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.

Why don't you just shut up?

I subscribe to a lot of email discussion lists for the various secret yet high profile projects to which I contribute. Most of these lists are active, with five to ten new threads every day, each consisting of several messages. Even when the lists stay on topic, most of the time, my contribution to (and interested in) the conversation only lasts a few messages.

This creates a problem for me, as I am a neurotic email checker. Constantly seeing a stream of new messages that I am not reading makes me feel stressed out. I do not feel like I have to read them, but I do feel like SOMETHING must be done. But I cannot silence the threads by reading the messages, or by deleting them -- as soon as a new message comes in, the thread will be back, bolding up my inbox again.

I want to reiterate that I am not just talking about off topic threads. There are plenty of on-topic threads that I don't want to see. The same way I don't want to attend your in-person meeting (even if you managed to get the good bagels this time), I don't need your stinky coffee breath filling up my inbox with nonsense about some sub-project that has nothing to do with me.

Like you haven't heard this one on 43Folders before.

I fully and totally believe that eventually, Google will be everywhere and know everything. I don't know how it will work, specifically, but my best guess is that everyone will (be forced to) have a robotic Google spider nanomachine implanted in their brain so that everything they do and everything they see is constantly and instantly indexed, and all of our experiences will be filtered through context aware smart filters into the appropriate sub-folder of our consciousness.

It is for this reason that I was super excited to discover that in addition to the delete, archive, report as spam, report as phishing and "report as annoying ex girlfriend trying to wheedle her way back into your life through innocent seeming emails" buttons, Gmail also has a MUTE button. It is located between the N button and the , button on your keyboard, and when pressed, it will do something unbelievably great. You will never believe what it does! It will MUTE the conversation! That means, even if the conversation goes on for three years and spans fifty thousand distinct email messages, not one of them will ever embolden your inbox. They will still be there, filling up Google's giant hard drive in the sky, but they won't be demanding my attention.

The mute button gives me hope, dear readers. For it is not just my inbox that is cluttered with the constant and meaningless chattering of morons -- it is everything and everywhere. So, I look forward to the day when Google will enable me to mute the entire world around me, and finally find out just how blissful ignorance can be.

Mailplane001.jpg4.44 KB
TOPICS: Email, gmail, inbox, mute

About Internet Rockstar

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Ben Brown is the creator of do.Oh, a todo list application for the Web and iPhone. He lives in San Francisco, but dreams in Austin, TX. His advice to Merlin is to make the profile pictures on 43Folders bigger.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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