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2020: News & Magazines Review

To view other 2020 review posts, visit thee main post here.


Newspapers and News Magazines

I tend to prefer “slow news”, focusing on quality over quantity & speed. Most “breaking news” (or even daily news) I don’t need to hear about, and the net effect of rapid-fire news is to introduce more interruptions and unnecessary stress into our lives. I also try to mix both broad (global) perspectives and local reporting.

I reserve most news reading for Saturday mornings, where I usually peruse the following sources, reading just the articles that are relevant to me or challenging to my perspective:

  • The Economist weekly magazine - This is a very high-quality global-perspective news magazine, though a bit limited in topics of focus. I often read from the app, exporting articles to Pocket that I want to highlight or annotate, so that they enter Readwise, where I keep all my reading notes for review. If I have errands to run before I get through reading, I switch to listening to the articles.
  • The Guardian (US edition) weekly news magazine - This is another high quality global-perspective news magazine, and will often hit the important topics that would not have made it to The Economist. I get the actual physical edition of this, only. The puzzles at the back are a nice bonus.
  • Anabaptist World - This year, The Mennonite and Mennonite World Review merged to become this news magazine. It’s published triweekly or so (16 issues a year), and covers various USA and global anabaptist news and commentary.
  • The Indianapolis Recorder - This is my local news and the best source in Indianapolis. Even though it is labeled with the purpose of continuing to “support and empower African Americans”, it has the broadest and best reporting for all.
  • Delayed Gratification - This is a quarterly news magazine that looks back over the quarter. Though I love the idea of this one, and they create a beautiful product, I will probably be dropping it when it is renewal time, as the topics tend to be a bit too pop for my tastes.

Other Magazines

On the “not news” front, I enjoy a few other magazines. All of these are no (or almost no) advertising. This is important to me, as ad-free means the subscription price represents the truer cost of the writing, doesn’t prejudice the editorial stance of the magazine, and helps free the writing to do much more than “get a reaction”.

  • Plough Quarterly - this is another Anabaptist magazine. It is published by the Bruderhof (rather than Mennonites), and has a broader scope & appeal and is not just for Anabaptists. It has both current and historical essays and material.
  • New Philosopher - a high-quality magazine, with each issue being like a symposium on a certain philosophical topic or question.
  • Offscreen - a physical product for digital people. This magazine brings humanity to technology. (warning: this one does have supporter ads, but they are minimal and minimalist.)
  • Ernest - I just started reading this one after learning about it from @adders. It’s a beautiful journal of adventure.

Doing this examen helped me to cull a handful of magazines that I’ve not been reading much.

In the next post (here), I will cover Feeds (RSS, etc.) and Newsletters that I subscribe to.


What are you reading? Anything you recommend?

Have you ever created a structured or restricted adult “learning plan” outside of academia?

One example would be picking one topic (or a specific short list thereof) and objective(s), then restrict your reading (books, blogs, news, etc.) to those objectives for a specific period?

📚 The Time-Block Plannner by Cal Newport ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Newport’s method is not new, but the planner summarizes it well and provides a good structure for executing it.

The physical product is less fit for purpose (page size, binding, paper), so practicing here and moving elsewhere.

iOS 14 widgets:

Have you found any (e.g. app suggestions) that are recommending usage patterns that your aren’t even aware you had? I have.

How might you process this information?

In Indianapolis, people are receiving old-but-reprinted anti-Catholic conspiracy-theory books in the mail.

I’m sure the timing is not an accident. Disinformation has become so much more powerful than information.

Thinking about the confluence of quarantine, Lent, spring break, climate change, & other events.

What have you been learning and evaluating about your rhythms, habits, priorities, & schedule? Are you finding things that weren’t necessary, aligned with your values, etc.?

What’s been harder? What’s been easier? What’s important to you?

I started Cal Newport’s 📚 Deep Work and it has me pondering something.

