43 Folders

Back to Work

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

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

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


43f Podcast: John Gruber & Merlin Mann's Blogging Panel at SxSW

SxSW ’09 - Gruber & Mann - HOWTO: 149 Surprising Ways to Turbocharge Your Blog With Credibility! (audio mp3, free on iTunes)

My pal, John Gruber (from daringfireball.net), and I presented a talk at South by Southwest Interactive on Saturday, March 14th. We talked about building a blog you can be proud of, trying to improve the quality of your work, reaching the people you admire, and maybe even making a buck (in a way that doesn’t blow your deal). Here’s what we had to say:

read more »

The Wire: Writing Into Your Arc


While this article about The Wire deliberately contains as few actual spoilers about the show as possible, it does contain numerous links to pages with information that will tell you critical spoiler information about the stories and fates of the show's characters. The article also contains language and links that are very much not safe for work. Please proceed with caution on all fronts.

In the time since I gallantly announced what makes a good blog, I’ve had time to think more about the qualities of work that endures.

Not thinking just of personal blogs here, or solely in terms of the ways that we can improve online publishing and social media —although clearly these are areas that could stand some improvement. I’m talking about the extent to which some of those qualities that I mentioned in that article relate to broader ideas around all creative work and the process behind how it gets made well and consistently by an auteur who’s only incidentally a merchant.

And it’s especially got me thinking about how any thing we choose to make today can contribute to, for lack of a better phrase, an arc.

So, naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot about The Wire.

read more »

Social Networks: The Case for a "Pause" Button

PauseJason Kottke (via Rex, via TechCrunch) points to a new feature on FriendFeed that allows users to "fake follow" people:

That means you can friend someone but you don't see their updates. That way, it appears that you're paying attention to them when you're really not. Just like everyone does all the time in real life to maintain their sanity.

As duplicitous and sad as "fake following" sounds -- and let's be honest: the whole idea's pathetic on a number of levels -- for a certain kind of user, I can see why there's a desire for this functionality. Especially on a site like FriendFeed, which has quickly become the platform of choice for the web's least interesting narcissists -- and the slow-witted woodland creatures who enjoy grooming their fur -- this is a major breakthrough in the makebelieve friendship space. Yes, primate culture may be primitive, but it is not without its evolving needs.

Thing is, "fake following" is also not so far off from a more wholesome feature that I've been begging for on social networks for years now:

Any application that lets you "friend," "follow," or otherwise observe another user should include a prominent (and silent) "PAUSE" button.

read more »

What Makes for a Good Blog?

My friends at Six Apart recently asked me to make a list of blogs that I enjoy. I think they're planning to use it for their new Blogs.com project. Unfortunately, I'm late getting it to them (typical), but if it's still useful, I'll post it here in a day or four.

As I think about the blogs I've returned to over the years -- and the increasingly few new ones that really grab my attention -- I want to start with, ironically enough, a list. Here's what I think helps make for a good blog.

read more »

Blog Pimping, or: Who Do You Want to Delight?

Big Contrarian → Tacky.

My favorite bloggers are great at articulating something I feel in my gut -- but they regularly present it better, more clearly, and (on days like today), more succinctly than I ever could. Such is the case with Jack Shedd's post, "Tacky," a razor-sharp polemic on the industry of cheese-food manufacturing that "pro blogging" has turned into.

Write top ten lists and whore yourself on many other sites as you possibly can. Don’t be thoughtful, long-winded or interesting. Don’t write about you love, unless what you love is popular on Digg. And for god’s sake don’t even think about writing about more than one topic.

Whether their strategies work or not is slightly beside the point. It’s cheap. It’s marketing driven, instead of content driven. It’s the type of thinking that leads to a sequel to the movie Garfield.

For myself, I think there's nothing wrong with having a blog and wanting to make money with it. Obviously. But I also hold an increasingly old-fashioned view that you ought to start with something you're passionate about sharing with people -- something besides how to make easy money with a blog -- and try to build an audience of people you respect based on producing work you're happy with or even proud of.

read more »

43 Folders Blogger FAQs

Since we've begun to break from the tradition of totally Merlin-centric blog posting on 43 Folders, here's some answers to theoretical questions people may have about our new bloggers and their contributions.

read more »



An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »