May 7th, 2008


A 'nother month.

Every morning I wake up, roll over, and reach for my laptop. It sits on the floor beside my futon. I unplug it and pull it to my lap. Before leaving my bed, I have already started on my only daily habit: I “catch up.”

This process is carefully refined and practiced. I glance over accumulated IMs, review new e-mails, and open my feed reader. These tasks are ordered by the time they take.

I can read and reply to a dozen pending IMs in a minute or so. Sorting and responding to e-mails is another ten. It’s the feed reader that consumes hours.

I have found my information limit.

I’m merciless with ignoring IMs and removing buddies since the great shakedown. Instituting rules dramatically reduced the cognitive load of e-mail. But, my feeds were becoming difficult to stay current with.

I evaluated what I found interesting. I reviewed previously saved and shared articles. Then, I cut. Video games, tech news, and politics were all cut. Friends, a few web comics, and local music were kept. Aggregators like reddit were deleted, but Planets like Parrot remained. Personalities like Tim Bray, why, and Joel not only survived but were added in bulk.

My direction became clear. Notice that Facebook, Twitter and other attention networks aren’t in that above list. When “catching up,” I’m writing test programs to understand concepts, noting ideas that pop in my head, and spamming my friends with exciting links. Attention networks provide me with little gain except a personalized tabloid.

Thus, I’m dropping them, for varying values of “drop:”

  • Facebook: I hate it so much. I wish it didn’t have messaging. But, until it dies, there are two reasons to keep my account: profiles and events. But now, I receive no notifications.
  • Twitter: I used it as an SMS note-taking service. Then, I started communicating on it. But, it’s just so awkward! So, no more following and back to note-taking.
  • LiveJournal: I’m not reading my friend’s page anymore. Sorry.
  • All the rest: Gone. Let me know if you see any stray accounts.

Hopefully, I’ll be blogging more.


Renewed literacy

My commute includes two bus rides through the worst of Seattle traffic. My evenings rarely leave me wanting to stare at a computer screen. And my weekends are spent with my friends.

Thanks to this new work-life balance, I have rediscovered books.

A few years ago, I top-loaded my Media to Consume note with the ALA’s list of most frequently banned / challenged books. After those come a large set of philosophy texts included half from curiosity, and half because “why should only liberal arts majors swoon the ladies?” Finishing it off are instructionals on the practice of programming.

Since January, here is what I will admit to having finished:

I’m finishing, starting, and working through every exercise: (respectively)

  1. The Design of Everyday Things,” Donald Norman
  2. The Practice of Programming,” Brian Kernighan and Rob Pike
  3. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs,” Abelson and Sussman

All were time well spent. That’s why I provide convenient links. Because I care. Even though, I use the library.

What are you reading?