📖 Stolen Focus

“I would start with three big, bold goals. One: Ban surveillance capitalism, because people who are being hacked and deliberately hooked can’t focus. Two: Introduce a four-day week, because people who are chronically exhausted can’t pay attention. Three: Rebuild childhood around letting kids play freely – in their neighbourhoods and at school – because children who are imprisoned in their homes won’t be able to develop a healthy ability to pay attention…”

Johann Hari
Stolen Focus


The book touches on many things you may have read before elsewhere, but Hari has a message, and a coherent one. Although I half-expected myself to be let down (because we’ve all read about the topic), Hari does well to add perspective and value. If nothing else, you get good reminders for how to navigate the 2020s (is there a name for the period between 2015 to now?): the importance of playing outside; why you need to read fiction sometimes; the destructiveness of multi-tasking; media/tech’s tendency to rile and distract you; the importance of taking walks…

(While reading the book, I checked the writer out, and found out about his previous issues. Perhaps that is why his writing is quite careful at times, in explicitly stating that it is his view. Sometimes, writers (or anyone really) are not careful and it may be left unclear whether a statement flows from an earlier source or if it is the writer’s own belief and interpretation, after reading the source material. Being explicit may make the writing a little cumbersome, but I do appreciate the thought that went into it. I wish more of us were more careful in how we think, write and process.)


“Democracy requires the ability of a population to pay attention long enough to identify real problems, distinguish them from fantasies, come up with solutions, and hold their leaders accountable if they fail to deliver them.”

Links from the past weeks

  • If Books Could Kill – Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers
    Michael Hobbs asked what is the most harmful airport book, and following up on this interesting question, he does a podcast about Malcolm Gladwell’s very popular book. It is worth a listen.
    I looked through my Goodreads and I’ve read 4 of Gladwell’s books, giving them around 3 stars each. Gladwell’s books had its attraction. He was able to write about things in an interesting way. But as the podcast shows, some basic fact-checking might bring some interesting finds!

  • Another podcast: Is pay transparency good?
    Apparently not always – because you need to factor in equal increase for all workers and therefore bosses will make increments smaller and/or be more cautious about any increase.

  • Word Persons and Web Persons
    In the wake of the Twitter exodus, we have all read pieces on the resurgence of blogging, but I particularly enjoyed this one by Roy Tang.

  • What really matters.
    The economy and the markets are giving people pause these days. It is good to spend some time thinking about what really matters, and calm yourself.

  • I watched a documentary on Netflix called Generation Wealth. I stayed mostly because of the great visuals. Lauren Greenfield’s photographs are gorgeous. This peek into extreme wealth is fascinating but it also induces a feeling of repulsiveness. I also noted that Greenfield and her family are featured quite a bit in this show. Does this make the film better or worse? Overall, I would still recommend a watch.

  • A reminder to turn gratitude into grace.