As expected (since I really enjoyed Digital Minimalism), though I have just started, I am appreciating the book. However, his early focus on productivity is concerning to me. Often, we think of productivity as the One True Measurement ™ of success, and I’m not sure that’s right.

While effectiveness (towards whatever goal(s) you set) is important, it leaves out factors such as quality, value, repeatability, learning, etc. You could argue that we should build those into the measurements of productivity, but I’d argue we often don’t.

Perhaps my disagreement is due to me being philosophically less of a consequentialist and more of a deontologist or virtue ethicist. In my way of thinking, it’s better to do right with less immediate output than to crank out good output that may be short-sighted.

What about you?

edited to add: Cal addresses this a somewhat when he gets into “busyness” being a (bad) proxy for “productivity”.

Another great decision-making question from James Clear’s newsletter:

“Will this cost me time in the future or save me time in the future?”

2019 🎙 Review

When I’m commuting, doing chores, taking a walk, or even playing open-world video games, I often listen to spoken word. Sometimes these are audiobooks, but the rest of the time it’s podcasts.

I recommend Overcast for listening to podcasts, and am a happy subscriber.

This year, I started my own Podcast and Newsletter, Resilient. The frequency is low-volume while I find my bearings. Note: Resilient newsletter posts are free, but you do have to subscribe to get access to the podcasts. This is not expected to be a money-making endeavor for me, but I do want to limit the availability of the voice recordings to those who are truly interested. I charge the lowest price that Substack (my provider) allows and then add a hefty discount on top of that. If you would like a free gift subscription to the podcasts, please message me directly.

While I appreciate the idea of “chatty”, “actual-play”, and “review”-style podcasts, you won’t find those here.

  • Code Switch: If you don’t know what code switching is, you definitely need to listen to this. If you already do, you will likely enjoy the variety of topics and perspectives and the charming hosts.
  • Cyber: covering information security from the perspective you’d expect of Motherboard/Vice
  • The Ezra Klein Show: this is my new favorite show, overtaking Farnam Street as the best big ideas podcast, due to having a perspective, better back-and-forth, and deeper-dives
  • Freakonomics Radio: granted, some of this is “pop econ”, but it’s entertaining and frequently has good investigative research or covers big ideas.
  • From Embers: this is a Canadian anarchist podcast that often covers indigenous rights and our climate catastrophe
  • Invisibilia: a charming and perspective-widening show from NPR
  • The Knowledge Project: this podcast is interviews with “big thinkers”. The interviews often wander, but there are almost always important takeaways or food for thought.
  • Long Now - Conversations at the Interval & Seminars About Long-Term Thinking: the perspective of these podcasts is incredibly important, and the topics are often enlightening. They suffer a bit from being Silicon Valley focused, but are otherwise very good.
  • The Peter Attia Drive: deep dives on health, medicine, and longevity.
  • Note to Self: a philosophical take on technology trends.
  • Radiolab: entertaining, sometimes enlightening, and incredibly well-produced.
  • The Rebel Beat: a source for a wide variety of radical political music.
  • Rebel Steps: how-tos for people learning about organizing for direct action, solidarity, and mutual aid.
  • Risky Business: information security current events coverage, with excellent analysis. Skip the branded interviews
  • Scene on Radio: As you add this podcast, make sure you have your app setup to listen to a season in order. Seasons 2 & 3 (“Seeing White” and “Men”, respectively) were excellent, and I’m looking forward to season 4.
  • Sleepwalkers: in-depth discussion around the opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence
  • Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!: a humorous weekly news quiz that you probably already know about.

Further Notes

Last year’s podcast recommendations can be found here. I have re-used some of it as appropriate. You can read about my book recommendations here: non-fiction and fiction.

2019 📚 Review: Nonfiction

Overview

I set a goal of reading 63 books in 2019, which was a 10% increase over 2019. I met this goal exactly. I have again increased my goal by 10% and plan to read at least 70 books in 2020.

