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<h1>
<span><a id="jumper" href="#jumpto" title="Un peu perdu ?">?</a></span>
Guide to Internal Communication, the Basecamp Way (archive)
<time>Pour la pérennité des contenus liés. Non-indexé, retrait sur simple email.</time>
</h1>
<section>
<article>
<h3><a href="https://basecamp.com/guides/how-we-communicate">Source originale du contenu</a></h3>
<h2>Rules of thumb, and general philosophy</h2>

<p>Below you'll find a collection of general principles we try to keep in mind at Basecamp when communicating with teammates, within departments, across the company, and with the public. They aren't requirements, but they serve to create boundaries and shared practices to draw upon when we do the one thing that affects everything else we do: communicate.</p>

<ol class="stacked-list">
<li>You can not not communicate. Not discussing the elephant in the room is communicating. Few things are as important to study, practice, and perfect as clear communication.</li>
<li>Real-time sometimes, asynchronous most of the time.</li>
<li>Internal communication based on long-form writing, rather than a verbal tradition of meetings, speaking, and chatting, leads to a welcomed reduction in meetings, video conferences, calls, or other real-time opportunities to interrupt and be interrupted.</li>
<li>Give meaningful discussions a meaningful amount of time to develop and unfold. Rushing to judgement, or demanding immediate responses, only serves to increase the odds of poor decision making.</li>
<li>Meetings are the last resort, not the first option.</li>
<li>Writing solidifies, chat dissolves. Substantial decisions start and end with an exchange of complete thoughts, not one-line-at-a-time jousts. If it's important, critical, or fundamental, write it up, don't chat it down.</li>
<li>Speaking only helps who’s in the room, writing helps everyone. This includes people who's couldn't make it, or future employees who join years from now.</li>
<li>If your words can be perceived in different ways, they'll be understood in the way which does the most harm.</li>
<li>Never expect or require someone to get back to you immediately unless it’s a true emergency. The expectation of immediate response is toxic.</li>
<li>If you have to repeat yourself, you weren’t clear enough the first time. However, if you're talking about something brand new, you may have to repeat yourself for years before you're heard. Pick your repeats wisely.</li>
<li>Poor communication creates more work.</li>
<li>Companies don't have communication problems, they have miscommunication problems. The smaller the company, group, or team, the fewer opportunities for miscommunication.</li>
<li>Five people in a room for an hour isn't a one hour meeting, it's a five hour meeting. Be mindful of the tradeoffs.</li>
<li>Be proactive about "wait, what?" questions by providing factual context and spacial context. Factual are the things people also need to know. Spacial is where the communication happens (for example, if it's about a specific to-do, discuss it right under the to-do, not somewhere else).</li>
<li>Communication shouldn't require schedule synchronization. Calendars have nothing to do with communication. Writing, rather than speaking or meeting, is independent of schedule and far more direct.</li>
<li>"Now" is often the wrong time to say what just popped into your head. It's better to let it filter it through the sieve of time. What's left is the part worth saying.</li>
<li>Ask yourself if others will feel compelled to rush their response if you rush your approach.</li>
<li>The end of the day has a way of convincing you what you’ve done is good, but the next morning has a way of telling the you truth. If you aren't sure, sleep on it before saying it.</li>
<li>If you want an answer, you have to ask a question. People typically have a lot to say, but they'll volunteer little. Automatic questions on a regular schedule help people practice sharing, writing, and communicating.</li>
<li>Occasionally pick random words, sentences, or paragraphs and hit delete. Did it matter?</li>
<li>Urgency is overrated, ASAP is poison.</li>
<li>If something's going to be difficult to hear or share, invite questions at the end. Ending without the invitation will lead to public silence but private conjecture. This is where rumors breed.</li>
<li>Where you put something, and what you call it, matters. When titling something, lead with the most important information. Keep in mind that many technical systems truncate long text or titles.</li>
<li>Write at the right time. Sharing something at 5pm may keep someone at work longer. You may have some spare time on a Sunday afternoon to write something, but putting it out there on Sunday may pull people back into work on the weekends. Early Monday morning communication may be buried by other things. There may not be a perfect time, but there's certainly a wrong time. Keep that in mind when you hit send.</li>
<li>Great news delivered on the heels of bad news makes both bits worse. The bad news feels like it's being buried, the good news feels like it's being injected to change the mood. Be honest with each by giving them adequate space.</li>
<li>Time is on your side, rushing makes conversations worse.</li>
<li>Communication is lossy, especially verbal communication. Every hearsay hop adds static and chips at fidelity. Whenever possible, communicate directly with those you're addressing rather than passing the message through intermediaries.</li>
<li>Ask if things are clear. Ask what you left out. Ask if there was anything someone was expecting that you didn't cover. Address the gaps before they widen with time.</li>
<li>Consider where you put things. The right communication in the wrong place might as well not exist at all. When someone relies on search to find something it’s often because it wasn’t where they expected something to be.</li>
<li>Communication often interrupts, so good communication is often about saying the right thing at the right time in the right way with the fewest side effects.</li>
</ol>

<hr/>

<h2>Communicating day-to-day</h2>

<p>This section includes specific examples of how we apply our philosophy day-to-day across the company. Since communication often interrupts, valuing each other's time and attention is a critical considersation. Keeping people in the loop is important, but asking them to follow along with everything is a distraction. That's why we follow reliable, predictable methods to share the right kind of information at the right time in the right place.</p>

<h3>Basic toolset</h3>

<p>98% of our internal communication happens inside Basecamp. That means all company-wide discussions, all social chatter, all project-related work, all sharing of ideas, all internal debates, all policy updates, and all official decisions and announcements all happen in Basecamp. A single centralized tool keeps everything together and creates a single source of truth for everyone across the company. We don't use email internally (we do externally), we don't use separate chat tools like Slack or Teams, and we rarely have in-person meetings. We do use Zoom or Skype for the occasional video conference between two or three people. And we occasionally discuss a pull request in Github.</p>

<h3>Automatic daily: "What did you work on today?</h3>

<p>Every workday at 16:30, Basecamp (the product) automatically asks every employee “What did you work on today?” Whatever people write up is shared with everyone in the company. Everyone’s responses are displayed on a single page, grouped by date, so anyone who’s curious about what’s happening across the company can simply read from top to bottom. And if you have a question about anything, you can comment on anyone’s “what did you work on today?” check-in to keep the conversation in context.</p>

<p>This routine is about loose accountability and strong reflection. Writing up what you did every day is a great way to think back about what you accomplished and how you spent your time.</p>

<p>Some people just jot down a few bullets. Others write multi-paragraph stories to share - and document - the thinking behind their work. There are no requirements here. We just ask everyone to write in their own style.</p>

<h3>Automatic weekly: "What will you be working on this week?"</h3>

<p>Every Monday morning, Basecamp automatically asks everyone “What will you be working on this week?” This is a chance for everyone to lay out the big picture of their week. It’s not about regurgitating individual tasks, or diving headlong into the minutia of the week. It’s generally just your 10,000 foot view of the week ahead. The big picture items, the general themes. It sets your mind up for the work ahead, and, collectively, it gives everyone a good sense of what happening across the company this week.</p>

