Books That Changed My Life [en]

[fr] Une série de livres qui m'ont marquée.

Picked up on [Lifehacker](http://lifehacker.com/) (via [Feedly](http://feedly.com/), which I really like!), [What Books Have Changed Your Life?](http://lifehacker.com/397394/the-books-that-changed-your-lives) — so, off the top of my head, and way too late in the night to do any serious thinking/writing/linking, a bunch of books that were groundbreaking reads for me:

– The Web of Belief (Ullian & Quine)
– Emotional Intelligence (Goleman)
– Comment gérer les personnalités difficiles (André & Lelord)
– Naked Conversations (Scoble & Israel)
– The Black Swan (Taleb)
– Getting Things Done (Allen)
– The Paradox of Choice (Schwartz)
– Buddhism Without Beliefs (Batchelor)
– India: A Million Mutinies Now (Naipaul)
– The Cluetrain Manifesto (Searls, Weinberger, Locke, Levine)

There are certainly more that I’m not thinking about now, and the list is certainly skewed towards these past years (the near past is always fresher in memory, and old changes tend to be forgotten). I could give an explanation for each of them… but some other time, maybe.

I read a lot of fiction, too — not just essay-like books. But I wouldn’t say that any work of fiction (that I can recall) really changed my life in a major way.

I might come back to this. Or I might not. Who knows?

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Conference Experience Evolution and The Paradox of Choice [en]

[fr] Mes réflexions sur l'expérience vécue lors de conférences comme LIFT08, LeWeb3, SXSW, BlogTalk, à la lumière de ma lecture du livre The Paradox of Choice. Surcharge cognitive et sociale, trop de décisions à prendre. Evolution également, entre les premières conférences où je ne connaissais presque personne, et où l'accent était mis sur "faire de nouvelles connaissances", et les dernières conférences, où je me rends compte que je ne peux pas passer du temps (ni même parfois dire bonjour) à toutes les personnes que je connais déjà.

There’s a lot going on in my head these days, and unfortunately I’ve been too [busy/exhausted](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/02/25/stalling/) (that damn anaemia is still around, fwiw) to blog about it. Since a week or so before LIFT08, actually, I feel like I’ve been desperately running behind the train, and the distance between my hand and the handlebar that will allow me to climb back on is just increasing.

One book I’ve been reading these last weeks (months?) is [The Paradox of Choice](http://www.amazon.com/Paradox-Choice-Why-More-Less/dp/0060005688). If you haven’t read it yet, take a few minutes to order it now. It’s turning out to be a really important book for me, on the one hand for understanding a few things about how the world we live in functions and affects us in the areas of freedom, responsibility, and of course, choice — and on the other hand for understanding myself.

I suffer a lot from having too many options to choose from: I’m really bad at being a “satisficer” in certain areas (somebody who will be satisfied with an option as long as it meets certain criteria) as opposed to being a “maximizer” — wanting the *best* option available. In particular in my professional life and my intellectual pursuits, each choice is agonizing, because my brain wirings keep me very focused on everything I’m possibly missing out upon each time I pick a particular option over others. I do my best to tone this tendency down, of course, but it’s there.

There’s a lot I could comment upon in relation to this book and all it is helping me understand (it delves deep into the mechanisms of choice, and that’s fascinating), but suffice to say right now that it’s colouring a lot of my thinking in general these days.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is conferences. Obviously, as a [conference organizer](http://going-far.com/) ([Going Solo](http://going-solo.net/) early bird price ends soon, by the way!), it’s on my mind, but I’ve also been attending quite a few conferences recently and reflecting of how my experience of these events has evolved (due to [“burn-out”](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/06/too-many-people/), increased [network and public profile](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/02/11/from-lift06-to-lift08/), and maybe other factors).

For online people like me, conferences are an occasion to see their usually scattered network of relations (friends or business contacts) coalesce in one single geographical location over the space of a few days. It can be very exciting, especially when you get to meet many of these people offline for the first time, but it can also be overwhelming. During my first conferences, I also got to know a lot of new people. People I wasn’t interactive with online. People who “grew” (ew) my network. People I liked and decided I wanted to stay in touch with. People who were interesting business contacts.

As conferences went by, I would find myself in a crowd of more and more people I already knew and appreciated and wanted to spend time with. I think [FOWA](http://futureofwebapps.com/) last November was a breaking point for me — I realized that it was impossible for me to catch up with all “my people” there in the space of two short days. It was quite distressing to realize this, actually.

