On the Net, we face many information faucets, all going full blast. Our little thimble overflows as we rush from tap to tap. We transfer only a small jumble of drops from different faucets, not a continuous, coherent stream.
A fascinating — and frightening — reinforcement of what we are all coming to know. The article focuses on web pages littered with links, images, and video, but I would assume that computers with a multitude of applications has a similar affect on our work.
And so we ask the Internet to keep interrupting us in ever more varied ways. We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the fragmentation of our attention, and the thinning of our thoughts in return for the wealth of compelling, or at least diverting, information we receive. We rarely stop to think that it might actually make more sense just to tune it all out.
Man, that really hits home.
Wow. What more can I add? Go read the full article. Certainly cause to pause for reflection. Also, I want to mention that Mr. Bowler is one of my personal heroes when it comes to his ability to firewall his time and attention. Therefore, if this hit home with him just think about the nightmares it will give the rest of us.
Interview With Diego Petrucci of Il Mac Minimalista (Part 1)
This is the first of several part of an interview by Diego of the wonderful Italian website, Il Mac Minimalista. Conducted originally in English, it will be translated into a far more beautiful language for the readers on his site (here’s the Italian version). I wanted to make sure to share it with you as well. It is, by far, one of the best email exchanges I have had in a very long time. I plan to share the reasons why in a future post at my personal site because there are lessons to be learned from it, the main one being is the idea that just because we can communicate at light speed does not mean we always should. The best part… It’s not over yet. Look for Part 2 sometime in the future.
When did the idea of creating Minimal Mac come up and why? I mean, is there a real need of reducing, using less, in this era of abundance?
It actually came with very little forethought and practically full formed. I describe what happened in great detail here: The 24 Hour Idea
I think it was driven by a desire to join the ideals of buddhism and minimalism that I have long subscribed to and my ideal approach towards technology – specifically Apple products, since that is what I use. I think this idea immediately resonated with others who, in this time of seemingly limitless technology, massive storage, and ubiquitous connectivity, were feeling as overwhelmed by it all as I was.
I wanted to create a place where I could curate both my original ideas on the subject, and include others images, software, hardware, and examples, all exploring the theme of “enough” and what that means today in the area of technology.
Many “geeks” (including myself) have serious problems handling the enormous number of incoming notifications, where by notifications I mean stuff like facebook notifications, incoming emails & calls, updated feeds, and so on. What’s your advice to them?
I think the first piece of advice is for people to realize that they make the choice on how many “inboxes” to have to a large extent. I think if you make your intentions on how to deal with these well known, up front, people then know what to expect.
I’m old enough to remember a time before email, before voicemail, before answering machines. When someone called you on a telephone, and you were not available, the responsibility was on the caller to try again, not you, the receiver. There was no way to know if you missed a call.
Technology has changed this behavior and the expectation. The responsibility is now placed on the receiver and not the sender. Therefore, it is up to us to make known how we plan to meet that expectation.
For example, in my last job, I let all of my coworkers know that I only looked at and responded to email twice a day for 1 hour. Once in the morning at 9am and then again at 4pm. Also, I set the email to manual checking so that, what I retrieved at those times was all I was going to see for an hour. If someone sent me an email at 4:15pm, I would not see it until 9am the next morning. It took a short time but, eventually, my coworkers learned that if it was something that required my immediate attention, the last thing they should do is send me an email. They called for urgent matters and questions instead and I had less email to deal with.
If you let people know what the expectations are and offer alternatives, everyone will be happier. I let people know how much I hate Facebook, rarely use it and only keep it for friends that use it to send invites to important events. Therefore, it is not an “inbox” one should contact me through for anything other than that.
This said, I do think it is rather sad that we live in a world where we have to “train” others about how we wish to interact. There was a more simple time.
For example, do you have tons of feeds that only a part of them is daily read or you just keep the numbers low? Do you think solutions like Fever (the feedreader) are worth? I mean, the idea that it gives is that we aren’t able to handle the “incomings” and we have to be helped by a software. Is that the sad truth?
