Everyday Airplane Mode

On my flight back from Calgary, the 737 was so shiny and new it hadn’t been up fitted with in-cabin WiFi yet. Bummer. A Monday morning flight would have made a great, 4-hour block to telecommute from 30,000 feet.

It ended up being a great 4-hour block without it.

As the flight crew attended to “all the things,” I Slacked the team that I’d be incommunicado until nearly the end of their day and wished them luck. In a separate note, told my business partner I’d check with him when I arrived at JFK. Messaged Laura to let her know I was on the plane heading her way.

I toggled my iPhone to Airplane Mode and stared four hours of internet “disconnectivity” in the face.

What could I do? More interesting, what would I do?

Read a book.

The crew announced they’d rent tablets if you wanted to watch a movie. Nope. I’m sure I had a movie or a few episodes of something on my iPad. But let’s face it, movies on planes aren't ideal viewing experiences.

I flipped through the already downloaded books on both iBooks and Kindle. I need to Marie Kondo the shit out of my digital book collection. The different titles look like the result of a game show where contestants are given three minutes to cram as many books as possible into a shopping cart, then wheel it out of a store, down a hill, and across a finish line to keep what managed to stay in the cart.

I was still in work mode, so I blasted through Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work. Seemed like a good choice, since I’ve been struggling with doing more of that sort of thing for Registered. It was a quick, light read. I made notes and highlights. Hopefully posting about that means I’ll come back and review. Also made me realized I’d never read his Steal Like an Artist, so that’s on deck now despite my issues with the “A-word.”

Sticking with the work theme going: Next up was Manage Your Day-to-Day from 99U. As a collection of essays or articles, this book struggles to find its stride. The organization helps, turning chapters into grocery store aisles—inviting you to choose what looks or sounds good to you.

Much like shopping in a grocery store, you should go back from now and then to see what looks good that day. On this trip, the Q+A with Tiffany Shlain and the introduction of a “technology Shabbat” resonated since I’m writing this a few days later.

I also had a sample of Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway stashed away. A great opening chapter has me looking forward to finishing that one right behind Central Station.

A word or three about eBooks.

I also have a hard copy of Manage You Day-to-Day. The Kindle-fication of it does the book a disservice. As real life object made out of dead trees, it is well executed.

The Kindle version is readable—and that’s about it. You certainly don’t get the sense of care that went into the design.

I had the same issues with Abby Covert’s Make Sense of Any Mess For this one, I don’t have a hardcopy, but the awkward chapter and page breaks around illustrations gave away the shortcomings of reading this on a Kindle.

iBooks can be better, but the iPad is a terrible book reading device. I’m sure an iPad Mini is better, but not enough.

The above is a mental note to relegate "eBooks" to trades and stick with the dead tree versions for anything, even adjacently, design related.


The rest of the trip was a bit of editing, a bit of writing, sketching some ideas out.

At the end of the flight, I felt excellent. That feeling when you get more accomplished than you’d hoped. Most of that I attribute to the “internet Faraday cage” my flight had become. So here’s to intentionally creating a bit of Airplane Mode every day.

Note: The Amazon links above are Associate links. That means I'll get a small kickback if you happen to purchase things I've blathered on about.