participate and if I do, its a rare occasion. I like to think that when I do post, it somehow becomes more meaningful than if I were to post everyday but I think if I were to examine that logic I would find something quite flawed.

In a conversation in the studio this week with Kirsten and Gijs, we talked about how spending time with something you're working on, whether it's active or passive, can give you more of a feeling for it. In this case we were thinking about a piece of graphic design, but it made me think about all the other things I need to spend time with if I am to get a feeling for them. For example, I (try to) read the first 50 pages of a book in one sitting in order to get to know the writer, their way of writing and the general vibe of the book. It gives me more of a sense for the world I'm entering when I read the text. Somehow I can land within the words on the page and get amongst them. They flow through me more easily.

The same is true for writing. Even as I tippity-tap on my keyboard for this newsletter, I find my mind doesn't want to stay in one place. Look Ben, theres a pigeon in the tree, look Ben theres a nice dog, look Ben, LOOK!

A while ago I wrote here and then, a year later, here about wanting to be more immersed as a general concept for how to approach things in my life and I think somehow I've been developing it as method over the last year or two. It's led me to feel more focused in general, as if I have more direction and I'm more certain of my choices. Long term immersion. However, sometimes I want that immersion on a daily basis.

(several hours later)

I just went for a swim. I try to swim each Tuesday at a pool here in Rotterdam. The cost of entry is more than I would like to pay for the amount of time I spend there but it's a really nice pool and in the summer they open an outdoor area and I feel like I could cultivate some Australia lido vibes when the summer finally arrives. Anyway, I try to swim at least one (1) kilometre each time. If the perfect swim were to exist, I would be able to continuously swim up and down the length of the pool without interruption. However, even though I go mid-morning to avoid the early co-worker crowd, there are always other swimmers. Swimmers with different strokes, at different tempos and different abilities. I spend quite a lot of my swimming sessions considering how to streamline my swim by changing my pace so as to not have to overtake, stop mid-length, or overexert myself trying to keep up with someone.

I think swimming lengths is quite a lot like life and I won't explain why. 

The utopian swimming session cannot really exist. I think why I like going to a public swimming pool is for the people. Half-naked, big, small, medium, tall, short, bodies all flapping around in a big bowl of chlorinated water in the name of health and happiness. It's quite absurd when you think about it.

I'm writing this because during todays swim, there were 3 or 4 people in the lane with me. During the time we spent there we came to an unspoken understanding that we would give way when someone wanted to go a bit faster and that we would make space when someone wanted to go slower. It involved a lot of eye contact, hasty nods and awkward smiles. It felt good and for the first time in a while I felt immersed in many ways.

(45 minutes later)

I'm writing this on the metro now, between Rotterdam and The Hague and I'm thinking about my Wikipedia account. I think I aspire to be more than a lurker. I aspire to be an active participant in a community. I'm drawn to people who are part of something bigger than themselves. However, when I think about coming out from behind the lurk-curtain (creep), I struggle to settle on the way in which I want to be present there.

I learnt last week that the term Wiki comes from the first ever user-editable website that was launched in 1995 by Ward Cunningham. It was called the WikiWikiWeb, a version of it can still be found online. There's a lot to explore on there (including an idea about Extreme Programming or XP(!)) but what I like the most about it is that it somehow feels organic. You can kind of see how it's been built up over time, with layers and layers of people adding more topics, contributing to old ones and it being as Elliot said, "a bit more of a conversation".