A Reading Year

There’s a factory in my mind that never shuts down. The machines never stop running. The workers never go home. The trucks only stop to load in a frenzy, and then they speed off. This factory makes Projects™. It wasn’t always so busy, but it tooled up to meet perceived demand. Half of the Projects™ never make it past headquarters, but the CEO is nervous enough that his methods are becoming unsound.

The news in my mind never stops talking about attention. The stories say the market is flooded with Projects™. New ones appear, they flash before the eyes of consumers, and then they’re blasted out the other end, forgotten. If you want to make hits in this market, you have to ship good Projects™, but that’s no guarantee. You can ship something delightful, and it can just fly by unnoticed. So a good mind-CEO has to hedge his bets. He has to turn up the volume, ship more Projects™, and increase the odds. Inevitably, quality suffers.

Well, here in my mind, the board cares too much to let this go on. Their meddling drives the CEO crazy, but the shareholders have spoken. There’s a shake-up coming at the head office.

Jon’s Mind Announces Reading Year with Innovative Syngeries for Increased Collaboration and Efficiency

Los Angeles, Califnordia, August 8, 2014 — Jon’s Mind® Industries today announced a bold reorganization that will streamline its industry-leading efforts to foster Meaningful Interactions™ in the global communications infosphere. Reading Year™, from the producers of The Daily Portal™The Portal™, and Portal™, is a year-long effort productizing the consumption of media and information while focusing on the singular mission of unifying the dynamic fields of technology and spirituality.

“We’re super-excited about Reading Year™,” says Jon Mitchell, CEO of Jon’s Mind Industries. “In this burgeoning attention economy, the possibilities for reading — and then writing about the insights of that reading — are literally endless. Reading Year™ brings Jon’s Mind Industries more in line with its mission and vision by increasing engagement in order to stimulate more opportunities for Meaningful Interactions™.”

JMI will continue publishing delightful media throughout Reading Year™, but its focus will be on small-scale deliverables related to increased engagement with third-party brand partners. Its global sales force will remain focused on delighting customers with JMI’s celebrated line of lovingly crafted Projects™.

About Jon’s Mind® Industries

Jon’s Mind® Industries makes delightful media Projects™ at the intersection of technology and spirituality. Its line of innovative Portal©®™ Projects™ eventually resulted in one fully-realized product. Its next delightful media Project™ is an actual, tangible, physical object called In Real Life: Searching for Connection in High-Tech Times. For more information, visit www.jonsmind.com.

Aw, I did it AGAIN didn’t I?

For months, and especially after the move, this idea has been bubbling up in my mind to declare a Reading Year™. My month-New Year celebration — from Burning Man to Rosh Hashanah — is coming up, so it’s perfect timing.

What is a Reading Year™? Well, that’s the funny thing. To me, a Reading Year™ is, basically, a year of not declaring anything with Capital Letters and a ™ in its name.

But I can’t seem to get it started without making it a product and giving it this announcement, thereby torpedoing its credibility before it even begins. My friend Micah always says we have to name things to make them real, so I guess that’s what’s happening here. I’m naming 5775 a Reading Year™, and then I’ll chill out on the naming.

I’ve just had a couple rather serious writing years. I shipped all kinds of Projects™ (see the footer of the press release above), and while the book will ship early in Reading Year™, my work on it is mostly done. I made all these Things™ out of love and fear. I was full of love for the ideas, the waves of inspiration they rode on, and the worlds I thought they could leave in their wake. I was full of fear of falling behind, of losing all momentum after The Disengagement, and of getting unfollowed by the attention mob after I stopped churning out religious invective about telephones. Even for the pure labors of love, like the record, the fear was also there.

I faced the fear, and I made the Things™. I’m proud of them. But doing all that stuff pushed me right up to the edge of what felt good. I was dangerously close to the Impostor Line. I didn’t know how to make a record or write a book, but I tried them anyway, and I lived to tell the tale. But I feel like I barely made it.

There were so many times while I was writing the book when I thought, “This book couldn’t be more obviously about what I’m about, but I still don’t have enough wisdom to say this.” When that happened, I went back to some book I had read somewhere along the way to recover whatever version of that idea I had originally learned. The need for a reading year became clear to me as I numbered my footnotes.

Ariel is about to start rabbinical school, and I’m getting the contact high from that. It’s time to concentrate on learning again. I’m tired of making stuff at the very edge of my credibility. I need to gain in wisdom before I expel any more selfness into the Inter-hole. But it’s not that I need to turn up the reading. I do reading. The reading year is about turning down the writing — that is, the creating of new information-like things — and just taking things in and processing them. I’ll blog. I’ll share stuff and think out loud. I might even do some journalism. But after the book comes out, I’m going to cut back on the proper nouns.

I’m not giving myself any rules. If I’m struck by the muses and have to make a Thing™, so be it. But I’d really prefer to just contemplate other people’s stuff. I’m sick of looking at my career in all these horrendous online marketing terms to which I wish I’d never been exposed. My G!d, there are a lot of empty blobs of CONTENT out there. Allow me to try to make sense of it just for a little while before I start feeding the Attention Economy again.

I’m starting my reading year with a line of inquiry. I’m thinking hard about how we map credibility of authors and information. We all know there are incredible volumes of disinformation out there now that it’s so easy to disseminate. I’d say that’s the small credibility problem, which I’ve thought about, but I don’t think it can be solved before the big one.

The big credibility problem is one of power and privilege. Where is credibility required? Where is it assumed without credentials? Where is it viewed with suspicion? How do the interfaces between us and our information convey or conceal credibility? If there are digital credibility problems, are they new, or are they the same old social problems in new forms? Why are some expert voices ignored, and why are some nincompoop voices listened to with rapt attention? What happens to the credibility mix when listened-to people use their voices to amplify the un-listened-to instead of continuing to talk? If we find that redistributing the attentional wealth increases credibility, what are we going to do about it?

If I come across any answers in the course of my reading, I’ll let you know. Please do return the favor. You can follow my reading via web or RSS at reading.am/ablaze or @AblazeReads on Twitter.

Happy Reading Year!