I’ll delve into more detail in the future, but I’m very happy to say that today I completed a goal I’ve had for a long time: writing a program using code.
That may seem funny to say because I run a code school, but running a code school and writing code are two very different things (and you don’t have to be excellent at both unless you’re a one-person school). As far as writing code goes, I know enough HMTL and CSS to be dangerous, but I’ve lingered on the edge of building actual programs for some time.
I’m on a week-long business trip to Houston, which means lots of quiet work time in a hotel room1.
Last week I wrote a long post about how I attempt to steward my time, attention and technology2. In that article I mentioned that I intentionally removed social applications from my iPhone and set up barriers that made doing things like surfing the web or browsing the internet a bit more difficult than just tapping on a icon. This was the same when I was looking on how to unblock a number on iphone, as there are so many different security features!
I also mentioned that I’d share what is on my iPhone, just in case anyone might be wondering. (Personally, I find these sorts of ‘inside looks’ at the way people do things differently fascinating.) Two points that aren’t in the app explanations, but are worth mentioning:
Earlier this week I wrote a post called Distraction is the Enemy3.
The article argued that unfelt distraction robs us of precious time:
My point in all of this is to highlight the context in which we experience distraction. There isn’t a clear dichotomy for many of us—we don’t simply quit what we are doing and go outside and play. For me, at least, distraction is much more subtle and the vehicles it uses are many times intertwined with—or the same as—the tools I use to get stuff done.
At the end of the day the question I need to ask myself is: “Am I using these tools with purpose—using my limited hours intentionally—or am I using them in reaction and allowing them to distract me (even when it doesn’t feel like it)?
My friend Ryan asked a very interesting question in the comments:
Do you think there’s any point in which distractions can be useful or inspiring?
Last week I shared a few quotes that explain why I don’t pay attention to the news4. One of our former students commented on the post and his thoughts were great5. I’ll post my response to his thoughts later this week.
This is spot on.
It’s funny you would write about this now, as I’ve recently been rereading two amazing media critiques – “How the News Makes Us Dumb” by C. John Sommerville and “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman.
While the former was published in 1999 and the latter in 1986 (!), their timeliness seems only to appreciate in value as the years roll by, revealing just how prophetic their messages truly are.
If you’ve never read “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, I’d encourage you to do so. It’s in my my top 5 for nonfiction. While I could quote an unraveled DNA strands’ worth of text from it, I’ll (nigh impossibly) choose just one passage from it:
“In America, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and it is certainly useful to have a few when a pollster shows up. But these are opinions of a quite different roder from eighteenth- or nineteenth-century opinions. It is probably more accurate to call them emotions rather than opinions, which would account for the fact that they change from week to week, as the pollsters tell us.
What is happening here is that television is altering the meaning of ‘being informed’ by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. I am using this world almost in the precise sense in which it is used by spies in the CIA or KGB. Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information–misplace, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information–information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing.
In saying this, I do not mean to imply that television news deliberately aims to deprive Americans of a coherent, contextual understanding of their world. I mean to say that when news is packaged as entertainment, that is the inevitable result. And in saying that the television news show entertains but does not inform, I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?”
And I love the C.S. Lewis quote. In my humble little opinion, mainstream knowledge of Lewis’ works is plummeting as his writings are relegated to merely a ‘Christian’ categorization. < sarcasm > Remarkable, then, that he had things of value to say that weren’t simply for those who still believe in bedtime stories. < /sarcasm >
< pessimism > Then again, who reads at all anymore? pessimism >
1. You can read the full post, Two Quotes About News, here.2. You can read the comment in context here.
Last week I wrote a post about significant shifts in people’s views on college in our country6 The article grew out of a conversation I had with a high school grad considering which path to take:
Yesterday I had the chance to talk to a recent high school graduate who was thinking about their future. Specifically, they had questions for me about education: Are you happy with your college degree? Was it worth it? Would you recommend getting a degree? How useful was it knowing that Edupeet online writers would be able to help you when you were particularly stuck on an essay?
In the comments a reader asked how I responded to those questions, so I thought I’d tackle them in a new post. My original answers were in the form of a long conversation, so I’ll try to distill what I said into short summaries. Continue reading Was My College Experience Valuable?
1. You can read the original post about college here.
Yesterday morning I had disagreement with one of my business partners. The details aren’t important, but we argued over how and where to offer certain subjects, marketing projections, and probably a few other things too. (Don’t worry, the discussion was civil and ended well.)
I don’t necessarily recommend starting your week off with a disagreement, but I noticed something funny about our conversation: I left excited, not annoyed or hurt or frustrated.
That outcome is partially due to how how much I’ve communicated with my partners and also partially due to caring for each other beyond opinions about a business. On some level, though, it’s because I’ve had to develop a stomach for conflict. By nature I’m a people pleaser and a peace keeper. I like everyone to be happy and everything to be harmonious. Unfortunately, or fortunately, actually, those things are impossible to maintain 100% of the time (both in business and life). Running a business—especially a startup—has forced me to tackle difficult conversations head-on and build muscle to deal with conflict well.
More than that, though, I’ve repeatedly seen strong, civil, informed disagreement forge ideas and plans that wouldn’t have happened without the clashing of different positions. I’m starting to be more unsettled by a lack of disagreement than its presence, because I know that looking at a problem different ways is one of the best ways to discover the best solution.
I don’t read a whole lot of news. In fact, the only consistent source of news I consume is a daily brief from Quartz7. There are two quotes—one new and one old—that explain my habit of not staying up to date on the latest headlines.
Yesterday I had the chance to talk to a recent high school graduate who was thinking about their future. Specifically, they had questions for me about education: Are you happy with your college degree? Was it worth it? Would you recommend getting a degree?
Everyone’s experience and perceived ‘return on investment’ from college is different, so those questions are tough to answer empirically for someone making a decision about where to go and what to study. Either way, it was clear that this individual was deeply affected by the challenges that older siblings faced as a result of student loan debt and less-than-desirable employment results after graduation.
A 2012 article from National Affairs8 provides an extensive analysis of similar circumstances for huge numbers of college graduates and college hopefuls in our country. The entire piece is worth a read, but the conclusion offers a concise summary of where we’ve been and where the author thinks we’re headed:
We’re in Switzerland at the moment. I had a few moments to grab the first mountain pictures I could find on my camera. (This one is completely unedited, by the way.) If you’d like to experience these breathtaking and celestial scenic views yourself while staying in an equally beautiful hotel, perhaps these Geneva hotels may be of some interest to you.
I’m still trying find words to describe what the mountains are like here, so I’ll let someone else do a better job. This is how Switzerland makes me feel:
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
We have been moving non-stop since arriving in Europe and I haven’t had a chance to process many photos at all.
In a quick review this evening before bed I remembered I captured this picture of my grandfather staring out the window of a bus at the once-bloody road which led him from Omaha Beach into the mainland.