* 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.


Page 2 of The Art of Travel (my current book) mentions “Winter Sun,” which is the name of my fourth project. Page 3 mentions eudaimonia, which was featured in the last book I read, and is a concept that vaguely translates as “human flourishing.”


Last year I had one resolution: Become smarter. It was a great resolution. Side effects included:

  1. being very selective about content quality (goodbye vapid tech articles)
  2. delaying all other content (mark everything as “read later” and check the list later)
  3. exploring new and varied topics
  4. reduction of emo behaviour (you don’t feel as lonely/bored/lost when you are trying to learn)
  5. and, eventually, all of this led to something else: focus and frustration.


Historically, I’ve been a massive multi-tasker. Instead of concentrating on this sentence, I would be flicking between browser tabs, checking twitter, looking for the inspiration to finish the sentence.

But I’ve started trying to improve my focus. In my browser favourites, I have this right now page. If I get to night-time, and I see that page, and I haven’t picked up the book I’m reading, I know I need to put down whatever I’m doing and read the damn book.

I have two lists at work and home: Blur and Focus. Blur has all the things I might be doing. Focus has one. And I use a 7-folder method for work emails – Inbox, Action, Followup, ToRead, ToSave, Backlog, Archive – along with Followupthen. I’m still tweaking all of this, but I know what I’m trying to achieve. I’m trying to make some space.


Even if I keep my brain stimulated, and I can make space to think, what happens next? I’ve been trying to think about direction, meaning and passion.

2013. To consider.

For 2013, I’ve saved two sets of questions to help me think about this. They’re geeky, but I know they’ll make me think about direction, meaning and passion.

Q1. What is success? What is happiness? What am I working toward?

Q2. If I move to a new city in January, where no one knows me, and I can reinvent myself, what do I want to be? (What is your best possible self?)

Next week, I’ll sketch out my answers with pen & paper. I want the space between now and then to completely relax and not think.

2013. Creative state. 

That’s my resolution.


If you really want to know the truth, these are the things my ghost did

  • Wrote my name in weed killer on my front lawn
  • Sent a superman outfit (not sexy, more like the kids’ PJs ones) to me at work
  • Yeah I wear it some days
  • Wrote my name in sunscreen on their chest, sent a photo after sun
  • Wrote my name on every “give way” sign on my way to work
  • Made dinner for me (ok, once) (red jelly)
  • Bought us a mystery trip, we got in the car, went up the road to the park
  • That was it
  • Ignored me most of the time
  • Was ok with me talking all of the time
  • Never did anything when I was melancholy
  • Just waited


New Facebook:

Jim ate a razor.
Sally cries because Jim is dead.



I like dogs because they’re like my friend Priya. They like doin’ stuff, but they’re also ok to just chill sometimes.

“Hey dog, wanna go to Paris?” “HECK YEAH!” “Hey dog, wanna turn all the furniture in this room upside-down?” “LETS DO IT!” “Hey dog, let’s nap all day.” “YEAH IM ON IT.”

Cats I don’t get.