Notes about gtd

July 16, 2011 permalink

The Phantom Tollbooth

I’ve been re-reading Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, one of my favorite books from when I was a kid, and it still holds up. I remember really enjoying it for its wit and wordplay (even if a lot of it whizzed over my head), but the point of the story, in which Milo learns about Wisdom (including false understandings of such) and the dangers lurking in the Mountains of Ignorance, resonates much more strongly as an adult.

“Because, my young friends,” he muttered sourly, “what could be more important than doing unimportant things? If you stop to do enough of them, you’ll never get to where you’re going.” He punctuated his last remark with a villainous laugh.

“Then you must―” gasped Milo.

“Quite correct!” he shrieked triumphantly. “I am the Terrible Trivium, demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, and monster of habit.”

“But why do only unimportant things?” asked Milo, who suddenly remembered how much time he spent each day doing them.

“Think of all the trouble it saves,” the man explained, and his face looked as if he’d be grinning an evil grin―if he could grin at all. “If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you’ll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You just won’t have the time. For there’s always something to do to keep you from what you really should be doing…”

And with that, I’d better get off Tumblr!

February 20, 2010 permalink

The Virtue of Vagueness

From Nature’s review (sorry about the academic paywall) of the new book Not Exactly: In Praise of Vagueness:

Although scientists strive for increasing clarity in their measurements and concepts, it is often uncertainty that spurs new thinking. The haziness of the species notion set the young Charles Darwin pondering evolution. Francis Crick observed that if he and James Watson had worried about how to define the gene in the 1950s, progress in molecular biology would have stalled. “In research the front line is almost always in a fog,” Crick wrote in his autobiography. Even today there is no consensus definition of the gene.

Another excerpt:

“Sometimes,” confesses the computer scientist Kees van Deemter, “one just has to be sloppy.”

February 3, 2010 permalink

Mechner and Chahi on Inspiration

From a recent interview with legendary game designers Jordan Mechner (the original Prince of Persia) and Eric Chahi (Another World) on being an auteur in the modern game development environment. Jordan Mechner’s advice to the young designer:

A good friend in another field gave me this piece of advice recently. He said that most people approach things “1-2-3.”

One is the first inspiration, the vision, the excitement. One is gold. One is touched with magic; everyone wants a piece of it.

Two is all the reasons it won’t work, or won’t sell, or could get screwed up; all the difficulties – technical, financial, logistical – that need to be solved.

Three is doing it.

Most people get stuck on two. My friend’s advice was to go in a different order: “1-3-2”. Skip two and go straight to three. I’d never heard it phrased quite this way before, but looking back, the things I’ve done in my life that I’m most glad of, I did them 1-3-2. So that’s my advice too.