I have a writeup on how I manage as many feeds as I do here: My RSS System
That said, I think it is important here to realize that we are better editors of our own capabilities than any software could ever be. We simply need to assume that responsibility. I consider keeping my eye on a wealth of incoming information part of my role and responsibility as a Curator. The very idea of the term is someone who looks at a lot and knows which things are important and representative of the theme and, perhaps more importantly, which to say “no” to. I am able to have a ton of RSS subscriptions because I know which ones are truly valuable and which ones I can safely ignore.
I think we owe it to ourselves to do this with most everything in our lives. Find your limits. Find your loves. Respect each deeply.
There’s a fine line between minimalism for productivity, and minimalism for the sake of it. I don’t take minimalism to the extreme. I like having the actions menu in my Finder toolbar, and I like having the path bar visible. I like having Mail’s toolbar visible, even though you can get Mail to look like two panes of white. Sometimes I want to have the Dock visible even though I can manage with it hidden, but I’m not afraid to hit the keyboard shortcut and bring it in full view. They’re useful UI elements that I could do without, but it wouldn’t have a positive influence on my workflow.
“I don’t need flat furniture nor do I need a desk. I have enough pens and journals. My closet is full of shirts and while I still wonder what a hibblygizmo is, I’m certain I don’t need one. What I need is shop full of people with opinions — because it’s not what I know that I’m worried about, it’s what I don’t know that’s really interesting.”—
After over 150 posts showcasing desks from around the world, I have finally gotten around to getting some shots of my own desk. Inspired by my friend John Young and built by my friend Simon Thorel, I had my desk built to be as simple and useful to me as possible.
Oh, and my fish’s name is Jemaine.
Jeepers. This is wonderful.
I would love to visit Pat one day and work next to him but I would simply clutter up the joint.
They take something small, simple, and painstakingly well considered. They ruthlessly cut features to derive the absolute minimum core product they can start with. They polish those features to a shiny intensity.
Not surprisingly, a great take from Chairman Gruber about Apple’s focus on getting the core of a product right, eliminating features in the process, and making small and incremental additions from there. There’s a lot here to unpack and take away for use in our own computing situations. Why not treat your computing environment the same way?
Try this with your next Mac (or, for the daring who wish to clone, wipe and start from scratch): Instead of using Migration Assistant to transfer Applications and Settings from the old Mac, try using the machine fresh out of the box. Then, install and transfer applications and settings only when absolutly needed. My bet is, most will be surprised at how little they end up adding back. It could be an interesting experiment at least.
I have been doing this with my iPad. After receiving it, I did not opt to install already downloaded applications and settings from my iPhone, nor did I randomly download Applications from the store just because I heard they were cool. I have been downloading and installing apps as I need them – and only after all of the options have been carefully considered and the one I’m installing I feel is the right one for me. Someone recently asked me what I thought the 5 “killer apps” for the iPad were** and I had to think for more than a little bit if I had installed more than five apps outside of the built in ones. Apple does a pretty good job of providing the basics of what most people will need in all of their products and my needs are pretty basic.
My point is that we may want to take a lesson from Apple here with most things in life. Make choices that have been painstakingly considered, reduce that choice until it is the bare minimum one can start with, then add to it incrementally from there after having lived with that choice for a while.
** Answer: “Simplenote, Instapaper, Simplenote, Instapaper and… Hmmm… This is a tough choice but… Simplenote!”
I agree whole-hardily. This Justin guy has got to go. And, while you are at it, stop him from using your computer too. He downloads stuff, saves the installers, keeps your Dropbox full of documents and PDF’s you don’t need, and is just a general worry wart. Seriously, I know he means well but for your own sake you need to kick him to the curb.
Love this quote from Helen Keller:
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
Look for natural splits between work and leisure activities, or between creating and consuming things. If you already keep these activities separate, then you might only need to make a few adjustments. If you’ve been trying to do everything from one place and one device, then you may need to make a conscious decision to divide different modes of behavior.
I’m a bit late in posting a link to this fantastic and fascinating piece by Jack Cheng about memory, habits, and how to use these two in the way we approach our tools to create the time and space we need to do our best work.
This is a great paradigm. We tend to think that consumerism is about loving our stuff. But it’s not. Consumerism is a result of not loving our stuff at all. In fact, we have so little regard or respect for our material goods that we dispose and replace them with ever increasing regularity.