March 2020 (Links)

To Get Good, Go After The Metagame

Source: Commonplace | By: Cedric Chin

“Every sufficiently interesting game has a metagame above it. This is the game about the game. It is often called ‘the meta’.”

The same applies to life, learning to know when to play, where to play, etc. Not only being good at playing the game. Although he also highlights that we should know the underlying/actionable skills too (but then know how to go above/beyond them).

2×02 How Oculus and Libra Will Save Facebook

Source: Bots and Beers

A long-ish article about how Facebook could have a good future ahead. But it needs to change to do this.

“…if Facebook really does want to be the operating system of the virtual world—if they really want to enable the unbanked through cryptographic transactions—they have to increase the public trust by taking stances on marketing and advertising that protect users. There’s no way for them to play both sides of that coin and succeed. To transition to the future, Facebook needs to leave the past behind.”

Build a Bulletproof Notion Workspace

Source: Youtube/William Nutt (Notion.so enthusiast)

Notion is the productivity app that I’m using at the moment.

You want to do two things:

  1. Centralized information (data page)
  2. Access Points (home base)

Both will have a top-level page.

PARA: projects, resources, areas (under which first two fall), archives (inactive/completed ones)

Pff, lots of info. See the post.

Politics Without Politicians

Source: New Yorker |By: Nathan Heller

The big idea: letting people do the governing. Randomly selecting people to do a small period of legislative work. As a group you will have enough knowledge and experience. No more politics.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

Source: Johns Hopkins

Good dashboard for tracking Coronavirus / COVID-19

I’ve been reading more about it and listening to some podcasts (see Timeline). (Verge article, another)

Zero Trust Information

Source: Stratechery

Good article about how Google laid the foundation for remote work already 5 years ago. Then also some more info about that there is more info available (so good and bad equally), but without gatekeepers that information may flow faster.

“Again, this is not to say that everything is fine, either in terms of the coronavirus in the short term or social media and unmediated information in the medium term. There is, though, reason for optimism, and a belief that things will get better, the more quickly we embrace the idea that fewer gatekeepers and more information means innovation and good ideas in proportion to the flood of misinformation which people who grew up with the Internet are already learning to ignore.”

Follow-up blog

If AI’s So Smart, Why Can’t It Grasp Cause and Effect?

Source: Wired | By: Will Knight

AI is bad at causality, so they are building some models that might be better at it. Still early days though.

A Leaderless Struggle for Democracy

Source: Freedom House | By: Sarah Repucci

So yeah, democracy is on the decline for the past 14 years. The US and India are two large ones that are sliding down. China and the treatment of Uighurs is of course still alarming.

“The protests of 2019 have so far failed to halt the overall slide in global freedom, and without greater support and solidarity from established democracies, they are more likely to succumb to authoritarian reprisals.”

“Fierce rhetorical attacks on the press, the rule of law, and other pillars of democracy coming from American leaders, including the president himself, undermine the country’s ability to persuade other governments to defend core human rights and freedoms, and are actively exploited by dictators and demagogues.”

Contemplations on Cascades

Source: Neil Kakkar (blog)

We’ve had several names for it: snowball effect, butterfly effect, and domino effect. But, they are all examples of cascades.” and “Our desires are shaped by others. That’s Mimetic theory.”

The article explains cascades from different perspectives/examples. The interesting lens I’m reading it through is marketing, how can you start a cascade that leads to more and more people to buy.

Toby Ord on the precipice and humanity’s potential futures

Source: 80000 hours | By: Robert Wiblin, Arden Koehler and Keiran Harris

A good introduction to existential risks, first part highlights some factoids of things that happened and risks we face.

Climate and Lifestyle: policy matters

Source: Founders Pledge | By: John Halstead & Johannes Ackva

And this is the follow-up also discussed below.

“if you live in a rich country and live a typical lifestyle, then you probably emit between 5 and 20 tonnes of CO2 each year.” (NL is 9 tonnes, but

Not having kids might look like the best idea (see the graph in the first article), but ignores improvements we will make in the future (less emissions per person).

Policy taken into account, having one less child is comparable to living car-free (or getting an electric car).

” rather than constraining the climate conscious individual, the ability to affect policy through donations to effective climate charities and/or political activism offers an opportunity for outsized positive climate leverage.”

“the expected impact of your personal donations is much larger than any of the lifestyle decisions”

Butttt “it is very important to choose carefully who you donate to.

Don’t do it to offset, do it to do good. “If we only donate to offset our personal emissions and no further, then we hugely restrict our potential impact.”

Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance

Source: Medium / Tomas Pueyo

Good article what measures can work and why we need to do them. Herd immunity is stupid since the virus will keep mutating. Stay the fuck home.

YouTube’s Copyright System Isn’t Broken. The World’s Is.

Source: Youtube / Tom Scott

Discussion about how copyright is broken, how it works now, and how it should maybe work (and why YouTube is just an example, just following the rules, not being ‘bad’ per se themselves).

Taste for Makers

Source: Paul Graham’s blog

“For those of us who design things, these are not just theoretical questions. If there is such a thing as beauty, we need to be able to recognize it. We need good taste to make good things.”

Paul starts with arguing against ‘subjective’ taste. He argues that this isn’t true and that we can define/explore set criteria for beauty. It’s also something you can get better at (just like any other aspect of a job).

He also argues that beauty/taste is very similar across fields.

  • Good design is … simple
    • do more with less, be clear
    • simple means addressing the ‘real’/underlying idea/problem
  • … timeless
    • so good, that long after you’re gone, it’s still the standard
    • stay away from fashion
    • possibly appeal to what people in the past (say 1500) (also) liked
  • … solves the right problem
    • (my interpretation) ask the right question (to …)
  • … suggestive
    • become the background/backbone, not centerpiece
    • let users/observers/etc make their own story (about the Mona Lisa)
  • … often slightly funny
    • don’t take yourself/your design too serious
    • humour shows strength
  • … hard
    • e.g. painting faces, because we’re so good at looking at them
    • but not ‘client is a dick’ hard
  • … looks easy
    • (because you worked so hard on it)
    • because your body/brain does a large part of it on autopilot/10.000 hours of learning
    • e.g. most efficient weightlifting looks beautiful
  • … uses symmetry
    • repetition (left-right), and recursion (fractals)
    • e.g. code that loops in on itself (and is short/efficient)
  • … resembles nature
    • because nature has had a long time to think about the problem
  • … redesign
    • needs confidence to say ‘I need to try again’
    • acknowledge mistakes, iterate
  • … can copy
    • imitate, but not mindlessly
    • be creative (on top of what is already there)
  • … often strange
    • (Graham thinks it’s difficult to cultivate (only) this aspect)
    • (I guess it means staying curious and open to strange-ness)
  • … happens in chunks
    • by people working together
    • e.g. creative hubs
    • (can you do it online though?)
  • … often daring
    • outside the ‘normal’, norms
    • be where conventional wisdom and truth collide

Preserving Optionality: Preparing for the Unknown

Source: Farnam Street | By: Shane Parnish / colleagues

“Instead of focusing on becoming great at one thing, there is another, counterintuitive strategy that will get us further: preserving optionality. The more options we have, the better suited we are to deal with unpredictability and uncertainty. We can stay calm when others panic because we have choices.”

Don’t get pigeonholed into knowing only one thing. Have options, know a lot about different things. Also makes me think of the lessons in Early Retirement Extreme.