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


Making friends with paper (again)

Information R/evolution

I really enjoyed this video presentation by Michael Wesch on how we make, find, and share information in a world where we've shed the idea of paper as our sole medium for storage and communication -- where ideas can munge and mix freely, thanks to digital collaboration.


Now, of course, as a fan of paper for certain kinds of work, I always feel like jumping in at this point to defend our pulpy little friend from what sometimes turns into a blanket party.

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The strange allure (and false hope) of email bankruptcy

E-Mail Reply to All: 'Leave Me Alone' - washingtonpost.com

"Email bankruptcy" was a term I first heard in the context of Lawrence Lessig deciding to throw in the towel by telling everyone to whom he owed email that he was starting over (and that important stuff should be sent again).

Last week, the Washington Post had an article on the practice that traces its origin (or at least its naming) to the end of the last decade:

The term "e-mail bankruptcy" may have been coined as early as 1999 by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies the relationship between people and technology.

Professor Sherry Turkle said she came up with the concept after researching e-mail and discovering that some people harbor fantasies about escaping their e-mail burden.

Turkle, who estimated that she has 2,500 pieces of unread e-mail in her inbox, is one of those people. A book she has been working on for a decade is coming out soon. Turkle joked that it would have taken her half the time to write it "if I didn't have e-mail."

The wonderful access to one another that email gives (or, put differently: that it causes us to cede) can be a great thing. But I have to admit that bankruptcy alone may not even be enough to save me (or you).

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Microsoft to boldly go where Apple is already going...eventually

Microsoft changes tune on selling DRM-free songs

Exciting news on the digital music front. Microsoft plans to follow Apple's plan to sell DRM-free tracks from EMI to its extant army of Zune enthusiasts. Welcome to the social:

"The EMI announcement on Monday was not exclusive to Apple," said Katy Asher, a Microsoft spokeswoman on the Zune team, in an e-mail to the IDG News Service today. She said Microsoft has been talking with EMI and other record labels "for some time now" about offering unprotected music on its Zune players in an effort to meet the needs of its customers.

Way to innovate, Redmond. Once the period of EMI's exclusive deal with Apple has ended, this should make both Zune owners very happy.

[via: Boing Boing: Microsoft dropping DRM from Zune Music Store]

Vox Pop: Google Desktop Day 1?

So far, Google Desktop for the Mac isn't moving me.

I like the idea of it a lot. Integrating my Google and local searches and theoretically improving on Spotlight's UI and indexing foibles are laudable goals and, to my mind, could be useful additions if they're done properly. But, based on, admittedly, just 24 hours' usage, it hasn't provided a lot of new usefulness for my own purposes that isn't better served right now by a combination of Quicksilver and Spotlight.

When people ask me (ad nauseum nauseam [mea culpa]) to explain why they would ever need Quicksilver if they already have Spotlight, I opine that, while the latter does a good job of indexing the contents of your Mac world, the former does an outstanding job of helping you access and manipulate it in theoretically endless ways. They're actually very different things, and although they can and do work together, claiming they're trying to accomplish the same thing suggests a lack of exposure to what Quicksilver can do (as well as a dearth of experience in what Spotlight cannot).

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Vox Pop: Want HD video from iTunes and Apple TV?

Since the new TV can handle video up to HD's 720p resolution, there's been a lot of speculation about whether the iTunes store will eventually start selling HD content, such as TV shows and movies. You can bet that the desire for that quality of presentation is theoretically out there (at least it is for this HD TV owner). The problem, as many folks have discussed at length, is that the file size for HD movies, in particular, may be prohibitively large for the garden-variety home broadband user.

As Greg Keene notes, "With simple math, we can extrapolate that a 2-hour movie would be about 3.9 GB." That's not only a substantially lengthy download for, say, a residential DSL subscriber, it also represents the investment of over 10% of the available space on the Apple TV's drive (as well as, it should be noted, an equivalent chunk of space back on your Mac or PC's disk).