A few weeks after that, I was in Berlin for [Web2.0Expo](http://climbtothestars.org/tags/web2expo/). A bit burnt, I took things way more lightly. Attended a few sessions. Didn’t even show up on certain mornings. Hung out with people I met there. Didn’t try to blog all the sessions I attended. It went much better.

Conferences are hard. There is a lot of intellectual stimulation (sessions and conversations), and a lot of social stimulation too. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I already feel life is simply too full of interesting things and people. In my everyday life, I struggle with the feeling that there is “too much out there” for me to “deal” or “cope” with — and a conference just concentrates this feeling over 2-3 days. Lots of fascinating (hopefully) sessions to attend. Great corridor conversations. Old friends to catch up with. New friends to make. Business contacts to touch base with. Dinners, lunches and parties. Take photos, blog, video the sessions or interview fellow attendees. To do all that well, you’d need to be superhuman.

I had two “different” conference experiences during these last six months, and they were LeWeb4 and LIFT08. Both times, I attended the conference with a rather clear [business objective](http://going-solo.net). It was tiring, but less overwhelming, because I’d decided in advance what I was in for. LeWeb4 (LeWeb3 actually, 2nd edition — don’t ask me why) actually turned out better than LIFT08 for me, because I simply didn’t attend any sessions (aside from half of [JP](http://confusedofcalcutta.com/)’s). At LIFT08, I had a press pass, so I did feel pressure to live-blog — and also, it’s my “home conference”, and I really like their programme. I was also [giving a speech](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/02/07/lift08-my-going-solo-open-stage-speech/), so, although this conference experience “went well”, it was [overwhelming](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/02/11/my-lift08-recap/).

So, what am I learning about conferences? They’re “too much”. So, you have to go to them knowing you’ll miss out (which brings us back to what The Paradox of Choice is about). The more connected you are, the more socially unmanageable it’s going to be. People you won’t see. Not saying goodbye. Not spending as much time as you wanted with certain people, but in exchange spending more time with others. So, I’ve come to accept that. I don’t know who I’m going to be able to catch up with. I know I won’t be able to catch up with everyone. I do my best not to plan — and if there is a small number of people (1, 2, 3) that I really want to see, I make plans with them, and that’s it.

The sessions are also “too much”. You can’t sit in sessions for the whole day, take notes, blog about them (or whatever you do) and then do the same thing the next day. Well, you can, but chances are your brain will fry at some point. I know that I can’t do it for two days in a row. At [SXSW](http://2008.sxsw.com/interactive/), I decided at one point to officially give up on attending sessions. I felt bad, because there were lots of them which sounded interesting, and lots of people I wanted to hear, but I also felt relieved because all of a sudden the pressure of making choices had been removed. If I happened to be hanging out with people who went to a panel, or if I stumbled into one — well, good. But I wasn’t going to make decisions about them other than on the spur of the moment. That worked out pretty well.

I did the same for the parties. Too much choice => I refuse to agonize on decisions before the last moment. All open. Go with the flow.

So, bottom-line: very little planning, lots of improvisation, and setting low expectations about doing precise stuff or hanging out with precise people.

To change the subject a little, I noticed at LIFT08 how at one point, there seems to be a physiological limit to taking in new people (certainly some relation to the [Dunbar number](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar’s_number) department). At LIFT08, I was just so socialed out (or over-socialized), between running around promoting Going Solo and being the object of some attention after my speech ([watch video](http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8270350768335569204)), that I realized at some point that I was doing horrible things like:

– trying to hand out moo cards twice to people I actually already knew (in this case, it was [Robert](http://scobleizer.com/)) in the space of a few minutes
– asking people for their name 3 times in a row
– forgetting I’d talked to people, even when they took the trouble to remind me what we had talked about a few hours before
– and of course, totally not recognizing anybody I’d been introduced to recently or at a previous conference

In this kind of situation, you can do two things. “Fake it”, as in “oh, hi! how’s business, blah blah blah” and hope that the person will drop enough info to help you out, or just fake it till the end. To be honest, I hate the idea of doing that, and I can’t bring myself to do it (plus, I’m sure I’d be quite bad at it). So, I prefer the second option, which is being honest. I apologize for not recognizing people (mention that I’m [hopeless with faces](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/14/badges-at-conferences/) — people who know me can attest), explain that I’m over-socialized and have simply been meeting and interacting with too many people. In my experience, this approach works out fine.

