Excursions by Amit Gawande

Selecting and Reading Books

I keep mentioning every time I get a chance that I am too picky while selecting the books I read. So it was fascinating to read few suggestions from Austin Kleon on how to read more. Especially his first tip - quit reading books you don’t like

It helps if you choose the right books in the first place. Stop reading what you think you should be reading and just read what you genuinely want to read.

Yep, I follow this rule diligently. And I have my own list of gems” that just aren’t for me.

I also keep my currently reading list loaded with multiple books at a time. Some are as audiobooks, some as e-books. (It’s been very long since I read a paperback and it was primarily because I just don’t enjoy them.)

Feel free to read promiscuously — date 3 or 4 books at the same time until one makes you want to settle down with it.

I do that, but not for the reason Austin mentions. I just like to hop between books at times. Many a times before I give up on one.

I really liked these quotes that Austin has included in his post. Ah, I think I need to read a lot more.

Nobody is going to get any points in heaven by slogging their way through a book they aren’t enjoying but think they ought to read.

—Nancy Pearl

There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag — and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty — and vice-versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.

—Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 reading opinion

I’ve been using Spotify for a couple of weeks now. I still hate the interface — it’s barely usable. So difficult to browse around, find what you want. But it overcomes that need with its brilliant list of playlists. I can select one and just let it play what I want.

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 thoughts

The emojis, they are tired now of being so important for all, but always captive to the smartphones. No longer they say 😑

PS: Also my sister needs a place on the Internet for her sketches now. Hmm.

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 thoughts

Decluttering my mind

I am currently on a break - I do not have any official work time as such. So this is an opportunity for rethinking things, declutter the stuff around the day-to-day life. I plan to identify what matters to me the most, what I enjoy doing the most. And then only sign-up for that. I have realized there is no point over-complicating too many things with whys and hows, and especially why-nots. It’s better to just do the thing that my mind wants to do without fussing over the right moment or the perfect way. Neither ever arrive.

So I will do anything that I want to do. But to that everything that I am not into, but my brain says I should do - nah. Not happening. This has already ruled some of the projects from my list, mostly dev ones, which I had signed up for just because everyone I come across was doing them. Or so I thought.

Then there are those projects which I want to do, but just don’t have an idea yet about how and when. One such project is my microcast Third-Person Voice. I am pulling it down. I enjoyed the experience, but I need to rethink whether it fits in my life currently.

This signing up and sprinting in all directions had affected what I’ve genuinely enjoyed for the longest time - reading and writing. The hope behind all this decluttering, this tidying up of mind space, is that I can focus again on just the stuff I want to do the most.

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 update

It’s been almost a month that I didn’t read or write anything significant, I intend to change that today. I was caught up with too many activities, both at and off-work. I’ll soon go through a transition phase, change of job after 12 years. Too many thoughts crowding my mind.

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 update

I realized today that it was on this day a year back that I had opened Micro.threads to all. It was the first project built ground up that I had made available for every one to use. The earlier projects were either customized or personal. It has been a wonderful learning experience.

It was also an opportunity for myself to gain confidence. It kick-started my journey to more hobby projects, inspired me to even write more. Funny how few small beginnings can turn into significant projects.

Sun, Feb 24, 2019 dev microthreads

The homepage design of almost all news publications look very similar these days — rows and columns of jumbled text. I am yet to come across a design that manages to clearly serve the important articles without too much of clutter around. Quantity ranks higher than quality.

Fri, Feb 22, 2019 thoughts

I have been quite busy recently both at my day job and at home. Too many things to look after, planning for many eminent changes in life. Thankfully, the reading hasn’t been affected — actually it is the reading that’s kept me sane. Unfortunately, writing and responding is.

Wed, Feb 13, 2019 update

Dave Pell on Amazon buying Eero

So now Amazon can run your router, your home security camera (Blink), your doorbell (Ring), your TV (Fire), and listen to your every word via Alexa as you enjoy a nice dinner from Whole Foods. We recently learned that Jeff Bezos is good at protecting his own private parts. Who’s going to protect ours from him?

Wed, Feb 13, 2019 thoughts

Amazon acquiring Eero is a nice reminder of the risk of the technology players getting too big. It becomes extremely difficult for any small players to survive — the limited set of 5 companies compete in every space. It’s bad for innovation, everyone works towards acquisition.

Also, we should look out for the repeating sponsors on podcasts — that looks to be the sure shot way to acquisition now. Many of the recent acquisitions have been a sponsors of some technology podcasts. I think advertising is no longer for the end customers.

Tue, Feb 12, 2019 thoughts

It was discomforting to read Owen William’s account of his failed attempt to add his site to Google News. Not just because how aloof Google acted, but because of the patience Owen was showing towards their policies. I understand his desire to receive the crazy traffic Google might send to his site. But it is better to understand that Google’s interests and plans for the product just won’t match those of a smallish individual website.

These losing battles are always better to be avoided — it has been true since the early SEO days. Dave Winer words it really well in his response.

In Williams’ tale of woe, the Godfather is the open web, other news orgs, his readers, and the legal system is Google. We have to work together Owen. The web made all you do possible, you can’t go over its head to Google to get what you think you need.

Sun, Feb 10, 2019 thoughts