Attentiveness

I have never been — and presumably never will be — a proponent of attempts to hack productivity. I find it to be, at best, self-defeating.

Of course, that's one man's utterly subjective and outrageously reductive opinion. Worse, it's an opinion with flaws compounded by the stinging fact that I rarely have a strong handle on my day-to-day obligations.

I preach (and live) an organic and naturalized approach to leading a productive life, but I frequently — as all humans do, I suppose — fail to uphold even the most crucial tasks I've dedicated myself toward.

OneThirtySeven, this weblog, has very much facilitated the professional growth I've undergone over the past year or so. Launched in November 2011, the website has carried me from interested nobody to engaged somebody (albeit with a relatively small reach). And yet, for all of the gains, I fail to find the time to dedicate to this once confidence and happiness-inducing platform.

My attention is most obviously divided between my upcoming startup, Need, and my podcast with Myke Hurley, Bionic. (I also help with WELD, work with startups, and serve as an advisor to a handful of startups, but they pose relatively minor impacts on my day-to-day when compared to Need and Bionic.)  Although those are both, of course, fantastic objects deserving of my attention, there is a distinct feeling of anxiety I feel every time I catch a glimpse of the OneThirtySeven favicon sitting — neglected — in my browser's bookmark bar.

For as much as my other projects are gaining popularity and intrigue, OneThirtySeven was the first and foremost result of my desire to breakaway from the corporate world. It was a naive, fun, and important means for escape. And it's one I've carelessly allowed to fall into inauspicious silence. 

I've written before that I wish to write one long-form article per week here. I've equally made statements of my intentions to never let this site fall into disuse. Obviously, as I write this, I've failed on both accounts. 

Simply put, my professional place is increasingly divergent from the world of independent technology writing. I articulate opinions on Bionic and Twitter, but I rarely have the time to write a lengthy piece about the state of Yahoo! or the latest iPhone. 

Nevertheless, I wish I did. 

I write this not as a resignation or with the intention of garnering empathy. I write it as a means to hold myself publicly accountable for my attentiveness to the properties that mean the most to me. I write it so that you, the reader, might occasionally send me an email or tweet decrying my silence.  I write it so that I, on those days I dare to visit my own quiet weblog, will remember that I have a promise to uphold.

Perhaps I'm simply ushering this piece of prose into a decrepit room no longer occupied by people who care to listen. In fact, I suspect that is, indeed, the case. This outlet, however, has never been about the size of the audience or the quantity of page views. It has been about the catharsis of writing, the joy of spilling my thoughts for others — however many — to dissect, and, most importantly, to meet fascinating people with similar interests.

I fully intend to continue writing here. I don't wish to shutter the site and write on, god forbid, Medium, about trite tips and tricks for marketing your startup. (How on earth do we let people do that in the first place?) I have opinions I wish to share and I have discussions I intend to pursue with all of you.  But I — and I'm happy to admit this — am utterly flawed. This site, too, is utterly flawed. For that, I simply an acknowledge that, yes, both myself and my work are irrevocably imperfect. And I'm at peace with that.

What I'm not at peace with is the passive allowance of such a personally important thing to fall into neglect for the betterment of something newer and shinier. (There's an obvious and grandiose metaphor to be gleaned from this acknowledgement, but I'll save us all the excruciation and allow it to simply sit there quietly awaiting your groans and yawns. )

I don't intend to fall into the mold of virtually all startup founders and start writing about the trials and tribulations of launch a company and raising venture funding. (Hint: it's just the same as doing any other intensive job, but there's far more narcissism involved. Everyone is busy, everyone faces daily struggles, and pretending entrepreneurial endeavors are exceptional is reductive.) I want to write about topics that matter to all of us, rather than taking the easy route towards meaningless page views.

For all of this verbosity, I simply mean to state publicly that I intend to do what I love — regardless of what ramifications it might pose — and write. I don't know how I'll manage that, but — and I say this to myself — I promise I'll try. 