There’s also a lot to be said about “micro-fame” — the first couple of conferences I went to, the number of people I “didn’t really know” who were interested in talking to me (as in “walked up to me to introduce themselves”) was close to zero. Today, people show up out of nowhere, know me, want to speak to me. Friends want to introduce me to people they know (which is good, by the way!) My first conferences involved a lot of just meeting a nice person or two, and hanging out with them for the whole conference. This is more difficult today (except maybe at small conferences like BlogTalk) because I just know too many people (or too many people know me).

There also seems to be a subculture of highly-travelled, highly-conferenced people I’m suddenly finding myself part of — and I’m sure it would be worth taking a closer look to what’s going on here (hmm… [a conference](http://going-far.com), maybe?)

I’ll stop here, after dumping these thoughts in this not-very-organized post. It felt good to write all this down. If you have comments or thoughts, agree or disagree, experiences to share — my comments and trackbacks are yours to use.

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An Experiment (Seesmic and The Black Swan) [en]

I love reading, and I have a pile of interesting books waiting for me to dig through them. I’ve just picked up [The Black Swan](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/15/reading-the-black-swan/) where I left it over a month ago.

One of my frustrations with reading, I realise, is the difficulty in sharing the interesting stuff I discover. Being an online person, I’m used to being able to share all the interesting stuff I find or think of very easily. Going from printed book to the web is not that simple.

I painstakingly typed up quotes in [my tumblr](http://steph.tumblr.com) but honestly, it’s not the best solution. Maybe somebody will offer me a pen-scanner one day (that would be fun!) but in the meantime, I’m a bit stuck without a good bridge between my dead-tree reading and my online community.

So, I just did an experiment with Seesmic. I read out quotes and commented some of the stuff I was reading. There are two videos because (as I just discovered!) Seesmic cuts you off at 10 minutes. In total, here are 16 minutes or so of me rambling on and reading quotes to you.

The Black Swan I

The Black Swan II

Sorry for those of you who can’t see the videos. For those of you who can, do let me know if you think this is a good idea or not.

Update: more videos…

The Black Swan III

The Black Swan IV

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Reading The Black Swan [en]

[fr] Notes de lecture de "The Black Swan", sur l'impact des événements hautement improbables.

One of the things I did yesterday during my time offline was read a sizeable chunk of [The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable](http://www.amazon.com/Black-Swan-Impact-Highly-Improbable/dp/1400063515) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

It’s a fascinating read. (Thanks again to Adam Hill for saying I should read it.) I just find myself a little frustrated that I can’t effortlessly copy-paste quotes from the book into a text file or [my Tumblr](http://steph.tumblr.com) as I read. (And no, I wouldn’t want to be reading this online. I like books. They just lack a few features. Like searchability, too.)

Anyway, I’ve been [twittering away](http://twitter.com/stephtara) while I read, and here are a few things I noted. These are not exact quotes, but paraphrases. Consider them “reading notes.” (And then a few me-quotes, hehe…).

– oh, [one quote](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/15618111) I did copy to [Tumblr](http://steph.tumblr.com) (check it, if you’re lucky, you might find more quotes!)
– Finding Taleb’s concepts of Mediocristan and Extremistan fascinating and insightful.
– Probably in Extremistan: number of contacts, length of relationships? Not sure.
– High-impact, low-probability events (Black Swans) are by nature unpredictable. Now apply that to the predator problem.
– We confuse ‘no evidence of possible Black Swans’ with ‘evidence of no possible Black Swans’ and tend to remember the latter.
– ‘No evidence of disease’ often interpreted as ‘Evidence of no disease’, for example.
– Taleb: in testing for a hypothesis, we tend to look for confirmation and ignore what would invalidate it.
– Interesting: higher dopamine = greater vulnerability to pattern recognition (less suspension of disbelief)
– So… Seems we overestimate probability of black swans when we talk about them. Terrorism, predators, plane crashes… And ignore others.
– Anecdotes sway us more than abstract statistical information. (Taleb)
– That explains why personal recommendations have so much influence on our decisions. Anecdotes, rather than more abstract facts or stats. (That’s from me, not him.)
– Journalists according to Taleb: ‘industrial producers of the distortion’

**Update:** [Anne Zelenka wrote a blog post](http://www.annezelenka.com/2007/10/tell-me-a-story-but-tell-me-the-truth) taking the last and, unfortunately, quite incomplete citation as a starting-point. Check [my clarification comment on her blog](http://www.annezelenka.com/2007/10/tell-me-a-story-but-tell-me-the-truth#comment-1713). And here’s [the complete quote](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/15691134):

> Remarkably, historians and other scholars in the humanities who need to understand silent evidence the most do not seem to have a name for it (and I looked hard). As for journalists, fuhgedaboutdit! They are industrial producers of the distortion. (p. 102)

**Update 2:** Anne edited her post to take into account my comment and our subsequent discussion. Thanks!

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A Day at the Frankfurter Buchmesse [en]

[fr] Etat des lieux sur mes recherches de fonds et exploration du monde de l'édition pour mon livre sur les ados et internet. Envies de publier (via internet) des livres avec mes photos, aussi.