About half of the books I read (31, to be exact) were non-fiction. I seek books that may be “eye-opening”: those that challenge my understanding, worldview, and conceptions. I look for books of criticism, history, philosophy, ethics, theology, psychology, business, economics, and politics.

How I Read

For nonfiction, I get the books multiple ways. If I’m not sure I’ll like it and don’t expect I’ll need to take a lot of notes, I look for the audiobook or summary first in my Scribd subscription and then Libby (to borrow digitally from my local library). If I know I’ll want to reference the book a lot after finishing it, I order a hardback via Indiebound or Alibris. If I expect to learn a lot and/or take lots of highlights and notes, I’ll borrow the ebook via Libby or buy it from an ebook seller.

My book (and article) highlights and notes from all sources go automatically into Readwise.io, where I review 15 highlights each day to aid in retention and reflection. This is one of the ways I start my day, and it’s incredibly valuable.

I rate books between ⭐️ and ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, with ⭐️⭐️⭐️ being the cutoff for a worthy book. Thus, I will only share about the ⭐️⭐️⭐️ through ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ books, here.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi: it’s rare for me to give 5 stars to anything, but Kendi did an excellent job sharing complex and important perspectives in an informative and actionable way.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport: Highly recommended book exploring how you can focus your digital time on the things that matter most. Unlike many minimalism-focused works, Newport goes into great detail in what to do with the space & time that you free up. My full review/reference (as well as links to my experiment and a podcast I recorded for Resilient) are found here.
  • Educated by Tara Westover: an incredible memoir of someone who grew up in an abusive, anti-intellectual, conspiratorial home environment without any real schooling (home or otherwise) and went on to earn a prestigious PhD.
  • How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan: an informative book about psychedelics and their applications in medicine.
  • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell: incredible narratives and insights of how things can go wrong when we talk to strangers, along with some (admittedly light) recommendations on how we can change structures and systems to do better.
  • Offscreen edited by Kai Brach: I read issues 17 through 19 of this large print-only magazine in 2019, and often found value in the interviews, perspectives, and recommendations. “Offscreen is an independent print magazine that examines how we shape technology and how technology shapes us. “
  • Southern Horrors by Ida B. Wells: this classic and important work is a reminder of how fear, power, and violence were (and still are) wielded to subjugate people.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg: All about the various factors that affect habit formation and change. You can see my full reference and review here.
  • Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson: the folks at Basecamp continue to bring countercultural guidance on simplicity, focus, agility, and sustainability for operating an organization.
  • Start With Why by Simon Sinek: over and over, Sinek reminds us that our why is what people are drawn to, and that the rest is rationalization.
  • Ultralearning by Scott H. Young: a collection of tips from Young’s ultralearning experiments and research.
  • Technopoly by Neil Postman: a book of criticism that asks more questions than it is prepared to answer, but still an incredibly important work to grapple with. I read this as part of Strangers Book Club, which I highly recommend.
  • The Oz Principle by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman: this is a book about continually asking the helpful question “What else can we do to rise above our circumstances and get the results we want?”
  • Food Rules by Michael Pollan: short summaries of Pollan’s research on eating, including many tips on how not just what to eat.
  • Open Borders: the Science and Ethics of Immigration by Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith: a collaboration presenting the case for open immigration. Unfortunately heavy on the economic benefits and light on the ethical rationale, but still a useful work to bring exposure to this important topic.
  • Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier: this is a good companion to Digital Minimalism, detailing some of the reasons that most social media is manipulative and unhealthy for people and our digital ecosystem.
  • Ancient Civilizations of North America by Edwin Barnhart: an excellent background on the history of North America before modern colonists.
  • Heretic! by Matthew J. DiStefano: the title refers to judgments aimed DiStefano, due to theological interpretations rooted in love & justice instead of fear & hate.
  • Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans: originally called Growing Up in Monkey Town, this memoir shares Evans’s tale of reclaiming her faith back from a fear & judgment paradigm.
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: stories about how ideas and behaviors gain traction.
  • The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond: a look at how humans are and aren’t different from the “other chimpanzees”.
  • The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace: an informative, judgment-free journey with solid grounding in psychology and behavioral science.
  • The World in 2020 by the Economist: this is Economist’s yearly comments and predictions for the coming year.
  • The Pioneers by David McCullough: this book by the acclaimed historian covers those who colonized the Ohio Valley.

