Interview with Bruno Latour from Figure/Ground

Original Available here

© Bruno Latour and Figure/Ground Communication
Dr. Latour was interviewed by Andrew Iliadis on September 24th, 2013

Bruno Latour is Professor at Sciences Po. Dr. Latour is a leading figure in sociology, anthropology, and science and technology studies, and he is the author of numerous books, including Laboratory LifeWe Have Never Been Modern, and Reassembling the Social. He holds many honorary doctorates and in 2012 he was awarded the Legion of Honour. In 2013, he gave the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh and in the same year he was awarded the Holberg Prize. His latest research project is an anthropology of the Moderns and includes a book, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence (Harvard), as well as an interactive research website, www.modesofexistence.com

Your latest book, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence, turns once again to the notion of the modern. I’ve heard you say this book is a positive approach. Can you explain what you mean in terms of positive and negative, and how this is a shift from your previous study?
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It’s been around awhile, but Structured Procrastination is a great essay

I ran into again, when avoiding work.  It’s by John Perry, and it’s here: Structured Procrastination.  There’s even stuff you can get, like T-shirts.  Though I suppose that in the spirt of his essay, you should probably go online and figure out how to make your own.

Structured Procrastination

“. . . anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.” — Robert Benchley, in Chips off the Old Benchley, 194

I have been intending to write this essay for months. Why am I finally doing it? Because I finally found some uncommitted time? Wrong. I have papers to grade, textbook orders to fill out, an NSF proposal to referee, dissertation drafts to read. I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered that converts procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all that they can accomplish and the good use they make of time. All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.  continues at: Structured Procrastination.