Write-Only Social Media

Cal Newport has written extensively about how social media is ruining our attention spans. He recommends not using it at all. But I don’t think that’s necessarily the best idea. At least for what I do for a living.

So I’ve been thinking about how to create a write-only social media system. A way to still get some of the value out of social networks without getting all of the outrage and distraction.

News and ArticlesNuzzle is an app that aggregates articles that your friends and friends of friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t even have to have the social apps on your phone, because it taps into the services’ APIs.

Posting Dad Jokes or Links or WhateverDrafts.app on iOS is a great way to write whatever you want to write, then share it to another app or service. It’s great for a write-only email experience as well. Open drafts, write whatever it is, and then share it without having to see any timelines or feeds or inboxes. I’m not sure if this will work without having the social apps on your phone, but its a start if you have something to say but don’t need to take on other people’s anxiety.

Facebook without the Feed: For people that still need some of the functionality of Facebook on a desktop, it’s possible to use it without having to deal with the newsfeed.

From an older Venture Beat article:

…thousands of users have installed a new Chrome Extension, “News Feed Eradicator for Facebook,” to silence Facebook’s news feed. And tech-savvy Safari users have opted to eliminate Facebook’s News Feed via a simple CSS tweak.

It’s a start at least.

Stephen Hawking’s Theory of Productivity

From Cal Newport’s blog:

“…here’s some advice: The problem with physics is that most of the days we don’t make any major headway (on our projects). That’s why you should do other stuff: listen to music, meet good friends. There’s one exception to this rule: If you find a solution for a given problem, you work 24 hours a day and forget everything else. Until the problem is solved in its entirety.”

Pastebot for Mac

I haven’t been using my Mac much since getting an iPad Pro over the summer. It’s just been more fun to use than the laptop.

Then I bought Pastebot, and I’ve been back on the Mac ever since.

Pastebot remembers everything you copy. Then you can paste any of it later, anywhere you want, in any order you want. You can also create filters that transform text in the clipboard into another format.

If you’re anything like me, and you probably are me if you’re reading this, then you’ll appreciate what this means for doing research or trying to put together a document that includes bits of text or images from elsewhere.

It’s the most useful app I have right now.

Highly recommended.

Also, Tapbots is a developer well worth supporting. They make great apps.

Making the Most of 2017 and Life Before the Death Camps

So here we are. 2016 has come and gone. Anyone who didn’t lose a personal hero was at least pants’d and probably hacked by Russians.


Despite the bleak future we’ve been sentenced to, this time of year naturally lends itself to reflecting on the past and coming year. After all, making this a more productive year means setting realistic goals, establishing new habits, and establishing a mindfulness practice in case we survive the initial blasts and are left to rot in radioactive death camps.

In The Valley, we call it #yearhacking. VCs are racing each other to find the next great #year-nnovation.

As for me…

1. Less Social Media and no visits from actual storm troopers.

Less social media. It’s too distracting. It’s been shown to decrease attention span. And Twitter has devolved into racist eggs yelling at celebrities. In fact, I may do some social media pruning before Sysymos is setup at Death Squad HQ.

Death Squad Tip: They are unlikely to be names something so direct. They’ll be called something more bureaucratic sounding, like the Department of Existential Reassignment.

Did you hear about Steve?


He was reassigned the other day.

whispering Of course I heard about Steve now shut up before your kids grow up without a father…

So, less social media this year.

2. More time for brain defragging

I listen to podcasts. All of them. And I’m very good at finding ways to listen to podcasts while I’m doing anything that isn’t writing or reading.

It’s great, because I learn things like the definition of wazzoo (the door to a root cellar).

But it’s bad, because I’m constantly filling my head with talking, and there’s never any time for thoughts to bubble up or get sorted out. There’s no boredom. There is only podcast.

So less constant input. More brain defragging.

3. Write More Down So My Sons Can Avenge Me.

There was a scene in The Walking Dead, where a character who has been killed off gives another character, who has also been killed off, a notebook. The second doomed character asks the first what he should do with it. And the generous (but soon to be eaten alive) giver tells him to “write everything down.”

It stuck with me because I think it’s great advice. When I’ve done it in the past, it’s felt great. It helps me not only look interesting because I have a notebook, but also to remember fleeting thoughts like “you don’t think Mater is funny? That’s why you lost.”

The difference between paper and digital notes feels like one of permanence. You can write any bullshit down in a notes app, but then you’ll have to figure out how to organize it.

That same nonsense written on paper can be ignored without any sorting or tagging.

But if you write it down and then it sparks something later, it was worth it.

And you do want your son to have clues to the location of the castle where Nazi’s have you held captive? Don’t you?

Paul Venables on Trust and Being an Independent 

From his piece in the Huffington Post:

When you get to choose who you trust, a lot of other good things happen too. There are no workarounds (it’s worth noting that in our business, workarounds are usually people). Politics are kept to an absolute minimum. Egos never get out of control. Policies tend to be generous and lenient. Collaboration runs high. The common goal becomes the only goal. The CFO–this is a big one–actually understands and supports the culture. And work is fun. Not just foosball-and-beer fun, but the work part of work is fun. The grind becomes less so.

I’ve always admired Venebles Bell for their work. And I’ve always heard great things about the culture. I can also say from experience that working at an independent agency has a much different feel.

Though I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t have an out of control ego stashed somewhere in the building.