A month or two ago, I was chatting about [my book project](/categories/livre/) and [decision to find funding](http://www.viddler.com/about/contact/) to [Joi](http://joi.ito.com/). He suggested that a trip to the [Frankfurt book fair](http://www.book-fair.com/en/portal.php) might be useful.

First on, the Messe is just *huge*. I spent a morning there and just walked, and walked, and walked. Overall, I found my visit rather disappointing, though I did learn some useful things (though they weren’t exactly what I wanted to hear). Here’s the information I gathered, from a visit to the Swiss booth and discussions with a few people.

– I have a list of Swiss (French-speaking) publishers, and a shortlist of 4-5 who could be suitable for my project.
– Publishers, distributors, and bookstores are all part of the same organisation (in CH).
– The market is saturated, publishers are swamped with manuscripts, and it’s even worse in France than Switzerland (so, I should stick with local publishers — the fact I’m already recognised as a local authority also pushes in that direction).
– I can forget about a deal with an advance, so I need to look at other sources to finance the *writing* part (Loterie Romande, educational associations, foundations… I’ll hunt around a bit to compile a list.)
– Swiss publishers don’t like agents, and having one might make it even more difficult for me to find a publisher.
– The publisher deals with the printing guys to get the book published, and deals with the distribution guys to get it distributed. [Hunter](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_Lovins), a seasoned bookwriter, tells me that unless I’m getting a huge advance, having a publisher is not worth it — I can deal with printers and distributors myself. Will just have to check if this is a viable approach in the Swiss market.
– The publisher is precious for the editing process, because he knows what is good and what is not, the head of this Swiss association tells me. Hunter, on the contrary, tells me this mostly gets in the way. A good editor can be precious but chances are I won’t be getting one.
– If I go the self-publishing way (offline), then I’ll need funding for the printing, which could be a problem.
– One option, which Joi suggests and I’d been getting at, is to start off by online-self-publishing (Lulu, Blurb, or another), and once there is enough buzz, sales, reviews, etc, approaching publishers.
– I really need to work on a proper proposal, and I have a better understanding of what such a proposal needs to look like. I got some advice from talking with a publisher over dinner (thanks again!) and Chris Webb left me a pointer to [his interesting series on book proposals](http://ckwebb.com/tag/book-proposal) in the comments to [my previous post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/09/first-draft-of-book-presentation/). From what I gather, the more there is in the proposal, the better.

So, where do I go from now?

– **Write a proper proposal in French** (as the book will be in French). This obviously needs to be broken down into manageable pieces (GTD-style), and I realise that the big nasty bit for me is the outline. I have tons of ideas of stuff that I want to put in the book, but I’m not sure how to organise it all yet. I’ve been mind-mapping, but it’s a bit overwhelming and messy. So I’ll start by writing all the rest (the easy bits).
– **Write a project funding proposal** which will probably not be as detailed as the one for the publisher.
– Ask around for leads to getting funding, compile a list, send out funding requests with proposal.
– Send the proposal to the 4-5 publishers on the list, once it’s done.

Language? Isn’t it kind of weird I’m speaking about this in English? On the other hand, I don’t want to “cut out” my English network by blogging exclusively in French about this book project.

All this thinking about self-publishing has given me the desire to put together one or more photo books. I’ve barely been printing since I went digital, and it’s nice to have photos in physical form too, as [Moo](http://moo.com)’s success demonstrates. My friend [Andrea Lindenberg](http://www.andrealindenberg.com/) has put together a [collection of her best riding show photographs](http://www.lulu.com/content/1192654) — if you like horses, you should definitely check it out. She’s very talented.

My [Flickr photo collection](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/) is approaching 10’000 photos. So, again, the inevitable **choice** problem. I’ll certainly make a book of my best Indian photos at some point (most of them aren’t on Flickr but are either slides (first trip), negatives (second trip), or digital-[dumped-in-directories](http://old.climbtothestars.org/dumps/) (third trip). I have a set called [My Favourites](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/1292259/), but it’s very out-of-date and doesn’t contain any recent photos. I can probably dig out the photos I use for Moo cards or stickers and add them, though.

