Ars Technica has a great article today on Professor Lessig's potential run for Congress that I mentioned yesterday. The article does an excellent job of outlining Lessig's platform in far better detail than the one sentence I gave it. What's particularly interesting about his position is his desire to build a Creative Commons in Congress, where "[i]f politicians begin foreswearing PAC money, the theory runs, voters may come to see the failure to refuse lobbyist dollars as a badge of shame rather than simply the way things are done." This sounds like a very necessary change and requires the proverbial "Washington outsider" to really get going - Lessig is that outsider. Further, the article elaborates on the difference between Lessig and his greatest rival in the race, Jackie Speier. Lessig mentions that there aren't many differences, but that a focus on technology would give him an edge and that even though many prominent California Democrats have thrown their support behind Speier, the rush to consolidate support has frustrated voters who want more options. As I said yesterday, I can't wait to see how this plays out.
I wrote about Professor Larry Lessig's shift in focus from Free Culture to corruption in Washington when he gave his last Free Culture talk. Since then, a seat has opened up in Congress as a result of the death of California Congressman Tom Lantos. Lessig posted on his weblog earlier today that a Facebook group and the draftlessig08.org website have caused him to actually consider running.
I think Lessig has a great chance of winning thanks to support from the tech community. Having him in Congress would not only be excellent for his next project, but would also help along causes that current Congress members are either too tech illiterate or too influenced by money to really address the right way (one such cause being Net Neutrality).
There's no word on when he'll make a decision, but along with the rest of the tech community, I wait with bated breath.
Larry Lessig will be giving his last talk on the topic of "Free Culture" in about an hour. I had the pleasure of seeing Professor Lessig give this talk in September of 2006 as part of the Penn Reading Project and I think the ideas he presents are fascinating and have had a great impact on me. We've come a long way in some areas, such as in the slow death of over-restrictive DRM, but we're still a ways to go in other areas, such as the predatory litigation undertaken by the music and movie industries. As the blog post announcing the talk mentions, Professor Lessig will begin focusing on corruption in Washington, a topic I'm admittedly less interested in.
Today should be day 5 of my media fast experiment, but as I predicted/promised in my previous post, I would sneak a peek on Sunday. And so I did. In about an hour and half yesterday, I made it through 182 posts in Google Reader, less than half of the ~400 a day I was averaging prior to the experiment. Still, despite only lasting three days into the experiment, I've come away with some valuable insight.
First, and perhaps most importantly, bumming around the internet is no longer my go-to action when I've found myself with nothing to do. Even yesterday, when I spent time in Google Reader, I also found time to catch up on some posts for my other blog and even process and upload some photos to Flickr from my trip to Puerto Rico last March.
Google Reader's expanded view, which shows full posts in a river of news format, is a great way to sift through a bunch of garbage while finding the few gems you really enjoy. In an effort to be more selective, I've switched to list view, which shows me headlines for about 25 posts in a way similar to Gmail. Picking and choosing is much easier when you've expanded the number of headlines visible on screen 15-25 times.
The only thing I wish I could do was mark items as read without giving them credit for being read. There's a bunch of stuff in there that I will probably never read, and it looks like it'll build up unless I do choose to mark it as read. A minor complaint, but on the bright side it should make unsubscribing from low signal-to-noise ratio feeds much, much easier (Engadget and the rest of the Weblogs, Inc sites, I'm looking at you).
In response to William's comment, I do think he's right to a degree. If your job is news-driven (you work on Wall Street, in PR, in journalism, etc), then you do have to keep up with the news. Even still, not every news item you come across is 100% relevant and the experiment helps to make that clear. And for those of us whose jobs aren't exactly news driven, much of it isn't relevant - we simply consume it for enjoyment. For most, consumption is way out of balance with production. As with any habit-altering experience, we must often go too far in one direction in order to ultimately end up in the middle.
I recently began listening to Timothy Ferriss' 4-Hour Work Week. The book proposes many interesting ideas, but by far the most immediately applicable are his productivity tips. The one I want to highlight in this post is the media fast experiment, which forces participants to avoid all news for a week. Instead of being the one to relay news to others, be the one asking others what's in the news.