<h3>Automatic occasionally: "Social questions"</h3>

<p>Every few weeks, or once a month, Basecamp will automatically ask everyone a social-style question. “What books are you reading?” Or “Try anything new lately?” Or “Anything inspire you lately?” Or “Seen any great design recently?” Or “What did you do this weekend?” These entirely options questions are meant to shake loose some stuff that you’d love to share with everyone else, but you hadn’t had an opportunity to do so. This kind of internal communication helps grease the social gears. This is especially useful for remote teams, like ours. When we know each other a little better, we work a little better together.</p>

<h3>← Reflect every 6 weeks: Heartbeats</h3>

<p>Heartbeats summarize the last ~6-weeks of work for a given team, department, or individual (if that person is a department of one). They're written by the lead of the group, and they're meant for everyone in the company to read. They summarize the big picture accomplishments, they detail the little things that mattered, and they generally highlight the importance of the work. They'll also shine a light on challenges and difficulties along the way. They're a good reminder that it's not all sunshine all the time. On balance, Heartbeats are wonderful to write, fun to read, and they help everyone - including those not directly involved with the work - reflect on jobs well done and progress well made.</p>

<h3>→ Project every 6 weeks: Kickoffs</h3>

<p>Kickoffs are essentially the opposites of Heartbeats. Rather than reflect, they project. They're all about what the team plans on taking on over the next 6 weeks. Projects, initiatives, revamps, whatever it might be, if it's on the slate, it gets summarized in the Kickoff. While Kickoffs detail specific work for a specific group, they're also meant for full-company consumption. Like Heartbeats, they're written by the team lead. Kickoffs are broad in scope, so they don't cover all the details in the work ahead - the teams doing the work are the ones that wade into those weeds. We don't want to overwhelm everyone with details that don't matter. If anyone's curious about something included in a Kickoff, they're free to post a comment and ask a question.</p>

<h3>Whenever relevant: Announcements</h3>

<p>Occasionally we update an internal policy. Something about vacation time, or a new benefit, or reiterating that 40 hour weeks means 40 hour weeks. When we have something to announce company-wide, we don't send an email. Email is decentralized and there's no permanent record in a permanent place everyone can see. Instead, we post it either to the Basecamp HQ message board or as a comment on an existing policy document stored in Basecamp. This means everyone sees the same thing, everyone hears the same thing, and everyone knows the same thing - including future employees who are yet to join Basecamp. We now have a shared truth.</p>

<h3>Day-to-day project work: In context</h3>

<p>Efective communication requires context. Saying the right thing in the wrong place, or without proper detail, leads to double work and messages being missed. That's why we spin up a separate Basecamp project for every project we work on. Everything related to that project is communicated inside that project. All the tasks, all the discussions, all the documents, all the debates, and all the decisions happen inside those walls. Everyone who needs access, has access. Every Basecamp project is a capsule of everything someone needs to know about that work project.</p>

<p>Further, we take spacial context seriously. If we're discussing a specific task, we discuss it in the comment section below the task itself. If we're talking about a specific document, we discuss it in the comments attached to the document. Communications stay attached to the thing we're discussing. This provides the full story in one reliable place. The alternative is terrible - communication detached from the original source material, discussions all over the place, fragmented conversations missing entire chunks of time and detail, etc. Basecamp's "everything is commentable" feature is what makes this possible for us.</p>

<hr/>

<h2>Other resources</h2>

<p>We've detailed the pros and cons of chat vs. long form writing in our infamous "<a href="https://basecamp.com/guides/group-chat-problems">Group Chat: Group Stress</a>" guide. We definitely recommend checking it out.</p>

<p>You'll also find a detailed explanation of how our teams work day-to-day on software projects in "<a href="http://basecamp.com./shapeup">Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters</a>".</p>

<p>The <a href="https://basecamp.com/handbook">Basecamp Company Handbook</a> is also worth checking out. It explaines how we're structured, how we define titles and roles, our full benefits package, our company values, the responsibilities of individual contributors, managers, and executives, and other essential bits.</p>

<hr/>

<h3>Anything else?</h3>

<p>We hope this guide was useful, but we're sure we're missing something. What questions do you still have? What did you hope to learn that you didn't? Was anything more confusing than clarifying? What would have made this guide more helpful? It's a work in progress, and we'll update as necessary based on your feedback. Please send questions, suggestions, and thoughts directly to the author, Jason Fried, at <a href="mailto:jason@basecamp.com">jason@basecamp.com</a>. Thanks!</p>
</article>
</section>


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title: Guide to Internal Communication, the Basecamp Way
url: https://basecamp.com/guides/how-we-communicate
hash_url: 322e7a8997c732a5fdca0baaea7b9ede

<h2>Rules of thumb, and general philosophy</h2>
<p>Below you'll find a collection of general principles we try to keep in mind at Basecamp when communicating with teammates, within departments, across the company, and with the public. They aren't requirements, but they serve to create boundaries and shared practices to draw upon when we do the one thing that affects everything else we do: communicate.</p>

<ol class="stacked-list">
<li>You can not not communicate. Not discussing the elephant in the room is communicating. Few things are as important to study, practice, and perfect as clear communication.</li>
<li>Real-time sometimes, asynchronous most of the time.</li>
<li>Internal communication based on long-form writing, rather than a verbal tradition of meetings, speaking, and chatting, leads to a welcomed reduction in meetings, video conferences, calls, or other real-time opportunities to interrupt and be interrupted.</li>
<li>Give meaningful discussions a meaningful amount of time to develop and unfold. Rushing to judgement, or demanding immediate responses, only serves to increase the odds of poor decision making.</li>
<li>Meetings are the last resort, not the first option.</li>
<li>Writing solidifies, chat dissolves. Substantial decisions start and end with an exchange of complete thoughts, not one-line-at-a-time jousts. If it's important, critical, or fundamental, write it up, don't chat it down.</li>
<li>Speaking only helps who’s in the room, writing helps everyone. This includes people who's couldn't make it, or future employees who join years from now.</li>
<li>If your words can be perceived in different ways, they'll be understood in the way which does the most harm.</li>
<li>Never expect or require someone to get back to you immediately unless it’s a true emergency. The expectation of immediate response is toxic.</li>
<li>If you have to repeat yourself, you weren’t clear enough the first time. However, if you're talking about something brand new, you may have to repeat yourself for years before you're heard. Pick your repeats wisely.</li>
<li>Poor communication creates more work.</li>
<li>Companies don't have communication problems, they have miscommunication problems. The smaller the company, group, or team, the fewer opportunities for miscommunication.</li>
<li>Five people in a room for an hour isn't a one hour meeting, it's a five hour meeting. Be mindful of the tradeoffs.</li>
<li>Be proactive about "wait, what?" questions by providing factual context and spacial context. Factual are the things people also need to know. Spacial is where the communication happens (for example, if it's about a specific to-do, discuss it right under the to-do, not somewhere else).</li>
<li>Communication shouldn't require schedule synchronization. Calendars have nothing to do with communication. Writing, rather than speaking or meeting, is independent of schedule and far more direct.</li>
<li>"Now" is often the wrong time to say what just popped into your head. It's better to let it filter it through the sieve of time. What's left is the part worth saying.</li>
<li>Ask yourself if others will feel compelled to rush their response if you rush your approach.</li>
<li>The end of the day has a way of convincing you what you’ve done is good, but the next morning has a way of telling the you truth. If you aren't sure, sleep on it before saying it.</li>
<li>If you want an answer, you have to ask a question. People typically have a lot to say, but they'll volunteer little. Automatic questions on a regular schedule help people practice sharing, writing, and communicating.</li>
<li>Occasionally pick random words, sentences, or paragraphs and hit delete. Did it matter?</li>
<li>Urgency is overrated, ASAP is poison.</li>
<li>If something's going to be difficult to hear or share, invite questions at the end. Ending without the invitation will lead to public silence but private conjecture. This is where rumors breed.</li>
<li>Where you put something, and what you call it, matters. When titling something, lead with the most important information. Keep in mind that many technical systems truncate long text or titles.</li>
<li>Write at the right time. Sharing something at 5pm may keep someone at work longer. You may have some spare time on a Sunday afternoon to write something, but putting it out there on Sunday may pull people back into work on the weekends. Early Monday morning communication may be buried by other things. There may not be a perfect time, but there's certainly a wrong time. Keep that in mind when you hit send.</li>
<li>Great news delivered on the heels of bad news makes both bits worse. The bad news feels like it's being buried, the good news feels like it's being injected to change the mood. Be honest with each by giving them adequate space.</li>
<li>Time is on your side, rushing makes conversations worse.</li>
<li>Communication is lossy, especially verbal communication. Every hearsay hop adds static and chips at fidelity. Whenever possible, communicate directly with those you're addressing rather than passing the message through intermediaries.</li>
<li>Ask if things are clear. Ask what you left out. Ask if there was anything someone was expecting that you didn't cover. Address the gaps before they widen with time.</li>
<li>Consider where you put things. The right communication in the wrong place might as well not exist at all. When someone relies on search to find something it’s often because it wasn’t where they expected something to be.</li>
<li>Communication often interrupts, so good communication is often about saying the right thing at the right time in the right way with the fewest side effects.</li>
</ol>

