43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Paul Ford: The two kinds of distraction

Followup/Distraction (Ftrain.com)

Paul Ford, eloquent as usual, on the two kinds of distractions--the wide kind that are the equivalent of a kitty toy for distractible humans, and the narrow kind, which stimulates you to follow a train of thought into tunnels it's nary entered. Paul concludes, in part:

Distraction is necessary. Minds need to wander to get anything done. But the Internet is sort of the mental equivalent of the snack aisle at a convenience store, filled with satisfying fatty chips and tasty cream-filled cakes. God knows I've spent enough time with both the Internet and cream-filled cakes to see the similarities. And I now know that what I want, mentally, is a well-cooked meal. A book gives me that, a well-written, carefully-edited book. Even though your average book is filled with distractions--I mean, Ahab doesn't just chase the whale. There's all sorts of stuff in Moby Dick besides that. Otherwise it probably wouldn't be that good of a book. But the distractions are useful. They get us from one point to another. Sailing wide seas of opinion in a million does not do the same thing. This is not to condemn blogs. They are often great. But there are so many of them, and I will be dead for a long, long time. And on my deathbed do I want to say, I sipped mightily of Metafilter, and saw many video clips that made fun of Rosie O'Donnell, and I am richer for it? Or should I try to make contact with the culture that existed before 1992? The Internet makes it so easy to think that nothing of importance ever took place before the ARPANET was created.

Paul, I should also note, earlier mentions some affection for the AlphaSmart Neo:

The Neo is just a keyboard that stores text as you type it. It does nothing else. It doesn't tell the time or let me play games. It runs off of double-A batteries and the batteries last for hundreds of hours. Using the AlphaSmart and WordPerfect I've started to enjoy computing again. There is no Wikipedia, no email, no constantly changing the MP3s I'm listening to, no downloading going on. The spam still piles up but I'm not aware of it, because my email program is shut down until I want to send a message.

I think I want me one of them.

[ thanks, [Donna](http://www.deliriouscool.org/

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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