Further Notes

For a review of my fiction read in 2019, see here. For 2018 books, see here.

For the Goodreads overview of my reading, see here.

Note: this post has affiliate links. I am linking to things I truly enjoy, and have not been paid or pressured to recommend any of them.

📚 Micro-Review: _The Power of Habit_ by Charles Duhigg

📚 Finished The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This book is mostly useful narratives that introduce the factors that affect habits. It also includes a short “how-to” on changing habits.

Some Insights

  • Individuals have habits, organizations have routines
  • Keystone habits are great for building other habits and producing momentum through repeated small wins
  • Keeping a food journal, making your bed, and working out are all habits which have many seemingly-unrelated positive impacts on your life
  • “Willpower” is stronger when people feel agency or impact

How to Change Your Habits

Identify the routine

Figure out what your habit loop is so that you can work to supplant it with another.

Experiment with rewards

  • Try altering variables like a scientist, in order to see which reward you were actually seeking, and which you might like
  • Jot down the things that come to mind with each test; this helps with awareness and attention
  • Use 15 minute waits/alerts to help with elimination and analysis

Isolate the cue

Each time you experience the feeling, write down answers to the following:

1. Where are you?
2. What time is it?
3. What is your emotional state?
4. Who else is around?
5. What action preceded the urge?

Have a plan

Write it like the following:

  • When I see cue i will do routine in order to get reward
  • This is your implementation intention and should be explicitly stated

Further Reading

Application instructions were very short and only covered in the appendix. For more detailed application notes, read Atomic Habits. I am finishing my read and review of that book, and will link it here when complete.

Did you (or are you planning to) engage in an alternative activity to Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Please share. #OptOutside #BuyNothingDay

Sunday Quote: re: the famous marshmallow experiment. Social sciences are finding over and over that people don’t succeed based on “best willpower” but on how they align their habits, environment, and focus with their goals.

“Life Tip: when deciding whether to keep something, imagine it as a human friend.” from SMBC

As I read this post about “Calm Technology”, an annoying subscribe popup happened right as I got to the “annoying notifications” spot on the chart. There’s also an obnoxious banner running through the whole article. Unacceptable. Change has to start with oneself.

Based on recent feedback, I am starting a podcast!

Quick Survey: What topics would you want me to cover in a podcast and newsletter?

I’ll give a free lifetime membership to the first 50 full responses.

“countering consumerism must start from more robust secular (or religious) theodicy: the building of meaning structures, communities of meaning, that lie outside the realm of the market; and that offer credible answers to the deep foundational questions that continue to haunt us”

From Escaping the Iron Cage of Consumerism

Digital Declutter: the Plan

If you read my review of Digital Minimalism, you’re aware of the Digital Declutter process. If not, head over to read it and then come back here.

(Note: I did a podcast on my experiment from this book, over at Resilient)

Why

  • To better understand what technologies and practices are worthwhile and valuable for me.
  • To focus more on high-value activities
  • To spend more time reflecting, thinking, and praying.
  • To spend more time reading, creating, repairing.
  • To spend more time in nature.
  • To reset my habits and routines.
  • To help fight the attention economy and the harmful effects it has for discourse, complex thought, and mental health.

What

I am avoiding any unnecessary technologies, and using these questions to help me consider whether a technology is truly critical:

  • Is this absolutely necessary?
  • Could this wait?
  • Does this align with my highest values? (Mutuality, Learning, Resilience)
  • Can I mitigate the harmful effects?
  • Is there another way to accomplish this, even if it would be inconvenient?