<hr/>

<h2>Communicating day-to-day</h2>

<p>This section includes specific examples of how we apply our philosophy day-to-day across the company. Since communication often interrupts, valuing each other's time and attention is a critical considersation. Keeping people in the loop is important, but asking them to follow along with everything is a distraction. That's why we follow reliable, predictable methods to share the right kind of information at the right time in the right place.</p>

<h3>Basic toolset</h3>
<p>98% of our internal communication happens inside Basecamp. That means all company-wide discussions, all social chatter, all project-related work, all sharing of ideas, all internal debates, all policy updates, and all official decisions and announcements all happen in Basecamp. A single centralized tool keeps everything together and creates a single source of truth for everyone across the company. We don't use email internally (we do externally), we don't use separate chat tools like Slack or Teams, and we rarely have in-person meetings. We do use Zoom or Skype for the occasional video conference between two or three people. And we occasionally discuss a pull request in Github.</p>

<h3>Automatic daily: "What did you work on today?</h3>
<p>Every workday at 16:30, Basecamp (the product) automatically asks every employee “What did you work on today?” Whatever people write up is shared with everyone in the company. Everyone’s responses are displayed on a single page, grouped by date, so anyone who’s curious about what’s happening across the company can simply read from top to bottom. And if you have a question about anything, you can comment on anyone’s “what did you work on today?” check-in to keep the conversation in context.</p>

<p>This routine is about loose accountability and strong reflection. Writing up what you did every day is a great way to think back about what you accomplished and how you spent your time.</p>

<p>Some people just jot down a few bullets. Others write multi-paragraph stories to share - and document - the thinking behind their work. There are no requirements here. We just ask everyone to write in their own style.</p>

<h3>Automatic weekly: "What will you be working on this week?"</h3>
<p>Every Monday morning, Basecamp automatically asks everyone “What will you be working on this week?” This is a chance for everyone to lay out the big picture of their week. It’s not about regurgitating individual tasks, or diving headlong into the minutia of the week. It’s generally just your 10,000 foot view of the week ahead. The big picture items, the general themes. It sets your mind up for the work ahead, and, collectively, it gives everyone a good sense of what happening across the company this week.</p>

<h3>Automatic occasionally: "Social questions"</h3>
<p>Every few weeks, or once a month, Basecamp will automatically ask everyone a social-style question. “What books are you reading?” Or “Try anything new lately?” Or “Anything inspire you lately?” Or “Seen any great design recently?” Or “What did you do this weekend?” These entirely options questions are meant to shake loose some stuff that you’d love to share with everyone else, but you hadn’t had an opportunity to do so. This kind of internal communication helps grease the social gears. This is especially useful for remote teams, like ours. When we know each other a little better, we work a little better together.</p>

<h3>← Reflect every 6 weeks: Heartbeats</h3>
<p>Heartbeats summarize the last ~6-weeks of work for a given team, department, or individual (if that person is a department of one). They're written by the lead of the group, and they're meant for everyone in the company to read. They summarize the big picture accomplishments, they detail the little things that mattered, and they generally highlight the importance of the work. They'll also shine a light on challenges and difficulties along the way. They're a good reminder that it's not all sunshine all the time. On balance, Heartbeats are wonderful to write, fun to read, and they help everyone - including those not directly involved with the work - reflect on jobs well done and progress well made.</p>

<h3>→ Project every 6 weeks: Kickoffs</h3>
<p>Kickoffs are essentially the opposites of Heartbeats. Rather than reflect, they project. They're all about what the team plans on taking on over the next 6 weeks. Projects, initiatives, revamps, whatever it might be, if it's on the slate, it gets summarized in the Kickoff. While Kickoffs detail specific work for a specific group, they're also meant for full-company consumption. Like Heartbeats, they're written by the team lead. Kickoffs are broad in scope, so they don't cover all the details in the work ahead - the teams doing the work are the ones that wade into those weeds. We don't want to overwhelm everyone with details that don't matter. If anyone's curious about something included in a Kickoff, they're free to post a comment and ask a question.</p>

<h3>Whenever relevant: Announcements</h3>
<p>Occasionally we update an internal policy. Something about vacation time, or a new benefit, or reiterating that 40 hour weeks means 40 hour weeks. When we have something to announce company-wide, we don't send an email. Email is decentralized and there's no permanent record in a permanent place everyone can see. Instead, we post it either to the Basecamp HQ message board or as a comment on an existing policy document stored in Basecamp. This means everyone sees the same thing, everyone hears the same thing, and everyone knows the same thing - including future employees who are yet to join Basecamp. We now have a shared truth.</p>

<h3>Day-to-day project work: In context</h3>
<p>Efective communication requires context. Saying the right thing in the wrong place, or without proper detail, leads to double work and messages being missed. That's why we spin up a separate Basecamp project for every project we work on. Everything related to that project is communicated inside that project. All the tasks, all the discussions, all the documents, all the debates, and all the decisions happen inside those walls. Everyone who needs access, has access. Every Basecamp project is a capsule of everything someone needs to know about that work project.</p>

