The Silent Podcast

3 minute read

Link to The Silent Podcast

One of my goals for 2018 is to spend 10 minutes every day in some state of reflection — mindfulness, stillness, silence, meditation. Something to claw back my attention.

I’ve been an ‘on-again, off-again’ practitioner of daily meditation since I was a teenager. And while I can confidently say that generally it’s helpful for me as a practice, it’s also the case that…well…life gets in the way. Months go by…and…oh yeah, what was I doing, again…?

The Attention Economy

And 2018 is shaping up to be a bellwether of recognizing the distracted age that we live in:

— A former Facebook exec says the platform is ripping society apart.

— Mark Zuckerberg said he’s spending his 2018 goal to addressing these Facebook issues.

— Investors at Apple sent the company a letter outlining concern for the effect of phones on young users.

— And more and more studies are backing up the real issue of the attention economy.

It’s not just a matter of willpower.

The content (and the way in which we interact with that content) that we are bombarded with throughout the day is designed specifically to be addictive, rewarding, and easily-accessible.

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.” — Jeffrey Hammerbecher, Data Scientist

Tackling this complex issue (even a little) is going to require many different changes to how we interact with our devices, how we incentivize use, how algorithms are scored, and how we can account for the negative externalities of their use.

And we are asking this from a collective society that more and more cannot be bothered to look up from our devices, cannot read more than a page at a time, and cannot focus on complex problems.

So it might seem naive to think that one possible solution might be in the apps and tools themselves — sort of the ‘white knights’ of the digital attention economy.

Forest App

Forest lets you grow trees by not using your smartphone—eventually growing into entire forests from collected periods of non-use.

On that front, I’m excited for apps like Hold and Forest, both of which reward the non-use of specific apps (or the phone altogether) in interesting ways.

And I’m a huge fan of Headspace — the app from Andy Puddicombe that offers guided meditation (I use this app a lot and I’m a big fan).

The Podcast as the Attention App

I’m squarely in the demographic of relentless podcast listeners.

I chalk up several hours per day between various commutes and city-life. I often find myself turning to podcasts before I turn to TV shows or music — and apparently I’m not alone.

And there was my opening…the podcast feed.

That podcast feed is the door-left-slightly-ajar where I could sneak in a reminder to do exactly the opposite of what I was currently engaged in—in this case…to chill out and listen to nothing rather than something.

Now — I could just generate ten minutes or so of blank space and call it good, but I thought that it would be more appropriate and somehow…authentic…if I recorded ten minutes of actual silence every day.

So that’s what this podcast has been and will continue to be — ten minutes every day, of typical stillness.

Well, and maybe with the occasional car horn or refrigerator noise in the background.

“Innovation takes hold when a new idea fits into existing habits like a key into a lock.” — Erika Hall

Trust me — for this one, you won’t need to listen to the back catalog.

But it might help just to know it’s there.

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