I am blocking off time twice a day to check email (once in the morning and once in the afternoon), and letting it buffer in between.

I have eliminated most applications from my phone and blocked social & news sites in my browsers. The only alerts I get from my phone will be for direct people connections (texting, work chat, phone calls, video calls, etc.) or travel (rides, flights, directions, etc.), and my phone will be in “Do Not Disturb” except for core work hours (7-6). My DND is set to allow calls from numbers that are in my contacts.

I will do all my (professional and personal) work from the computer and not my phone.

I will not play video games, read ebooks, or play music & podcasts.

I will do my shopping in stores and I will use the library.

I am establishing operating procedures for my chosen special cases:

  • I can listen to audiobooks, but only with my family
  • On the weekend, I can watch a movie or couple episodes, but only with family or friends
  • I have direct links to Facebook Group/Event pages that I need to check periodically, and will check those once a week

When

I’m beginning tonight, with the start of our Ash Wednesday service and the beginning of Lent.

I’m ending on Easter Sunday (April 21st on this calendar) and the end of Lent.

I am holding “conversation office hours” every day between 4:30 and 5:30 Eastern. You can call me any day during those times.

You can follow along here: #DigitalMinimalism

In preparation for my Digital Declutter during lent, I’m paring down the number of people I directly follow on social media to under Dunbar’s Number. This is going to be tough! #DigitalMinimalism

Digital Minimalism: Reference and Review

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

(Note: I wrote about my own experience with Digital Declutter here and I did a podcast on my experiment from this book, over at Resilient)

Premise

You’ve probably already heard: billions of dollars are spent on psychology and technology to claim as much of your attention as possible, to sell as much advertisement possible. The addictiveness of sites, apps, and phones is not an accident, but rather a result carefully engineered to be just so.

In addition, “darker emotions attract more eyeballs than positive and constructive thoughts”, so we are pushed towards outrage, anxiety, and despair.

Various attempts have been made to lessen the negative side effects and addictive properties of modern attention-economy technologies, but they’ve largely been unsustainable.

What to do? Newport Recommends Digital Minimalism.

Manifesto

Digital Minimalism - A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support the things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.

Digital Minimalism includes avoiding “low-value activities that can clutter up [our] time and attention and end up hurting more than they help.” It also means asking ourselves “is this the best way to use technology to support this value?” The law of diminishing returns also applies, here.

The Principles

  1. Clutter is costly
  2. Optimization is important
  3. Intentionality is satisfying

Summary quote from this section:

The sugar high of convenience is fleeting and the sting of missing out dulls rapidly, but the meaningful glow that comes from taking charge of what claims your time and attention is something that persists.

Digital Declutter Program

Newport recommends an intentional process to reassess your needs and values.

Put aside a thirty-day period during which you will take a break from optional technologies in your life. During this thirty-day break, explore and rediscover activities and behaviors that you find satisfying and meaningful. At the end of the break, reintroduce optional technologies into your life, starting from a blank slate. For each technology you reintroduce, determine what value it serves in your life and how specifically you will use it so as to maximize this value.

Taking the Break:

Evaluating “optional” can be grey, but Newport gives this guideline:

[C]onsider the technology optional unless its temporary removal would harm or significantly disrupt the daily operation of your professional or personal life.

Newport also warns us to not confuse “convenient” with “critical”, when analyzing our needs during this period.

Two methods to “take a break” are bans and operating procedures. A ban is simply not using that site, tech, app, etc. during the period. Operating procedures entail using it under certain rules. For example, many test participants in the program moved many tasks to their laptop/desktop that they had often completed on their phones, or checked certain apps/sites only once a week, or during a certain window, or in a certain place.

In summary:

In the end, you’re left with a list of banned technologies along with relevant operating procedures. Write this down and put it somewhere where you’ll see it every day.

