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Crazy Modern Life
Merlin Mann | Aug 6 2008
This article is Part 3 of a 3-part series about attention management for people who do creative work called, Making Time to Make.
Could an email recluse like Neal Stephenson just cowboy up by agreeing to a monthly chat session or the occasional visit to a fan forum? Sure, he could. Could a volunteer intern scan Neal’s email once a week for particularly wonderful notes? You bet. Could he even conceivably just drop all the blast shields, open a chat room, “livestream” from his desk, and then spend the rest of his life answering questions from people with nothing better to do? Maybe. Sure. But, probably not. He’s already told us as much, hasn’t he?
The point, from my perspective, is that Stephenson possesses the man-sized pant stones to declare precisely what the people who enjoy his work should expect from him. And, in so doing, he has drawn a clear line that some might find hard to love, but that is very easy to see, understand, and respect. No, he didn’t hire someone to answer his email, or get a kid to pretend to be him on Twitter, or install a Greasemonkey script that “autopokes” people on Facebook (I’ll leave you to guess which two of these I do).
Neal Stephenson essentially said, “Listen, gang, here’s what I’m going to make for you: novels.” And then, he went back to typing. To working. On work.read more »
Merlin Mann | Aug 5 2008
This article is Part 2 of a 3-part series about attention management for people who do creative work called, Making Time to Make.
If you're a publisher, journalist, author, blogger, musician, artist, designer, cartoonist, or any other sort of person whose job it is to connect with people by communicating ideas, it's natural and wholesome for people who are interested in what you do (and many of whom are certainly makers-of-stuff in their own right) to develop a relationship with your work and to want a way to participate in it, add to it, and build upon it. It's equally great to reciprocate in a way that's collaborative, fun, and useful. God knows, it's anybody's dream to have people interested enough in what you do to find that they want to reach out to you. Talk about a first-world problem.read more »
Merlin Mann | Aug 5 2008
This article is Part 1 of a 3-part series about attention management for people who do creative work called, Making Time to Make.
Over the years, novelist Neal Stephenson (wiki), has had at least a couple different pages where he's explained why he's chosen to limit the access he provides via email, interviews, and phone calls. It appears to be something he's given a lot of thought to.
Via Jessamyn, here's an Archive.org mirror of an older version of his page where he explains his introversion and need to stay focused on his work, alongside FAQs that answer many of the questions he typically has to field. Read it all though. It's pretty good. Stephenson's bottom line?
And here's another well known piece, Stephenson's "Why I am a Bad Correspondent", in which he lays out more details about why he's chosen to create an expectation based on guarding his attention so slavishly:read more »
Merlin Mann | Apr 24 2008
This is one reason I'm getting attracted to using Get Satisfaction as a way to expose help issues to a large group of helpers and helpees (BTW, we're just getting started on GS -- FAQs and more will be coming soon). I'm also realizing that this is why I (and Jonathan Coulton and probably you) struggle with holding up dozens of one-on-one conversations -- it locks up your attention and its fruits in thousands of inaccessible alcoves. And truly, that does not and will not scale.
But, y'know, as I read Tantek's post, alongside his "Communication Protocols" notes, I found myself returning to a pet theory that I've been too embarrassed to lay out in a real post. But what the heck, I'll capture some notes and you can tell me what you think:
I suspect that email encourages people to act insane.read more »
Matt Wood | Jan 1 2008
This is the time of the year for everybody to make lame, half-hearted resolutions about how they’re going to lead a better life in the new year: lose weight, stop smoking, eat less fried cheese, take a ceramics class, etc. My gym is already full of flabby, confused-looking people who spend more time adjusting their iPod cases and checking out their new track suits in the mirror than actually doing reps. I usually treat January as my month to be lazy; I stay away from the gym for a few weeks until the interlopers poop out.
But it is a new year, and it’s not a bad idea to at least try to alter some of your bad habits, pick up a new skill, or do something to make yourself happier. My suggestion for this year addresses a problem I suspect many of the people who read this site have: the sheer number of online commitments--that is, blogs, social networks, message groups, IM accounts, Flickr, Twitter, and any other online time sink that ends with an R--that we try to maintain.read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 9 2007
Scott Underwood from IDEO was kind enough to invite me down to their Palo Alto HQ for a tour of the renowned design group (they designed Apple’s first mouse!) and to participate with him in one of the company's internal "Know How" talks. It was very informal (and -- because this was during my recent "100-year sinus infection" -- I was completely high on cold medicine).read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 1 2007
I've started collecting stories -- some of which may be entirely apocryphal tall tales -- of the purported lengths to which people are going to filter noise and to ensure that their time and attention aren't ceded to bad ideas, thoughtless people, or garden-variety time burglars.
Here's a few of the more novel ones I've picked up. I'd also love to hear your favorites from amongst the cheats, tricks, and squirrely rules you've heard about:read more »
Merlin Mann | Mar 13 2007
These are posts from a special 43 Folders series looking at the skills, tools, and attitude needed to empty your email inbox — and then keep it that way. You can visit each of the posts by clicking the title.
And don’t miss the “Related Articles” for our all-time popular posts on productively dealing with email.read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 31 2006
Merlin Mann | Dec 27 2005
Robert Blum has come to my rescue with this handy little iCal hack -- it automatically adds an alarm to new events. It's currently hard-wired with a "one day before" alarm (happily, also my preferred default from Entourage), but Robert plans to add some flexibility in the 0.2 release next month.
(It still kind of amazes me that this feature isn't baked right in to iCal, but I'm wildly grateful to Groby for picking up the slack.)
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