Simplify your life the Bruce Sterling way!

Here's how to improve your life by getting rid of "stuff," and replacing some items with better "stuff," the Bruce Sterling way.

Science fiction genius Bruce Sterling gave a truly fascinating talk at the Reboot conference June 1 in Copenhagen. I would characterize it as the unveiling of a post-environmental, post-materialist view of the world.

[ See also: What kind of digital nomad are you? ]

I didn't go. But developer and writer Dave Winer was inspired enough to record the talk, and post his recording here. Sterling describes the world and coming decade as he sees it (conducive to "dark euphoria"), then concludes with some shockingly practical advice about how to live better by getting rid of most of your "stuff," and buying a much smaller quantity of much better stuff. He tells exactly why you should do all that, as well as how and when. If you're interested in Sterling's somewhat uncomfortable but fascinating perspective on the world, I strongly recommend that you listen to the MP3 file Winer posted. However, it was obvious listening to Sterling's advice that it's ideal for digital nomads, location independent professionals (lippies) and anyone else who wants to improve their lives by simplifying. So I've gone through the talk and extracted the practical advice. If you're a regular reader of mine, you'll be reminded of a column I wrote about "digitizing everything," then getting rid of most of what you've digitized. Sterling offers similar advice, and then some. Here's how to improve your life by getting rid of "stuff," and replacing some items with better "stuff," the Bruce Sterling way. Categorize everything you own into one of the following categories: 1. Beautiful things. (Do you display it or share it with others?) 2. Emotionally meaningful things. (Does it have a story attached to it that you want to tell others about it?) 3. Well-made, functional tools you use. (Don't accept anything that's broken in any way; buy the best tools to reward "best practices") 4. Everything else. Sterling says 80% of what you own falls into category 4. This is the stuff you get rid of. But don't do it yet. Wait until your next, life-shattering personal event. Get rid of this stuff during big-change events in your life -- when you move, kids move out, divorce, death in the family or other lifestyle change. In my case, I did it when I moved into a semi-nomadic existence. What's the benefit of getting rid of most of your stuff? Sterling nails it by saying it gives you "time, light, space and health." I would add that it makes it far easier to live a digital nomad lifestyle. It frees you. And as my wife and I have discovered, getting rid of stuff changes your whole outlook on who you are and what's possible in your life. For every object you choose to get rid that you're partly conflicted about (in my case, we got rid of my son's karate trophies), take pictures of them or catalog them in some way (I recommend Evernote). Sterling also makes a strong case for why you should always have "the best possible everyday objects." The things in your time and space most is the stuff that should be as high quality as possible -- clothes, laptop, chair, shoes, bed, etc. Think of the cost of things on a per-hour basis. In other words, a cheap thing that you never use is more expensive than a super-expensive bed, when calculated on a per-hour of use basis. So there you have it: Bruce Sterling's how-to guide to better living through radical simplification and optimization of your "stuff." Are YOU interested in location independent, digital nomad living? Please add this blog to your RSS reader and follow me on Twitter!

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