I'm on my third day of the experiment. I've avoided visiting Digg and reading feeds on Google Reader. In an effort to be completely honest, I will admit that I did hit Techmeme yesterday and CNN today for about 5 minutes. I felt guilty both times and that feeling a good sign.
The effects have been moderate, but promising and encouraging. I've been getting more done at work and completing more personal to-do items out of work. Wasting time online is a slave to Parkinson's law (which Ferriss mentions in his book), which basically states that a task will grow to fill the time allotted to it. This is especially true for my RSS subscriptions, which are literally never-ending. Since I wouldn't allot a set time limit to my time-wasting (by definition), my time-wasting would grow to fill time until I got bored or tired.
Depending on how comfortable I feel with being able to control myself, I might allocate (by alarm) an hour or so sometime this weekend to go through Google Reader. Even though the experiment calls for a complete fast, an hour a week is a huge improvement over the multiple hours a day and I should be happy that I haven't gone mad yet with all this newly-recovered spare time.
And I just came across this blog post with a great summary of the book. Check out the productivity tips under Step II: E is for Elimination.
I'm jumping on this meme after seeing it on TUAW blogger (and fellow Philly blogger) Scott McNulty's personal blog. According to Amazon.com, my first order was on Feb 28, 2001. I ordered Slaughterhouse 5 by Vonnegut and A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. This was in 10th grade.
I also remember ordering an Intro to Linux book sometime prior to 2001 (in 99 or 00), but that was using a different email address, so it doesn't show up. I remember they sent me an Intro to UNIX book which I had to send back.
What was your first Amazon.com order?
It's been 10 days since I posted. Last weekend was fall break so me and my roommate, Adam, drove up to Boston for the weekend. Boston is a pain to navigate, and the recently released Google Maps for Palm OS was a real time saver — when I got cell phone service. It's astonishing how such Cingular doesn't provide adequate service in such a large metropolitan area. I get great service anywhere else I've been but Boston seems to be a black hole of Cingular coverage.
A bunch of things just bunched up on this short week, including a reaction paper to Fred Brooks' The Mythical Man-Month (which coincided almost perfectly with 37signals' release of a free online version of their software development book, Getting Real). and a bunch of group meetings. I've been re-inspired by Marc Canter's post on "the amount of automation, modernization and catch-up that the health and medical professions require," as it relates to one of my group projects related to his conclusion (which I won't disclose publicly in case we decide to take it further than just a pedagogical exercise).
Technorati Tags: Google, Google Maps, Palm OS, Treo 650, Cingular, Boston, Fred Brooks, Mythical Man-Month, 37signals, Getting Real, software development, Marc Canter, health care, medical, modernization
Larry Lessig spoke at Penn yesterday as part of the Penn Reading Project. His book, Free Culture, was given to all freshmen who were split up into discussion groups after Lessig's presentation. Penn Law professor Polk Wagner presented an opposing side. I was excited to see the famed Lessig presentation method in person and I hope Professor Lessig makes the presentation (or at least the links to the videos he showed) available.
This audio work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
Amit Singh, author of the upcoming Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach, has posted an uncut version of the Intro chapter of the book. About 70% of the chapter, which details the history of the Mac OS from the Apple I OS to the current OS X, was cut from the already-huge 1,680-page print version of the book. Because of all the research Amit put into the writing of the chapter, he didn't want it to go unread and so he posted the 140-page uncut version on his website.
The uncut chapter and for that matter the rest of the book isn't for everyone, though, as he states on the site:
I hope you enjoy reading this document and the book. Just as this document provides a super-detailed history of Apple's operating systems, the book itself is super-detailed on the internals of modern day Mac OS X. It is not at all a book about using Mac OS X—it is about the system's design and implementation. Therefore, I expect it to appeal to all operating system enthusiasts and students.
One of the few perks of having to be at work at 8 every morning is that fact that I get to read my RSS feeds at 7:15. As such, I was able to catch Chris Anderson's post from two nights ago in time to be one of the 100 bloggers to receive a free copy of his new book, "The Long Tail". I was pretty sure I had made it in on time, but I wanted to wait until the confirmation email came in to be sure. The book should be here sometime next week. Hopefully I can read it in a few days, so expect the review to be up the week of the 9th.