Product manager, writer, and proponent of the open web
Coffee Shop Contemplations is a collection of essays about simplicity and design, tools, writing, mindfulness, and meditations on being better. These essays are a collection of posts from my weblog, hackmake.org.
Who is this for? It’s for makers, explorers, planners, writers, designers, GTDers, and geeks alike.
I put together this ebook to package my writings to make it easy for you to share or give to someone, as a way for you familiarize yourself with the core of what Hack / Make is if you’re a new reader, and as a way for you to help support me financially if you’ve found the things I write online to be helpful.
Below, I’ve included the Introduction of the book which explains more about the experiment of this book.
Thank you for buying this book. It’s a compilation on contemplations that I wrote and published in 2012 on hackmake.org. There are 20 or so pieces which have only slightly been edited from the versions that you can read in full online. So why did I publish this book? Because no one told me I couldn’t.
When I started my weblog in January of 2012, I wanted to become a better writer. That’s a never-ending pursuit but I think I’ve made good progress and learned a lot along the way. One lesson I learned was that you can get away with breaking convention. Sometimes you might even be better off doing it differently. My site looks different than most blogs and the things I write are a little unconventional. This book is the same thing. It’s shorter than most, it hasn’t been professionally edited, reviewed, or consulted upon. It’s an experiment about what I can do on my own without knowing any rules of how things are supposed to work.
I also believe that ideas can’t wait. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to have written a sentence in this book or spill an idea that can change somebody. Maybe something I wrote could have just been what you needed to start your project, quit something you hate, or push with just a little more effort. It would be selfish for me to withhold that idea because I’m scared to publish something. Life happens quickly, we don’t have time to wait around and fret. We all need ideas and encouragement. We need the people who have taken it upon themselves to lead to keep doing it. To not wait. Your thing might not be perfect but your imperfect words may be just what someone needs to hear to create something.
So, onward. If by the end of these pages you’ve chosen to remove some clutter from your house or your life, rethought how the tools in your life impact what you do, you write a sentence, blog post, or book, or close your eyes and meditate for even a minute, than we can call my experiment a success.
Q: Why did you publish a book when all of this stuff is already online?
A: Three reasons: 1) A lot more people read books than blogs. I want to share these ideas with those people too. 2) I thought this would be a good way for the dear readers of hackmake.org to show their support with some of their hard-earned dollars. 3) I wanted to be able to call myself an author.
Q: Wait, you published a book just so you could call yourself an author?
A: Kinda. Let’s be honest here: how often do people call themselves something when they’re not? They introduce themselves at parties as a “writer” or have “producer” in their Twitter bio when they don’t really write or produce much of anything. I figured I’d try this the other way around. I’d package some stuff I wrote into a “book”. I’d put it on Amazon and then, if I wanted, I could put “Author” in my bio and link to Amazon to prove it. It’s not as hard as you think to pursue the things you want. (And no one’s claiming I’m a good author.)
Q: I’ve been reading Hack/Make for a while. Should I buy this book?
A: Short answer, yes. You have a few options: you can buy the book and reread the essays. Maybe you’ll find something you missed or maybe some more of the pieces will connect or maybe you won’t get anything out of it. You can buy the book to support me and to support the idea of sharing, connecting, and creating ideas no matter how under qualified you are, and then just not read it. Or you can not buy it and not read it. I prefer the first option and I think it’ll be worth your few dollars.
Q: $3.99? There are better and longer books out there for less money.
A: You’re right. And they’re probably undercharging. We take it upon ourselves to set the value of the things that matter to us. I think we need to make sure that ideas don’t become a commodity.
Q: Erm, you said in the Introduction that this is an experiment. Experiments have a hypothesis and collect quantitative and qualitative metrics to analyze whether the experiment proved the hypothesis, and therefore whether it was a success or not. So.
A: First, that wasn’t a question, nerd. Second, a qualitative metric for you: I need to sell 8.5 copies of this (after the 30% cut) to break even on the $20 I payed to license the cover image. After that, it’s a success. My hypothesis has already been proven, by the way. You can break the rules and do something different without anyone’s permission. You should try your own experiments too.
Q: What’s with the title?
A: Most of these essays were written in coffee shops on my iPad. Coffee shops seem to be a good atmosphere where people come to share, talk, make, learn, relax, and that’s a place where I like to write. The caffeine helps too.
Q: How do you take your coffee?