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Why I “force myself to wander,” and what I found off the beaten track.

Why I “force myself to wander,” and what I found off the beaten track.

One of my resolutions is to “Force myself to wander.” I tend to stick to familiar subjects and routines, so I want to push myself to pursue new experiences.

For example, when I’m writing a book, I’m enthralled with that subject. At the same time, however, I have lesser interests—that I too often shove aside to concentrate on my “official” subject.

My resolution to “Force myself to wander” is meant to encourage me to follow wherever my interests lead, even if that effort doesn’t seem particularly productive.

One of these interests is the presentation of information.

I’m absolutely fascinated by the way in which the presentation of information shapes the way people learn and understand material.

This sounds dull, but if you read brilliant books like Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics or Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, you see how extraordinarily interesting this question can be.

One of the reasons that writing my own books—Power Money Fame Sex, Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, Forty Ways to Look at JFK, and Profane Waste—was so thrilling was that I tackled the question not just of ideas, but of how to present those ideas most effectively. This is a very creative process, very satisfying.

So I got big jolt of intellectual happiness when I saw Lane Brown and Dan Kois’s chart in the November 19, 2007 New York magazine. Their subject? Your Preholiday Guide to Downer Films.

The way the information is presented does so much—it’s short and funny and perceptive. It makes a hundred different arguments on one page. I took the very rare step of cutting it out for my scrapbook (a happiness-project undertaking).


I like to visit Web Worker Daily and catch up. There's a lot of useful material there -- even for people who don''t consider themselves "web workers." But actually, seems like practically everyone is some form of a web workers these days.

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