Any opinions? If you see any photos of mine that you think deserve ending up in the (a) photo book, don’t hesitate to tag them “forthebook”. Thanks!

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Borders: Intentionally Misleading Marketing Ploy [en]

[fr] Les étiquettes sur les livres que je viens d'acheter chez Borders, un grand libraire anglo-saxon, sont conçues de façon à induire en erreur l'acheteur. On comprend "achetez-en un, recevez-en un: moitié prix" alors qu'en fait c'est "achetez-en un, recevez-en un moitié prix". Il faut lire les petits caractères qui sont tellement petits qu'on ne voit pas qu'ils sont là. Pas fair-play, malhonnête, et franchement, très petit.

I’m officially pissed off. Yesterday at Borders, I picked up a bunch of books from the stands near the entrance of the shop. They all had a nice red sticker advertising a reduced price. See for yourself:

Border's Intentionally Misleading Marketing Ploy

(want a [closer look](http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=507323038&size=o)?)

Here is the text of the sticker, reproduced for your personal entertainment:

Buy one Get one
Half Price
BORDERS

Please note the follow details: line-breaks, capitalisation (“Buy”, “Get”, and both “Half” and “Price”, but not “one”), and text size. They lead the casual reader (and even the not-so-casual one, I’m ready to bet) into interpreting this advertisement this way:

Buy one, get one: half price (Borders)

Right? If you buy one, you get one — the result is that they are half price. Sounds nice!

Actually, not so. You have to read the fine print. Oh, the fine print? I actually only discovered it when I was taking the photos for this post. Let’s have a closer look:

Small Print

Oh! there it is. I can see it now. Fine print indeed:

SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY. STICKERED TITLES ONLY. CHEAPEST TITLE HALF PRICE.

So, actually, the text on the sticker is to be understood in the following way:

Buy one: get one half price (Borders)

With an addendum, in tiny all-caps:

YOU WILL FALL FOR OUR EVIL MARKETING PLOY. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Please note, again, how the layout, font sizes, and capitalisation are intentionally designed to induce misunderstanding of the sales conditions.

**This is not fair-play, Borders.**

Of course, I bought my books. It’s not when you see the total at the cash desk and you realise it’s higher than you expected, and you say “erm, isn’t it ‘buy one, get one free’?” only to be answered “no, it’s ‘buy one, get one **half price**'” that you’re going to stop everything and give up on the books which you had already acquired in your mind.

**Borders, shame on you for using such an evil marketing ploy. Disgraceful.**

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Getting Things Done: It's Just About Stress [en]

[fr] Getting Things Done: non pas un moyen d'accomplir plus de choses, mais un moyen de passer moins de temps sur ce qu'on a décidé qu'on devait accomplir. Moins de stress. Plus de liberté. Plus de temps à soi.

Anne seems to have struck a chord with [thing #8 she hates about web 2.0](http://annezelenka.com/2007/03/ten-things-i-hate-about-you-web-20):

> Getting Things Done. The productivity virus so many of us have been infected with in 2006 and 2007. Let’s move on. Getting lots of stuff done is not the way to achieve something important. You could be so busy planning next actions that you miss out on what your real contribution should be.

[Stowe](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/03/anne_zelenka_on_1.html), [Shelley](http://burningbird.net/linkers/linkers/) and [Ken](http://ipadventures.com/?p=1653) approve.

It’s funny, but reading their posts makes GTD sound like “a way to do an even more insane number of things.”

Huh?

That’s not at all the impression I got when I read and started using GTD. To me, GTD is “a solution to finally be able to enjoy free time without feeling bogged down by a constant feeling of guilt over everything I should already have done.”

Maybe not everyone has issues doing things. If you don’t have trouble getting stuff out of the way, then throw GTD out of the window and continue enjoying life. You don’t need it.

But for many people, procrastination, administrivia piling up, not-enough-time-for-stuff-I-enjoy-doing and commitments you know you’re not going to be able to honour are a reality, and a reality that is a source of stress. I, for one, can totally relate to:

> Most people have been in some version of this mental stress state so consistently, for so long, that they don’t even know they’re in it. Like gravity, it’s ever-present–so much so that those who experience it usually aren’t even aware of the pressure. The only time most of them will realize how much tension they’ve been under is when they get rid of it and notice how different it feels.

