@Yesterday 11:53 AM (EDT)
The lowest-fidelity system: keep all your notes from the week in a single text file (one that’s accessible through mobile). At the end of the week, decide which one your most excited to develop, and then create a new text file.
@Thursday 6:36 PM (EDT)
Ideas are power laws— if 1 idea is worth more than another 99 ideas, then it’s not necessarily worth linking all 100 together. It’s more important to investigate and unpack the ideas that matter most.
@Thursday 10:58 AM (EDT)
Question: How do you know when to use or not use the feedback you get? How do you make sure you use feedback the right way? By right way, I mean in a way that helps improve your overall writing process and skill level.
- Feedback helps us see around our blindspots. Sometimes you'll read feedback, and it immediately resonates. It helps you see something you agree with, but you just missed.
- Then sometimes you get feedback that is challenging. You're not quite sure if you agree. It helps to be always be open-minded. Consider their point of view, and imagine what the section or paragraph could be like if you implemented. If you still don't like it, then you don't have to implement it. It's always your decision.
- Sometimes people give you feedback without understanding the proper context, or your own writing goals. If you were to implement it, it might take you farther away from what you're going for.
- So in the end, it always helps to be mindful of-- what are the goals of the essay? and, where do I need to improve as a writer? You can always check feedback against those answers.
- It also helps to keep a one-pager of your bad habits, and the risks you take that are successful. It's helpful to keep in mind when you start a new essay.
@Thursday 10:40 AM (EDT)
Things to unpack in a Schmetaverse essay:
- Social VR
- AR to VR
- 3D-scanning people
- 3D-scanning places
@Thursday 10:32 AM (EDT)
Unreal Engine 5.. wow
Me: “OMG THIS ISN’T REAL”
Friend: “How long did it take you?”
Me: “The whole video lol. I was wondering why you were sending me a creepy train station.”
@Wednesday 9:56 PM (EDT)
Synesthesia as a tool for lyric writing. Instead of attempting to cram lyrics into melodies, get a sense for what kind of images, symbols, and emotions arise from the music.
@Wednesday 8:04 PM (EDT)
Ideas are power-laws. I get the feeling that “linking your thinking” treats all ideas democratically— the goal is to form idea-constellations. But I think the more intuitive approach is to be able to hold any idea in your hand, and feel the weight or lack of it. If you stumble upon something sublime, then focus on that, and harness the power of both your subconscious associations and the Internet. I’m on team “capture,” but still hesitate with the value of creating an organized library that I’ll be able to forever reference.
@Wednesday 6:12 PM (EDT)
The better the lore, the larger the fraction of great minutes relative to indifferent or lousy ones.
In the limit, a lore-utopia is one where all the minutes are great and you don’t have to care about the hours at all. You can forget about big goals, epic journeys, and consequentialist projects. You can simply live in the moment, because every minute is its own reward. You’re not grinding away to make that one moment five years out — perhaps the Mars landing moment — super-duper extra-special to make up for all the lousy ones. Life itself has arrived in the happily-ever-after post-narrative (or post-historical phase).
Of course, there are no real lore-utopias. But we get a small taste from time to time.
Why, for instance, is there so much lore around coffee brewing? Why do coffee aficionados have vast stores of tips and ideas about equipment, roasts, and brewing techniques to swap with each other?
It’s because making and drinking your coffee in the morning or afternoon creates one of the rare great minutes in the stream of lousy and indifferent ones that make up a typical day for most people. Coffee rituals are a source of “great minute” lore.
But while “great minutes” lore is the most obviously attractive kind, the bulk of lore is devoted to making the lousy minutes somewhat less lousy, rather than crafting the great minutes.
How does lore do that? I think Marx was on the right track with his idea that religion is the opium of the masses. But you need a more fine-grained approach. Lore is something like a psyche-management memetic nootropic stack.
@Wednesday 11:18 AM (EDT)
Left/Right: Parallels & Counter-points
Down: Implications (so what?)
