1. “The truth needs to be free and universal.”
The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free – Nathan J. Robinson – (Current Affairs magazine/website)
This was an incredibly valuable perspective on how news and information are distributed. How content creators get compensated is anything but fair, and quite literally at odds with truly free and open information. His alternative — all information is free to anyone, and creators are paid not by sales, but by consumption, the money coming from taxes or other objective (i.e. unbiased) sources — is idealistic, to be sure. More pragmatically, transitioning from where we are to where he suggests we might want to be seems difficult, if not impossible.
Do this: support, with money if you can, the sources of news and information that you value. Much like we’re all attempting to patronize the restaurants we want to see survive the pandemic, the sources of information we care about need a similar effort.
This was article was brought to my attention by newsman Dan Rather’s excellent newsletter: Steady.
2. “not outgrowing our ‘wonder years’, being able to stay relentlessly curious.”
Walter Isaacson on CRISPR, Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race – Walter Isaacson – (The Tim Ferriss Show Podcast)
Isaacson is the author of several high-profile biographies of people like Steve Jobs, Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, and others. In this podcast episode, he talks about how the future and the amazing things that gene editing may bring.
Jennifer Doudna is the topic of his latest book The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race. When asked why he chose her, he circled back to curiosity.
People who are curious say “well, why is the sky blue?” Leonardo da Vinci asked it, Einstein asked it, and Jennifer Doudna asked questions like that. So not outgrowing our ‘wonder years’, being able to stay relentlessly curious.
I think if I were to say “how can you be creative as a scientist, or for that matter as a musician or athlete?”, it would be: be curious about everything, all walks of life; arts and sciences technology and the humanities. That’s what Steve Jobs did; he had one foot in the arts, another foot in technology, and he did not make a distinction between those two. That’s what Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man is about. It’s a work of art, and it’s a work of science, and he didn’t make a distinction between those two.
Do this: “stay curious” seems too trite, and yet it’s exactly what anyone who strives to lead anything close to a creative life must do.
3. “…everyone has legitimate concerns here…”
Don’t forget about coal miners and cement makers on the way to zero emissions – Bill Gates – (blog)
One of the single biggest obstacles to moving towards a more green economy is fear. Specifically: fear of losing jobs, fear of becoming obsolete, fear of the unknown, and fear of change. It’s exceptionally important not just to acknowledge those objections, and others, but to do something about them. That this comes from one of the more progressive voices in our society may be surprising to some, but it’s not if you understand just how “big picture” Bill is used to thinking. Change has impacts, and this is not new. Since we can so readily identify the impact of some of these major, societal changes, we have an opportunity — a responsibility even — to factor those affected into the plans for the future.
Do this: Regardless of which “side” of the issue you’re on, read Bills article and think of ways your side can help the other weather the inevitable transition.
4. “Creativity is a river”
I didn’t listen to music for 5 days – Malinda Kathleen Reese – (YouTube)
Malinda’s a talented and entertaining singer/songwriter that I’ve been following (and been a patron of) for some time. You might actually have seen her thanks to this viral video: O Come O Come Emmanuel by Melinda Kathleen Reese in Pantheon church. As the title of the current video says, she elected not to listen to any music for five days. Not only is that difficult for someone so literally and continually immersed in music, it turned out not to have the desired effect (unblocking artistic block). The full quote:
“Creativity is a river. If it is pumped with water from a bunch of sources and allowed to flow uninhibited, it can move mountains. Put a dam somewhere and you will run dry. I now make sure to surround myself with beautiful, honest artistry instead of shutting that out in service to my own thoughts, because my own thoughts won’t have much interesting to say, unless I am listening.
Many creatives understand this. Your output is a product of your inputs. It’s one of the reasons stepping away from social media and choosing higher-quality inputs instead is such common advice for both creatives and non-creatives alike.
Do this: Take stock of your inputs. Do they add or subtract from your life? For those that subtract, why do they remain inputs? (There’s also more wisdom in the video — check it out if this appeals to you at all.)
Our Messaging & Writing Framework – Tiny Little Business – (Email Newsletter)
Probably my shortest quote ever, but it’s my takeaway, so there it is. The email is from a company selling an assortment of small business marketing and other materials. Perhaps best known for something called “Auto Responder Madness“, a product I picked up many, many years ago.
It’s an interesting read but what stood out to me was a concept of “freewriting”, and a recommended book, Accidental Genius, that I ended up picking up to dive into the concept more deeply. I’ve tried a related strategy called “Morning Pages” in the past with little benefit, but the concept of freewriting seems less formulaic and restrictive, while retaining the underlying concept of stream of consciousness dumping. I immediately tried it with a (non-technical) topic I’ve been wrestling with and 400+ words flowed in just a few minutes exposing and expanding on the concept and related tangents that could make it into a final article.
Do this: Write. Find what works for you, but write. One of the other topics rattling around my mind is simple that we are all writers — some of us just don’t realize it.
6. “Build Systems”
Things I Would Do Differently If I Started My Business Today – Srinivas Rao – (Medium)
I keep coming back to this article because it has so much gold. “Build System” — meaning build systems of automation and/or workflows — is right up my alley and something that I’m working on almost constantly.
My current system under construction is how I capture random thoughts throughout the day. You know the situation: you’re doing something, like driving somewhere, and an ideal shoots into your head. How do you save it? How do you capture it? Hint: “I’ll remember it later” is not a valid answer (trust me, I’ve tried). I’m continually on the lookout for easy ways to capture the random ideas swirling through my brain as they come up. Some are easy (sitting at a computer, I just switch to Evernote and type it into my bullet-like journal) others are more problematic (driving along, how do I capture ANYTHING in a way that doesn’t involve my taking my eyes off the road? Currently it’s a voice recorder app on my phone, but that still requires a tap or two).
Do this: We are all constantly generating ideas — capture them somehow (safely).
7. “Deepfakes will only get a) more realistic and b) easier to make.”
Tom Cruise Deepfakes Go Viral on TikTok – Morning Brew – (Email newsletter)
Honestly, deepfakes scare the crap out of me. Given how quickly people are willing to believe a few words printed in the correct (or incorrect) order, regardless of whether they’re true or now, I can’t imagine the havoc that a well-thought-out and executed deepfake video will have on our society.
“Prove that you didn’t say this” in response to a deepfake of some government official or politician “saying” something inflammatory. The problem? You can’t prove a negative — especially when enough people want to believe the falsehood.
As I said, the scares me. When it matures to a state of being easy to create and more difficult to detect, I’m concerned that chaos will ensue.
Do this: BE SKEPTICAL. In fact, prepare to be more skeptical in the future. Quit believing everything you read and take the time to demand, and follow, proof.
What I’m Reading
I know this has been the same list for a few weeks, but I’m making progress. Honest.
- “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman
- Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative by Chuck Wendig
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity by Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman