I should say before I start however that this report is not going to be Typical Patrick content-wise, because I have two big vices (there may be more): one is that I am more eclectic than focused, I tend to resent reading/viewing/ listening to the things I am supposed to, and I enjoy discovering things that stimulate me in new ways – when I eventually complete my transition into an old fogey, I will be the eccentric, wilful stubborn old uncle that family members are forever tutt tutting about and always trying to manage – when they finally succeed I’ll know it’s time to pop my clogs; the second is that I have Periods (note the capitalisation), meaning that there are times when I don’t read/listen/view certain things, and there are times when I do. So with those two provisos:
Web: I have just ended a Web 1.0 Period (visiting a handful of blogs and using Amazon as a book-rooting haunt) and started another – using Google Reader, and 40-odd blogs on it. Old faithfuls are Dave Snowden, Anecdote, Maish Nichani, James Robertson. I’m becoming a Googlite generally, we use Google Calendar for the office, I use Google Analytics, and Gmail for wireless roaming emails.
Bukes: Books are still my soulfood, and I read wilfully, often with several on the go at the same time. I try to read for half an hour in the morning, over breakfast, on flights, and during the lulls at Christmas. Amazon is my book paradise, and one of my few gripes against Singapore is that it has no good secondhand book shops. I miss the fust!
At the moment it’s A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas A. Basbanes (not always gentle, there are several book inspired murders, and a few cases of being buried alive in books); The Complete Poems of Cavafy; Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping by Paco Underhill (interesting research but the writing style is too glib for my taste); Experiencing Risk, Spontaneity and Improvisation in Organisational Life: Working Live (Complexity as the Experience of Organizing) by P. Shaw (one of those ‘my research group is the centre of the universe’ books – somebody else should rewrite it, great topic); The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist by F. B. M. De Waal (fascinating book on how apes have culture and even knowledge management).
Recently finished Inside the Jihad: My Life With Al Qaeda: A Spy’s Story by Omar Nasiri; Republic.com by Cass Sunstein; The Genesis of Secrecy by Frank Kermode (a re-read, I remember being bowled over by it in my twenties, a lesson in not re-visiting old Periods, now it seems clever and elegant but not profound).
On my list of great books: Dickens in general; Canetti’s Crowds and Power; Bowker and Star’s Sorting Things Out. The type of book I might aspire to write: Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age by David M. Levy; Complications by Atul Gawande
Communication: Email for business, mobile phone and SMS for close contacts (I don’t have a land line at home any more, why bother?), Skype for connected people far away. Oh, and post-it notes on my colleagues’ laptops. Don’t tend to use messaging that much, unless it’s a non invasive Skype conversation. With clients we run project blogs and try to keep the project records preserved there rather than scattered through email threads.
Teevee: Useful as brain chewing gum for comatose states, but am currently working my way through a DVD set of two seasons of House MD – wonderfully characterised and a study in knowledge, noticing and uncertainty – reminds me strongly of Atul Gawande’s wonderful book about being a surgeon Complications. Oh…and there’s always HBO in hotels… which brings us to…
Fillums: I’m eclectic, and my taste depends very much on my mood and energy level. Just watched Paris Je t’Aime and was delighted by it (not expecting to be, I don’t usually like the collage approach to cinematography). I watch a fillum in a cinema maybe once or twice a month… when travelling, once or twice a flight. It always gets me that they have to make announcements (twice, in different languages) just at the plot denouement (the exciting bits). Cinemas rule – they don’t do that. Someone should tell the airlines.
Muzak: I’m coming out of a Period where I only listened to music while writing – David ‘Gagdet’ Gurteen recently influenced me to buy a video iPod because his recent Valentine’s Day Ode to My iPod convinced me it would be good for work, and now I find myself striding down the street to Snow Patrol and downloading podcasts. It’s only taken me a quarter of a century – I remember sniffing at the anti-social effects of walkmans back in the 1980s. As for my music collection, I challenge you to find a theme: Annie Lennox, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Philip Glass, Verdi’s Otello, Berlioz Infance du Christe, Mozart Requiem, Gothic Voices, Madredeus, Nitin Sawnhey… By the way, David G, once I wanted the iPod, I had to buy the MacBook too… so you have a lot to answer for…
Magazines: What they? I don’t go to the dentist often enough to remember specific titles…
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