43 Folders

Back to Work

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

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

Crossword-maker Merl Reagle on index cards

YouTube - The Hipster PDA in Wordplay

In the Will Shortz crossword puzzle documentary, Wordplay, Merl Reagle discusses how he uses index cards to collect and track ideas on the go.

[ via: The Hipster PDA in Wordplay - Lifehacker ]

I love two things in particular about this.

First, I like how Merl Reagle has embraced ubiquitous capture as a way to systematically gather all the disparate drizzles of inspiration that constitute his job's research. Can you imagine how to wrangle the intellectual raw materials for a task like making crossword puzzles? Yikes.

So, just as much, I like how this illustrates the opportunity (and challenge) that more and more people face today: defining what your own job is_. While we're not all employed in a field that's as unique as puzzle-making, most of share Mr. Reagle's need to decide _how we do what we do. And one of the affordances for that process that a lot of folks are using is -- you guessed it -- portable paper.

Thus, crossword puzzle maker now joins my running list of "Black Box Careers."

No one (except you) cares what happens inside The Black Box

About Merlin

Merlin's picture


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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