Technology

How optimized can your life be?

The Instagram algorithm has developed some weird ideas about me. For example, it decided that I could dream of owning a pair of shoes made from recycled wood pulp or what looked like recycled pencil erasers. I’ve also been misidentified as easy to wear $500 nondescript dresses, candles that smell like old libraries, and something called “waterproof gold,” as far as I can tell. You know, it’s just ordinary gold. Mostly, however, my value as a potential customer lies not in my love of flamboyant dresses or crazy-looking heels, but in being I persistently pursue work productivity.

For reasons that are not obvious to me, I constantly receive ads for products that promise a non-stop optimized lifestyle: workflow apps, time management apps, calendar apps polyphasic sleep. I get ads for podcasts called “Well done” and the ads don’t identify the product itself but the design brief is clearly “gets people thinking about how much they’d love to check out” content in the list.” Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of ads for an app called Blinkist, which is basically a tool to collect and absorb as much information as possible in the shortest amount of time that the brain can afford. authorized person.

Like so many other products, Blinkist seems to be predicated on the belief that every activity can be made more efficient, organized in reverse, and shaken until its value is knocked out. . In this case, the main pending operation is streamlined to read (which is time consuming, requires sitting down), and the wait object is disassembled and rebuilt for the most convenience, a book (the contain unwieldy and poorly understood information). The service brings together thousands of books of non-fiction, identifies “key ideas” – known as “winks”, presumably in a nod to Malcolm Gladwell’s book – and presents them in a format 15 minutes for users, on its website are “some of the busiest people on the planet. ”

Blinkist users are not the type to just embark on an activity without knowing in advance what they will receive. The site promises that customers’ reading time will never be wasted, that they will “always recognize a trove of new information or important insights”. If that’s too abstract, Blinkist’s site defines its product’s value in precise financial terms: $89,000, the combined value of all the book summaries provided. And it only costs about $8 a month.

Each summary begins with a question: “What’s in it for me?” For example, for someone asking to know why he should spend 15 minutes of his day listening to a condensed version of Larissa MacFarquhar’s Drowning Strangers: Impossible idealism, drastic choices, and the urge to help – a book about “extreme altruists” who commit themselves wholeheartedly to others, often at great personal and financial cost – the answer is that he will find out if he whether “selfless enough to be an altruist.” For someone on the fence about the summary of Svetlana Alexievich of “Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets” – a 500-page oral history of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and expanding on one of the dominant political ideas of the 20th century – it’s remarkable that in 15 minutes, he’ll be get the meaning of loss of water and trust.

Each summary ends with a summary summary, under the heading ‘Final Summary.’

The style of the house is chic and conversational, regardless of the tone of the original text being pre-adjusted, with the reader being lured from blink to blink by occasional startling reminders. fever like: “Imagine if everything you believed to be the truth was brought into question and the world as you know it turned upside down overnight. How will you feel? ” (from “Used Hours”). Or: “Can you say you know yourself? Where does your sense of identity come from? ” (are from “The Divided Self” by RD Laing, a book about schizophrenia). Each text is mined for its actionable assets, even if the actionables prompt the user to immediately put their laptop over their knees, as in the summary belong to Jenny Odell’s “How to do nothing”: “Meaning is often the result of accidents, fortuitous and fortuitous encounters – it is the “unfavorable time” of our 24/7 productivity that we always seek to eliminate.” Each summary ends with a summary of the summary, under the heading “Final Summary.”

It’s no surprise that Blinkist’s library is packed with productivity and time optimization books, where the answer to the question of what’s in it for the user is often right there in the title. For example, the “Not Today: Nine Extreme Productivity Habits” summary is available on the app, forming a dense collection of productivity lessons that can warp space-time . The service has also expanded into “shortcasts,” which are condensed versions of podcasts, many of which are about productivity, time management, and generally the idea that there is always a better, faster way. , it’s that every room has a secret panel behind it that is more optimized for the ever-present opportunity, and if you can’t find it, it’s simply because you haven’t exploited the limitless potential. , almost mysticism of brain optimization.

That this proposition is uncertain, hardly needs spelling. I find it very difficult to imagine what can be gained from brutally reading the “Gone Time” edition, unless your sole goal is to stay away from pretending to have read it in the past. about 30 seconds, and even then. If you keep summing up the synopsis, you’ll end up with nonsense, and if you keep condensing the podcast on productivity, you’ll end up with white noise.

However, there’s something about the concept that I just can’t shake, because it would be interesting if a shortcut like this worked, if it turned out that there really was a way to keep up with everything that we have. is said to have read, heard, and formed sophistication. opinions about, opinions that demonstrate deep knowledge of the cultural product in question as well as a keen awareness of everything everyone else has said about that product so far. I would love it if my first thought of walking into a bookstore was something other than the faint panic with all the new releases and it would be great if I possessed human power. struggled to resist the pull of Instagram for more than five minutes.

Even for the best adherents of the optimization mindset, the fact that something like Blinkist exists can be construed as a concession whose demands compete for attention. I made all of us suffer, and I would be delighted if the solution it offered brought me peace. The solution really feels tedious and overwhelming – seriously ignore your ragged attention span hysterical claims, stop looking at pointless Instagram ads, read a book from start to finish and then read another – that if there’s an easier way out, I’ll probably take it.


Image source: Andrei Kuzmik chronograph / Shutterstock

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/24/magazine/blinkist-optimization-app.html How optimized can your life be?

Fry Electronics Team

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