<p>Further, we take spacial context seriously. If we're discussing a specific task, we discuss it in the comment section below the task itself. If we're talking about a specific document, we discuss it in the comments attached to the document. Communications stay attached to the thing we're discussing. This provides the full story in one reliable place. The alternative is terrible - communication detached from the original source material, discussions all over the place, fragmented conversations missing entire chunks of time and detail, etc. Basecamp's "everything is commentable" feature is what makes this possible for us.</p>

<hr/>

<h2>Other resources</h2>

<p>We've detailed the pros and cons of chat vs. long form writing in our infamous "<a href="https://basecamp.com/guides/group-chat-problems">Group Chat: Group Stress</a>" guide. We definitely recommend checking it out.</p>

<p>You'll also find a detailed explanation of how our teams work day-to-day on software projects in "<a href="http://basecamp.com./shapeup">Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters</a>".</p>

<p>The <a href="https://basecamp.com/handbook">Basecamp Company Handbook</a> is also worth checking out. It explaines how we're structured, how we define titles and roles, our full benefits package, our company values, the responsibilities of individual contributors, managers, and executives, and other essential bits.</p>

<hr/>

<h3>Anything else?</h3>
<p>We hope this guide was useful, but we're sure we're missing something. What questions do you still have? What did you hope to learn that you didn't? Was anything more confusing than clarifying? What would have made this guide more helpful? It's a work in progress, and we'll update as necessary based on your feedback. Please send questions, suggestions, and thoughts directly to the author, Jason Fried, at <a href="mailto:jason@basecamp.com">jason@basecamp.com</a>. Thanks!</p>


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<h1>
<span><a id="jumper" href="#jumpto" title="Un peu perdu ?">?</a></span>
The modern web is becoming an unusable, user-hostile wasteland (archive)
<time>Pour la pérennité des contenus liés. Non-indexé, retrait sur simple email.</time>
</h1>
<section>
<article>
<h3><a href="https://omarabid.com/the-modern-web">Source originale du contenu</a></h3>
<blockquote>
<p>In one of Gerald Weinberg’s books, probably The Secrets of Consulting, there’s the apocryphal story of the giant multinational hamburger chain where some bright MBA figured out that eliminating just three sesame seeds from a sesame-seed bun would be completely unnoticeable by anyone yet would save the company $126,000 per year. So they do it, and time passes, and another bushy-tailed MBA comes along, and does another study, and concludes that removing another five sesame seeds wouldn’t hurt either, and would save even more money, and so on and so forth, every year or two, the new management trainee looking for ways to save money proposes removing a sesame seed or two, until eventually, they’re shipping hamburger buns with exactly three sesame seeds artfully arranged in a triangle, and nobody buys their hamburgers any more.</p>
</blockquote>

<p><em>Joel Spolsky from <a href="https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2007/09/11/theres-no-place-like-127001/">There’s no place like 127.0.0.1</a></em></p>

<p>As I keep browsing today’s internet, I keep recalling this extract. It’s the same thing happening with the modern web: If you add another advertisement to your pages, you generate more revenue. If you track your users better, now you can deliver tailored ads and your conversion rates are higher. If you restrict users from leaving your walled garden ecosystem, now you get all the juice from whatever attention they have.</p>

<p>The question is: At which point do we reach the breaking point?</p>

<p>And I think the answer is: <em>We are very close</em>.</p>

<p>Here are some of these websites, who have managed over time to turn the user experience almost unusable for anyone who doesn’t have an account.</p>

<h2 id="facebook_2">Facebook <a class="head_anchor" href="#facebook_2">#</a>
</h2>

<p>If you try to open a Facebook page without an account, this is what you get.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/dJwcwmJQW8QkFHeMQBKnTC0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/dJwcwmJQW8QkFHeMQBKnTC0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 6.34.32 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>There is a blue header at the top that has the login form. But in case you missed it, Facebook has made another big white one at the bottom. Have you signed up yet?</p>

<p>Let’s try to scroll a little bit more.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/gNR1XozEXRGq8TxxBbtSK60xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/gNR1XozEXRGq8TxxBbtSK60xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 6.34.55 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>Wooha! Looks like you didn’t login, or you haven’t signed up yet! But there is a small “Not Now” button; because we know <em>you’ll have to create an account later</em>.</p>

<p>In case you think this experience is garbage; wait until you see the mobile version.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/GkQ5zG4SoV2yZDFPZCn1a0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/GkQ5zG4SoV2yZDFPZCn1a0xspap.png" alt="IMG_3528.PNG"/></a></p>

<p>It’s not even clear, at this point, what the actual page is about. Let’s try to scroll a bit more.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/iwrmnvSWCCZ6LWkp1V3SRH0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/iwrmnvSWCCZ6LWkp1V3SRH0xspap.png" alt="IMG_3530.PNG"/></a></p>

<p>There isn’t even any content in this page. Who designed and approved this mess?</p>

<p>Think you are a smart-ass? You can create a fake account. But after a while, Facebook will think you are dodgy and ask for more identifiable information.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/5xyZiwADWPEziRppRmEvSM0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/5xyZiwADWPEziRppRmEvSM0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 11.58.45 AM.png"/></a></p>

<p>There is a solution: To buy a disposable phone number and use it to complete the verification. But this was the breaking point. At this point, I no longer bother.</p>

<p>Is Twitter any better? Well, it looks like they are trying to strike a balance between giving you free data and their craving for your identity. You can still read the president tweets from his main page.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/vfk2SLog4xoJR693CHSUaX0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/vfk2SLog4xoJR693CHSUaX0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-12-20 at 1.07.06 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>Trying to read his “Tweets &amp; replies” is less fruitful though.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/8eBsgGd149ankeY2dh9qj80xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/8eBsgGd149ankeY2dh9qj80xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-12-20 at 1.07.44 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>Actually, all of these buttons are inaccessible as for right now.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/iN7M3MxngAUo8bX8F2JCA80xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/iN7M3MxngAUo8bX8F2JCA80xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-12-20 at 1.07.06 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>Extrapolating on the progress these websites have been making, it’s only a matter of time before <em>nothing</em> on Twitter is readable without an account. Maybe, you’ll get a spoiler in the future; but that’s it.</p>

<h2 id="medium_2">Medium <a class="head_anchor" href="#medium_2">#</a>
</h2>

<p>Everyone is complaining about these tech-giants these days, but are the new incumbents doing any better? Medium is one these <em>dudes</em> and they claim to be the good guys.</p>

<blockquote class="short">
<p>Keep it ad-free<br/>
Medium doesn’t accept advertising. Please don’t market yourself or other products, feature advertisements, or include requests for claps or donations.</p>
</blockquote>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/9VdU6n8fbQbksQwSnKp6Nx0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/9VdU6n8fbQbksQwSnKp6Nx0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 7.26.25 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>No ads? Time to check the terms of service.</p>

<blockquote>
<p>In consideration for Medium granting you access to and use of the Services, you agree that Medium may enable advertising on the Services, including in connection with the display <em>of your content</em> or other information. We may also <em>use your content</em> to promote Medium, including its products and content. We will never sell your content to third parties without your explicit permission.</p>
</blockquote>

<p>So they are advertising, but <em>you are not</em>. But hey! at least they are not selling your content without your permission. Don’t hold your breath, though. The terms can change at a moment notice.</p>

