Reading List: The Documented Life, the Internet of Things and the Cult of Productivity


As Christmas approaches this week, we hope you’ll be able to tear yourself away from your job to spend time with your family, take some selfies, set some good new year’s resolutions to be more productive, and read on about why you should take less selfies, care less about productivity and get ready for the internet to take over everything.

Merry Christmas!

The Documented Life – Sherry Turkle for The New York Times

“I’ve been studying people and mobile technology for more than 15 years. Until recently, it was the sharing that seemed most important. People didn’t seem to feel like themselves unless they shared a thought or feeling, even before it was clear in their mind. The new sensibility played on the Cartesian with a twist: “I share, therefore I am.” These days, we still want to share, but now our first focus is to have, to possess, a photograph of our experience. I interview people about their selfies.”

Google Makes You Smarter, Facebook Makes You Happier, Selfies Make You a Better Person – Fast Company

“Writer Sherry Turkle is using selfies to promote a popular argument: that technology harms the way we relate to each other. But she’s wrong and outdated–and listening to her makes us miss what’s really important.”

Productivity is Taking Over Our Lives – New Republic

“We are everywhere enjoined to work harder, faster and for longer—not only in our jobs but also in our leisure time. The rationale for this frantic grind is one of the great unquestioned virtues of our age: “productivity.” The cult of productivity seems all-pervasive. Football coaches and commentators praise a player’s “work rate”, which is thought to compensate for a lack of skill. Geeks try to streamline their lives in and out of the office to get more done. People boast of being busy and exhausted and eagerly consume advice from the business-entertainment complex on how to “de-fry your burnt brain,” or engineer a more productive day by assenting to the horror of breakfast meetings.”

On the Clock: Technology, Liturgy, and Time – Wince+Sing

“According to Hammer, and he is not alone in articulating this account, “With the rise of the chronometer came a vast increase in discipline, efficiency and social speed, transforming every institution and human endeavor. The factory, the office, transportation, business, the flow of information, indeed almost everything we do and relate to is to a greater or lesser extent controlled by the clock.” In this telling, medieval time, ordered by the rhythms of both the natural order and of the Christian liturgy, gives away to radically different experience of time.”

Prepare ye the way for the internet to take over everything with Quartz’s excellent three part series on the internet of things:

Part 1: 2014 is the year of the internet of things—no, seriously, we mean it this time

Part 2: How the “internet of things” will replace the web

Part 3: Here’s the one thing someone needs to invent before the internet of things can take off

And last but not least, here’s a TedX presentation on “Letting Go of Technology”:


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About the Contributor

Benjamin Robertson

Benjamin Robertson
Benjamin Robertson is a founding editor at Second Nature. He has worked in advertising for the Chicago Tribune and Gannett, and now is a web developer at Mediacurrent. He studied Communications and Media Studies under Dr. Read Schuchardt at Wheaton College in Illinois. He has presented papers on Marshall McLuhan, media ecology, and Christianity at the Media Ecology Association, National Communication Association, and the McLuhan's Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference in Brussels. He lives with his wife, Ruth, in Greenville, SC. His personal website is

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