How to Do Nothing

Resisting the Attention Economy

paperback, 256 pages

Published Aug. 11, 2020 by Melville House.

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4 stars (7 reviews)

Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. But in a world where our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity . . . doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance.

So argues artist and critic Jenny Odell in this field guide to doing nothing (at least as capitalism defines it). Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. Once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress.

Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book is a four-course meal in the age of …

8 editions

Break the Chains of Internalized Capitalism

4 stars

This is a good book that helps to reframe my thinking around what I owe the world for productivity. Combined with Chokepoint Capitalism these books are helping give me a worldview with less obligation to churn out, to colonize, to produce, to give attention to the things of modern life. Choosing to live my boring life at whatever speed I desire regardless of how much ROI that generates is a fine goal in itself.

It is a bit slow going, which should shock absolutely no one. I did enjoy it and found it quite valuable and relaxing. Unlike the aforementioned book, this one did not leave my blood boiling so in a way it can be considered a spiritual antidote.

If you want to read philosophy/anthropology that talks about federated social networks...

5 stars

Densely packed with insights and a critical reading of the philosophy of place and of work. Anti-capitalist and introspective. Often surprising in its approach and conclusions. An excellent piece about resistance.

Turned me on to Mastodon and other federated, decentralized and anti-corporate forms of social media, as well as bioregionalism

Review of 'How to Do Nothing' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

Overly academic ode to extremely woke navel gazing. My act of doing nothing will be to abstain from reading the final pages of this book, to my great relief. Luckily for me, I already know to do nothing. I am sincerely sorry to anyone who paid full price for this book and didn’t read it for free from the local library.

As Bartleby says, “I would prefer not to” (ever encounter this book again).

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