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Maria Popova of Brain Pickings on How She Works


Stashed in: Sleep!, Practice, Evernote, Curation, Awesome, Bookmarks!, Never give up., @brainpicker, Rickroll!, Cognitive Bias

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The lifehacker article is from 2012 but I'm sure she pretty much works the same way today:

Maria Popova is the mind behind Brain Pickings, a highly influential and addictive curation of the best content from the web and beyond. As she describes it, Brain Pickings is "your LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces across art, design, science, technology, philosophy, history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, you-name-itology."

Maria reads hundreds of things a day (yes, a day!) and posts the best to her blog and constantly-updating Twitter feed. Though Brain Pickings takes over 450 hours of work each month, it's not all Maria does—she's also an editorial director at Lore, a social network for higher education. We talked to Maria about how she manages it all—from the playlists that keep her inspired to the apps that keep her organized.

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

I live and die by Evernote. As a notorious note-taker, marginalian, and quote-collector, I save between 10 and 100 snippets of text a day from articles that I'm reading. Everything is meticulously tagged and organized, so I can search and cite it later in articles and talks.

I've also recently switched to Pocket for all my time-shifted reading needs. It's exquisite, very visual, and much more conducive to making materials organized and manageable than Instapaper, which I used to use.

Then, of course, Google Reader is a staple. I'd say at least two thirds of my web reading is done via RSS.

I wonder what she does now that Google Reader is dead.

And I wonder if her usage of Evernote and Pocket is down in 2014.

I know my use of both Evernote and Pocket is way down since 2012.

I now save almost nothing privately.

If it's worth saving, it's worth putting directly on the web or Twitter.

Then again, I'm not an author for a living.

Adam, what's changed in 2 years that you don't find it necessary to "save things privately"?

Hi Kate!

Two changes in my thinking:

1. If I'm going to spend time saving and taking notes, I want more people than me to benefit from them.

2. Between websites ever-eroding their privacy policies and government agencies ever-spying on everyone, it's not worth the mental energy to delineate between private and public. If it's digital, it's public.

Instead, for any given thing, I decide whether to make it digital (in which case, it goes public) or not.

Best part of the interview:

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What's your secret?

I'm of the philosophy that there will always be someone who can do it better than you do—what hope for humanity is there, otherwise? But I do brew excellent kombucha and can do more pushups in a minute than most people. The secret, of these and of any life skill, I believe, is practice and stubbornness.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

Go the fuck to sleep.

First off, I love that she did not just say "Go to sleep."

Secondly, I interpret "practice and stubbornness" to mean "never give up and never let down".

Which means, of course, that I just Rickrolled myself.

Best insightful comment above from Adam,

"If it's digital, it's public."

It saves a lot of mental cycles, because you don't have to think about whether something is public.

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