Details All The Way Down – 7 Takeaways No. 147

Russian Nesting Dolls

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1. “Be more thoughtful about creating connections”

“Communication Really Happens in the Carpool…” – David Epstein – (Range Widely newsletter)

The winners of the recently announced Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine met at the photocopier, and we’re all healthier for it.

Serendipitous information exchange is on the decline. In part because of remote work, of course, but it pre-dates that. Even something as simple as the trend to work over lunch contributes.

ideas spread easily and quickly in dense environments, leading to perpetual innovation

Of course “dense environments” aren’t what they once were, for both good and bad reasons. Thus, the admonition to me more intentional about creating connections.

And yes, for the record, this applies to much, much more than just ideation at work. It applies to our social lives and mental wellbeing as well.

Do this: Be intentional.

2. “But what if I don’t like beans?”

The Hyper-Personalization of Everything – Rex Woodbury – (Digital Native newsletter)

Woodbury makes the claim that Gen Z suffers from the “What About Me Effect.”

It means that we assume that everything should in some way apply to us—that we should be accommodated for our personal, nuanced situation.

It’s an outgrowth of today’s hyper-personalization of just about everything, particularly online. We’re treated to personalized recommendations and offers and communications everywhere we look. Thus, we expect that same personalized treatment in other, non-personalized environments.

The takeaway is from his example of the popularity of bean soup recipes on TikTok, and the number of people that comment “but what if I don’t like beans?” The concept that these recipes might not be for you is, apparently, foreign.

Do this: Remember that while personalization is good, everything isn’t always about, or for,  you.

3. “Politicians can learn the error of their ways”

What can we learn from those who have a moral change of heart? – Joshua May – (Psyche “digital magazine”)

I don’t know if this called to me because I want to learn from it, or because I so desperately want certain individuals to have that moral change of heart. It’s a dive into the circumstances, accidental or intentional, that causes people to change perspectives.

Shaping one’s own moral outlook can take many forms – some traditional, some modern.

I’ll take the high road, and focus on the suggestions of how we might go about validating, or changing, our sometimes sacred beliefs. (But there are still a few people I’d love to see take that advice.)

Do this: Question your beliefs.

4. “Everything is details all the way down”

The Truth is Always Made of Details – David Cain – (Raptitude)

A slightly different, and appealing, metaphor about the complexity of, well, everything. Everything can be zoomed in on for more detail. Everything. And yet, our reaction is typically to stay at the summary, yes/no, good/bad level.

For better or worse, everything is infinitely complicated, …. The conclusion-resistant nature of reality is annoying to a certain part of the adult human brain, the part that craves quick and expedient summaries. (Social media seems designed to feed, and feed on, this part.)

The suggestion is not drilling down into the weeds for every little thing, but rather remember that everything, from sand to leaves to football games to people, are infinitely complex the closer you look.

Do this: Look closely.

5. “Who ever expected old age?”

What They Don’t Tell You About Getting Old – Roger Rosenblatt – (New York Times)

I have a love/hate relationship with articles on old age. Too many seem to give in to some expectation that age implies incapability (particularly with technology, my bailiwick). This essay borders on that, but focuses mostly on the physical aspects. Getting in and out of a taxi seems to be a thing for Mr. Rosenblatt.

I can’t think of anyone who has come to me for wisdom, serenity, authority or power.

I think this is perhaps the greatest missed opportunity. Not only for those aging, but for the young as well. The aged represent a vast, mostly untapped resource of experience and life lessons. I expect no one to come to me for those things, but it’s one reason I write. Perhaps whatever I can leave behind might interest someone someday.

Do this: Seek wisdom in others and preserve the wisdom you might want to share.

6. “Will I still care about this in a year?”

Paying Attention – Morgan Housel – (Collab Fund)

I like this as a model, a litmus test, of what’s worthy of consumption.

Housel defines two types of knowledge: permanent and expiring. The world throws an immense amount of expiring information at us; information that we’ll hardly remember in a few years time.

I can not recall one thing I read in a newspaper from, say, 2011. But I can tell you details about a few great books I read in 2011 and how they changed how I think. I’ll remember them forever.

That’s not to say expiring information can’t be important, but it’s another criteria to use when deciding where to spend your precious time. Even when starting something with the expectation it will “stick”, if after some time it’s clear that it doesn’t, move on.

Do this: Consider what you consume.

7. “Humans tend to do whatever it takes to keep busy”

Are we too busy to enjoy life? – Anne-Laure Le Cunff – (Ness Labs)

I had a similar takeaway last week. We’ll do anything, or perhaps more accurately, everything, to avoid being bored. To avoid having to think about things. To avoid just being.

We are scared of idleness because stopping would mean having to really consider what we want out of life and what we currently have.

It’s not that being busy is necessarily bad. Sometimes it’s completely appropriate. And yet, if we have a choice, we should consider just how busy we need to be.

Being busy with exciting work is good. Being too busy to enjoy life, spending time with the people you love, and exploring your full potential is not. If you belong to the people who do have a choice, consider making the most of your fortunate situation.

Do this: Make the most of your situation.

More random links & thoughts


Collab Blog – A blog by Morgan Housel, a principal in an investment firm, Collab Fund. The blog is rarely about investment and more about life, philosophy, and interesting advice. Source of this week’s “Will I still care about this in a year?”.

Full (and growing) list on the sources page.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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