Matt Marshall

February 2019

Things I learned about myself today, I have no standard way of writing JSON, json, Json and will use multiple iterations of capitalisation within a single sentence.

json grammar

Hi Twitter, please be informed that I am no longer logging in so I will not see replies or messages, and haven't for some time. All my tweets are automatically posted via my blog. I'm basically a bot now.

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2018 was a Long Year

2018 was a long year.

I've put off writing a little reflection on 2018 for a while now. Part of that has been due to how tired I am. Part of that will be simply due to my priorities not laying with updating a blog. Part of that will be me not wanting to sit down and take account of everything that happened.

I hit burnout this year. It had been building for a while. You know the kind of burnout? The kind where you can spend every week day exercising and doing fieldwork and analysing data intensley and then can't summon the emotional fortitude to pick up the phone to make a GP appointment, or speak to a supervisor. Unfortunately I think it was a pretty typical progression; supervision for my Phd has been problematic for a while. I've had five named supervisors for a while, and no real supervision. I'd not see a supervisor for months at a time, and when I did see them I felt obliged to tell them everything was ok. To essentially lie to them about how I was feeling about my PhD. That's its own problem really -- eventually I want to write a piece about life at Open Lab and the issues around supervision there, and how I never felt that it was possible to approach or speak to anyone. To sum up my experience; for the latter half of my PhD (around halfway through Stage 2) nobody ever asked to actually see my thesis. Not once. I had to attach it in its current state to my annual progression panel. That caused me a lot of anxiety. The progression panel were fine with the state of the thesis -- I had publications. My supervisors were usually attentive to my work when it was CHI time.

The environment in Open Lab turned actively toxic. Patrick Olivier's abusive management style was beginning to be reproduced by some of the academics in the lab. The other professor in the lab, Pete, sat back and claimed ignorance when confronted with the reality. I know this was not a genuine claim. The emotional support I was giving others was necessary but also taxing. Partially due to the specific way I was suffering under Open Lab made me feel I couldn't speak up and thus others kind of presumed I was fine. Nothing was put back in my tank. As much as I love my friends and colleagues at Open Lab, I am upset they never really made efforts to ask how I actually was (with a few notable exceptions).

At the same time, my relationship with B was growing steadily worse. Not due to her, but because of my ignorance and self-absorption in my own mental health issues. I'm so sorry for everything. I can explain it. I did genuinely have mental health problems, and probably have for a while. Probably will continue to have for a while. I can't excuse it. My relationship to Helmsley Road (my home of seven years) was also deterioating. The walls that had once acted as shelter and opportunity, and an incubator for my growth started to steadily warp into something else. It had been building for a while. I couldn't leave because of the financial uncertainty that came from my funding running out and my perceived dependance on my pull-up bar and the "flexibility" of the landlord. I would sit there, being the only one who ever did any cleaning for years, feeling trapped.

It came to a head in August. I couldn't take any more. I sent a 'state of the union' style email to all five of my named supervisors. I received a mixed set of responses from ones that actively blamed me to ones that took responsibility for their failure. I also spotted my dream job, and in September I was offered a role at the Open Data Services Co-Operative. I also moved flat and broke up with B. All of these rapid changes across the last quarter of 2018 also took their toll. It was really tough, and those decisions each have had their lingering negative effects. But they've given me the chance to start the next stage of growth. There's been a few false positives with the mental health. I was feeling better and then took on too much again, and once again it came to a head recently where I was socially exhausted and nothing was putting back into the tank.

Right now, I'm fairly positive I'm on a better trajectory. I've got steady employment, meaning my anxiety over money is a lot less. I'm in a lovely new flat with an amazing new flatmate and the place is very much what I need in a home. It has a central hub around the kitchen table where I spend time alone and time with my flatmate. I'm still writing my thesis. I still miss B, but I need to be alone to recuperate and reflect to rebuild my foundations. I watched the sunrise over the beach today; an annual ritual of mine. The solitude and headspace felt right. I'm ready to put in the work to make myself happy again.

I think 2019 is going to be a long year too.

life reflection work academia phd 2018 mental health

Who the hell uses Zoom? It's genuinely the most terrible niche video calling system I've had to install for a single call to date.

