Interview with Merlin Mann

by oneafrikan on April 7, 2005

_ Interview: 43Folders’ Merlin Mann : Lifehacker.

This rang true for me:

LH: It takes a particular type of person to go beyond the “default settings” and dig for better, lesser-known methods of task and information management. What do you think characterizes someone (like you) who is constantly tweaking and improving his/her workflow, and learning about new and better ways to process information?

MM: I think there’s a continuum of characters that ranges from hardcore Linux hackers who live in ed to people chained to a desk with their busted-ass copy of Outlook. The biggest difference isn’t really in technical skills so much as in having the mental framework, vocabulary, and encouragement to think of problems as something that can be improved with a little focused effort and experimentation. It’s that noble Engineering mind at work, in some ways. “How can I make this lighter, faster, stronger, and cheaper?”

For example, I’ve often complained that most people receive only enough instruction on using their computer to keep from breaking it. There’s very little institutional incentive to try something novel that might make a big improvement, let alone providing people with the basic vocabulary to describe what’s not working for them.

God knows you better not try to install Firefox and Greasemonkey on your box at work, right? That weird little MIS guy with the cape and the pet snake might totally ream you out for putting anything on your PC that he didn’t expressly approve. And—as most of us eventually learn the hard way—life’s too short to argue with people in capes.

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