Long-term misunderstandings

“If you’re going to take a long-term orientation, you have to be willing to stay heads down and ignore a wide array of critics, even well-meaning critics. If you don’t have a willingness to be misunderstood for a long period of time, then you can’t have a long-term orientation.”

That’s Jeff Bezos in US News. Jeff also gets a mention in this TED talk by Stewart Brand about a field trip they took to the site of the Clock of the Long Now.

Me vs Clay Shirky — Monday

Here Comes Everybody

Sorry about the short notice, but do come along to hear Clay Shirky talk about his book Here Comes Everybody at Demos on Monday at lunchtime (event starts at 12.30pm). I’ll be playing host and asking him a few tricky questions if I can think of some.

I particularly want to ask him about his views on gin.

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A little less information…

Since all this fuss about whether Google makes you daft I’ve been thinking a bit about how the way that I consume and produce information has changed over the last few years.

When I was at Demos I used to read almost all the UK papers, listen to the Today programme and watch Newsnight every day. I was a magazine addict, reading The Economist, Wired, Prospect, The Atlantic, New Statesman, the New Yorker and many more. I would read a non-fiction book every week. I was subscribed to hundreds of RSS feeds, loads of email lists and went to two or three events per week. I was spread incredibly thin across a huge number of subjects.

But I’ve found that being an information pancake person (spread thin) is not really compatible with running a start-up. It becomes all consuming and you need to concentrate. You need to go deep into the information that’s really relevant to the task and that rarely comes from the 24 hour media machine.

So I’ve found myself rationalising my addiction to information and over the past few months I’ve been cutting down. I don’t listen to the Today Programme in the mornings and don’t miss it if I’m honest (it sounds just like Chris Morris’s On the Hour if I do catch a few minutes). I don’t read the free papers on the commute into the office — I’ve taken to reading one paper a day (the FT) and maybe a couple at the weekends. I’ve slimmed down my RSS subscriptions to a hundred and I’m on far fewer email lists than I was. Since I was at Demos, Facebook and Twitter status updates have come along, so I’m having to struggle to keep them under control as well.

I think I’m starting to win though. Next step is to work out what the best way to be productive with all that cognitive surplus is.