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Being Wrong About My Laptop-Only Office
June 28, 2010 - 9:11pm

I'm in the middle of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, by Kathryn Schulz, so everything I write this week is going to be strongly influenced by this amazing book.

The big message of Being Wrong, so far, is that we should embrace error. Embrace our own and other people's errors, as it is only through being wrong that we learn anything. Schultz laments that we all too often fail to utter the simple words, "I was wrong" -- almost always attaching a caveat or explanation. She thinks we'd all be better off, both as people and as a people, if we figured out how turn our inability to get it right into a virtue as opposed to a vice.

Think you are good at admitting your errors? Fine. Tell us specifically the last time you were wrong about something? Or tell us the kind of thing you are often wrong about? It's actually pretty hard.

So in the spirit of "Being Wrong," I want to share with you my idea for how I want to arrange my new office. This week I'm changing my physical location for a new gig at my college (more on that later), and I have this idea about how I want my new office to be set-up. Having read Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You, by Sam Gosling, I know all too well how one's office setup sends a message about the image of ourselves we wish to project.

My Two Bad Office Set-Up Ideas:

1. Radical Minimalism: I'm thinking that my office will only be me, my desk, my chair, a phone and my laptop. No pictures, no diplomas, no books, no whiteboards, no decorations, nada. The idea is that I'm unencumbered and unattached. An office set-up that encourages me to get out of my office. To go and have meetings at other people's offices. To walk to meet them, as opposed to anyone coming to me. To be totally laptop mobile so that wherever I am I have everything I'd need from my office to be productive.

2. No Paper: I can hear you laughing. The paperless office is the biggest fiction since W.M.D. (which I also thought would be found… go figure). But maybe this is the time and maybe my office is the place. iPads and Kindle's read PDF's. I plan to have both. E-readers and e-ink... tablets… it just could work.

My dad and my wife say this is a bad idea because an office needs to convey a sense of solidity, gravitas, and permanence. They say offices should be lived in and personalized, but never cluttered. I'm ready to try something different, but I know that my ideas for my new office are most likely wrong.

Thoughts? If you could move offices and start from scratch (new office, new job), how would you arrange it?


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