Books Tech

Knowing when to use digital versus paper

Digital technologies allow us to catch everything we hear in class. Whether through type or record, it’s easy to play stenographer in the iPhone era.

The problem is that apps aren’t the best thinking tools. Because using pen and paper to write is slower, it forces your brain to think about what’s keeping and what to exclude.

The power in long-form is the pause.

However, the benefits of technology far outweigh the costs. We can get things done so much quicker. Imagine having to handwrite and deliver all your tweets to the post-office. Speed is power.

The ongoing challenge, therefore, is leveraging both analog and digital when we think they can be best deployed. Writes tech author Clive Thompson:

One of the great challenges of today’s digital thinking tools is knowing when not to use them and when to rely on the powers of older and slower technologies, like paper and books.

Clive Thompson

In order to write the future, we should consider the past. Making the brain wait with analog tools permits the tortoise-y mind to go deeper into the experience.

Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

For boredom’s sake


Boredom is the enemy, kept at bay with the smartphone.  As Clive Thomas writes, “If you have a planet’s worth of entertainment in your pocket, it’s easy to stave off ennui.”

But boredom is beneficial, and embracing it may be a key element to unlocking your potential.

“Boredom might spark creativity because a restless mind hungers for stimulation.” — Clive Thompson

Staying bored is the challenge of no challenge. But by starving yourself of screen staring, you stimulate new ways of thinking to keep yourself entertained.

People get great ideas in the shower or driving their car because they can’t do anything else. The author Neil Gaiman believes that the best way to write a book is to be so bored you don’t have a choice.

So practice delaying the smartphone itch every once in a while; otherwise, you’ll keep filling your mind up with crap.


Your passions are someone else’s miscellaneous stuff.

— Clive Thompson on how to be creative