David Allen, Getting Things Done

GTD, as I understand it, isn’t about cramming more on your plate. It’s about freeing yourself of what’s already on it, doing the dishes straight after the meal and spending your whole afternoon walking by the lake with a friend without this nagging feeling that you should rather be at home dealing with the paperwork, but you just don’t want to face it.

Here are the very few sentences of “Welcome to *Getting Things Done*”, the forward to GTD (and yeah, there’s a bit of an upbeat, magical-recipe tone to it, but bear with me):

> Welcome to a gold mine of insights into strategies for how to have more energy, be more relaxed, and get a lot more accomplished with much less effort. If you’re like me, you like getting things done and doing them well, and yet you also want to savor life in ways that seem increasingly elusive if not downright impossible if you’re working too hard.

David Allen, Getting Things Done

And a bit further down the page:

> And *whatever* you’re doing, you’d probably like to be more relaxed, confident that whatever you’re doing at the moment is just what you need to be doing–that having a beer with your staff after hours, gazing at your sleeping child in his or her crib at midnight, answering the e-mail in front of you, or spending a few informal minutes with the potential new client after the meeting is exactly what you *ought* to be doing, as you’re doing it.

David Allen, Getting Things Done

I don’t hear anything in there about “doing more things is better” or “you should be doing things all the time”. The whole point of GTD is to get **rid** of stuff so that it’s done and you can then go off to follow your heart’s desire. It’s about deciding not to do stuff way before you reach the point where it’s been on your to-do list stressing you for six months, and you finally decide to write that e-mail and say “sorry, can’t”.

That frees your mind and your calendar for what is really important in your life (be it twittering your long-distance friends, taking photographs of cats, spending time with people you love or working on your change-the-world project).

You’ll notice that I didn’t use the word “productivity” in this post a single time. “Productivity” is a word businesses like. If people are “productive”, it means you get to squeeze more out of them for the same price. That isn’t an idea I like. But being “productive” can also simply be understood to mean that it takes you less time to do the things that you’ve decided you needed to do. In that way, yes, GTD is a productivity method. But I think that calling it that does it disservice, because people hear “squeezing more out of ya for the same $$$” and go “eek, more stress”.

Bottom line? (I like ending posts with bottom lines.) If you see GTD as something that takes away your freedom and free time, turns you into an even worse workaholic, and encourages you to become indiscriminate about interests you pursue and tasks you take on because you “can do everything”, think again — and re-read the book. If you spend your whole time fiddling with your GTD system, shopping around for another cool app to keep your next action lists in, and worrying about how to make it even more efficient, you’re missing the point. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

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Meme littéraire [fr]

Je cède au même littéraire. 4 questions sur les livres que j’ai lus.

[en] A book meme. Books I've bought, read, liked. You know the drill.

A l’unanimité, Delphine et Baud ont décidé que j’allais passer à  la casserole du dernier même qui court la blogosphère.

Combien lisez-vous de livres par an ?

Très dur à  dire, parce que ça varie énormément. Lectrice insatiable quand j’étais jeune, je n’ai presque plus lu durant mon Gymnase et mes années de chimie. Avec une ou deux crises de lecture dans des déserts, je dois avouer que la moyenne de ces 10 dernières années ne doit pas être glorieuse. Regardons plutôt le passé récent, parce que là , je dévore: une trentaine depuis fin mai, je vous laisse faire le calcul.

Je profite de digresser puisqu’on est dans les listes: voici une ancienne liste de lecture (sans dates, malheureusement). Et ma wishlist vous dira que j’ai soif de livres.

Quel est le dernier livre que vous ayez acheté ?

Acheté ou ajouté à  sa collection? Le dernier livre que j’ai reçu (un retardataire du gros pack de Noël que m’a offert mon père) est Just a Geek de Wil Wheaton.

Le dernier que j’aie acheté… aïe… pas parce qu’il n’y en a pas, mais il y en a trop. Je réfléchis, et je vais zyeuter ma bibliothèque (récemment réorganisée, j’en suis très fière).

Bon… je pense que ça devait être Comment gérer les personalités difficiles, acheté juste avant mon dernier voyage à  Paris.

Quel est le dernier livre que vous ayez lu ?
Foundation de Isaac Asimov.
Listez 5 livres qui comptent beaucoup pour vous ou que vous avez particulièrement appréciés.

