Gabe Weatherhead’s Macdrifter just published a short piece called The Annual Internet Service Value Test. In it, Gabe lists his yearly costs of using various internet services like Dropbox and Evernote and then goes through each, line by line, to decide whether or not that service is still of value to him.

Clearly, having a regular accountability process like this is helpful to rein in expenses (especially now that an increasing number of companies are essentially renting us their products instead of selling them 1 ). Subscriptions are a business model which seem to be growing in popularity and one which encourages us to put more of our spending on autopilot, potentially creating a large outlay of unnecessary recurring purchases which we’ve accrued in small, almost imperceptible increments. I don’t see this trend changing anytime soon so, as a sort of financial self-defense practice, I think Gabe’s advice is an especially good idea.

Here’s another: Do the same thing for how you spend your time.

Both time and money are important and finding the right balance between the two can be challenging. For me, at least, it’s always been much easier to change the ways I spend my money than my time and, by extension, easier to commit to projects or “social obligations” than to withdraw from them.

So for each, you might try asking yourself “What is the value in this?” or “Is this duplicating something I’m already getting somewhere else?”. If the answer isn’t clear to you–or if it leaves you feeling a bit phony when you hear yourself justify the expense–perhaps it’s time to hit the “CANCEL” button and get that time back for something more beneficial.

  1. J’accuse, Microsoft and Adobe… []
This is a link post – You can visit the site mentioned by clicking the main link above (or just click here).

I wrote this piece for The Atlantic about Abbey Road Studios and what lessons from its history might still be useful to creative people today.

I’ll reprint the full version here soon but, until then, check it out at the link above.

This is a link post – You can visit the site mentioned by clicking the main link above (or just click here).

If you haven’t read Zadie Smith’s recent essay for the New York Review of Books, ‘Find Your Beach’, I think you should give it a look:

In it, Smith captures the lonely, Janus-like nature of the American self-creation myth – and that it’s often both false and effective. She focuses in particular upon the hyper-distilled version found in daily Manhattan life:

Here the focus is narrow, almost obsessive. Everything that is not absolutely necessary to your happiness has been removed from the visual horizon. The dream is not only of happiness, but of happiness conceived in perfect isolation. Find your beach in the middle of the city. Find your beach no matter what else is happening. Do not be distracted from finding your beach. Find your beach even if—as in the case of this wall painting—it is not actually there. Create this beach inside yourself. Carry it with you wherever you go. The pursuit of happiness has always seemed to me a somewhat heavy American burden, but in Manhattan it is conceived as a peculiar form of duty.

As a former New Yorker, so much of this essay feels real and spot-on to me… and it has an additional virtue: It’s funny.

This is a link post – You can visit the site mentioned by clicking the main link above (or just click here).

Autumn makes me miss New York City: The crisp air and the fall foliage, to be sure, but it always seemed to be the time of year when all the concerts and events that I wanted to see were passing through town.

In that spirit of vicarious enjoyment, I thought I’d share that BBC Future is putting on a new event in New York on October 21st. They’re calling the ‘World-Changing Ideas Summit’ and it looks like they’ve lined up some good speakers. With topics like ‘Can Technology Create a New and Better Renaissance?’, I think it’s probably of interest to many of you as well (and the ‘Why Everyone Needs a Drone’ session seems to have been especially designed to lure my pal Faine into attending).

Check it out… and jump in a leaf pile or something afterwards if you want to make me totally jealous.

This is a link post – You can visit the site mentioned by clicking the main link above (or just click here).

Accessibility is often treated as an afterthought when making apps and websites.

Part of the reason why, I think, is that many of us don’t really understand the design considerations we should be thinking about to open up our content to people with disabilities and the elderly. And, as Jeffrey Zeldman says, “Accessibility is like the weather: everyone talks about it, but not enough of us do anything about it.”

So I was happy to see this Kickstarter from the people at Knowbility to develop training materials for people who want to be more inclusive – and I’ve just backed it because I know I could use some help figuring out how to make my sites better in this regard.

Watch the video, chip in, and help spread the word before the end of October.