Open Thinkering


Current optimization is long-term anachronism

I never tire of sharing this quotation by Clay Shirky:

I actually don’t want a “dream setup.” I know people who get everything in their work environment just so, but current optimization is long-term anachronism. I’m in the business of weak signal detection, so at the end of every year, I junk a lot of perfectly good habits in favor of awkward new ones.

I find that when I’m not tinkering with my digital environment, then I’m allowing my curiosity to atrophy, and I become stale in my habits.

This morning, even though I’ve been pretty happy for the last few years using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine, I’m trying searX. At the weekend, I replaced the Mi Fit app I’ve been using with my smartwatch with an open source one called Gadgetbridge.

The same goes with our physical environment. Moving things around and mixing things up keeps us sharp and prevents us from getting into a rut. I made a collage from old WIRED magazines recently, and put it on the wall next to my monitor. I’m thinking about replacing the Camus quotation above my desk and replacing it with one from Epictetus.

I agree with Shirky, who I had the pleasure of meeting this time last year: over-engineering the status quo leads to eventual irrelevance.

This post is Day 74 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at

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