Must-Reads: Creative Apocalypse & the Meanings of Life

Creative Apocalypse & The Meanings of Life

Illustration by Ignacia Ruiz.

Ten recent long reads that changed the way I think about the future of work and creativity…


1. The Meanings of Life
Not surprisingly, satisfaction of desires is a reliable source of happiness. But it has nothing — maybe even less than nothing ­— to add to a sense of meaning. The frequency of good and bad feelings turns out to be irrelevant to meaning, which can flourish even in very forbidding conditions…

2. The Problem with “Do What You Love”
There’s little doubt that “do what you love” (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem is that it leads not to salvation, but to the devaluation of actual work, including the very work it pretends to elevate — and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers…

3. The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t
The biggest change of all is the ease with which art can be made and distributed. The cost of consuming culture may have declined, though not as much as we feared. But the cost of producing it has dropped far more drastically…

4. The Internet Is Still at the Beginning of Its Beginning
There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute…

5. What Screens Want
It’s a software world. And because of software, it’s a soft world in a different sense, in the original sense of the word: it changes its shape easily. So now we no longer buy the thing we want, we buy the shape of the thing we prefer…

6. Better Than Human: Why Robots Will (And Must) Take Our Jobs
It is a safe bet that the highest-earning professions in the year 2050 will depend on automations and machines that have not been invented yet. That is, we can’t see these jobs from here, because we can’t yet see the machines and technologies that will make them possible. Robots create jobs that we did not even know we wanted done…

7. The First Draft Is Always Perfect
The first draft is always perfect. Perfect. Its only job is to exist. Like minerals. Like dirt. Like air. It just needs to be. All a first draft need be is an idea borne into reality. A first draft is something made tangible from nothing – its only purpose is to pierce the space between your thoughts and the reality we all share…

8. Design Machines: How to Survive the Digital Apocalypse
Trust in shaky numbers now outweighs a designer’s experience, intuition, and intelligence. Metrics influence design to the point where design becomes the long arm of the data, and intelligent design thinking is second guessed and de-prioritized…

9. Why Telling Kids To Dream Big Is a Big Con
The problem isn’t telling kids you can be anything, it’s our narrow idea of what ‘anything’ is. “We’re equating it with prestige, power, title, money, certain sectors. If we could shift, over the next decade, toward high achievement being the equivalent of knowing your skills and your values and your passion, and living accordingly, imagine what a different world we’d be living in…”

10. Web Design: The First 100 Years
All this exponential growth has given us terrible habits. One of them is to discount the present. When things are doubling, the only sane place to be is at the cutting edge. By definition, exponential growth means the thing that comes next will be equal in importance to everything that came before. So if you’re not working on the next big thing, you’re nothing. This leads to a contempt for the past…

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Hi, I'm Jocelyn. I help people find more creativity and meaning in their daily work.


I have a new book out about how to tame your inbox and reclaim your focus. And starting this Fall, I’ll be hosting Hurry Slowly, a new podcast about how you can be more productive by slowing down.

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