Allez, je me lance:

  1. L’affaire Caïus de Henry Winterfeld: je l’ai lu quand j’avais 9 ans environ, et j’ai tellement croché que je l’ai lu jusqu’au bout, m’endormant à  passé minuit. Ce fut le début d’une longue habitude de lectures nocturnes “en cachette”, après l’extinction des feux et le passage de mes parents dans ma chambre…
  2. Prince Caspian de C. S. Lewis (dans les Chroniques de Narnia). Je devais avoir à  peu près le même age quand j’ai lu ce livre, et il m’a complètement fascinée. Je n’ai pas tardé à  me faire toute la série. Je la relis d’ailleurs régulièrement.
  3. La demoiselle sauvage de Corinna Bille. J’ai découvert Corinna Bille à  l’uni, à  l’occasion d’un séminaire d’analyse de textes de deuxième partie. J’adore cet auteur (et pas juste parce qu’on porte le même prénom). J’aime le caractère onirique de ses écrits et leur sensualité.
  4. (la liste s’allonge et je commence à  penser à  tous les livres que je ne pourrai pas citer ici…) Arranged Marriage de Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Un recueil de nouvelles ramené de mon deuxième voyage en Inde, racontant des histoires de mariages arrangés indiens, surtout de femmes qui émigrent aux Etats-Unis suite à  leur mariage. Bouleversant. Pour moi, du moins.
  5. The Gods Themselves de Isaac Asimov. Lu au début de mon adolescence, c’était mon premier contact avec Isaac Asimov, un de mes auteurs préférés. Il faut d’ailleurs que je le relise un de ces quatre, celui-là …

Je me rends compte que je n’ai cité que de la fiction. Il y a aussi de nombreux livres de non-fiction qui m’ont marquée. Une autre fois, peut-être!

A qui allez-vous passer le relais (3 blogs) et pourquoi ?
  • neuro, parce que je suis curieuse;
  • Chris, parce que je soupçonne qu’elle risque d’aimer ça;
  • Dave, parce que je suis toujours curieuse.

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Dar Williams [en]

I stumbled upon Dar Williams’ music by chance online. I recently bought her last CD. Here is a little story about it.

[fr] Dar Williams est une artiste que j'ai découverte en piratant de la musique. Je viens d'acheter son CD, et voici une petite anecdote à  ce sujet. (Eh oui, il y a des gens qui finissent par acheter plus de CDs à  cause de ces vilains mp3 qui trainent en ligne.)

This is a story of how pirating music made me discover an artist and buy a CD. It happens to me quite regularly — I’m one of those people who end up spending more money on CDs because they “steal” music and end up liking it.

Many months ago, I was crawling around P2P networks downloading songs, and amongst other artists, I was trying to grab anything I could find from Joan Baez. Joan Baez sung my childhood soundtrack, and I’ve been listening to her on and off for over 20 years. Most of what I used to listen to was on LP or tape and stayed at my parents’. I bought a “Best of” a few years ago, but I wanted to hear some of those songs I used to love when I was little. (Note that, as a first side effect of finding Joan Baez songs online, I started listening to her more again, and that made me start completing my CD collection of her albums.)

Anyway, in the bunch of things I downloaded at that time, there was a song called You’re Aging Well, that she was singing in duet with Dar Williams, the composer of the song (though I didn’t know it at that time). I quickly started liking the song, and in particular Dar Williams’ voice. Around that time (weeks, months?) I realized I owned a CD which contained another track sung by Dar Williams: What Do You Hear in These Sounds.

You’re Aging Well, in particular, grew on me. I added Dar Williams to my wishlist, and when my Dad offered me stuff from Amazon for Christmas, I put The Beauty of The Rain in my shopping basket.

The CD arrived two days ago, along with lots of books (mainly Isaac Asimov — I’m going on a robot binge just now). Well, no regrets, the album is exactly what I expected, and I like it a lot.

While I was listening to it for the first time, I took out the booklet and had a look at it. Beneath the lyrics for each song, Dar Williams has added a comment about it. I like that. Two comments in particular stood out for me.

Have you ever read the book, ‘The Dance of Anger’ by Harriet Lerner? It’s great!

No kidding, The Dance of Anger was the book Dar Williams’ CD was sitting upon when I opened up my box from Amazon. Aleika had recommended it to me, and I had included it in my One-Time Order From Amazon With Dad’s Credit Card. How neat is that?

The chorus of this came into my head while I was being rolfed! It drives me crazy when people say that depression is the best source of art. This song was my determination to transform my new happiness into new ideas and even better art.