@Wednesday 11:12 AM (EDT)
Experiment today— keeping everything in one window, in one tab (at least, as much as I can). Making a point to not let tabs balloon until infinity. What I’ve done instead if pin my browser history on the left. It’s a way to jump back and find old things. Instead of having a messy tab trail, I can just reference my history to go backwards.
@Tuesday 11:26 PM (EDT)
After getting dinner with Danielle, we got approached by a guy named George who wanted to buy our Jeep from us. Turns out, he went to my wife’s high school and graduated the year after her. It was one of those random moments of serendipity. Rarely are we approached by strangers our age in a parking lot, let alone a stranger looking to scalp our car as we’re in the hunt for a new one. He offered almost $4k for our 2006 Jeep Liberty. A great deal, but my wife isn’t going to budge. She loves the Jeep, even if its only purpose is to serve as our dog transportation vehicles once every 2 months. George seems like a cool guy— he’s moved from New York, to Austin, to Nashville, and back. He left his number on our windshield, scribbled onto a Starbucks gift card that was probably stolen. Even if we don’t sell our Jeep, it’s good to make friends in Big Finger.
@Tuesday 8:33 PM (EDT)
- Does a baseball stat exists for RBIs that’s weighted for how clutch the RBI is? Not all Runs Batted In are equal. A go ahead RBI is worth more than one than one that has no effect on the game. You could weight each RBI by how far it is from the score differential being 1.
- Here are some wonky writing on RBIs and baseball stats: https://community.fangraphs.com/weighted-runs-batted-in-efficiency/
@Tuesday 6:51 PM (EDT)
@Tuesday 4:34 PM (EDT)
@Monday 10:13 AM (EDT)
Bad browsing habits:
- Communication, planning, and information tabs overlap
- Functions scattered across windows
- An endless train of new tabs
@Monday 10:09 AM (EDT)
Realizing that logloglog also acts as my clipboard. I’ll past messages I send to other people in here
@Monday 10:09 AM (EDT)
My latest thinking on my newsletter--
- There is no behind-the-scenes edition of the newsletter. The draft you read could be an essay technically-- it falls under "tactics" (How Ghost lets you fuse your digital home & distribution). All essays get sent through email-- there is no cadence or frequency-- with each one, there's 1-2 paragraphs of behind-the-scenes context, that you only get through email
- Logloglog gets shaped into a weekly email-- every week, I pick out the best 25% of logs, refine them, and send those via email, with a weekly update up-top.. It falls more in the "template" strategy that you and Louie were talking about.
@Monday 9:51 AM (EDT)
Something to be mindful of today— “tab bleed-out.”
@Monday 9:46 AM (EDT)
It’s Monday morning— my weekend was a marathon through car dealerships, so I feel fairly off-balance. One thing I did do over the weekend— I transferred all my daily logs into monthly chunks. It was strange to relive the last 5 months, through writing, and a pretty high resolution of detail. It’s getting me to reconsider some of the practices I set up last December.
Daily is way too granular. Justin Hall gave me the idea of the daily chunk— but it requires heavy discipline— it’s not lazy proof. Monthly was a good way to reel in the last 5 months, but it leads to these pages that are 45-60 minutes to read. A weekly log might be the perfect interval. It would be 10-15 minutes, and it could be the ammo for a weekly email.
@Sunday 10:25 AM (EDT)
I’ve been considering a paid newsletter called “Dean’s List,” and I had sound reasoning for it. The free-tier gets my essays to their inbox, but the paid-list gets personal, unfiltered, behind-the-scenes updates. It would create an intentionally small sub-list where I could take risks and experiment. But it creates a friction— I need to decide which essays go where— and who gets which essay. At this point, it’s unnecessary categorization. The most important thing to get right is the habit of just sending writing through email.
@Sunday 9:39 AM (EDT)
Think of outlines as a series of questions you answer in order.
@Sunday 9:37 AM (EDT)
Creators face all sorts of problems, frictions, and blockages. The first step is identifying them, which is tough enough, since they often begin in our blindspots. But even once we can see them squarely, the solution is an even harder problem. We can guess at an answer, try, and get it wrong. We might know the answer, but never execute. In so many cases, in my own writing strategy, and in the strategy of others, the problem is correctly identified, but the solution is slightly off, which is just enough to make it completely ineffective.