Reintroducing Technologies

To be reintroduced, a technology must:

  1. Serve something you deeply value
  2. Be the best way to use technology to serve this value
  3. Have a role in your life that is constrained with a standard operating procedure that specifies how you use it

For the last item, this means asking “How am I going to use this technology…to maximize its value and minimize its harms?”

Practices

One of the side effects of the engineered attention economy is that we’ve become accustomed to distract ourselves at the slightest moment of boredom or uncomfortable introspection. In addition, cutting out mindless swiping and browsing will introduce a lot of free time. If we don’t have a plan to proactively use our freed time, our Digital Minimalism practice is likely to fail.

Thus, Newport introduces some possible practices to help us positively spend some time with our own thoughts, reclaim our free time as quality leisure, and further join the “Attention Resistance.”

During your tech break and again in your reintroduction, see which of these would be good to include in your habits.

Practice Area: Spend Time Alone

One of the challenges of the attention economy is that we are frequently stuck in:

Solitude Deprivation: A state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds

Time with our own thoughts is important, in short, for mindfulness. It’s important for the ability to consider problems, to examine & regulate emotions, reflect on values, and more.

Newport refers to the mounting evidence regarding how the attention-economy is drastically driving up anxiety levels. As I mentioned at the beginning, we know our negative emotions are targeted for reaction, but on top of that we are also repeatedly presented with “curated” versions of others’ selves, and finally, the systems are designed for us to continually seek the repeated micro-approvals of others. The attention economy is engineered in a way that drives anxiety.

Thus, the following practices help us have time without input from “other minds”, to help restore some control, attention, and mindfulness to our lives.

Through these practices, Newport recommends:

Conversation Centric Communication: Conversation is the only form of interaction that in some sense counts toward maintaining a relationship….Anything textual or non-interactive—basically, all social media, email, text, and instant messaging—doesn’t count as conversation and should instead be categorized as mere connection. In this philosophy, connection is downgraded to a logistical role. This form of interaction now has two goals: to help set up and arrange conversation, or to efficiently transfer practical information…. Connection is no longer an alternative to conversation; it’s instead its supporter.

On to the practices:

Practice: Leave Your Phone at Home

It may feel impossible, but this is a very recent feeling. If you’re concerned about emergencies, consider leaving it off, or in the glovebox of your car, for example. (Again, this is implementing operating procedures.)

Practice: Take Long Walks

By yourself. Without your phone.

Practice: Write Letters to Yourself

AKA write in notebooks. Take notes, journal, brainstorm, plan.

Practice: Don’t Click “Like”

“No reacts plz”, we might say. This goes back to the micro-approvals and anxiety I mentioned above, as they drive the slot-machine behavior of social media sites. If you must react, share a comment. Or your own writing. Or even better, have a conversation with the person. “Adopt the baseline rule that you’ll no longer use social media as a tool for low-quality relationship nudges.”

Practice: Consolidate Texting

Keep your phone in Do Not Disturb and only check according to an operating procedure. Setup your DND to allow calls through from critical contacts.

Practice: Hold Conversation Office Hours

Pick a time when you are open for free conversation. Maybe it’s your commute. Maybe it’s literally open office hours. Maybe it’s a recurring walk. Whatever it is, offer this time as an opportunity for conversations.

Practice Area: Reclaim Leisure

All this freed time can lead to existential anxiety or produce negative behaviors (mindless consumption, alcohol/drug abuse, etc.) to fill the void. Newport claims giving more thought, attention, and effort to our leisure will make it more fulfilling and restorative, and help us keep on the Digital Minimalism path.

Here are the three principles, then, of leisure:

  1. Prioritize demanding activity over passive consumption
  2. Use skills to produce valuable things in the physical world
  3. Seek activities that require real-world, structured social interactions

“The value of the pursuit is often proportional to the energy invested.”

Practice: Fix Or Build Something Every Week

Per principle #2, this should be analog. Newport recommends trying to learn and apply a skill each week over Digital Declutter period.

