Stop wasting other people’s lives

10 Timeframes by Paul Ford is a beautiful essay. Ford asks a deceivingly simple question: when you spend a portion of your life (that is, your time) working on a project, do you take into account how your work will consume, spend, or use portions of other lives? How does the ‘thing’ you are working on right now play out in the future when there are “People using your systems, playing with your toys, [and] fiddling with your abstractions”?

It is good to think about how to negate wasting other people’s time in the here and now. Straight to the chase, I can’t say it better than Jason Fried: “If you have a meeting coming up and you have the power to do so, just cancel it.”

But what about the future users of your products, platforms, systems, and knowledge? Are you honouring their lives and time, too? I often think about this when editing video: does this one-minute section respect the time of future viewers? A minute multiplied by the number of times a video might be viewed suddenly represents a sizeable chunk of collective human resources. In this respect, ‘filler’ is irresponsible: if you know something is not adding value or meaning to future ‘consumers,’ then you are, in a sense, robbing life from them. It seems extreme to say that, yes, but hopefully contemplating the proposition has not wasted your time.

Cite this page:
Shelley, James. (2018). 'Stop wasting other people’s lives' Originally published on April 17, 2018. Cited version last modified on April 29, 2018. Accessed on December 2, 2020. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permalink: https://jamesshelley.com?p=13292
Document location subject to change. Use https://jamesshelley.com?p=13292 as permanent identifier/locator for this page if linking externally. Share this link on Twitter and Facebook.

3 thoughts on “Stop wasting other people’s lives

  1. @jamesshelley Thanks for sharing. Optimize for efficiency, not engagement. The last thing I want is for our users to spend any extra time messing with DNS or whatever, when they could be spending that time doing something valuable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.