Hello Mastodon! I'm no longer monitoring this account so classing it as a bot. If you need me you can contact me via

About Me

Hello, I'm Matt! If you want to learn about me in 10 seconds, read the now section. If you'd like to get in touch, you can see how in the contact section. The rest is all details.

Now (/now)

This is in response to the now page movement. Right now:

  • I live in Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • I am a worker-owner of Open Data Services Co-operative. I have worked there since 2018-10-08, and was made a member and director on 2019-04-08. I work five days a week, remotely.
  • I am also finishing off my Phd Thesis looking at Digital Technologies, Charities, and Accountability. I work on this on the weekends.
  • I physically work from a co-working space in Newcastle called Goodspace. It's a wonderful space and I heartily recommend popping in if you're ever in town. It's also organised as a members organisation.
  • I am a trustee The Patchwork Project; a small youth work charity in the west end of Newcastle whom I worked alongside during my PhD.
  • I am a member of the Communist Party of Britain; I sit on the Branch Executive Committee for the Tyne and Wear Branch of the Northern District and take an active role in branch meetings and education classes. I am planning on taking on additional roles involving managing the technical infrastructure for the party and its publications after I complete my thesis.
  • I travel occasionally. I eventually want to transition to being partially nomadic, but I like having a home base to come back to.


A person's philosophy drives how they approach things and interact with others. As such you can sum up my philosophy as being heavily influenced by the following (listed alphabetically rather than in order of prevalence as that is impossible tell):

  • Communism, especially Marxism-Leninism. Basically, I think the planet and human rights are pretty neat and that Communist-Utopia is possible through organisation and hard work.
  • Feminism, especially Marxist-Feminists such as Silvia Federici but although I have a Marxy critique of Identity Politics, I support some of the goals of Intersectionality and am staunchly Pro-Trans rights and Pro-Sex Worker rights.
  • Minimalism, especially when presented as thinking about the most "simple" or "straightforward" way of accomplishing tasks and reducing clutter. The design of this site was influenced by my minimalist tendencies. I use it as a tool to evaluate how my own desires have been hijacked by consumer capitalism, and quieten my brain which can get distracted very easily.
  • Satanism, although not LaVeyan Satanism as they're a bunch of fascist nutters (seriously though). Not The Satanic Temple either, although I do enjoy what they're doing. I still resonate with Satanic imagery and the original purpose of setting up an organised Satanic group -- namely challenging power structures. For me, Capitalism and Patriarchy are the dominant and oppressive power structures and they've always intersected in top-down, undemocratic, organised religion. I think Satanism gives us an evocative set of symbols to challenge this. This does not mean I'm anti religion and anti-Christian except where particular hegemonic values are fore-fronted. Any form of community organisation or philosophy that tries to help people is good to me; I just think it should be pretty grassroots and be challenged when it advocates persecution of people.
  • Stoicism, especially as espoused in this book. Stoicism and Minimalism go hand-in-hand in driving what most would call my self-care, and small-scale mundane interactions. A practitioner of Stoicism seeks tranquility, which is my goal, and offers a practical set of tools to achieve it.


I try to maintain a simple and sustainable diet. Although I'm sometimes a bit naughty. Broadly, I would describe myself as practicing pescetarian diet as I exclude meat 99% of the time. This is for ethical/sustainability reasons, as well as for bodily health. I've also been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, meaning I react pretty nastily to things containing gluten. I therefore don't feature bread prominently. As Gluten-Free Bread products are super expensive, I tend to just eat more vegetables. My main sources of carbohydrates are rice, and starchy vegetables. I'm still naughty and have bread occasionally, but I treat it the same way as drinking alcohol or smoking. I usually budget for having one planned and one unplanned gluten intake per week. I've been limiting sugar for some time now, but recently developed a weekend snacking habit that sometimes involves cheesecakes.