@Last Saturday 9:47 AM (EDT)
Do I need to create a section for vulnerability? Or do I need to accept that it’s a thread that will go through all my writing?
@Last Saturday 9:46 AM (EDT)
”Nuanced growth.” It’s not always growth for growth’s sake. You can seek scale on one platform (Twitter) and intimacy on another (Newsletter). I’m considering creating two tiers of a newsletter: free and paid. Free gets my essay emailed to them. But paid gets personal behind-the-scenes style updates.
@May 13, 2022 10:27 PM (EDT)
@May 13, 2022 9:10 PM (EDT)
“Rules of Baseball” essay— plus thoughts on what makes it exciting (stakes x probability?)
@May 13, 2022 7:21 PM (EDT)
The food lines are mobbed during the first inning since no one’s had dinner yet. It’s drizzle and cloudy with La Guardians Jets flying over.. Suddenly the rain kicks in, which is a natural social lubricant, and now Kristin’s getting hit on.
@May 13, 2022 6:51 PM (EDT)
I step into an Uber on route to a Mets game, which was actually a sanctuary on wheels. The center console has a 12” orb that is pulsing colors. Lodged next to the driver’s headrest is a literal fish tank with LED lights. There’s a bamboo tree, a Christ action figure, a plastic bronchiosaurus, and crooning out of his Toyota’s speaker is a choir of angels.
@May 13, 2022 4:17 PM (EDT)
Slow down— it’s natural for projects to pile up. Pick the one that’s highest leverage— and communicate with others on updated expectations.
@May 13, 2022 3:43 PM (EDT)
Marketing is a series of invitations.. Russian dolls.
@May 13, 2022 3:26 PM (EDT)
It’s amazing how quickly digital sprawl can build up. It stems from either, 1) a lack of proper tab habits, or 2) doing things wrong for the sake of speed.
@May 13, 2022 2:07 PM (EDT)
Baseball is about sitting outside the threshold of excitement.
@May 13, 2022 1:35 PM (EDT)
Charlie was intrigued by looking at my logs. She said it had the feeling of “looking into my diary,” but it was more structured and curated. This is what I want to get at with Dean’s List. For anyone who cares to know almost everything about me, it’s possible. It’s an entirely different kind of audience to build (not a huge one, but a tight-knit one).
@May 13, 2022 8:30 AM (EDT)
In most situations compromise and collaboration is important. In others, you have to be relentlessly stubborn and uncompromising. Writing can fall anywhere on the spectrum. It’s both a means and an end.
@May 13, 2022 7:28 AM (EDT)
The Jungian Diamond / Cross
@May 13, 2022 7:25 AM (EDT)
Digital systems are great and all, but there’s something so reliable and post-its on a wall. Analog still has value.
@May 13, 2022 7:18 AM (EDT)
I’ve been averaging ~5 logs a day this week. In the early days, I was doing 50. Maybe that’s because last December I had time off, and now I’m working & busy with projects. Nonetheless, logging isn’t a time commitment, it’s about mindfulness. The frequency logs is a reflection of my awareness & discipline.
@May 12, 2022 2:38 PM (EDT)
Realization about The Writing Studio. In the first 2-weeks, we diverge. We consider all ideas. We consider multiple ideas as we do. But, as we diverge, we organize, and batch things into clusters. For weeks 2 and 3, we’re diverging on just one of the dozens clusters we’ve made. At that point, we have 2 weeks to converge on one essay. So when you leave the studio, you have one completed essay, but ALSO, 11 outlines that will be easy to move forward on. So in addition of writing one solid essay in a month, you’re also laying out a potential writing portfolio for the next X months.
@May 12, 2022 12:20 AM (EDT)
Reading through my first log on December 9th— three things surprise me:
- How off the rails I was on day one. At this point, it wasn’t public, and I truly was writing in private. I don’t know if I’ve preserved that as much as I would’ve liked.
