Kelly's Reviews > Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
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bookshelves: boldness-bravery-and-authenticity, non-fiction, read-in-2019

Although at times it made me annoyed for how into only citing dudes or dude-centric work it is (hi, the Craft movement has been in the women's spheres for forever, but it didn't become "cool" to do crafts -- whatever craft you prefer -- until dudes "reclaimed" it over the last few decades), this is a really smart, thoughtful, and practical book about how to make sure that social media works for you, rather than you becoming a tool of the social media. I've been doing some of these things in my own life and it's neat to see what some others have done. Newport's big suggestion is scheduling when you'll be mindless on social media and spend time creating ways to let the tools do the work you want them to do in the other time. Likewise, the suggestions for a digital detox are easy enough and some of the other ideas, including don't put apps on your phone, are things I've been doing and finding to be valuable, for sure.

More on this one soon. It doesn't necessarily tread new ground, as (How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life and others like it do this...but I guess since they're by women, y'know.
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Reading Progress

January 20, 2019 – Started Reading
January 20, 2019 – Shelved
January 20, 2019 – Shelved as: boldness-bravery-and-authenticity
January 20, 2019 – Shelved as: non-fiction
January 20, 2019 – Shelved as: read-in-2019
January 20, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-33 of 33 (33 new)

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Melanie I've read 3 of his books so far and he seems to be kind of echo-chambery. Am also curious if this book was written in the "pre-tell, tell, retell" style that Cal seems to prefer.


message 2: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly Melanie wrote: "I've read 3 of his books so far and he seems to be kind of echo-chambery. Am also curious if this book was written in the "pre-tell, tell, retell" style that Cal seems to prefer."

This was my first of his, and I think you're spot on in the writing style. I've been told by others that his lack of citing women is a recurring theme as well.


message 3: by Michael (last edited Feb 09, 2019 03:57PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael If it made you annoyed, then I definitely have to pick this book up.

"He seems kind of echo-chambery". I don't know if you've realized the irony in this?

Newport can cite whoever he wants to in his books. He's going to keep being the successful and focused man that he is, regardless of these sort of reviews because what matters is discipline, work, and above all, results.

Pandering to our generation of SJWs does not actually matter.


message 4: by Manny (new)

Manny Yes, and How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life doesn't really tread new ground either, but let your stupid remark of "but I guess since they're by women, y'know" show us that you know nothing about Cal or his past. It's not like one of the main topics on Deep Work by him was that technology and internet use was a main disqualifier for getting that type of work done.


Enrico Accenti Lack of citing women?? Really? Jennifer Grygiel. Maria Konnikova, Hope King, Holly Shakya, Liz Thames, and even Virginia Woolf are just few of the names that pop in mind.


message 6: by GG (new) - added it

GG Oddly or not, I’m reading this view on an app wasting time. Guess I need to see what this book is all about.


message 7: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly Lots of men seem to have had Feelings on this review.


message 8: by Miroslav (new) - added it

Miroslav Kovář I am really sorry for your suffering. May you find more happiness in spreading peace and love instead of division and hate. Bless you.


Kavvy Why wouldn't they harbor bad feelings about this review, Kelly?

Do you think if a man wrote a review on a book written by a women, and the first thing mentioned was how they were annoyed that the author only cited girls and girl-centric work, that women reading this review would be perfectly happy and content?

Never mind the fact that Cal cited many women in his book!

I think you only see what your lenses of victimization and oppression allow you to see, and this is coming from a woman.


Daniil Marchenko I'm curious, what is the acceptable male the female citation ratio? And does this ratio apply to all books?

For example, if one where to write books solely citing the words of United States Presidents, would the ratio still apply?


message 11: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly I'm not spending time responding to any of y'alls ridiculous comments. It's a positive review with a criticism that Newport heavily cites men. You can spend your time better by reading, rather than getting angry at a review that enjoyed the book.


message 12: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Glad you enjoyed the book, and I do agree that it is thoughtful and practical.

However, I think the above commenters are not wasting their time getting angry - they're just questioning the form of pervasive identity politics that made its way into the review. Completely justified IMO, our society is better off with free thinkers who question the status quo and what is viewed as "acceptable" by everyone else.


message 13: by Donatello (new) - added it

Donatello Morretti That’s funny Michael. I am also going to read this book because of the complaining going on in this thread about the lack of women’s studies cited.


message 14: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex This is a good book although it seems Kelly hasn’t read it, or all of it as there are plenty of women cited in the book. Newport especially takes time at one point to include a person with a gender specific name who prefers a neutral pronoun and thusly refers to them with that. If all you’re looking for is to be offended this is hardly the book for that.

Genuinely a decent book.


