While Davies recommends a number of concrete actions to achieve interestinghood, they strike me as either too vague ("Collect something," "Make something") or too specific (Post [pictures] to flickr," "Read Understanding Comics"). (Not that I don't recommend The Visual Display of Quantitative Information myself as a solution to just about everything.) The assumptions on which he premises these, however, are str8 money. Premise the first:
The way to be interesting is to be interested. You’ve got to find what’s interesting in everything, you’ve got to be good at noticing things, you’ve got to be good at listening. If you find people (and things) interesting, they’ll find you interesting.
Like "Only the boring or bored," "Be interested ro be interesting" is one of those maxims that sounds dumb and needlepoint sampler-y but, on closer inspection, is actually underestimated at one's peril. Think of the dullest people you know; now name as many of their interests as you can. Do the same for the most interesting people you know. Study in contrast, right? It's even more so if you multiply the number of their interests by their enthusiasm for them. Now ponder the group into which you yourself fall.
An easy mistake is to assume that if you've got, like, five interests, you're covered. That's a fraction of what you need, and no, it won't help if you count each John from They Might Be Giants or every individual Doctor Who Doctor as separate interest. Another wide-open pitfall is to discount the importance of not just the quantity and depth of your interests, but your willingness to get interested in things. I failed to grasp this as a kid and have probably paid dearly for it along the line, but I now realize that there's no greater intellectual turn-off than to pre-declare a lack of interest. As nyuanshin once wisely wrote, "The judgment that you 'don't like' something is usually self-fulfilling." Despite hypervigilance about this, I'm sure I still slip occasionally.
Premise the second:
Interesting people are good at sharing. You can’t be interested in someone who won’t tell you anything. Being good at sharing is not the same as talking and talking and talking. It means you share your ideas, you let people play with them and you’re good at talking about them without having to talk about yourself.
The salient point here is somewhat buried: it means being good about talking about your ideas without talking about yourself. Some people initially seem all for sharing and discussing ideas but ultimately reveal that it's not about the ideas, it's about them, about what it supposedly signals that they hold certain ideas, certain opinions. I would argue that one quality absolutely necessary to being truly interesting is the ability to disengage your ideas, opinions, judgments and the like from your identity, and then be willing to toss them around freely and unprotectively in conversation. This capacity remains strangely rare, but it repays the search necessary to find it in a friend.
I don't think we can overstate the value of being interesting. This seems an appropriate time — though I'd seize even the inappropriate one — to reference, from H.L. Mencken, my favorite quotation of all time:
It is, indeed, one of the capital tragedies of youth — and youth is the time of real tragedy — that the young are thrown mainly with adults they do not quite respect. The average boy of my time, if he had had his free choice, would have put in his days with Amos Rusie or Jim Corbett; a bit later he would have chosen Roosevelt. But a boy sees such heroes only from afar. His actual companions, forced upon him by the inexorable decrees of a soulless and irrational state, are schoolma'ams, male and female, which is to say, persons of trivial and unromantic achievement, and no more capable of inspiring emulation in a healthy boy than so many midwives or dog-catchers.