<p>And in case you wondered what the experience of browsing medium is, here it is:</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/wyvY4QLnCK9RFwxDG7CSDc0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/wyvY4QLnCK9RFwxDG7CSDc0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 7.20.10 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/wcxC522McDBrpK98NQyK4f0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/wcxC522McDBrpK98NQyK4f0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 7.22.33 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/rFMbk9Nh775qzsV2Lx3FLn0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/rFMbk9Nh775qzsV2Lx3FLn0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 7.23.44 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>But what if you pay? That is you are not the product like they said. Let’s say you check a supposedly reputable company (i.e. Bloomberg) and think of opting for a digital subscription.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/uZ3k94FgmD61DTUb4m1bqd0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/uZ3k94FgmD61DTUb4m1bqd0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-23 at 9.33.01 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>I mean it’s only $2/month. Less than what you’d pay for a cup of coffee. Or $<strong>340</strong>/year; here hoping you are very bad at math.</p>

<p>In a nutshell, if I can describe my browsing experience in 2019.</p>

<ul>
<li>Websites asking to login, register or enter an email.</li>
<li>Websites asking for your phone number after you gave up your email.</li>
<li>Websites asking to allow HTML5 notifications.</li>
<li>Websites downloading 50Mb of data and making hundreds of requests to serve 6Kb worth of text.</li>
<li>Websites that are not functioning because they have too much JavaScript.</li>
<li>Websites that are not functioning because some of the JavaScript was caught by uBlock Origin.</li>
<li>Websites asking to turn off the Ad Blocker.</li>
<li>Websites asking to accept the cookies in 41,484 different ways.</li>
<li>Websites asking to download their mobile app which is non-native and requires around 200Mb of storage.</li>
<li>Popups to buy a deal or download some random crap.</li>
<li>reCaptcha with random street images; that are sometimes impossible to solve.</li>
<li>CloudFlare DDoS protection thinking I’m a bot.</li>
<li>Youtube running a 2:30 minutes ad for a 3:30 minutes music video.</li>
<li>Video or Website not showing up because I’m not in said country.</li>
<li>Linkedin that keeps sending dozens of emails despite unsubscribing multiple times; and somehow evades the Spam filter</li>
</ul>

<h1 id="the-breaking-point_1">The breaking point <a class="head_anchor" href="#the-breaking-point_1">#</a>
</h1>

<p>I used to have a bank account with a local branch of BNP Paribas. When I signed up, I opted for various services like Online Banking, a “Platinum” debit card and other services. It made sense at the time to pay for online banking since it was long ago, but does it make sense now?</p>

<p>Worse, in the last few years, I have seen the bill for these services increase three fold in the last 3 years. And they started charging for small crap: Deposit money? There is a small fee. Deposit a check? There is a small fee. Withdraw from another bank ATM? The fee now is so high I have to think twice. <em>Inconvenient</em>.</p>

<p>Changing banks is annoying but not impossible. It’d be better if I can avoid such a thing but there is a point where the system breaks. And at some point, you look at the bill and decide: That’s the <strong>breaking point</strong>.</p>
</article>
</section>


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<a href="/david/blog/">Accueil du blog</a> |
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Je suis <a href="/david/" title="Profil public">David&nbsp;Larlet</a>, je vis actuellement à Montréal et j’alimente cet espace depuis 15 ans. <br>
Si tu as apprécié cette lecture, n’hésite pas à poursuivre ton exploration. Par exemple via les <a href="/david/blog/" title="Expériences bienveillantes">réflexions bimestrielles</a>, la <a href="/david/stream/2019/" title="Pensées (dés)articulées">veille hebdomadaire</a> ou en t’abonnant au <a href="/david/log/" title="S’abonner aux publications via RSS">flux RSS</a> (<a href="/david/blog/2019/flux-rss/" title="Tiens c’est quoi un flux RSS ?">so 2005</a>).
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<p>
Je m’intéresse à la place que je peux avoir dans ce monde. En tant qu’humain, en tant que membre d’une famille et en tant qu’associé d’une coopérative. De temps en temps, je fais aussi des <a href="https://github.com/davidbgk" title="Principalement sur Github mais aussi ailleurs">trucs techniques</a>. Et encore plus rarement, <a href="/david/talks/" title="En ce moment je laisse plutôt la place aux autres">j’en parle</a>.
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Voici quelques articles choisis :
<a href="/david/blog/2019/faire-equipe/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Faire équipe</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2018/bivouac-automnal/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Bivouac automnal</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2018/commodite-effondrement/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Commodité et effondrement</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2017/donnees-communs/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Des données aux communs</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2016/accompagner-enfant/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Accompagner un enfant</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2016/senior-developer/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Senior developer</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2016/illusion-sociale/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">L’illusion sociale</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2016/instantane-scopyleft/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Instantané Scopyleft</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2016/enseigner-web/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Enseigner le Web</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2016/simplicite-defaut/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Simplicité par défaut</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2016/minimalisme-esthetique/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Minimalisme et esthétique</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2014/un-web-omni-present/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Un web omni-présent</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2014/manifeste-developpeur/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Manifeste de développeur</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2013/confort-convivialite/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Confort et convivialité</a>,
<a href="/david/blog/2013/testament-numerique/" title="Accéder à l’article complet">Testament numérique</a>,
et <a href="/david/blog/" title="Accéder aux archives">bien d’autres…</a>
</p>
<p>
On peut <a href="mailto:david%40larlet.fr" title="Envoyer un courriel">échanger par courriel</a>. Si éventuellement tu souhaites que l’on travaille ensemble, tu devrais commencer par consulter le <a href="http://larlet.com">profil dédié à mon activité professionnelle</a> et/ou contacter directement <a href="http://scopyleft.fr/">scopyleft</a>, la <abbr title="Société coopérative et participative">SCOP</abbr> dont je fais partie depuis six ans. Je recommande au préalable de lire <a href="/david/blog/2018/cout-site/" title="Attention ce qui va suivre peut vous choquer">combien coûte un site</a> et pourquoi je suis plutôt favorable à une <a href="/david/pro/devis/" title="Discutons-en !">non-demande de devis</a>.
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+ 114
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title: The modern web is becoming an unusable, user-hostile wasteland
url: https://omarabid.com/the-modern-web
hash_url: 685842ac9d1a3206af33dbd51d08cbf0

<blockquote>
<p>In one of Gerald Weinberg’s books, probably The Secrets of Consulting, there’s the apocryphal story of the giant multinational hamburger chain where some bright MBA figured out that eliminating just three sesame seeds from a sesame-seed bun would be completely unnoticeable by anyone yet would save the company $126,000 per year. So they do it, and time passes, and another bushy-tailed MBA comes along, and does another study, and concludes that removing another five sesame seeds wouldn’t hurt either, and would save even more money, and so on and so forth, every year or two, the new management trainee looking for ways to save money proposes removing a sesame seed or two, until eventually, they’re shipping hamburger buns with exactly three sesame seeds artfully arranged in a triangle, and nobody buys their hamburgers any more.</p>
</blockquote>
<p><em>Joel Spolsky from <a href="https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2007/09/11/theres-no-place-like-127001/">There’s no place like 127.0.0.1</a></em></p>