- When I was logging 30-50 times a day, I had such a high-resolution artifact of my day. I can basically re-live it. I find myself logging ideas instead of personal experience recently.
- logloglog exists because I turned down the opportunity to watch Jungle Cruise with my wife and mother-in-law.
@May 11, 2022 11:57 PM (EDT)
My writing portfolio is broken up into 9 topics (craft, tactics, perspective, impressions, auto-fiction, metaverse, wonky-town, logs, newsletter). I’m writing out descriptions for each one, following this format:
- What’s in it for you?
- Why am I qualified?
- What gets me excited about it?
@May 11, 2022 7:11 PM (EDT)
@May 11, 2022 4:42 PM (EDT)
People fitting to jobs, vs. jobs fitting to people
@May 11, 2022 12:06 PM (EDT)
Calibrating your “energy” in a moment might be about tuning two spectrums. The time you allocate for something is meaningless if you aren’t in the right mindset to do something. Additionally, sometimes the mind naturally is drawn towards a certain mode, and you shouldn’t force it to be somewhere else.
- Diverge (hyper-creativity) < > converge (towards a deliverable)
- Mindfulness (short-term) vs. perspective (long-term)
@May 11, 2022 10:43 AM (EDT)
- Often, the bottle neck is not having a system to turn your recently captured notes & ideas into short-form writing.
- Long-term access to notes is a great aspiration, but it’s not the first thing to optimize for.
@May 11, 2022 10:35 AM (EDT)
First-to-market VS. best-to-market
@May 11, 2022 8:31 AM (EDT)
Sometimes an unforeseen part of a project can dismantle, not just the project, but other projects, and even general systems in your life. When that unforeseen thing is high-leverage, then it’s worth the disruption. I’m not saying that planning isn’t important, it is. But we should let eruptions happen, and then plan around the after-math.
@May 11, 2022 8:30 AM (EDT)
- be fluid in your systems so you can combat where your most critical friction lies.
- Be fluid in your systems so you can move towards the path of least resistance.
@May 11, 2022 8:15 AM (EDT)
- Maybe it's worth testing what it could be like logging for a day through Obsidian. A change in your environment can trigger new idaes.
- Just wrote a piece on “The Myth of Compounding Notes.” I think my main gripe is with manually tagging & creating categorization schemes with inputs. But, if a piece of software can do that for me, then the value of long-term compounding notes might be convincing.
- There must be a way to auto-stamp the date using a snippet in Obsidian. If not, or if mobile is a pain in the ass, I could always log in Notion, and then archive notes here.
- Not worth getting distracted by this now. I should get Ghost running smoothly first.
- For a second, I was tempted by the idea of “logloglog” being private— all the things I’d be allowed to say! But I’ve seen value and have gotten great feedback on the public interstitial journal concept. I just wonder, if no one was watching, how would it change how I write or think?
@May 11, 2022 7:49 AM (EDT)
Once I switch to Ghost— there’s a chance that this log will be way less visible. It likely won’t be in the main navigation. Additionally, it might be valuable to archive these logs in Obsidian instead of Notion.
@May 10, 2022 10:25 PM (EDT)
The curse of good communication
@May 10, 2022 10:14 PM (EDT)
Using the scientific method to test if theories around productivity actually work or not. Usually we just do them blindly, and realize only 3 months after the fact that our system has collapsed.
@May 10, 2022 9:39 PM (EDT)
Systems should evolve to always address the point of maximum friction.
In the early days, when I had ~5 essays on my site— there was fear and friction around copy and pasting essays in. By reducing the friction so that all I had to do was click a button to publish— it became way easier. I published 20 essays in 30 days..
But still, 2 years after that, there’s been enough friction for me to not send a newsletter. Ghost allows the ability for 1-click distribution. That’s my block, and it’s worth shifting my entire system to address it.
@May 10, 2022 9:30 AM (EDT)
Pros of using Ghost:
- Keep everything on one platform— no need for Squarespace + Substack.
- One-click distribution through email & social media.
- Manage memberships— free tiers, paid tiers.
- Modern, slick aesthetic.
