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S3, E28: Attention Chicken 🐔
Improve your face (for 25 cents)
1. Would you like some Chicken?
Do you work on a remote team and would you be interested in trying out Chicken, a small app we made for keeping our remote team feel more connected? We're looking for a few other teams (2+ people) to help us test it out, and explore its potential. If this interests you, please fill out this form (or you can learn more about Chicken here). Thanks!
2. The Week That Was
Dear friends, I’ve just returned from a three-week trip to Asia (mostly in Taipei with a few days in Tokyo). This past week marks my first back in Brooklyn, and it's been wobbly, thanks to jet lag. 🥴
As the year draws to a close, some of us are starting to feel a bit restless about what 2024 holds. What's next after Cosmic Maelstrom? What will we work on in 2024? And how will we make money to keep this Good Enough ship afloat? I want to let you know that we're thinking hard about these Big Important Questions, and we’re committed to enter the new year with a solid plan.
Aside from planning, we also did some things last week. Barry, Arun, and Matthew were knee deep in a new project, Pika. Patrick continued to Yay.Boo—and he made a Yay.Boo explorer for you to see some of the goodness on our little ghostly site. James's been chickening around (see above). And I drew a pigeon but AI took my job (more on this developing story next week). —Shawn
3. Investigating Attention
Attention is important.
Everything you’ve ever known has come to you by way of attention, and it might be the most valuable thing you possess.
The big tech companies know this. They alchemically transmute human attention into giant bucketloads of money.
Despite this, we generally live our lives mostly unaware of, mostly inattentive to, our very own attention. This has the unfortunate consequence of leaving us vulnerable to hijack and waste.
So, as seems to be my wont in these newsletters, I'm here to issue an invitation.
The invitation is simply this: start paying attention to the process of paying attention. Pretend you’re a detective, or better yet, a scientist. Get curious about where your attention goes, how it works, and what you can do with it.
(Note: a true inquiry starts from a position of not already knowing the answer. A scientist may have hypotheses, but she does not already know the answer. If she did, she wouldn't have to run the experiments, yeah?)
Here are some questions to get you started:
Where does your attention go? How is it spent? Perhaps you could spend a week tracking it. Or perhaps you could just sit quietly for 5 or 10 minutes and watch what it does when you're not doing anything in particular. Do this every day, and some might accuse you of having a meditation practice.
What regularly traps your attention? Hint: screens are a good place to look, but not the only place. Repeated patterns of thought and feeling are also good places to look.
What can you keep your attention on? Why?
What can't you keep your attention on? Why?
How much control do you have over your attention? Find a concentration practice of some kind and practice it for a while. Does that give you more skill with attention? If so, what kinds of downstream effects are there for your life?
And so on. What questions do you have about your own attention? Go wherever your investigation leads!
Another important note here – read and learn about attention all you want, but the kind of investigation I'm inviting is not out-there, it's done by looking directly at your own in-here experience of your attention.
Try this for a week. Or a month. Or a lifetime. Or don’t – I’m not your dad! —Arun
4. Sharing Is Caring
A friend of GE has completed an impressive “post-photographic” photography project: New Farmer.
Will André 3000’s new flute album slap?
We love focused products by small teams, so we’re definitely curious to see how Smmall Cloud is received!
5. In Conclusion
So there we go. It’s time for the weekend. Next week is American Thanksgiving, and we’ll give thanks for you by not writing a newsletter. If you’re in the US, enjoy eating a lot or relaxing or reading or playing football. If you’re outside of the US, enjoy GET TO WORK. And wherever you are, please don’t spend all of your time shopping for junk. Unless you’re shopping at small businesses, in which case shop away.
Have a GREAT weekend, friends. —Barry