<p>As I keep browsing today’s internet, I keep recalling this extract. It’s the same thing happening with the modern web: If you add another advertisement to your pages, you generate more revenue. If you track your users better, now you can deliver tailored ads and your conversion rates are higher. If you restrict users from leaving your walled garden ecosystem, now you get all the juice from whatever attention they have.</p>

<p>The question is: At which point do we reach the breaking point?</p>

<p>And I think the answer is: <em>We are very close</em>.</p>

<p>Here are some of these websites, who have managed over time to turn the user experience almost unusable for anyone who doesn’t have an account.</p>
<h2 id="facebook_2">Facebook <a class="head_anchor" href="#facebook_2">#</a>
</h2>
<p>If you try to open a Facebook page without an account, this is what you get.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/dJwcwmJQW8QkFHeMQBKnTC0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/dJwcwmJQW8QkFHeMQBKnTC0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 6.34.32 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>There is a blue header at the top that has the login form. But in case you missed it, Facebook has made another big white one at the bottom. Have you signed up yet?</p>

<p>Let’s try to scroll a little bit more.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/gNR1XozEXRGq8TxxBbtSK60xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/gNR1XozEXRGq8TxxBbtSK60xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 6.34.55 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>Wooha! Looks like you didn’t login, or you haven’t signed up yet! But there is a small “Not Now” button; because we know <em>you’ll have to create an account later</em>.</p>

<p>In case you think this experience is garbage; wait until you see the mobile version.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/GkQ5zG4SoV2yZDFPZCn1a0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/GkQ5zG4SoV2yZDFPZCn1a0xspap.png" alt="IMG_3528.PNG"/></a></p>

<p>It’s not even clear, at this point, what the actual page is about. Let’s try to scroll a bit more.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/iwrmnvSWCCZ6LWkp1V3SRH0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/iwrmnvSWCCZ6LWkp1V3SRH0xspap.png" alt="IMG_3530.PNG"/></a></p>

<p>There isn’t even any content in this page. Who designed and approved this mess?</p>

<p>Think you are a smart-ass? You can create a fake account. But after a while, Facebook will think you are dodgy and ask for more identifiable information.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/5xyZiwADWPEziRppRmEvSM0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/5xyZiwADWPEziRppRmEvSM0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 11.58.45 AM.png"/></a></p>

<p>There is a solution: To buy a disposable phone number and use it to complete the verification. But this was the breaking point. At this point, I no longer bother.</p>

<p>Is Twitter any better? Well, it looks like they are trying to strike a balance between giving you free data and their craving for your identity. You can still read the president tweets from his main page.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/vfk2SLog4xoJR693CHSUaX0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/vfk2SLog4xoJR693CHSUaX0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-12-20 at 1.07.06 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>Trying to read his “Tweets &amp; replies” is less fruitful though.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/8eBsgGd149ankeY2dh9qj80xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/8eBsgGd149ankeY2dh9qj80xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-12-20 at 1.07.44 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>Actually, all of these buttons are inaccessible as for right now.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/iN7M3MxngAUo8bX8F2JCA80xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/iN7M3MxngAUo8bX8F2JCA80xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-12-20 at 1.07.06 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>Extrapolating on the progress these websites have been making, it’s only a matter of time before <em>nothing</em> on Twitter is readable without an account. Maybe, you’ll get a spoiler in the future; but that’s it.</p>
<h2 id="medium_2">Medium <a class="head_anchor" href="#medium_2">#</a>
</h2>
<p>Everyone is complaining about these tech-giants these days, but are the new incumbents doing any better? Medium is one these <em>dudes</em> and they claim to be the good guys.</p>
<blockquote class="short">
<p>Keep it ad-free<br/>
Medium doesn’t accept advertising. Please don’t market yourself or other products, feature advertisements, or include requests for claps or donations.</p>
</blockquote>
<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/9VdU6n8fbQbksQwSnKp6Nx0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/9VdU6n8fbQbksQwSnKp6Nx0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 7.26.25 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>No ads? Time to check the terms of service.</p>
<blockquote>
<p>In consideration for Medium granting you access to and use of the Services, you agree that Medium may enable advertising on the Services, including in connection with the display <em>of your content</em> or other information. We may also <em>use your content</em> to promote Medium, including its products and content. We will never sell your content to third parties without your explicit permission.</p>
</blockquote>
<p>So they are advertising, but <em>you are not</em>. But hey! at least they are not selling your content without your permission. Don’t hold your breath, though. The terms can change at a moment notice.</p>

<p>And in case you wondered what the experience of browsing medium is, here it is:</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/wyvY4QLnCK9RFwxDG7CSDc0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/wyvY4QLnCK9RFwxDG7CSDc0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 7.20.10 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/wcxC522McDBrpK98NQyK4f0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/wcxC522McDBrpK98NQyK4f0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 7.22.33 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/rFMbk9Nh775qzsV2Lx3FLn0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/rFMbk9Nh775qzsV2Lx3FLn0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 7.23.44 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>But what if you pay? That is you are not the product like they said. Let’s say you check a supposedly reputable company (i.e. Bloomberg) and think of opting for a digital subscription.</p>

<p><a href="https://svbtleusercontent.com/uZ3k94FgmD61DTUb4m1bqd0xspap.png"><img src="https://svbtleusercontent.com/uZ3k94FgmD61DTUb4m1bqd0xspap.png" alt="Screen Shot 2019-11-23 at 9.33.01 PM.png"/></a></p>

<p>I mean it’s only $2/month. Less than what you’d pay for a cup of coffee. Or $<strong>340</strong>/year; here hoping you are very bad at math.</p>

<p>In a nutshell, if I can describe my browsing experience in 2019.</p>

<ul>
<li>Websites asking to login, register or enter an email.</li>
<li>Websites asking for your phone number after you gave up your email.</li>
<li>Websites asking to allow HTML5 notifications.</li>
<li>Websites downloading 50Mb of data and making hundreds of requests to serve 6Kb worth of text.</li>
<li>Websites that are not functioning because they have too much JavaScript.</li>
<li>Websites that are not functioning because some of the JavaScript was caught by uBlock Origin.</li>
<li>Websites asking to turn off the Ad Blocker.</li>
<li>Websites asking to accept the cookies in 41,484 different ways.</li>
<li>Websites asking to download their mobile app which is non-native and requires around 200Mb of storage.</li>
<li>Popups to buy a deal or download some random crap.</li>
<li>reCaptcha with random street images; that are sometimes impossible to solve.</li>
<li>CloudFlare DDoS protection thinking I’m a bot.</li>
<li>Youtube running a 2:30 minutes ad for a 3:30 minutes music video.</li>
<li>Video or Website not showing up because I’m not in said country.</li>
<li>Linkedin that keeps sending dozens of emails despite unsubscribing multiple times; and somehow evades the Spam filter</li>
</ul>
<h1 id="the-breaking-point_1">The breaking point <a class="head_anchor" href="#the-breaking-point_1">#</a>
</h1>
<p>I used to have a bank account with a local branch of BNP Paribas. When I signed up, I opted for various services like Online Banking, a “Platinum” debit card and other services. It made sense at the time to pay for online banking since it was long ago, but does it make sense now?</p>