@May 10, 2022 9:11 AM (EDT)
I’m in existential crisis mode around my website. The main appeal of ghost is that an essay post can be distributed through email. Instead of taking on an entire “newsletter project”— a separate stream of writing, I could just continue adding blocks to my website, and easily distribute new blocks through email. Not to mention, it’s way sleeker than Notion. My biggest block— not sure how logloglog can be maintained easily through Ghost. The lo-fi answer is that I just link to it. Maybe logloglog is the only public element of my Notion site.
@May 10, 2022 12:15 AM (EDT)
Looking to send out a newsletter soon. I’ve been contemplating different tools. Currently, I have Notion as my site. I have ConvertKit, but recently decided Revue might make more sense. But now, I’m looking into Ghost. What’s neat about Ghost is the ability to distribute writing when you post it to your site. In this model, there is no essay vs. newsletter. Essays just get email distribution.
@May 9, 2022 4:55 PM (EDT)
- On discovering the shiny dime— find one pattern, inhabit the lens
- Conversations are a social way to excavate the edges of an idea.
- The value of a private community for sharing drafts— less pressure
@May 9, 2022 10:24 AM (EDT)
Looking for a written history on how the Grateful Dead’s music evolved with their drug-use: https://www.reddit.com/r/gratefuldead/comments/3wdk19/drug_use_timeline_a_few_questions/
@May 9, 2022 10:21 AM (EDT)
While I’m not drawn to using Roam or Obsidian for my emergent/daily note-taking system— I could see it being extremely valuable for certain use cases. I’m drawn to the idea of creating an Obsidian graph that has my notes on all of Terrence McKenna’s lectures.
@May 9, 2022 10:09 AM (EDT)
The Time Horizon of Notes
When it comes to digital note-taking systems, many of them worship the note. The idea is that “knowledge compounds,” and you want any note you take to be retrievable in 5-10 years. I question that premise. My raw notes suck, and 95% of them are worth forgetting.
Maybe notes only need to have a 1-3 month life-time. It’s useful to capture all your mildly significant notes because they act as fuel for your writing practice.
A small 200-word essay that has gone through the process of distillation & editing is way more valuable than messy raw inputs.
Out of everything captured— maybe only 1-5% turn into short-form writing. Those short-form writings are worth bringing forward into the future.
If a note sits in your inbox for 3 months, and never made it’s way into a small essay, it might be worth deleting. If it’s important, it’ll find a way of resurfacing anyway.
@May 9, 2022 9:20 AM (EDT)
Seems like it requires some USB-gymnastics to get my audio interface running on an M1 macbook.. kind of a pain.
@May 9, 2022 7:28 AM (EDT)
The challenge of explaining online writing at family functions.. I’m close— it’s somewhere between YouTube celebrities, LinkedIn, resumes, and travel blogs.
@May 9, 2022 7:21 AM (EDT)
When I had my first digital camera as a ~9th grader, I remember having to manually remove photos off my SD card since storage was limited. I’d sort the photos into photos dated by Year-Month-Day. It was a manual process, but a side effect was that I had a crazy good memory on the exact date that things happened. When smart phones came out, I remember feeling disoriented from losing my precise sense of time.
@May 8, 2022 10:20 AM (EDT)
Notes on divergence & convergence:
- The creativity process isn't as mysterious as we think. Across all fields, there's a natural back and forth between these two opposite states of mind. Once you learn to see this pattern in your own work, you can move with the tide, instead of against it.
- A team has been working on something for weeks. They're near the finish line, the budget is approved, but then someone suggests [insert wildly divergent idea]... Everyone rolls their eyes. The truth is, it's a brilliant idea that could save the project, but, it was introduced at the wrong time in the creative process. X suggested a "divergent" idea, when the team was in "convergent" mode.
- Conversation is often divergent. When you search for that surprise/reaction in a conversation, and then you find it-- you often have to reorganize your whole essay/project around that one point, and it requires you to find more ideas to support it.
- In the divergent phase of a project, you generate potential tasks, and in the convergent phase, you pick which tasks are worth doing. But I see the tasks themselves as inherently convergent.
