Why I'm Slow

The much-anticipated Episode Three of This is Not a Conspiracy Theory is now in production, but it will be a while before it's released. In the meantime, I thought I'd offer a bit of explanation as to why the process is so slow.

The world of media is now fast and I am slow. And because it's fast, media is plentiful. Most of you probably don't have time to read, watch or hear everything of potential interest to you. Platforms serve us up vastly more than we can consume, and they reward fast, prolific creators.

I have tried to be fast and prolific and I've never pulled it off for more than a burst. I once thought this was a fault of mine, but I very slowly came to realize that deep down inside, I just don't care. I honestly don't value fast. I get little pleasure from getting something out the door, I get pleasure from making it as good as I can and then trying to do better the next time. And this is also the kind of work I most enjoy reading, watching or hearing: dense, laborious, distilled down to the best it can be.

I try to work in four distinct areas at a fairly high level: research, writing, audio and video. On a scale of one-to-ten, I aspire to hit eight in each of these realms.

I have some help with research but the majority is still me, and the writing is almost entirely me. I have an increasing amount of help with video production, but again, it's still mostly me. My wife and I collaborate on music production, but the rest of the mix is all me. It's a lot of work to get each of these domains to that level, but as soon I hit eight, that's it – I move on. I could always labor more to get past eight, but at that point, time concerns win out.

Not only am I slow, I'm inefficient. I do a lot of research – often in realms in which I know little – and then I don't use almost all of it. I read loads of books and articles and watch loads of films, and most of it doesn't directly get used in the writing. It's like panning for gold – I only keep a few tiny nuggets of what I scoop up. The ratio looks a bit like this.


Having said all this, time and scheduling is a top concern and I'm always trying to make improvements. But it's a secondary priority. At the top is quality and when quality conflicts with scheduling, quality mostly wins.

I don't think everyone should make slow, inefficient media, and I certainly enjoy plenty of media that isn't. But I don't keep any of it, I don't value it over the long haul and I don't return to it. It's made fast and I use it fast. It's the things that are made slowly and with a lot of care that matter most to me. And that's the kind of work I aspire to do.

"This is Not a Conspiracy Theory" Gift Guide 2014

Production has now begun on This is Not a Conspiracy Theory Episode Three, but while you wait, here's my TINACT Gift Guide 2014 to tide you over for the holiday season.

Kindle Voyage

If you're a serious reader and you're still dealing with paper books, my friend, it is time to make the switch. There are two gigantic reasons for doing so: search and highlights.

The benefits of search are pretty obvious. Perhaps less known is that your Kindle stores all your highlights together in a single text file. I now have a robust collection of highlights spanning several years and this material is a treasure, absolutely one of the most precious digital items I possess. The Kindle's handling of highlights could certainly be better, but it's vastly preferable to typing them up or scanning them, and it's also better than competing readers. 

I haven't personally tried the Voyage yet, but it looks great and I plan to buy one. My dog ate my Kindle Paperwhite, but prior to that it was very good, although its lack of page turn buttons was a tad annoying.

The Idea of America
Gordon Wood

Gordon Wood is one of the most authoritative and accessible historians on early America. This collection includes the essay "Conspiracy and the Paranoid Style," the source for the central argument of Episodes 2 and 3 of TINACT. But, leaving conspiracies aside, if you're just interested in early American history, The Idea of America or almost anything else by Wood is a good choice.

The Clockwork Universe
Edward Dolnick

Isaac Newton features prominently in Episode 3 and if you're curious about him, The Clockwork Universe is a good place to begin. It also covers the formation of the Royal Society, which began in the 1700s as a meeting of England's foremost scientists and profoundly shaped the development of the scientific method. 

The Parallax View
Directed by Alan J. Pakula

A mostly forgotten classic of seventies' paranoid cinema, The Parallax View is a nightmare vision of the framing of Oswald.  If you have Amazon Prime, you can stream it for free. Part of Pakula's paranoia trilogy, which also included All the President's Men and Klute

Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd

If there is a vibe I aspire to approximate in this project, this is it. Dark Side of the Moon is so popular and so beloved that it's almost embarrassing to cite it. But it's also oddly unique — there's pretty much nothing like it. Except for sections of Meddle and Wish You Were Here, most of Pink Floyd's music doesn't even sound like it. It's one of the few rock albums that is genuinely cinematic, that takes you on a journey, that creates a sense of place.

Audio Technica AT-LP60

Actually, this is what I want for Chistmas.

This is Not a Conspiracy Theory Limited Edition Poster

And we now have a gorgeous limited edition screen-printed poster which you can gaze at dreamily until Episode 3 is complete. They're 24" x 36", 3 color, and printed on 100 lb. stock with archival ink. They're at the printer now and will begin shipping soon. Only 43 of these remain, so get 'em while you can. We can't guarantee Christmas delivery (especially for international orders) but at the latest you'll get it in early 2015.

Buy a gift now, have it delivered on December 25th

This is Not a Conspiracy Theory can now be sent as a gift to people's inboxes on Christmas Day. Just click the “Gift this” button, add your optional holiday message, then check the option to “Send on Christmas Morning.”

They’ll receive access to the full episodic documentary as each part is – slowly but lovingly – released. They’ll also get behind-the-scenes updates and a full digital download of all the episodes cut together into a full-length feature film.  Makes a great gift for the History / Media / Science buffs on your list. Click here to get started.

Don’t know what This is Not a Conspiracy Theory is yet?
Watch Episode One in full and get a glimpse of Episode Two