<p>Worse, in the last few years, I have seen the bill for these services increase three fold in the last 3 years. And they started charging for small crap: Deposit money? There is a small fee. Deposit a check? There is a small fee. Withdraw from another bank ATM? The fee now is so high I have to think twice. <em>Inconvenient</em>.</p>

<p>Changing banks is annoying but not impossible. It’d be better if I can avoid such a thing but there is a point where the system breaks. And at some point, you look at the bill and decide: That’s the <strong>breaking point</strong>.</p>

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<h1>
<span><a id="jumper" href="#jumpto" title="Un peu perdu ?">?</a></span>
Sparrow’s Guide To Meditation (archive)
<time>Pour la pérennité des contenus liés. Non-indexé, retrait sur simple email.</time>
</h1>
<section>
<article>
<h3><a href="https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/529/sparrows-guide-to-meditation">Source originale du contenu</a></h3>
<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>I have meditated</strong></span> twice a day virtually every day since 1974. That means I have spent approximately twenty-two solid months of my life in meditation. This alone qualifies me to write this guide.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Early in my</strong></span> meditation career, I scrupulously filled out a daily chart supplied by my meditation group, the Ananda Marga Society. For some reason I vividly remember these charts. In the late 1970s I would sometimes miss an evening meditation, I am ashamed to say. I would go to a party, get home at two in the morning, and fall asleep. But since 1980 I have meditated twice a day without fail. If I leave a party at two in the morning now, I meditate on the subway or force myself to sit for fifteen minutes before sleep. (Though I always meditate before bed, I procrastinate my morning sitting as long as possible — sometimes until 6 <span class="smallcaps">PM</span>.)</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>I am proud</strong></span> of my consistent meditation practice, but <em>you</em> need not be so obsessive. You may meditate for three minutes, skip a week, then meditate on a Thursday for five minutes. Be a rebel! Consistency is a virtue of bureaucrats, not mystics.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>I find meditation</strong></span> slightly excruciating, to be honest. It’s boring, frustrating — humiliating, actually. And even after forty-five years I can’t seem to “still” my mind.</p>

<p>So why pursue this treacherous path? For one thing, I’d be too embarrassed to stop. For another, I’m addicted to it. If I put off my first meditation until evening, I get a strange sensation in my brain, as if it were filled with styrofoam; as if all the images I’ve seen that day have cluttered up my head. After I finally do my meditation, I open my eyes and feel . . . normal. This is quite similar to how junkies describe heroin addiction. At first you feel an extraordinary high, but after two years you take the drug just to stop feeling awful.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>My goal for</strong></span> this guide is not to offer detailed, step-by-step instructions. (Luckily, <em>Meditation for Dummies</em> and <em>The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meditation</em> both exist.) But here are the basics:</p>

<p>Sit comfortably, either in a chair or cross-legged on the floor. (You may wish to use a firm cushion.) Try to keep your spine as straight as possible, without being rigid. Close your eyes. Pay attention to your breathing, noticing the breath entering and leaving your nostrils (or your mouth, if that’s how you breathe). You’re not trying to breathe slowly — or quickly, for that matter — just noticing the flow of air in and out. After three or four minutes, stop. Unless you’re desperate to keep meditating; then go for as long as you like.</p>

<p>How was it? Sometimes the first sitting is extremely powerful. Most of the time it’s about as memorable as using an <span class="smallcaps">ATM</span>.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Quite possibly you</strong></span> <em>shouldn’t</em> meditate. But if you’re determined to try, it’s not terribly difficult. Just expect to waste time twice a day, and you’ll do fine.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Meditation teaches that</strong></span> change is constant. You fool yourself into believing that you are a fixed entity, but you are not. You are a river of transforming whims. This sounds like some Buddhist abstraction, but if you actually try to meditate, even for three minutes, you’ll discover that it’s true.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>While your eyes</strong></span> are closed in meditation, you don’t actually exist. Your body has disappeared. Your social identity is gone. What’s left? Not much. Just a puddle of anxieties and a vague sense of continuity. You believe these disparate thoughts are coming from your “self,” but are they? Maybe they are somehow being placed in your mind by a creepy professor with a mind-control machine! Try not to think about this. It may lead to insanity. (There is a small danger of going insane from meditating too much, but your constant inability to concentrate will modulate that threat.)</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Meditation teaches humility</strong></span> and patience, because you must constantly confront that most disappointing person: yourself.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>The inevitability of</strong></span> failure is the main lesson of meditation. It is preparation for all the other failures in your life.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>I sit much</strong></span> more today than I did in 1974, but I don’t feel that I’m making progress. If anything, I seem to be slightly more distracted. The only difference is in how I react to a crisis: If a subway train stops in a tunnel, I just pull out a book and read. If a fight breaks out in a bar, I don’t panic — or, at least, everyone around me panics more. Perhaps meditation teaches us to differentiate between problems we can solve and problems we can’t.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>In the early</strong></span> 1990s I met the poet Thaddeus Rutkowski in the East Village of Manhattan. We discovered that we had both attended Cornell University at the same time. In fact, we’d lived in the same dorm, Sperry Hall. Thaddeus, who has a remarkable memory, began naming residents of the hall, most of whom I’d forgotten.</p>

<p>“Did you know Mike Motel?” he inquired.</p>

<p>“I <em>was</em> Mike Motel,” I replied. That was the name I went by in college.</p>

<p>“But you’re nothing like him!” Thaddeus remarked. “He was a nervous, hyper guy, and you’re very calm and relaxed.”</p>

<p>This is the one piece of evidence I have that meditation works.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Some books on</strong></span> meditation imply that you’ll quickly stumble upon inner peacefulness. Actually the precise opposite is true. You may think you’re a fairly calm, centered person, but the minute you cross your legs and attempt to count your breaths, you’ll discover there’s an out-of-control 2 <span class="smallcaps">AM</span> disco inside you — in fact, <em>two</em> discos, each playing separate songs at ear-splitting volume, each filled with frantic dancers in mismatched polyester.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Meditation is slow</strong></span> — as slow as the moon crossing the sky. If you want to change quickly, use drugs.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Thirty years ago</strong></span> I went to the beach with my parents, my sister, and my brother-in-law. At one point I sat in the sand and meditated. Afterward my brother-in-law said, “That was amazing! A volleyball player ran into you, and you didn’t even notice.”</p>

<p>“I felt someone brush by me,” I replied.</p>

<p>“No, that guy ran right into you!”</p>

<p>Maybe I actually <em>am</em> good at meditation, I thought.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>After we reach</strong></span> our forties, we begin to notice how swiftly time passes. We can’t slow its relentless pace, but with meditation we can come close. When you sit in silence with eyes closed, an hour can become seven, or occasionally open into a spacious eternity.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>There is a</strong></span> deep and hideous truth that we all spend our lives avoiding. That’s why we constantly chatter with friends, go to Lakers games, and spend hours on Facebook: we’re desperate to distract ourselves from this one heartless fact.</p>