- One cycle of diverge-converge naturally leads to another. Often, after you converge, you learn something, and then need to diverge again on the same idea. When writing an essay, you often have to diverge/converge multiple times (David Foster Wallace often did 5-6 full cycles on an essay).
@May 7, 2022 8:32 AM (EDT)
We had a stuck door from yesterday’s humidity. After 30 minutes of careful problem solving, I decided it was time to resort to brute force. After demolishing the lockset with a hammer, I finally plucked out the lodged-latch (the culprit), with, believe it or not, a pair of garden trimmers. I don’t feel great, but I feel good. We have a knob-less door, but Dobe regained his pathway to his pee-haven.
@May 6, 2022 8:11 AM (EDT)
Re: my guitars— The Gibson (Memphis ES-Les Paul) is definitely my go-to. Since it's a hollow-body, it's also enjoyable to play acoustically without an amp. I'd say the Uke-Bass is my most under-rated instrument. It's more compact than an electric bass, way lighter, and may be the best for writing riffs on.
@May 5, 2022 8:20 PM (EDT)
In many ways, a weekly habit is harder than a daily one. The daily habit trains the act of showing up, but the weekly habit trains a different set of things— the skill of editing, the ability to maintain inspiration, and the mindfulness to pace yourself.
@May 5, 2022 12:41 PM (EDT)
The Beatles might be thought of as a PG-band, but they have plenty of phrases that act as sexual double entendres (seemingly innocent phrases that are actually incredibly dirty). There’s a spectrum of how blatant a metaphor is. Phrases like “monkey” or “gun” on their own are innocent, but when put in a certain context, have the ability to twist in meaning.
I wonder if there’s a phrase for the opposite— using a phrase that is explicitly sexual— but in a way to describe a phenomenon that isn’t. I almost used one of these, but hesitated. It’s instantly shocking, and distracts from the parallel I’m trying to make.
@May 4, 2022 3:14 PM (EDT)
There are so many formats that America is backwards on: temperatures in Fahrenheit, measurement in imperial, etc.. But Europe is wrong on dating. The popular format in Europe follows DD/MM/YYYY— moving from smallest to largest unit. The argument for YYYY/MM/DD is that it’s sortable by computers in situations limited to alphabetical sort.
@May 4, 2022 9:38 AM (EDT)
- Schmetaverse— the Metaverse as portrayed by marketers.. In the last year, we’ve seen a war over the word “Metaverse.” It’s become synonymous for “future,” and everyone is claiming their singular and isolated feature to be the “Metaverse.”
- Bored Ape Yacht Club launched a “shmetaverse” on Saturday.. It’s basically a 3D NFT— a 3D model, of a 10’ square island, with an NPC ape walking around. The Metaverse!? This raised somewhere north of $300 million and crashed Ethereum. This is a case-study in 3D vaporware.
- The BAYC marketing video made it seem like a decentralized Fortnite is launching, enabling you to play as popular NFT characters. I would guess there are no plans to develop ANY sort of playable video game. At BEST, it could come out with something like Decentraland (which is a total shit-show) in 1-2 years. It could never compete with Epic Games in this domain.
- The Metaverse IS NOT a multiplayer online game, with currency, jobs, and tradable avatars. Sure, it’s cool when all those things collide. And maybe the actual Metaverse in X years will include all those features. But thinking the Metaverse is Fortnite would be like thinking AOL was the Internet in ‘95.
- My take: the Metaverse represents the next paradigm in human computer interaction at its full maturity. It’s about pixels and software escaping the confines of a screen, and bleeding into our physical environments. It’s about a reality that isn’t split between analog & digital—- it’s a fusion of the two. There are leaps in hardware we need to make before anyone can even talk seriously about The Metaverse. I don’t think the word Metaverse is even relevant if it doesn’t involve AR/VR technology— and we’re still far from these being intuitive and desirable for consumers.
- Marketing, software, and hardware aside— what is the key implication of the Metaverse? If this thing exists, what is the core benefit to the average person? My take: digital teleportation. The Metaverse will completely eliminate the barrier of distance. Two people across the planet will share a hallucination that they’re sitting right next to each other.