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Herron Well I just read the book and I wasn't doing a count but I had the same thought as it neared the end, I'd like to hear more examples of women (Not quick references) and for that matter as it is marketed globally, more examples outside America. I still enjoyed the book a lot. I find the replies here a bit over the top, it's a good four star review!!


message 16: by Devon (new)

Devon This comment thread is amazing. So. Many. Feelings.


message 17: by Manny (last edited Mar 05, 2019 10:15AM) (new)

Manny People tend to have feelings towards opinions not based on reality. You got them, Devon.


message 18: by Mark (new)

Mark Great review! And as far as Kelly's comments regarding a lack of women cited in the book, this seems rather uncontroversial. It's also consistent with the pattern in journals. Here's an interesting quote from the article in the link: “It was surprising to us that male authors cited women’s work at a rate of 14 percent lower than their female peers in [these] journals." https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2...


message 19: by Pam (new)

Pam Thank you for the review! I appreciate the mention of a book by a woman that treads the same ground. Thank you!


Amanda Kelly, I'm in the middle of Digital Minimalism (and read Deep Work) and I had the same thought. I even mentioned it in my review of Deep Work because it annoyed me so much. Particularly with that book, because the book was about how successful people get work done and apparently he could only think of a few successful women to talk about. So far, Digital Minimalism is looking to repeat the same issue.

I totally like the ideas Cal has, and I'll probably write a positive review of this book as well, but it's definitely a blind spot for him.


Michael Bowen He cites several women in the book. I don't understand, what is the issue?


Amanda I felt the same way when I read Deep Work. He had some great points, but it was so hard to get past the tech-bro feel. I get frustrated with men who brag about hoarding their time when their wives are clearly bearing the brunt of domestic duties. Childcare is not something you can schedule.


message 23: by El (new) - added it

El who cares. you're too influenced by the feminine-centric world we live in that normality has become abnormality. What's next? hating a history soccer book with mostly men? oh no shit it'll mostly only be men.


Daniel Sorry for all the cruddy comments you're getting. I didn't pick up on the citation bias you mentioned when I read this book, but afterward I read backward through his catalog and I noticed a disproportionate number of the cautionary examples in "So Good They Can't Ignore You" were women. After two or three rounds of "Bob was careful and fastidious, but Sally didn't pay attention to details and suffered the consequences; don't be like Sally," I started feeling icky about it. I don't think it was intentional, but I do think it grows out of the systemic bias that's gripped the computer science field since the '80s.


Daniel I realize now that my previous comment can be read as "I didn't see the same thing you did, and I don't believe it exists."
To clarify, I meant I didn't think about the potential of citation bias as I read Digital Minimalism, but in the context of the separate problem I observed in SGTCIY, I can totally believe what you observed is true.


Jacob I thought How to Break Up with Your Phone was also good but lacked some of the theory that this one had and this one lacks a lot of the science that one had. They are fundamentally different books. Where that one is more gradual, this one is encourages more abstention. And where that one is more about the science, this one goes a lot more into philosophy. I found them both pretty interesting on their own merits; they complement each other well, even if they cover a lot of the same ground.


Azriel Odin He cites plenty of women in the book,but also. Who in the bloody hell cares what gender is being cited when the information being cited is what is important im the first place, this isn't kindergarten, most of is grew out of '' boys vs girls '' mentality. In an ideal world, no one gives a shit.


Azriel Odin Nobody:
Feminists: THERE MUST BE COMPLETE EQUITY ON EVERY GROUP/IDENTITY AXIS, EQUALITY OF OUTCOME TRUPS EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY


Sokcheng The guys’ comments in this thread shows how when you are in the position of seeing people like u (i.e., dudes) get cited and shown as an example of strong, focused and successful role models all ur life so u are insensitive to the minority who never sees their successful peers get the spotlight or as much spotlight because the author doesn’t want to do the digging.

I assume newport goes for the easy route: citing successful men who are already circulating the media, or men who are in his network. If that’s his preferred method, then i am fine with it though i will still be wishing for another future author who would do the hard deep work of digging up more stories of successful, focused and digitally-disciplined women.


Shonna I felt the same about the lack of women examples. Also, in passing he mentions how childcare and housework were ignored by old timey dudes... but then he doesn't mention either of these "hobbies" again either.


message 32: by Nick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nick Maslov I just hope you're as easily triggered by more pressing issues, as with illusionary "lack of women quoting" in this book. Sometimes a banana is just a banana.


message 33: by Fatin (new)

Fatin I read the blurb and was concerned about how dudebro this sounded and then I read your review and am convinced I don't need to pick this up! I will take a look at the other book you recommended though :)
Also, sorry about all these shitty comments you're getting! I have a review up about how one of Dahl's stories is quite sexist and men keep asking me why I'm so triggered when it feels like the one having a rash, emotional response to my review is...the man? not me


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