I personally feel vers strongly against the idea that suffering is necessary for creativity. I’m glad to hear an artist feel that way, too. Thanks, Dar!

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UK Trip Report [en]

Write-up of my 5-day trip to the UK. Movies with Aleika, Bombay Dreams in London, an IRC meetup.

The nice thing about having a laptop is that you can fire it up on the airplane and type in peace, without being distracted by IRC, instant messaging, e-mail and stats checking, or simple bloghopping. With iTunes in the background playing Bombay Dreams, my only concern is that the plane will start descending towards Geneva shortly.

My trip to the UK was short, and last-minute. I heard some people from #joiito were going to meet up in London on Sunday, I checked my easyjet flights, called Aleika–

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we will be landing shortly in Geneva. Please return to your seats, make sure your seatbelt is fastened and your seat is in the upright position, and switch off any electronic equipment.”

There goes the laptop, and I now find myself with a post which will be hard to date. Anyway. (Warning: this is a “cheese sandwich” post to some extent, so if you’re bored already, don’t bother reading it.)

Where was I? Yes, last-minute trip. I found a friend to house-and-cat-sit for me, which was nice, and spent the first couple of days at Aleika’s. We did our usual “girls at the movies” thing: get dressed up a bit, leave home late, grab some food which doesn’t come fast enough (well, it took long enough to arrive that I drank my pint of cider almost entirely before the meal, and can now testify that it’s all it takes to make my head spin quite a lot), jump into a cab and run to the theatre (slightly inebriated), only to find that the timings on the internet were incorrect, and we have another half-hour to wait before gleefully drooling all over Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing (OK, I got a bit carried away here, but you get the picture).

I got to spend nearly a whole day alone with Akirno, which was really nice. I didn’t get to see him much on my last visits. He’s grown so much! And he talks so much! (Yes, I know, that’s what I say each time I come back from Birmingham.) He’s a real sweetie. I love him very much.

Unfortunately, I caught a cold (over the top of my first one!) waiting for the bus after Van Helsing, so all my pre-London shopping was done in a rather feverish state. Looking at the bright side of things, it means I didn’t spend as much as I might have, which is a good thing, as my suitcase was already quite full enough (and my bank account empty enough, but that’s another story).

Driving to London went fine. We found a parking space right next to the Apollo Victoria Theatre. (Remember: Sunday matinée shows are a good idea if you’re going to London to see a musical or a play.) Bombay Dreams was really fun, specially as I know most of the songs Rahman re-used for the musical.

Still dressed up (I chose the pink dress), I headed for the #joiito meet-up. Despite this nagging feeling of being somewhat overdressed, and my cold, I had a very nice evening.

As always, though, I had to cope with the frustration of group meet-ups: not enough time to talk with everybody, not enough time to get into interesting conversations with those I talk to. Or maybe I’m just more of a one-to-one person? Anyway, standing invitation for any of you who would want to visit the beautiful town of Lausanne or practice French in the area — just drop me a line, or better (since e-mail is soon to be a dead form of communication, thanks to spam), catch me on IRC.

So, who was there? Well, as I’m nearing the ages of senility, I’m probably forgetting a lot of people, so please bear with me if you’re not mentioned, and let me know if it bothers you too much.

First of all, imajes, my kind host, who was so busy taking me through his iTunes collection on the train back that he missed his home stop. (Can it get worse than that?) Suw prevented me from being the only woman present (I can’t thank you enough for that). Joi was so utterly bored by my presence next to him that he left early to go back to his hotel and sleep — imagine that! (Actually, it seems jetlag also had something to do with it…)

I chatted quite a bit on the way there with imsickofmaps, and on the way back with snowchyld. Hugh managed to mess up my first blogcard somewhat (or whatever those things are called), so I am now the lucky owner of two of them. Gerard aka insert-coin took a nice bunch of photographs and has already put them online. I stole Suw’s camera to take a few photographs, but she’s not home yet, and those I took with my phone are stuck in there until I lay my hands on a Windows PC (thanks, Microsoft).

Apart from bumping my head on a couple of low doorways and leaving my coat there, I brought two things back (not literally) from james’ flat: VoodooPad, which I have not adopted as my official scrap-book application, and a book which made me discover a blog (how often has that happened to you?): Never Threaten to Eat Your Co-Workers: Best of Blogs, a collection of great weblog posts. I read a few pages, and it looked really neat. It’s on my wishlist now.

I think this post is long enough, for a short trip!

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