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Sat May 10, 2014, 01:09 PM

The Secret History of Life-Hacking

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/business-economics/the-secret-history-of-life-hacking-self-optimization-78748/

We live in the age of life-hacking. The concept, which denotes a kind of upbeat, engineer-like approach to maximizing one’s personal productivity, first entered the mainstream lexicon in the mid-2000s, via tech journalists, the blogosphere, and trendspotting articles with headlines like “Meet the Life Hackers.” Since then the term has become ubiquitous in popular culture—just part of the atmosphere, humming with buzzwords, of the Internet age.

Variations on a blog post called “50 Life Hacks to Simplify Your World” have become endlessly, recursively viral, turning up on Facebook feeds again and again like ghost ships. Lifehacker.com, one of the many horses in Gawker Media’s stable of workplace procrastination sites, furnishes office workers with an endless array of ideas on how to live fitter, happier, and more productively: Track your sleep habits with motion-sensing apps and calculate your perfect personal bed-time; learn how to “supercharge your Gmail filters”; oh, and read novels, because it turns out that “reduces anxiety.” The tribune of life hackers, the author and sometime tech investor Timothy Ferriss, drums up recipes for a life of ease with an indefatigable frenzy, and enumerates the advantages in bestselling books and a reality TV show; outsource your bill payments to a man in India, he advises, and you can enjoy 15 more minutes of “orgasmic meditation.”

Life-hacking wouldn’t be popular if it didn’t tap into something deeply corroded about the way work has, without much resistance, managed to invade every corner of our lives. The idea started out as a somewhat earnest response to the problem of fragmented attention and overwork—an attempt to reclaim some leisure time and autonomy from the demands of boundaryless labor. But it has since become just another hectoring paradigm of self-improvement. The proliferation of apps and gurus promising to help manage even the most basic tasks of simple existence—the “quantified self” movement does life hacking one better, turning the simple act of breathing or sleeping into something to be measured and refined—suggests that merely getting through the day has become, for many white-collar professionals, a set of problems to solve and systems to optimize. Being alive is easier, it turns out, if you treat it like a job.

In fact, one thing that’s striking about this culture of self-measurement and self-optimization is how reminiscent it is of a much earlier American workplace fad—one that was singularly unpopular with the workers themselves.

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http://www.psmag.com/navigation/business-economics/the-secret-history-of-life-hacking-self-optimization-78748/

Interesting framing of life-hacking in terms of early 20th Century 'scientific management' (Taylorism)...

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Reply The Secret History of Life-Hacking (Original post)
petronius May 2014 OP
GeorgeGist May 2014 #1
undeterred May 2014 #2
unrepentant progress May 2014 #3

Response to petronius (Original post)

Sat May 10, 2014, 01:38 PM

1. Machines will evolve to replace humans.

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Response to petronius (Original post)

Sat May 10, 2014, 11:02 PM

2. Speaking of which... I heard today that its bad to use the SNOOZE button.

If you don't get up when the alarm goes off you will go into another sleep cycle and end up being more tired than if you got up.

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Response to petronius (Original post)

Sun May 11, 2014, 12:19 AM

3. Yeah, I don't think that holds up

"Life hacks" were originally the hodge podge of self-coded scripts and utilities which sysadmins and programmers used to make their professional lives easier. The phrase dates back to the 1980s. I'm not sure where it started evolving into its current meaning which draws most heavily from the self help milieu than Taylorization.

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