recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : doriantaylor   4

Uses This / Dorian Taylor
"I do a lot of work on ordinary photocopier paper with a BIC mechanical pencil. If I have to travel, I use a Moleskine. I have a thing I made called a "cell calendar" which is just a piece of Bristol board that represents a week's worth of cells -- four-hour contiguous units of time in which the real thinking (and subsequent entropy-schlepping) gets done. When you subtract the irreducible maintenance time of sleep, food, hygiene and chores, I find you can max out on about three of these in a day. Emphasis on max out. When you're flying solo, the thing you consider to be your "actual job" only takes up a sliver of your waking life. With everything else going on, I'm lucky to get one of these in a day, and I might do a three-cell day only a handful of times a year."

"About the only object containing a CPU I've bought new in the last eight years is the second-crappiest possible tablet I could buy, and that was only because I wanted a multi-touch control surface for a tool I was working on."

"What I mean is this: We human beings reason over conceptual entities, and the relations that bind them. When these structures get too big to hold in our heads all at once, we outsource them to a representational medium, such as paper. Then we can take our time to comprehend them. However, a two-dimensional plane such as a piece of paper is still extremely limited in its capacity for coherently representing a complex conceptual structure, unless you resort to more and more esoteric mathematical representations. Even then, you're still screwed if you have a lot of data."

"I understand that we live in an increasingly interdependent world. I'm okay with interdependence. What I'm not okay with is one-way dependence, on particular people, business entities, robots, whatever. I'm not espousing some form of digital survivalism, I just want to be able to pick who I deal with, and if it doesn't work out, I want to be able to pick somebody else - all the way up and down the stack. Proximately what that means is that I can get my data out, and if I can't find a replacement for some particular operation, I can make one. Ultimately what it means, then, is that I understand my "dream system" as well as I need to in order to be sovereign over it.

App/platform vendors don't want sovereigns, of course. Their entire business models are designed around creating dependents, and then it's wall-to-wall ads and behavioural data sold out the back alley, all day long. I don't view that as a conspiracy though, it's more like "econophysics". There just hasn't been a strong enough alternative yet."
doriantaylor  time  timemanagement  attention  2017  usesthis  tools  interdependence  technology  thesetup 
october 2017 by robertogreco
La Forme de Flâner — Dorian Taylor
""Never run for the train," proclaimed Nassim Taleb in The Black Swan. It's something of a gnomic statement, coming from an independently wealthy, born-again slacker, albeit one who I believe is on to something. I think about this statement a lot, because it embodies something we don't have very good language for in the professional discourse around things made of pure thought-stuff.

Our dominant paradigm is couched in language of comparative efficiency. We focus on becoming lean from trimming off the fat of bureaucratic processes, and remaining agile to respond quickly to the bewilderingly capricious environment that snares lumbering megafauna. This is an enormous achievement. It is also enormously limiting.

My problem with this paradigm is that we can only get so lean before becoming anorexic, and only so agile before burning out. It's unsustainable and we have to stop eventually. Perhaps most significant, though, is that efficiency is antithetical to what we do.

Our raw material is information, which, despite tremendous advances in its storage, transport and manipulation, still exhibits peculiar properties. It must be recognized, gathered, concentrated, operated on, arranged, displayed, communicated and understood. Information is scattered around space and time, and often buried far from the surface. It is also rarely substitutable: if we need a particular piece of information, we must expend exactly the effort required to get it. It follows that in order to know how to optimize the work around information, we must already have done it.
If that statement was false, there would be no need for empiricism at all, because all knowledge could be reasoned, including knowledge about how long it takes to reason.

I worry that our fervour to get leaner and more agile will eventually starve us of our perceptual acuity, memory, and ultimately our wisdom. But I'm not precisely advocating slowing down, as much as I am suggesting aligning with the cosmos in a way that makes fast not necessary.

