Bored, Brilliant and... Counterintuitively Interesting: A Reading List

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Originally published January 30, 2015
One of the most exciting developments in our Bored and Brilliant project so far has been the influx of thoughtful suggested reads from listeners.

We figured we'd share the wealth. We're fine-tuning how to do this (and if you have ideas, please let us know). But in the meantime, here are just some of the oh-so-counterituitively interesting reads about boredom (and beyond) you've been sending our way:

  • Author Neil Gaiman says boredom is what made him a writer: "But you also need the dead moments when you exhale and nothing's coming in in order to stay alive. I hope today's wired generation will learn to take its breaks and I especially hope our teenagers do too." 
  • This child may or may not have survived this trip to the mall.
  • There is a conference in London called "The Boring Conference." Is it more or less interesting than other conferences? Unclear.
  • Film critic Mahnola Dahrgis once wrote a heartfelt defense of dullness at the movies"Thinking is boring, of course (all that silence), which is why so many industrially made movies work so hard to entertain you. If you’re entertained, or so the logic seems to be, you won’t have the time and head space to think about how crummy, inane and familiar the movie looks, and how badly written, shoddily directed and indifferently acted it is."
  • This artist in Texas put together a whole installation about what we look like staring at our phones all day.
  • "Told to devise a faux robot that believed it functioned better than a person, [Jim Henson] came up with a cocky, boxy, jittery, bleeping Muppet on wheels."
  • Bertrand Russell was worried about over-stimulation back in the 1930s. He wrote an essay entitled "In Praise of Idleness," forwarded along by listener Anthony Quinn. And Maria Popova of Brain Pickings pulled a treasure trove of Russell-on-boredom writing:  "We are less bored than our ancestors were, but we are more afraid of boredom. We have come to know, or rather to believe, that broedom is not part of the natural lot of man, but can be avoided by a sufficiently vigorous pursuit of excitement."
  • A somewhat different tack: William Deresiewicz's 2009 essay "The End of Solitude" argues that technology is not only taking away our privacy and our concentration, but it is also taking away our ability to be alone."

Please keep them coming! We're looking for reading suggestions  links, quotes, pertinent passages, videos, .gifs, books, handwritten treatises on recycled 17th century vellum, or whatever you so choose  about how technology is changing your life. 
Share the link in the comments below, on Facebook, on Twitter, or email (newtechcity[at] if you're shy.
We'll read as fast as we can (don't worry, we're voracious), collect what we think is interesting for the group, and send it back out on our social media accounts, in our newsletter and on this page (for those of you choosing to cut down on social media because #BoredAndBrilliant).