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1. “Healthy individuals and organizations do not rigidly resist change”
Rugged Flexibility: A New Framework for Navigating Change – Brad Stulberg – (every.to)
You probably already realize I’m a huge proponent of accepting, if not actively embracing, change. It’s inevitable, and fighting it only leads to frustration or worse.
I like the concept this essay introduces: rugged flexibility.
A gritty endurance, an anti-fragility that not only withstands change but thrives in its midst.
It’s a concept that acknowledges both the inevitability of change, as well as its challenges. Those embracing rugged flexibility are better prepared to handle the results.
Do this: Develop a better relationship with change.
2. “Feeling like a desiccated husk of a human being”
Feeling Burned Out? Here’s What to Do. – Arthur C. Brooks – (How to Build a Life, The Atlantic)
Particularly during and after the pandemic, and in part because of our ability to remain connected 24/7, burnout has become an even more serious problem. It affects both the individual and the work that they’re attempting to accomplish.
Brooks’ advice to the burned out is very familiar:
Work only in defined hours.
Easier said than done, perhaps, but important. The advice for employers? Among other things:
for God’s sake, get rid of as many meetings as possible
Meetings are apparently a prime contributor to burnout.
Do this: Take breaks.
3. “What is unseen often has just as much value”
Survivorship Bias, 14 Attributes of Greatness, & More – Sahil Bloom – (Curiosity Chronicle newsletter)
I would claim that survivorship bias is one of the most common and insidious ways we misinterpret the events happening around us. An extreme example: one person wins the lottery, and we think we have a reasonable chance, failing to consider the millions who didn’t win.
When we fail to consider the range of outcomes and the hidden evidence, we develop a skewed (and often incorrect) view of reality.
It doesn’t have to be positive events. When, say, a burglary happens in your neighborhood, it’s very common to be afraid, thinking that it’s a common occurrence. If it’s the only burglary in the last 10 years, though, that might not be a valid conclusion.
Do this: Consider the range.
4. “The challenge is only going to increase”
Generative AI is already testing platforms’ limits – Casey Newton – (Platformer newsletter)
The example is the AI-generated selfie image of the Tiananmen Square “Tank Man” standing in front of a tank. It was never created with malicious intent, but somehow Google picked it up as legit for a while and displayed it in search of results for the topic.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. As the takeaway states, this is only going to get worse. Particularly regarding politics. The ability to create realistic images (or videos or audio) is only getting easier, and the ability to detect them as machine-generated is only becoming more difficult.
I believe this will become (or perhaps already is) a critically important issue in the days to come. We all need to be aware of the possibility … especially when the fake item supports our existing point of view.
Do this: Be aware. Be skeptical. Verify.
5. “Fear-driven decisions”
Demonizing Social Media Isn’t the Answer to Online Safety, a New Book Argues – Melinda Wenner Moyer – (New York Times)
Even though I have no children of my own, this is a topic I think of often. It’s nothing new. It’s been the same concern with computers, games, online access, and now social media. The knee-jerk reaction is to either prevent, restrict, or monitor children’s online activities. It’s the simple solution, but I’m not convinced it’s the correct one.
Perhaps, instead, we should focus more on helping kids learn how to safely navigate social media and manage online privacy and decision-making.
These are important skills that will last a lifetime. The catch? It’s more work. Parents need to learn for themselves, and then be willing to take the time to teach and mentor.
Do this: Teach your children well.
6. “Get up and do something. Every day.”
How Bright Your Candle Burns Is All About Choices – John P. Weiss – (ebook: What Life Should Be About: Elegant Essays on the Things That Matter)
I think we all know people who, for all intents and purposes, appear to just be existing. They’re coasting. They’re doing OK, I suppose, but as Weiss might say, their fire burns low.
Action is the oxygen that stokes the flames of our candle. But the action must be intelligent.
Particularly these days it’s easy to languish. And yet taking action, stoking the flame, is paradoxically the way out.
Do this: Take action.
7. “Levels of inequality again rival the days of the Industrial Revolution.”
I’ve always loved tech. Now, I’m a Luddite. You should be one, too. – Brian Merchant – (Washington Post)
I’ve always assumed that Luddites simply hated change and progress, and rebelled against the very notion. Merchant provides a slightly different perspective, that they weren’t against the technology, but rather how it was being used and abused to negatively impact workers and society.
These workers first sought compromise, dialogue and a democratic way to integrate new tech into their communities — to share in the gains. They were ignored. So they rebelled.
The parallels with current tech are many. From the gig economy, warehouse worker abuse, to the looming impact of AI, we’re once again in a state of progress with the potential to negatively impact workers and society as a whole. Some would rightly argue that it’s already happening.
Do this: Consider the impact.
More random links & thoughts
- The Accessibility Edition – Why is this interesting? – What I’d call “sidewalk braille”. I’ll be looking at the pavement a little differently now.
- The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!) – Very geeky, but very interesting write-up from 20(!) years ago. Still relevant. (And I still hate character encoding.)
- How to be a conscientious and satisfied Instacart customer – Some good behind-the-scenes info.
Nir and Far newsletter – Nir Eyal, the author of Indistractable. Research shared from user experience design, behavioral economics, and neuroscience. “Fear-driven decisions” was surfaced via this newsletter.
Full (and growing) list on the sources page.
What I’m Reading
- What Life Should Be About: Elegant Essays on the Things That Matter – John P. Weiss
- Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie
- Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It – Ethan Kross (audio)
- What’s Our Problem? – A Self-help Book for Societies – Tim Urban
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman
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