The ethos that embodies such an alignment, I believe, is that of the flâneur. To flâne is to amble about with no outwardly discernible mission, taking interest in whatever presents itself wherever and whenever you are. We don't have a word for this in English, at least not one that doesn't import some form of morally reprehensible, even parasitic quality.

The inscrutability of the state of flâner does not necessarily entail that it is unproductive. Certain results are indeed either better or only achieved en flânant, namely those that depend on a complex synthesis of diverse material from disparate and eclectic sources. Like the kind of precursor material you need to write a book. Or a song. Or an app.

Flânerie has found its way into design literature, albeit not always explicitly. Bill Buxton mentions phases of divergence interspersed with those of convergence, to arrive eventually at a successful outcome. Herbert Simon wrote that when designing a system, we should operate for a period with no objective in mind whatsoever. In a keynote, Alan Cooper argued the futility of racing to be second to market versus waiting for the precocious to make their mistakes—the iPod to the Archos Jukebox. This is the kind of sentiment I want to harness.

Why not run for the train? Because another train will be along shortly. Such is the nature of trains. Running will cause you to miss everything between you and your object, and more often than not leave you disappointed and out of breath.

To flâne is to be neither lean nor agile, but comfortably plump. Relaxed. Zaftig even. A flâneur never runs for the train because of his commitment to serendipity, and because he was clever enough to invest in a schedule."
design  flaneur  walking  doriantaylor  meandering  noticing  dérive  derive  efficiency  information  patternrecognition  understanding  slow  haste  relaxed  agile  nassimtaleb 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Teaching Timmy to Ride — Dorian Taylor
"The push­bike isn't a mode of trans­porta­tion as much as it is a ped­a­gog­i­cal tool. Made out of cheap ma­te­ri­als (in the­ory at least, the one pic­tured is crazy ex­pen­sive), the pur­pose is to focus Timmy on bal­anc­ing first, then he can move up to ped­alling on a real bike once he's mas­tered bal­anc­ing and starts to yearn for some speed. (Ped­alling is eas­ier to mas­ter, any­way.)

I framed this as an en­gi­neer­ing/de­sign di­chotomy be­cause en­gi­neer­ing is al­ways about work­ing with what we have. The ef­fect is that the prob­lem-solv­ing focus alights on the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the tech­nol­ogy, which can often lead to parochial so­lu­tions. The de­sign ap­proach is about fo­cus­ing on a pur­pose and imag­in­ing what we need to make it hap­pen, ir­re­spec­tive of our cur­rent in­ven­tory. When we have a strong pur­pose, it be­comes abun­dantly clear what is im­por­tant and what isn't. The re­sult, as such, stands an even chance of using less tech­nol­ogy, be­cause so­lu­tion turns out to be sim­pler.

And that is the time to call in the en­gi­neers."
design  engineering  doriantaylor  2013  simplicity  less  problemsolving 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Generation Liminal — Dorian Taylor
"I'm pretty con­fi­dent that the span from 1995 to 2000 minted more auto­di­dacts than have ever ex­isted be­fore or since. The ones that benifited the most were the ones that weren't heav­ily in­vested into other things—like teenagers and early-20-some­things. I got to be part of the dot-bomb, but not be ru­ined by it. Even if you weren't part of it your­self, you'd know some­body who was. Just being near that kind of en­ergy was enough to ir­rev­o­ca­bly change a per­son. …

And that's really why I and people like me fall into the generational interstices. We lack the despondency emblematic of Generation X, and the ostensible helplessness of the Millennials. We got to experience our own agency first-hand.

The early 90's must have sucked if you were a young adult. The late 90's must have sucked if you were a kid. My cohort dodged both of those bullets, and I am eternally grateful for it."
inbetweeness  interstitialgenerations  interstitialspaces  generations  sweetspot  millenials  invention  making  autodidacts  generationx  geny  genx  2012  doriantaylor  interstitial 
december 2012 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:

to read