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1. “What is NOT getting your attention?”
What You Attend To Defines You: Why Attention is Now the Coin of the Realm – Julia Hubbard – (Blog)
The essay is a reflection on attention. But it brings to mind something that’s concerned me for some time.
When <public figure> says or does something outrageous or despicable, what happens? They get more attention. If they thrive on attention this only feeds the beast. It encourages them to continue, and even become more outrageous or despicable in the future.
What we attend, grows, just like any potted plant or particular petty pity party. What we attend can become outsized, out of proportion.
The best solution is to ignore them, which is nearly impossible to do.
Do this: ignore the narcissists and bullies in your life, to the best you can. At least give them no more attention than is absolutely necessary.
2. “Codify your thinking”
A non-exhaustive list of my favorite things about working at companies with a culture of writing – Brie Wolfson – (The Kool-Aid Factory)
This is a piece about the benefits of having a writing culture at your place of work. There are numberable benefits, of course. The one I consider to be most valuable is this:
When you codify ideas in a piece of writing, you also codify your thinking.
Even if you’re a company of one, or no company at all, writing makes you think.
Do this: write more. Really. Even if just for yourself.
3. “When we spread ideas and knowledge it accelerates humanity’s progress.”
Is Joe Rogan the Martin Luther of our time – Mathias Sundin – (The angry optimist blog)
That’s not quite the clickbait article title you might consider it to be.
Set Rogan aside for a moment, this is a fascinating viewpoint on Martin Luther in some very modern terms: not just using the new technology of the time — the printing press — but also how he did so: short theses that were easy to read, but also easy to create and for printers to profit from selling, using common language.
How did Martin Luther go from an unknown to the topic of that time’s major discussion? He was an early, and skilled, adopter of a new technology: The printing press.
How did Joe Rogan go from unknown to the topic of a global discussion? He was an early, and skilled, adopter of a new technology: Podcasts.
We can always argue about whether Rogan was an early adopter, or even skilled, but the fact is the timing was such that he can be seen as both. I found it a fascinating comparison.
The author is a vigorous proponent of the free and mostly unrestricted flow of ideas.
Do this: perhaps reflect on “mostly” … where would you draw the line?
4. “Reading and studying has become almost a revolutionary act.”
Our Country is Filled with Problems; Reading Too Many Books Isn’t One of Them – Ryan Holiday – (blog)
The topic of book reading has come up frequently of late, mostly due to attention spans seemingly getting shorter in the face of near constant digital distraction.
This is different. This is in reaction to the increasing number of book-banning, and even burning, stories that we’ve heard of in the news of late. I find this Heine quote particularly troubling:
… as the playwright Heinrich Heine tragically predicted of his German homeland. “Wherever they burn books,” he warned, “they will also, in the end, burn human beings.”
Do this: Read more. Maybe a few banned books.
5. “People seem to be better-informed than in the past”
The “misinformation problem” seems like misinformation – Matthew Yglesias – (Slow Boring blog)
Seems completely counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? People certainly don’t act as if they’re better informed, right?
In this essay Yglesias presents data to show that this might not be the case. For example just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean they’re misinformed. Because a few are, and they make headlines, it seems that blaming erroneous knowledge might be the go-to response.
I tend to think that a lot of what is going on is that people see the internet increasing polarization — more people are fighting about politics and saying things they think are really dumb — and confusing that with people being misinformed.
We’re certainly more polarized, without a doubt. And misinformation certainly exists, for a variety of reasons. But to assume it’s what’s behind it all is potentially a bad idea. “Discerning the truth is hard, and it requires debate and dissent.”
Do this: next time you’re about to claim that someone’s misinformed, check yourself. Consider whether what you’re seeing is a difference of opinion, not a misrepresentation of facts.
6. “Try, fail, learn”
Atomic Habits – James Clear – (ebook)
This is the feedback loop behind all human behavior: try, fail, learn, try differently. With practice, the useless movements fade away and the useful actions get reinforced. That’s a habit forming.
What I find interesting is that’s also a definition of machine learning: try, fail, learn. Perhaps more completely, “learn from the correction”. Of course there’s a lot of programming behind enabling that cycle to occur at all, but nonetheless, when someone says a computer is using “machine learning”, that’s what’s at the core of it — failures included.
Do this: Make mistakes, and then learn from them.
7. “I hated Facebook from the start and couldn’t wait for it to die.”
The Last Days of Myspace – Cory Doctorow – (Medium)
What’s interesting about this essay is both the analysis of how Facebook succeeds, how it’s made leaving difficult, and where it’s at on the “eventual decline” cycle. The position is that, comparing to what happened to MySpace, Facebook just embarked on a long-awaited downward trend.
We’ll see if that plays out.
Do this: Make sure your Facebook usage, if you use it at all, is adding to your life, and not detracting from it.
What I’m Reading
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones – James Clear
- Termination Shock: A Novel – Neal Stephenson
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman
- The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature – Robert Greene
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