Interview with Unretrofied's Chris Gonzales

Chris Gonzales was kind enough to feature me as the final installment of his current interview series on his (truly brilliant) site, Unretrofied . 

During our time, Chris and I delved into my background — a topic I've traditionally been rather reticent to discuss — Need, Bionic, contemporary writing, monetizing content, Google Glass, and so forth. 

It was a far-reaching, lengthy, and highly-topical interview. Certainly the most detailed I've ever been when discussing various matters relating to my personal and professional lives. 

The piece is certainly not short, but it should shed far more light on my particular stances, beliefs, and philosophies — when it comes to our industry — than ever before.

Beyond the interview, I encourage you to spend some time reading through Chris' work. He's a phenomenal and wonderfully thoughtful writer who's only just beginning to get off the ground. (You'll also find his work on Shawn Blanc's consumer curation publication, Tools & Toys .)

For those who're in need of a columnist, writer, or other such personality, I highly recommend taking a look at Chris' work. And I say that with the full gravity such a statement and endorsement warrants.

His voice and candor is precisely the sort we need more of in this community and I sincerely believe he will be moving to the forefront of it in the (relatively) near future. 

To the topic at hand, if you enjoy self-indulgent verbosity and some general thoughts regarding the industry, you can read my interview with Chris on Unretrofied .

If you want to reach out for clarifications or to learn more, you can find me on Twitter

 

Muting

One of the most poisonous elements of modern technology is the ability to mute both content and people. 

On the surface, it sounds perfectly acceptable. You grow tired of a certain topic or the exhaustive sharing habits of certain friends, and, without going all the way to remove them from your day-to-day experience, you simply quiet the portions of noise that bother you the most.

In a world of highly-curated opinions, deeply polarizing and heavily-politicized views, and rampant tribalism in the consumer sphere, however, the ability to simply remove certain opinions that are not adherent with your own is irrefutably dangerous. 

You ought to know — and embrace — opinions divergent from your own. Moreover, if you respect someone, you ought to listen to all that they have to say, rather than selectively censoring them.

On a more trivial level, muting discussions during a conference or live event is marginally palatable. But, in my eyes, it's still troublesome. Is it really so difficult to contend with a flowing river of collective discussion over a mass-consumption event? Surely not. 

Knowledge is frequently defined as a justified true belief. The justification portion is one of the most important, as it requires you to have circumstantial awareness of opinions both supportive and conflicting.

Without apt justification, we can easily fool ourselves into a false sense of knowledgeability on a vast spectrum of topics. In the technology world, for instance, we can pay attention selectively to analysts, writers, or publications — all of which skew toward one brand or another — in order to seemingly justify our particular allegiances and habits.

The danger is, obviously, minimal. Nevertheless, it does pose significant damage to intelligent and measured discourse.  Without circumstantial awareness, it's far too easy to succumb to extremist opinions and flagrant unintelligence regarding certain — frequently important — topics.

For all of this I mean to simply argue that when you're next confronted with an opinion you disagree with on Twitter, a website, or another such outlet, do not simply tune it out. Equally, do not reflexively attempt to counter. Instead, simply absorb and consider. Keep it in mind. 

Obviously if someone's expressing outrageously offensive opinions, this does not apply. But, in the realms of business, politics, and artistry, I cannot stress enough how important and conducive such tolerant and rational behavior can be. 

Removing people and opinions from our daily experience for the sole purpose of alleviating our own anxieties and insecurities of our own opinions — or, worse, for the sake of expressing superiority over someone else — is destructive. And, in a world of highly-curated content, it can result in us missing important information and circumstantial awareness, thereby fostering disjointed beliefs and ever-worsening extremes in opinion.

Muting ought to be used extremely sparingly, rather than as a means to support your comfort.  If you don't like what's being said, I daresay there's plenty more constructive means for you to contend with such rhetoric. And if you don't appreciate an event that's happening, just avoid Twitter (or similar) for an hour.

We have more power than ever in terms of shaping the way we comprehend our world — business, media, politics, or otherwise — and, although it might take more work, I'd say opening yourself up to opinions outside of your own is of the utmost importance.