* Be a maker.

(Or, in full: Be a maker / Make first, consume second / Schedule your make/consume time / Don’t check your email)

My favourite talk at Webstock was “Industrialised Ignorance” by Clay Johnson, author of The Information Diet. I have paraphrased some of it here; I hope he doesn’t mind.

Firstly, he asked us to stand up if we knew the names of two Kardashian sisters. Nearly everyone stood up. Then he asked us to stand up if we knew the child poverty rate in New Zealand. A handful of people stood up. Clay said: It’s one in four. And he said: How are we supposed to build better communities if we don’t know anything about them?

He said we’ve asked the food industry to make us more & more pizza products instead of broccoli products, because pizza is more delicious than broccoli, and we’ve done the same with the information industry.

The media/publishers want to make money by making products that we want to consume, so when we ask for pizza information, they make more & more. We click on sensationalist article headings and entertainment news; facts and objective reporting are warped into shareable pizza stories; opinion pieces are everywhere.

He encouraged that we start a healthy information diet, much like a healthy food diet. His advice included:

  • Be a conscious consumer.
  • Subtract junk.
  • Enable a whole news movement, which links to sources and allows people to make up their own minds.

I found those points interesting, but it was another point that really took my fancy.

  • Be a producer.

He said, the worst alarm clock is the one on your iPhone, because you reach for your phone in the morning and instantly become a consumer, not a maker. Instead: Wake up and make.

He showed us his calendar, where he schedules time to make (first thing in the morning), then after that, he has a half hour for email, and a half hour for social media. This pattern repeats throughout the day.

I liked this idea. I think that by being a maker first, and a consumer second, you change your relationship with information. You are newly critical. You want to consume different types of information; maybe you want to consume information that aligns more with what you’re making.

I’ve changed my behaviour:

  • I always have my iPhone on airplane mode while I’m sleeping, but now I keep it on airplane mode until I’ve been a maker, first. This works well with morning pages.
  • I bought ia Writer and I’m using it fullscreen.
  • I’m using my laptop with wifi turned off, as much as possible.
  • Email comes second. “Small known things” come second.

In John Cleese’s talk on creativity, he said that it’s easier to do trivial things that are urgent (small known things) than important things that are not urgent (big unknown things).

It’s so true. Sometimes I get home from work and check my personal email, then 2 hours later, I realise I haven’t really done much. I’ve spent 2 hours of clicking from small known thing to small known thing. I’d like to change that.

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