I finally found the time to finish Damon Young‘s Distraction – a book I picked-up at the opening of the School of Life in Melbourne. What a brilliant read. It’s a look at the lives of a mix of philosophers, artists and thinkers through the lens of focus. In short, the opposite of a life of distraction is one of authentic freedom – and that is acheived by focus. Thought-provoking and clever.
For all its warmth and accessibility, Distraction, is by no means a ‘soft’ read. It is scathing about a distracted mind, ‘a clumsy, fumbling guide’ that often leads us ‘to seek asylum in false consolation, delusion or ubiquitous noise’. It has a lot to say about the world of work, dominated not by ‘information economy’ but ‘attention economy’, in which what looks like cutting-edge employment ‘turns out to be busywork’. Its sharp discussion of forms of governance and of our shared civic sphere is fuelled by Young’s profound disappointment with what it means to be political. Above all, it is insistent that we commit ourselves to shunning borrowed or half-baked lives, that, no matter how powerful the fears and the temptations, we retreat neither from ourselves nor from the world that we inhabit.
Loved this idea… to which I would add purpose – without purpose employees would be unable to derive meaning.
Another great watch. So much to watch, so little time.
Ranting on technology is a popular and shared past-time. Once the dust settles, the echo-chamber dials-down, and the crowd points to the solution to whatever has befallen us, its worth reflecting on what actually might have happened.
In cancelling Google Reader – a product I love and use daily — Google might just have done us all a favor. Now, do many of us wish they’d kept the old steam-engine of RSS readers trundling along, for sure. But would it have benefited us in the long-run, no.
- Killing an average product makes way for better products — and even opens a door through which those in existence can creep. No longer in Google’s shaddow, they shine. And so, I met Feedly.
- Those better products, benefiting from a flock of new users hopefully thrive.
- Google can pursue its true intent of being a platform and not a tools company. Google+ is a platform. Facebook is a platform. Reader, yeah, it was good but it was just another tool. In fact, the tool becomes a threat. As Nick says:
“Tools are threats to platforms because they give their owners ways to bypass platforms. If you have a good set of tools, you don’t need a stinking platform. If you’re happy with RSS, you’re a little less likely to sign up for Google+, or Twitter, or Facebook. At the very least, the tool gives you the choice. It grants you self-determination.”
In short, focus benefits the owner as much as the customer. Forget the ranting, embrace the platform and keep reading. The technology industry has an amazing ability to fill the gaps with more innovation – and the innovation is shifting the the platforms.