Modern Makers #33 - How to become a Digital Minimalist

💰 Stacker raised $1.7M 🤖 Two new options on Airtable Automations

Modern Makers is a weekly newsletter where I share with you a selection of the best available content about no-code and productivity tools. I hope this content will help you grow your business, launch your project or automate your work.

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Hi makers,

Hope you’re all doing well! Welcome to all the new makers who have joined us since last Sunday!

As promised last week, here is a small selection of very useful content and resources for those who are new to Figma and want to learn how to best use this design tool:

This selection should give you a good foundation to get started with Figma and create mock-ups and designs for your digital projects. Do you have other resources to recommend? Feel free to leave a comment 👇

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This week in the agenda:👇

📵 How to become a digital minimalist?
💰 Stacker raised $1.7M
🤖 Two new options on Airtable Automations


📚 Book of the week

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
Author: Cal Newport
Release date: February 2019

Cal Newport is an author that I already had the opportunity to talk about in this newsletter in the #23 edition about his book Deep Work. Digital Minimalism has since been on my reading list and I was able to take advantage of Amazon Kindle's daily offers to buy this book for £0.99 (I recommend you check out the Daily Deals section if you have a Kindle 😉 ). I devoured the book in 3 days. Some points really resonate with me so I'm hoping to implement some changes to reduce my iPhone usage. I have long since deleted applications such as Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn and disabled all notifications. However, I still can't manage to remove Twitter on which I spend a lot of time, especially as a tool to curate no-code news for this newsletter. Here are 5 essential points:

  1. Digital Minimalism - a philosophy where we focus on time spent on a limited selection of applications and services that serve to reinforce values we hold dear. This philosophy thus implies making choices and accepting that we cannot do/have/consume everything. The digital minimalist accepts the idea of missing out on things. “What worries them much more is diminishing the large things they already know for sure make a good life good”. His goal: to make technology no longer a distraction but a tool to help him live his desired life. So it's not about giving up technology and going to live like a hermit. New technologies can considerably improve our daily lives, provided that we decide the rules of the game ourselves and do not let an algorithm or artificial intelligence impact our days

  2. Connections VS Conversations - the author differentiates conversations (either face-to-face or by phone/Zoom) from connections (SMS, Whatsapp, Messenger, a Like on Facebook ...). It is very tempting and practical to focus on connections and to privilege this mode of communication with our friends and family. Yet, the long term impact is negative and it affects the quality of our relationships. "Conversation is the only form of interaction that in some sense counts toward maintaining a relationship". For the past few weeks I've been trying to get more of my time spent on conversations. I’m taking a few minutes each week to call a friend or organise video calls with Twitter contacts for example. The connections are of course very practical but it is interesting to use them as a tool to organise a real meeting or a conversation

  3. The Digital Declutter - a 30-day period during which you will remove all optional technologies in your life. It is important to use this break to focus on activities and hobbies that you enjoy and that matter to you. Otherwise, you will feel bored and anxious. This is not a simple detox but an opportunity to reconnect with yourself. Of course, don't expect it to be an easy exercise, the first two weeks in particular will be difficult. At the end of these 30 days, decide which services you will use again, according to three selection criteria:

    • Does this technology directly support something that you deeply value?

    • Is this technology the best way to support this value? (if it’s not, replace it with something better)

    • Finally, what are you going to put in place in the future to maximise the value provided by this service while minimising its negative effects?

  4. The importance of solitude - by solitude, the author does not mean to go live by yourself in a hut in the mountains. Rather the fact of being alone with no other distraction around you so you can be alone with your thoughts. Solitude can thus take place in a café or on the bus, for example. “a subjective state in which your mind is free from input from other minds”.Listening to a podcast or reading a book does not fit into this definition of solitude since your thoughts are focused on the content you are consuming. Cal believes that real moments of solitude are becoming increasingly rare in our current lifestyles. I realise how true this is. When I go for a walk, prepare a good meal or clean my house, I'm going to tend to listen to an episode of a podcast for example. The risk of solitude deprivation is real! "Solitude Deprivation: A state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds"

  5. Time is our most valuable asset - every minute counts. All social media applications add value. Facebook keeps you up to date with the latest news from your friends. Instagram inspires you. Twitter keeps you informed. So the debate is not about questioning the usefulness of these networks. However, here are some questions to ask ourselves about our use of these applications: does the value brought by this service justify devoting your precious time to it? What does the time spent on a social media application prevent you from doing? Is this really the best use of your time?

Some other content that caught my attention this week:

  • 🖼️ Masterworks: Demystifying & Democratizing Art - Not Boring by Packy McCormick - Digital art is one of my priorities in 2021 in terms of investment, particularly with a view to diversification. Masterworks is one of the platforms that allows you to buy a fraction of a painting (and see your painting in real life in their private gallery in New York). This comprehensive article gives us all the information we need to better understand how Masterworks works

  • 🏡 'Atomic Habits' Author James Clear: 'I'm Never Far From a Good Idea' - The Profile - a written and video interview with the author of the excellent Atomic Habits where he talks about his consumption of content and gives us a few tips on how to set up good habits

  • 🕒 The Most Powerful Time Management Technique You’re Probably Not Using - Nir Eyal - Unless we know in advance what we're going to do with our day, we're likely to be distracted and let our environment decide our day for us. The solution: plan our days and choose a time allotted to each activity

And now, the no-code news of the week!

Stacker announced this week a $1.7M round in which Y Combinator and Makerpad are participating. Stacker, a tool that turns a Google Sheet or an Airtable database into an application, now has 500 customers for an ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) of $1M. If the official announcement of this took place this week, the deal had actually taken place last September. As is often the case, this money should mainly be used to improve the product by developing new functionalities. By the way, Stacker also unveiled its new logo.

Airtable Automations has two new features: a new trigger and a new action. The new trigger "At a scheduled time" allows you to define a trigger frequency for your automation. The proposed intervals range from 15 minutes to 24 hours. It is also possible to choose a day of the week as frequency, ideal for example to send an email with a weekly report of your data. Airtable has also added a new action "Find records" that will allow you to search up to 100 records in your database (it is possible to define conditions). Please note that these two new features are in Alpha version and that bugs are therefore possible. This video by Gareth Pronovost will show you how to use these new options.

Twitter announced the acquisition of Revue, a tool that allows to easily create and publish newsletters. A competitor of Substack, the tool Im using for Modern Makers. Few details have filtered about the amount of this transaction or what Revue will look like once integrated into the Twitter family. According to the official press release, it will probably be possible to subscribe to a newsletter directly from Twitter for example.

We’re imagining a lot of ways to do this, from allowing people to sign up for newsletters from their favorite follows on Twitter, to new settings for writers to host conversations with their subscribers. It will all work seamlessly within Twitter.

More than ever, Twitter wants to become the key platform for content creators. Just like Facebook, which is reportedly developing its own in-house newsletter tool.

Zapier introduced a new Looping action which allows you to create loops within your Zaps. Three options are available: a loop from a text element, a number or a record in your database.

A little trick is also now available: you can create a new Zap directly by typing in the address bar of your web browser. These shortcuts in .new are also available on many services such as Google Docs, Google Sheets or Notion.

Also, Zapier is organising a webinar on February 11th

📦 And also…

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I also invite you to contact me if you have questions or need help with no-code tools or if you want to have a virtual coffee with me ☕

Have a great week, and keep building!


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