<p>Meditation asks: Suppose we stop running from the nameless demon. Suppose we turn and behold its twisted, ugly face. What will happen?</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Of those who</strong></span> practice meditation, some give up, because trying to still the mind is futile and absurd. Others continue meditating, because trying to still the mind is futile and absurd, but they have a taste for absurdity.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>In 1984 my</strong></span> girlfriend broke up with me. Devastated, I went to a Benedictine monastery near Elmira, New York, and meditated almost continually for two days. Was it better than weeping? I don’t know. I’m not very good at weeping. If I’m really miserable, I may cry two tears. This is the problem with being an American male.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>My wife and</strong></span> I met at a poetry workshop in the East Village in 1985. The group met every Saturday from September until May. One day Violet and I both arrived early. We were the only ones in the room and sat on opposite sides of the table. For no apparent reason, we stared wordlessly into each other’s eyes, descending into infinite silence. This is a type of meditation called <em>traspaso</em>, because it “trespasses” the ego boundaries. Violet and I were not particularly friendly before that, but we’ve now been married twenty-eight years. This is the sort of bond wordless concentration can create.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Meditation is a</strong></span> lot like marriage: You begin in pursuit of ecstasy and eventually settle for mild contentment. After twenty years you realize that contentment itself is a kind of ecstasy.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Once you commit</strong></span> yourself to a meditation session, the room’s temperature suddenly becomes evident. You notice that you’re uncomfortably chilly or hot. But is it so unpleasant that you should stop meditating and get a sweater, or remove a sweater? A dialogue begins between the part of you that’s meditating and the part of you that’s <em>never</em> meditating:</p>

<blockquote>
<p><span class="interviewee-er">Meditator:</span> I’ll be all right.</p>

<p><span class="interviewee-er">Nonmeditator:</span> You’ll catch a cold! You’ll regret this for two weeks!</p>

<p><span class="interviewee-er">Meditator:</span> You worry about everything.</p>

<p><span class="interviewee-er">Nonmeditator:</span> You worry about nothing.</p>

<p><span class="interviewee-er">Meditator:</span> I’m not supposed to be worrying. I’m supposed to be meditating. [<em>Grows silent.</em>]</p>

<p><span class="interviewee-er">Nonmeditator:</span> You’ll catch a cold.</p>

<p><span class="interviewee-er">Meditator:</span> Shut up!</p>
</blockquote>

<p><strong><span class="smallcaps">In meditation you</span></strong> become vividly aware of breathing. The rest of the time we don’t notice our inhalations and exhalations, but closing the eyes brings this mostly involuntary action to the forefront of awareness. Breathing is a quiet internal labor that never ceases. We are completely dependent on an invisible ocean of air to sustain us. Air is much like God: an unseeable, omnipresent entity that gives us life.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Meditation may be</strong></span> viewed as an action or as an abstention from action. In the first case, its merits are debatable. In the second, they are indisputable. Quite possibly meditation will get you nowhere, but most of us have a desperate need to be nowhere. Modern existence is a constant contemplation of brightly lit screens. We live our lives on the edge of a headache, with no escape from ubiquitous stimuli. It’s highly salubrious to sit twice a day and search for the Absolute, if only because it forces us to turn off the fucking <span class="smallcaps">TV</span>.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>We live in</strong></span> a visual culture. When a young woman wants to know how to tile a floor, she searches for a video on YouTube. To entertain ourselves, we stream a movie on the laptop or binge-watch <span class="smallcaps">TV</span> shows. In such a culture meditation is radical, because it removes our field of vision. When you close your eyes, the world becomes limited to the sounds of passing cars, workers hammering in the distance, and muffled voices. Sound-reality is much more fluid than visual-reality. A mooing cow can become a laughing man.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Is it possible</strong></span> that everyone who possesses wisdom does some form of meditation? Yes. You can almost see in people’s faces how many hours they’ve sat in silence.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>“Struggle is the</strong></span> essence of life,” my guru used to say. And meditation is certainly a struggle. For eight years I was a substitute teacher. Meditating is a lot like forcing a class of unruly thirteen-year-olds to study irregular verbs.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Around fifteen years</strong></span> ago trees began speaking to me. I don’t usually hear words — I just have a sense of consolation and guidance — but sometimes there is a distinct message. A tree in Brooklyn said to me today: <em>Most of the time we seek what we don’t have, but sometimes we seek what we already have.</em> This tree is describing meditation.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>As I stumbled</strong></span> into the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer on East 3rd Street in Manhattan, the priest was giving a sermon. “Put Christ first,” he said. “If you put yourself first, your life will be troubled. If you put Christ first, your life will be full of blessings.” You can have all the pleasures of the world, he explained, so long as Christ still comes first. (What a deal!)</p>

<p>I’m saying the same thing: Put meditation first. Meditate twice a day, if only for three minutes. Don’t give up anything else in your life. Don’t change your diet. Just put meditation first, for six minutes a day.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Never try to</strong></span> “live in the moment.” It’s like attempting to shrink your body down to the size of a molecule.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Meditation is an</strong></span> optimistic practice. The theory is that, by closing your eyes (or leaving them half open) and doing nothing, you can change your consciousness. Most people are too pragmatic to accept this harebrained notion, but scientific studies suggest that it’s true.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>You don’t have</strong></span> to meditate upon waking each morning. You can wait till you’re in a doctor’s waiting room filled with frayed copies of <em>Family Circle</em> magazine. Or stay in the car while your husband goes into Best Buy. Close your eyes; count your breaths. Don’t expect inner awakening. Don’t expect happiness. Prepare yourself for boredom and mild exasperation. After a few minutes you’re free to return to the manifold distractions of earthly life.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Meditation is an</strong></span> elusive subject to describe. It’s like writing about the color blue.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>In the early</strong></span> 1970s, there were numerous slogans to summarize the spiritual life: “Be here now.” “Love, serve, remember.” “The universe is perfect.” “Everything is everything” was probably my favorite. They all seem archaic now, like Coca-Cola ads from the 1920s. In this apocalyptic era of hurricanes, mass shootings, Donald Trump, <span class="smallcaps">ISIS</span>, and millions of refugees, no one wants to “be here now.” Everyone wants to watch <em>Game of Thrones</em> while simultaneously texting on a cell phone.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>Meditation is like</strong></span> practicing the guitar, but without the guitar.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>There aren’t many</strong></span> synonyms for meditation in English. Ananda Marga uses the term <em>sādhanā</em>, which derives from the Sanskrit for “effort.” I’ve invented other phrases to describe meditating: “brain-cleansing,” “cross-legged nonthinking,” “silence-chewing,” “mind-yoga.” Sometimes I refer to meditation as “self-kidnapping”: you stick a revolver in your own ribs, throw a bag over your head, and drive yourself to a warehouse where you sit in silence, awaiting ransom.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>It’s a big</strong></span> mistake to expect joy and happiness from meditation. That’s like expecting bliss from a bag of pinto beans. It’s much more logical to expect bafflement: Why am I meditating? What can this possibly achieve? These questions recur throughout the decades.</p>

<p><span class="smallcaps"><strong>I don’t meditate</strong></span> to achieve mystical heights, but rather to appreciate the rest of my life. I want to wash the dishes with gratitude, like a slow-motion dance.</p>

<p>Mostly, though, I meditate to “kill time.” (I like this violent, somewhat outdated phrase.) Once you have murdered time, you can continue with the rest of your day nonviolently.</p>