Each week, Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Mark Zuckerberg intends to govern Facebook? What Barack Obama regrets in Obamacare? The dangers Yuval Harari sees in our future? What Michael Pollan learned on psychedelics? The lessons Bryan Stevenson learned freeing the wrongly convicted on death row? The way N.K. Jemisin imagines new worlds? This is the podcast for you.
I was asked recently to name a book that changed my life. The book I chose was Cal Newport’s “Deep Work,” and for the most literal of reasons: it’s changed how I lived my life. Particularly, it’s led me to stop scheduling morning meetings, and to preserve that time for more sustained, creative work.Which is all to say that I’m a bit obsessed with Newport’s work right now, and especially his account of how the digital environment we inhabit is training us out of concentration and into distraction in ways that are bad for us, bad for our work, and ultimately bad for the world. Most of the conversations on this podcast are how to think about things differently. This one is too, but it’s more importantly about how to do things differently, and why you should do them differently. We discuss:-How Newport defines depth when it comes to work-Why the information revolution boosted productivity up until the 2000s, but then stagnated-What he thinks is problematic about the constant accessibility of technologies like email, Slack, and other communication tools-His perspective about how we’re still in an early age of the internet, and what looking back at periods like the Industrial Revolution can teach us about using new technology to work smarter-How to take productive breaks, rather than flicking through email and Facebook and Twitter-How “flow work” and deep work overlap, and how they’re distinct from each other-Why he consumes and produces information more slowly and more traditionally—through newspapers and radio, and why that might benefit people who work in the knowledge economy-His vision of the workplace of the futureI hope you get as much out of Newport’s ideas as I have.Books:-Jaron Lanier, “You Are Not A Gadget” and “Who Will Own The Future"-Douglas Rushkoff’s “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus”