A few days ago, East City Book Shop hosted Cal Newport and David Sax for a book event to chat about David’s new book The Future is Analog, which talks about the how when digital transformation happens, there’s often an opposing trend, such as vinyl records becoming cool after streaming music became a thing.
Their discussion was great, and the discussions afterwards as people were milling around, waiting to get their books signed and pictures taken were so interesting.
There were discussions about the informal conversations about the coffee machine are lost in a virtual work approach, but David also talked about embodied cognition, and how much valuable information people no longer get from walking around the office and seeing what people are working on, how they’re interacting (not the conversation itself, but seeing what’s on someone’s whiteboard when you walk by).
David talked about how predicts the US education system will emphasize more social/emotional learning and reduce our focus on quantifiable metrics (e.g., Standards of Learning tests), which sounds great, though I’m curious to see if that’s something that’s a macro shift, or just something that wealthy private schools can “afford” to do.
I’ve been a big Cal Newport fan for several years — his writing and podcasts about personal productivity have been great (I especially love his book A World Without Email, where he talks about how life is better when we get out of lots of reply-all email threads (which he calls the “Hyperactive Hive Mind”) and instead define how certain common processes should happen — it’s a critical mindset, and relates to so many great business scaling/maturity concepts, like Agile Scrum (ceremonies create consistency), Ashlee Berghoff’s book Eureka Results, CMMI, etc.
The event was great, and it felt surreal, in a wonderful way, to be in a bookstore, and talking about interesting ideas with people in real life!