Thursday, January 11, 2007

Reading :: Lifehacker

Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day
By Gina Trapani

Lifehacker is based on the popular blog edited by Trapani, a sort of Hints from Heloise for the knowledge economy set. The blog is terrific, and I've picked up several ideas and examples from it myself. But of course these ideas and examples are fleeting. Will the bright idea of hacking a Yahoo Calendar feature be useful next month? Will this virtual screen software be useful once the next version of OSX comes out? Probably not. For that reason, one would think that a book based on this sort of blog would have the half-life of polonium.

Indeed, many of the tricks and examples in Lifehacker have a short shelf life -- but Trapani has organized these examples around more lasting, strategic principles for managing work in information-saturated and heavily interrupted activities. Principles such as "free up mental RAM," "firewall your attention," and "avoid repetitive tasks" are useful principles, even if the examples that illustrate them won't generally survive after Vista has been released. And Trapani does a good job of pointing to ways that make these hacks last and transfer, such as her attention to plain text todo lists.

The book itself is written in an engaging style; I think most of the book was culled directly from blog posts. If you're interested in lifehacking, but you want the material to be a bit more pulled together than the blog affords, this book is for you.

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