This is the first of several part of an interview by Diego of the wonderful Italian website, Il Mac Minimalista. Conducted originally in English, it will be translated into a far more beautiful language for the readers on his site (here’s the Italian version). I wanted to make sure to share it with you as well. It is, by far, one of the best email exchanges I have had in a very long time. I plan to share the reasons why in a future post at my personal site because there are lessons to be learned from it, the main one being is the idea that just because we can communicate at light speed does not mean we always should. The best part… It’s not over yet. Look for Part 2 sometime in the future.
When did the idea of creating Minimal Mac come up and why? I mean, is there a real need of reducing, using less, in this era of abundance?
It actually came with very little forethought and practically full formed. I describe what happened in great detail here: The 24 Hour Idea
I think it was driven by a desire to join the ideals of buddhism and minimalism that I have long subscribed to and my ideal approach towards technology – specifically Apple products, since that is what I use. I think this idea immediately resonated with others who, in this time of seemingly limitless technology, massive storage, and ubiquitous connectivity, were feeling as overwhelmed by it all as I was.
I wanted to create a place where I could curate both my original ideas on the subject, and include others images, software, hardware, and examples, all exploring the theme of “enough” and what that means today in the area of technology.
Many “geeks” (including myself) have serious problems handling the enormous number of incoming notifications, where by notifications I mean stuff like facebook notifications, incoming emails & calls, updated feeds, and so on. What’s your advice to them?
I think the first piece of advice is for people to realize that they make the choice on how many “inboxes” to have to a large extent. I think if you make your intentions on how to deal with these well known, up front, people then know what to expect.
I’m old enough to remember a time before email, before voicemail, before answering machines. When someone called you on a telephone, and you were not available, the responsibility was on the caller to try again, not you, the receiver. There was no way to know if you missed a call.
Technology has changed this behavior and the expectation. The responsibility is now placed on the receiver and not the sender. Therefore, it is up to us to make known how we plan to meet that expectation.
For example, in my last job, I let all of my coworkers know that I only looked at and responded to email twice a day for 1 hour. Once in the morning at 9am and then again at 4pm. Also, I set the email to manual checking so that, what I retrieved at those times was all I was going to see for an hour. If someone sent me an email at 4:15pm, I would not see it until 9am the next morning. It took a short time but, eventually, my coworkers learned that if it was something that required my immediate attention, the last thing they should do is send me an email. They called for urgent matters and questions instead and I had less email to deal with.
If you let people know what the expectations are and offer alternatives, everyone will be happier. I let people know how much I hate Facebook, rarely use it and only keep it for friends that use it to send invites to important events. Therefore, it is not an “inbox” one should contact me through for anything other than that.
This said, I do think it is rather sad that we live in a world where we have to “train” others about how we wish to interact. There was a more simple time.
For example, do you have tons of feeds that only a part of them is daily read or you just keep the numbers low? Do you think solutions like Fever (the feedreader) are worth? I mean, the idea that it gives is that we aren’t able to handle the “incomings” and we have to be helped by a software. Is that the sad truth?
I have a writeup on how I manage as many feeds as I do here: My RSS System
That said, I think it is important here to realize that we are better editors of our own capabilities than any software could ever be. We simply need to assume that responsibility. I consider keeping my eye on a wealth of incoming information part of my role and responsibility as a Curator. The very idea of the term is someone who looks at a lot and knows which things are important and representative of the theme and, perhaps more importantly, which to say “no” to. I am able to have a ton of RSS subscriptions because I know which ones are truly valuable and which ones I can safely ignore.
I think we owe it to ourselves to do this with most everything in our lives. Find your limits. Find your loves. Respect each deeply.