I hope this has been a wonderful summer so far, one filled with moments you didn’t expect and won’t forget. For the curious who just joined us, this weekly email is our way of enjoying a conversation about Uncommon in Common, ideas for its future and the tale of its creation. The dispatch is hopefully a conversation itself, with contributions from the community that is already here and links to other interesting thoughts. Please, make yourself at home.
The last few weeks, I’ve been wondering whether you can separate the way something is created from the thing itself. The dream of Uncommon is a slow web community that celebrates our favorite things, curates the best parts of our week, embraces rhythm and seasons, and encourages time away from our screens.
All of that is lovely, but every part of me wants that today. I want to hurry up. I want to tweet and promote, work late into the night and see numbers with commas. There’s a way that online communities are supposed to be, and there is a way that new things for the web are supposed to be built and promoted. But I know that we can’t create something uncommon if the heart of it is anything but. The values we want reflected in the result have to be part of the creation.
News and such
Thanks for the kind words about uncommon.cc and for sharing it with your friends. Thanks also to Andy, Brian, and Phil for making it happen, and to Lisa for the great line, “a trampoline, not a rabbit hole”.
Our next project is The Story So Far. It’s hard to believe that’s it’s already been seven weeks since the first blog post. As I’m sure many of you have experienced, it’s not easy to see where we started and catch up on the story. It will be soon :)
Feast or famine
Last week’s dispatch asked whether you experience waves of feast or famine online. Here are a few of the great answers.
I do experience times of famine and feast with my information diet online. I find myself turning to sites like Reddit, Lifehacker, and Gizmodo for reading and entertainment. And I hate myself for this. They seem to add zero value to my life but there is always something to read. I would like a site where I can spend my "free" time online that is meaningful. A site where I can walk away feeling enriched or at least that I am a more positive person because of my time there. — Matt
I don’t think there is ever famine online. I would describe it more as waves of peace and angst. Peace when I feel like I have a grip of my Twitter feed and RSS reader. Angst when those things get too much, followed by anger at myself for being anxious about such a silly thing. Followed by binge-reading that feels good at the time, but leaves me exhausted afterwards. — Rian
GQ recently interviewed Nick Offerman, Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation. They asked him why he stopped using Twitter. It’s a long answer, but a fantastic one.
A couple of weeks into Tweeting, I was down in New Orleans for a couple of weeks, working on a film with Holly Hunter. We got into some long philosophical conversations about how these social networks are degrading our society and civilization. I immediately started putting it into my humorist show. One of my tips is get a hobby, and part of that section is talking about putting your phone down and doing something with your hands, so that at the end of two hours you have a tangible result to your time. You’ve still been distracting yourself, by knitting or cooking or playing music, but you’ve created something instead of played Words with Friends for two hours.
Of course smartphones are brilliant inventions, but the nefarious thing about Twitter and other social media is that it starts to fill all the gaps in your day. I quickly become an addict. If there was a pause in a conversation, I didn’t think twice about seeing what Rob Delaney had to say. It was on a van ride home from the movie set that everything came together. I realized I had to get off Twitter. It just struck me that I couldn’t stop everyone else from doing it, but I could certainly stop myself.
The fine people behind iDoneThis, a slow web tool, shared an [excerpt from an interview with Jack White. It’s well worth three minutes.
Deadlines and things make you creative. But opportunity, and telling yourself, "Oh, you got all in the time in the world, you got all the money in the world, you got all the colors in the palette you want, anything you want", I mean, that just kills creativity.
What inspires you to create?