My favourite foods shift around a bit but at the moment I look forward to eating:

  • Spicy Noodle Soup (usually Tom Yum with rice noodles and prawns).
  • Salad with spinach, fish, tomatoes, and pickled beetroot (among other things). This is my current standard workday lunch.
  • Sushi with salmon and tuna. I used to make my own quite a lot but since September haven't been making any and instead buy from a local store.
  • Chickpea curry.
  • Anything pickled. I often make my own pickled red cabbage or pickled cucumbers. I'd make my own pickled gherkins if I could find gherkins in the store.
  • Anything with beetroot in it.
  • Pizza. I sometimes am good and make chickpea pizza dough. Most of the time I'm not.

Current Everyday Carry (/using)

  • Palestinian Keffiyeh.
  • Camping cutlery set.
  • Steel Lunchbox. The seal is bust so I wrap it in a canvas bag to absorb vinegar dregs from my beetroot.
  • Backpack, an old french army bag I've had for over 13 years. I don't know the model but it looks like this only much more beaten up.
  • Front door and bike keys. Carried on a black paracord lanyard I made myself, along with a small victorinox tool.
  • If it's rain-season I carry a pack-down waterproof jacket and trousers.
  • Thin metal wallet. I think they're trendy atm, which is neat. I like it because it doesn't have a large profile in my pocket.
  • Bluetooth headphones. Noise cancelling with a built-in mic for work.
  • Lemome Notebook. It's dot paper because that's flexible. I don't bullet-journal. I write in it with a Lamy Safari fountain pen which I use with a converter with bottled ink to try and reduce waste. I use a blue-black ink.
  • OnePlus 5 Android Smartphone. It's neat, has a decent camera for a non-camera person and I run it with LineageOS without the Google Services Framework installed on it.
  • An Enigma VIII laptop. I like to think of it as my knock-off Macbook Air. I run Xubuntu on it.

Trivia and Hobbies

I'm in a period of recovery at the moment after a particularly brutal 2018. As it stands I'm not as active as I usually am while I get better.

  • I really enjoy strength training, particularly bodyweight strength. My preferred system is a variation of Convict Conditioning, and I like to train first thing in the morning because I'm usually exhausted the evenings from work and I want to ensure that I still train.
  • I love tea, particularly loose-leaf tea. I store three jars of loose tea at home, which I sometimes combine with spices.
  • I love the sea and am very slowly doing up my boat, The Morning Star, ready for living aboard.
  • Sometimes I climb mountains.
  • I'm trying to reduce my waste little by little. I am skeptical of Zero Waste as presented because it lacks a Class Analysis and often focuses on individual achievement rather than the core reason we have so much plastic in the first place -- capitalism.

Contact Me

Inspired by @rhiaro. Here's how you may get in touch with me should you feel the need.

Method Description Will I see it? Will I reply?
Signal Installed on my phone and my laptop. I permanently have Do Not Disturb mode turned on for my phone so if I'm travelling expect long replies. Almost certainly if I know you. I'm very likely to. Especially if you're already known to me.
Telegram Not on my phone, but often open on my laptop. If you know my username message me, I'm more open to Telegram messages than Signal ones from strangers. Probably. Very likely.
Email I have two email addresses. If you know me use the one you usually do. If not, I prioritise encrypted mail, and don't have notifications on my phone. Probably If you know me, yes. If you don't then probably yes.
SMS If you know my phone number, send me an SMS. I don't repy to messages from people I don't know. Almost certainly. If I know you, yes. Otherwise definitely not.
Phone Call If you know my number you can contact me via phone call. Calls from unknown numbers are routed to voicemail. Leave a message and I'll get back to you. If I know you, I'll answer the call. Almost certainly. If I know you, yes. If not; maybe.
Twitter I output to my twitter account. I do not check Twitter. Almost certainly not. Nope.
Mastodon I output to my mastodon account, too. I sometimes check in, but not often. Eventually but not quickly. If I see it.

Last Modified: 25 Apr 2019, 12:54


Earl Grey is the absolute worst and you may as well drink perfume.

Last Modified: 08 Feb 2019, 14:05

life tea

I can't stress enough how much I'm looking forward to this mountain climb tomorrow. Although I'm socially exhausted and ideally want to be alone; being with Patchy on a hill is one of the most energising things I have ever done and I adore it.