- When we talk about avatars in NFT-land, we think about PFP (profile pictures) of absurd cartoon animals. When the Metaverse is actually a thing, avatars will be photo-realistic scans of our self, generated through a process as simple as taking a selfie.
@May 4, 2022 7:29 AM (EDT)
@May 4, 2022 6:42 AM (EDT)
A phrase for the intentional disruption of routines.
@May 4, 2022 6:27 AM (EDT)
Thinking of starting an Instagram for post-it doodles.
@May 3, 2022 6:55 PM (EDT)
I wonder if creativity can be distilled down to a “parallel process.” At it’s root, it’s the rapid generation of noise, but simultaneously, it’s the evaluation of which noise resonates.
@May 3, 2022 10:46 AM (EDT)
- Grateful Dead
- North Mississippi Allstars
- Flying Burrito Brothers
- John Hartford
- Railroad Earth
@April 29, 2022 7:37 AM (EDT)
The difference between a timer and an hour glass— an hour glass doesn’t interrupt flow.
@April 27, 2022 6:20 PM (EDT)
- Capitalism & free speech vs. socialism & listener-focused
- The Italian Renaissance was funded by $150-500m in today’s value
- Hemingway— 1-syllable words
- Food Lab (latest book)
@April 26, 2022 7:13 AM (EDT)
@April 25, 2022 2:10 PM (EDT)
“Mastery-based” learning is when you’re not allowed to proceed to the next grade until you’ve perfected the one you’re in. In our system, all you need is 65% mastery to continue. Having these gaps in early grades means that our fundamentals are shaky, and we’re in a worse position to make sense of more advanced concepts. A “time-based” system is more efficient at scale, but it’s not good for students. The median high-school graduate in America is as educated as the best-educated and highest-achieving second-grader.
@April 25, 2022 2:05 PM (EDT)
Writing can be a way for young adults in high-school to “leap into independence.” For most of early life, you’re on a track that’s setup for you, by your school, your church, your team, your parents. There’s often a convergence on “getting into college.” That’s often the primary goal, with social life absorbing free-time.
For me, it was only once I got past that threshold of going to college did I have any space to think. Everything clicked for me with my first paper in a Freshman writing class. We had a paper to write, I didn’t do it, and the night before, I wrote a detailed essay on why I didn’t like writing essays. The teacher loved it, and gave me permission to write whatever I wanted the rest of the semester. Turns out— I love writing.
Writing for me was one of the first crafts where I had control to follow any direction, while mastering the craft of something. I wonder if mastery-focused creative writing in high school could change the entire approach to college admissions.
@April 25, 2022 12:15 AM (EDT)
Miro is a tool for divergent thinking, where you don’t want to be confined by arbitrary structure. Notion/Monday are tools for convergent thinking. You won’t to narrow your ideas into a simple structure so that they’re easily retrievable in the future.
@April 25, 2022 12:05 PM (EDT)
When I say VR is in it’s “pre-mouse” phase, I don’t mean that we’re just one invention away from having intuitive human-computer-interactions in VR. The UI/UX paradigm that will reach mainstream appeal might not center around a single form of input. The paradigm might be “ambient.” Since you can be sitting, standing, or walking, different interfaces will appeal to you at different times. You’ll use your hands, controllers, mouses, eyeballs, and thumbs on glass screens— all within a day.
@April 25, 2022 11:58 AM (EDT)
From 2015-2021, my career was focused on virtual reality in the architecture industry. All the “simulations” we built were for real buildings, ones that would be built— we just were able to render if in VR 1-10 years in advance— so owners and buyers could walk around understand spaces true to scale.
I thought my career was going to shift to a kind of “virtual architecture”— designing spaces that never had the intention to be build. With the rise of social networks, there would be a huge demand for spaces to host VR festivals, meet-ups, etc. From the spaces I’ve seen, there’s a huge lack of architectural design talent.