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Blogs: Watching passionate thoughts evolve (in public)

cover of 'The Blogging Church' by Brian Bailey

The Blogging Church
by Brian Bailey

A few months back, Brian Bailey asked me to contribute a short essay for his new book, The Blogging Church: Sharing the Story of Your Church Through Blogs (neat idea for a book).

As I'm sure Brian realized at some point, a lot of the advice in the book (creating an online image, deciding who the blog's for, and improving your blog over time) will also be of interest to small business and garden-variety bloggers. I enjoy Brian's writing and think he has a sound grasp on what makes blogs work (or not). Good stuff, and red meat for anyone thinking of taking their church (or their business or their kittens) to the web.

Here's an excerpt from what I sent him.

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NYT: Final word for now, no third-party apps on the iPhone

Two recent articles in the New York Times would seem to put to rest -- at least for the foreseeable future -- any hopes or speculation that the new iPhone will be allowed (nb: I did not say able) to run third-party OS X applications (previously: 43F Podcast: Snell & Gruber on iPhone applications and Let OS X developers at the iPhone. Please.)

Regrettably, the word on this one comes directly from the Steve's mouth (2007-01-12):

“We define everything that is on the phone,” he said. “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.”

The iPhone model, he insisted, would not look like the rest of the wireless industry.

“These are devices that need to work, and you can’t do that if you load any software on them,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be software to buy that you can load on them coming from us. It doesn’t mean we have to write it all, but it means it has to be more of a controlled environment.”

David Pogue's seemingly exhaustive iPhone FAQ also underscores what we'd been hearing via these drams of dolor (2007-01-11):

Can it run Mac OS X programs? –No.

Can I add new programs to it? –No. Apple wants to control the look and feel and behavior of every aspect of the phone.

Well, there you go. Apple appears to be on the path to providing its iPhone customers with a pantry full of excruciatingly beautiful crockery and flatware that may never be set down for chow. (But you can bet we'll always know it's there -- even while we're eating takeout with our assigned spoons).

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Let OS X developers at the iPhone. Please.

Sixfoot6 Archives: 30 Things the iPhone Could Do That You Haven't Thought of Yet

Ryan's list contains a lot of the tear-inducingly sexy fantasies that were going through my own mind on Tuesday morning when we all heard that the iPhone was going to run OS X.

Like a lot of my friends, I (probably naively) took the announcement to mean that, as on my own Mac, I'd be able to install Cocoa applications built to take advantage of announced features like WebKit, Core Animation, and so on. Sure, given the foreseeable hardware limitations, these wouldn't be the exact applications that we're each running on our MacBooks today, but, hell, I'd take "OmniOutliner Mobile" or "iTerm Lite" or "Textmate for iPhone" in a heartbeat. No question.

Yesterday morning, though, I started to hear rumbles about the "inability for users to install additional applications of their choosing." And then later, after Brian from Gizmodo got a hands-on demo along with a sit-down with official Apple honchos, he noted...

It isn't OS X proper, as you'd expect. And like an iPod, it won't be an open system that people can develop for. Remember, this is both an iPod and a Phone.

...and I died a little inside.

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W. H. Murray on the power of starting

I've finally gotten around to reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It'd been recommended to me numerous times over the past few years -- most recently and publicly by David Allen during our podcast episode about procrastination.

I'll save a full review of the book for another time (hint: ala, Bird by Bird, it's a terrific tonic for procrastinating artists), but I can't think of a better way to welcome 2007 than by sharing this quote, which Pressfield borrows (p.122) from the Scottish mountain climber W. H. Murray:

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

Happy new year, kids. Start something cool.

Life hacks: Smarty Pants v. Dumbass

Your Brain's 2 Minds

The New, Soft Paternalism - New York Times

A recent NYT Magazine piece considers the trend toward compulsive gamblers being able to self-ban themselves from casinos and considers the discussions around what this sort of self-imposed "paternalism" might mean.

I don't have much of an opinion one way or another about whether this is good, bad, paternalistic, or what have you, but I was struck by a couple paragraphs that go straight to the heart of why many folks seek out garden variety "life hacks" in the first place:

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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