Posts tagged

It would be a funny and enlightening hour.

… find a smart person and have them watch you use the computer for an hour.

Seth Godin, “Digital hygiene” (May 20, 2019)

Distraction is an old problem, and so is the fantasy that it can be dodged once and for all. There were just as many exciting things to think about 1,600 years ago as there are now. Sometimes it boggled the mind.

Jamie Kreiner, “How to reduce digital distractions: advice from medieval monks,” Aeon (Apr 24, 2019)

So, now I come to the part where I make my plea: no new tools, please. If you are interested in improving how people work, you should devise methods for work, manners of behavior, and methods of decision making. Document your ideology and apply it with existing tools, so nearly anyone can follow along. Why don’t you use our best tool? Language. Increasingly, I feel documentation beats an app if you’re trying to shepherd an idea along. This approach seems to have worked pretty well for David Allen’s Getting Things Done and Josh Clark’s Couch to 5K. Of course there are innumerable apps supporting each method, but the ideas are bigger than an app, so you don’t need to download anything. Buy a notebook or put on your running shoes. Commit to the plan. They are not leaky buckets.

Consider making a program for people, not a program for a computer. I don’t want a new app to help me do work; I want different ways to think about work so I can get more done. It’s a nuanced difference, but I think it is an important one.

Frank Chimero, “No New Tools”

I came across this article by Frank Chimero on a day in which I spent my working hours migrating digital notes into another software tool. And what’s more, many of the notes are about new tools, for the computer as well as the mission field. The article quickly became a favorite. No new tools, please. We have what we need to do good work.

So we see the same essential point being made over and over again, since the middle of the nineteenth century at least. Ruskin, Illich, and Franklin all see that there are technologies that liberate human creativity, that enable human power, and, by contrast, technologies that enslave us, that force our very being into conformity with their codes and structures.

Alan Jacobs, “John Ruskin: Fit the Third and Last” (May 27, 2018)

In Jacobs’s final Text Patterns post.

The basic finding is that children’s brains are activated differently in emerging readers depending on how the content was fed to them. Audio-only had little brain activation, meaning just playing an audiobook or reading without letting the child see or hold the book is not highly effective. The opposite was true of full-on voice and animation, which left the child with very little to do in terms of activating their brains to understand the content. The middle ground, reading to a child while showing them static illustrations, required the most interaction in the brain and developed the most connection with the content.

There has long been a case for the “calmness” associated with e-ink e-readers for children’s content.

Mercy Pilkington, “Research Shows What Books Do to Kids’ Brains,” Good e-Reader (May 27, 2018)

… when I try to understand our current technopolic moment I find that the thinkers who help me the most are not the ones fully immersed in our own time, but those who remember an earlier time, or those from the past who underwent similar social transformations. It is very hard from within this technologically oversaturated moment of ours to discern its outlines clearly. I’m therefore drawn to thinkers whose vocabularies are tilted or skewed in relation [to] what I see and hear every day. This is one of the many uses of reading old books.

Alan Jacobs, “living in the past” (May 23, 2018)

Serenity Caldwell, “My 9.7 iPad (2018) review: Drawn, written, edited, and produced with an iPad” (Apr 13, 2018)

Billy Graham on Technology, Faith and Suffering /

Billy Graham spoke at a TED conference in 1998, 20 years before his death last month. He made it clear that he was ready for it even then. Graham was winsome as he asked the large gathering of tech leaders and thinkers how technology can address the problems of human evil, suffering and death.

I like what John Dyer had to say about it in 2010:

What I appreciate most about his talk is that Graham did not give it to a church audience who would immediately agree with him. Instead in his audiences are some of the greatest technological minds ever gathered, many of whom are no friends of religion. It’s a classic example of how a speaker can appeal to an audience’s sensibilities, gain a sense of trust, and then finally address the person of Jesus Christ.

And Dyer summed up Graham’s message:

… technology brings amazing benefits to humanity, but it’s failure to alleviate the brokenness of the human heart ultimately point us to our need for a Savior.

Face-to-Face and Spiritual Formation /

Physical presence allows Paul and Timothy — and you and me — to strengthen and establish, encourage and exhort in ways we cannot through media, however advanced that media may be. Paul made the extraordinary effort to be with his fellow believers because he knew the extraordinary potential of being face to face.

—Marshall Segal, “I Long to See You: What Apple Will Never Replace” (Jan 10, 2018)


[A]fter a few decades of experiments and tests, we can say that online education appears to be a spiritually healthy way to train men and women for ministry.

—John Dyer, “Does Face-to-Face Education Damage Seminary Students?” (Jan 13, 2018)

“How we built Watsi Coverage without stable electricity, WiFi, or email”