Cal Newport 2019. Digital Minimalism. Penguin: New York, 284 pp.
Directed here by a programmer. The simple message - minimise social media footprint and instead devote more time to activities already hightly valued - is readily absorbed and easy to agree with. But the numerous analogies drawn with Henry Thoreau’s Walden reveal more than Cal Newport perhaps realises: Thoreau borrowed his axe (and plenty more besides) and his years at Walden Pond, though enviable, relied heavily on infrastucture provided by more industrious folk nearby. Likewise, Cal Newport arguably borrows axes too, starting with being a computer science professor, a field that would surely offer far fewer employment and teaching opportunities were it not for social media companies and their networks. And perhaps unfairlyy I was left with the sneaking suspicion that he might unknowingly rely on more digitally connected friends and students to do some of his filtering for him, finding good stuff in the blizzard of digital media where Cal himself doesn’t have a presence.