Practice: Schedule Your Low-Quality Leisure

Per your operating procedures, you should decide when, how much, how, etc. For example, maybe you only stream TV with family and friends, and only for X hours on the weekends. Maybe you only check in on Facebook events, groups, and family pictures for an hour on the weekends. In Newport’s findings, “the vast majority of regular social media users can receive the vast majority of the value these services provide their life in as little as twenty to forty minutes of use per week”, as opposed to the 3+ hours that the average person spends daily on their smartphones.

Practice: Join Something

Join a club, meetup, organization, etc. Or start your own!

Practice: Follow Leisure Plans

This may sound backwards, but actually planning your leisure may give you more opportunities to do it, by prioritizing it in your schedule.

Newport recommends a seasonal plan and weekly planning.

A good seasonal plan contains two different types of items: objectives and habits that you intend to honor in the upcoming season. The objectives describe specific goals you hope to accomplish, with accompanying strategies for how you will accomplish them. The habits describe behavior rules you hope to stick with throughout the season.

For each of the objectives in the seasonal plan, figure out what actions you can do during the week to make progress on these objectives, and then, crucially, schedule exactly when you’ll do these things.

Practice Area: Join the Attention Resistance

At this point in history, “[e]xtracting eyeball minutes, the key resource for companies like Google and Facebook, has become significantly more lucrative than extracting oil.”

Practice: Delete Social media from Your Phone

Once you have your operating procedures around use, you probably don’t need it there, anyway.

Practice: Turn Your Devices Into Single-Purpose Computers

This is about focus and not multi-tasking. Of course computers are general purpose machines, but “the power of a general-purpose computer is in the total number of things it enables the user to do, not the total number of things it enables the user to do simultaneously.”

Practice: Use Social Media Like a Professional

People who work with Social Media for their job typically have operating procedures to be effective.

Have a careful plan for how you use the different platforms, with the goal of “maximizing good information and cutting out the waste.”

For example, fix the signal-to-noise ratio by being careful about what and who you follow.

Practice: Embrace Slow Media

Slow Media or Slow News is like the Slow Food or Slow Church movement. Embrace the patient, high-quality, well-considered sources and conversations.

Avoid junk and reactivity. Avoid “Breaking News”, which is almost always low-quality, error-prone, and often emotionally manipulative.

Seek opposing viewpoints. Follow feeds from good writers. Save/bunch stories to read once a week.

Practice: Dumb Down Your Smartphone

Consider a dumbphone, no phone, or something like the Light Phone or the Punkt Phone.

Conclusion

I liked this book and look forward to implementing my break and examination during Lent. Want to discuss the book? Message me and let’s have a conversation!

#DigitalMinimalism

Introducing Blog Categories and Specific Feeds!

Good news! Per this announcement, Micro.blog now supports categories, and therefore, so does this blog.

Categories allow you to view or subscribe to a selection of blog posts related to a certain theme. My collections could evolve over time, but you can always see the live list at the top of my archive page. I created the following breakdown, which most of my posts will fit into:

  • Anabaptism - Anabatism, Mennonites, and faith from those perspectives (RSS Feed)
  • Digital Minimalism - intentionality around use of tech (RSS Feed)
  • Games - a broad category for card games, board games, role-playing games, party games, live action games, and video games (RSS Feed)
  • Humor - satire, comics, etc. (RSS feed)
  • Ideas - food for thought, strategy, politics, philosophy, theology, psychology, etc. (RSS feed)
  • Resilience - information/cybersecurity, sustainability, emotional & psychological resilience, posts from my Newsletter/Podcast (RSS feed)
  • Review - year-in-review, looks back, but also comments on books, tools, video, music, events, etc. (RSS feed)
  • Soccer - maybe I should just make this “sports”, but I really only share about Soccer (core teams: Indy Eleven, US Women’s & Mens’s national teams, Chelsea FC) (RSS feed)

Questions? Comments?