Maybe one day I’ll get back to architecture, but in this current life, I’m a writer. As a writer, I still want to plunge into VR communities. It’s still so early, weird, and worth writing about. In terms of the Internet’s history and maturity, we’re still barely in 1992— maybe earlier. We don’t even the mouse yet. An elegant way of engaging with the new medium.
I specifically want to write about 2 VR communities I’ve come across. One of them is currently alive in an app called “Neos” (at least, as of 2020-2021). It’s a society of 100(?) people practically living in VR. From what I’ve seen, these people are artists, coders, and 3D-specialists— they’re live-coding their own VR-engine from within VR— basically making them digital-Shamans. The whole experience is hallucinogenic & surreal. There’s a friendly, but counter-cultural ethos to it. It’s not a product, it’s free, it’s from the heart. The whole thing is created by a single guy in the Czech Republic through Kickstart. It’s the polar opposite of Facebook’s Horizon, a Metaverse that’s safe-for-your kids, trying to bring VR mainstream, being shaped by product managers.
I’d love to immerse myself in both communities and write about the differences in how they see the future.
@April 25, 2022 10:50 AM (EDT)
When Australians pronounce Melbourne, without the “r,” it sounds smooth, but when American do, it always throws me off. Does an American who pronounces it “Melbun” signal that he’s aware of the pronounciation, or, is it just funny that they’re carrying a word across accents without the tongue to deliver it?
Similar scenario— the word “gyro” in Greek is pronounced “gah-ee’—row.” By pronouncing a silent G instead of a hard G, you signal that you’re familiar with the Greek language. If you look Greek, and you pronounce Gyro in the right way to a Greek-speaking-native, it’s an invitation for them to trigger a full-blown Greek-conversation, which I’m never prepared for. I can read and write it, but can’t have conversations in it.
@April 25, 2022 10:23 AM (EDT)
The story about the drink police chief in Somoa
@April 25, 2022 9:17 AM (CDT)
There are two kinds of flying: through instruments or visuals. In visual training, you’re looking out the window, assessing the situation, and reacting. In instrument flying, you’re only using radar and other computer-aided systems. To train for instrument training, they effectively blind you (like a dog with a cone on its head)— to force you to depend on your interfaces. It’s as if the plane has its own perceptual systems, which are far more accurate than a humans. Visual flying becomes dangerous in bad/cloudy weather, where you can’t distinguish up from down.
@April 25, 2022 9:00 AM (CDT)
Elon Musk buys Twitter [jet]
@April 24, 2022 3:11 PM (EDT)
Greek music has wonderful time signatures. Lots of alternating between 6s and 7s. Even the goat butcher is tapping along with his knife.
1 x x x 5 x
1 x x 4 x x x
B x S S B x S x
@April 24, 2022 8:29 AM (EDT)
Hey Alexandre-- so my website is run in Notion, and then I render it through something called Super (super.so), which helps it feel like a modern website. Logloglog is just a Notion page that's public and rendered through Super. I use a "template button" to stamp the date [ now() ]-- and then I just type under it. I have logloglog as a favorited page, so I always see it on the left bar-- it's also an icon on my phone background-- so it's easy to enter thoughts as soon as they come up.
@April 23, 2022 8:14 PM (EDT)
There is a subtle art to seeing. Sight is the dominant sense, and often not the object of our study. Most meditation practices are done with eyes closed. But there’s a way to be more self-aware of the sense itself. You can be more perceptive of objects, or of the visual characteristics of object, or, of the emotional significance of objects (whether it be the history of something, or the uncanny feeling that you see something everyday but never quite “look” at it)..
@April 23, 2022 1:13 PM (EDT)
An essay that starts outside of a Greek Orthodox Church, with everyone chanting “Xristos Anesti” (“Christ has risen”)— then it hints that the whole structure of Easter is pre-Christian.. 40-day fast, structured build, Holy Week, and a resurrection at the end— this was Ancient Greek; this was found in the Eleusinian mysteries. How did the resurrection work then? Implications on Christianity
@April 23, 2022 10:31 AM (EDT)
“Because the text of "Liber Novus" (as Jung formally titled his "Red Book") is really more important than the art. Jung experienced and recorded his visions and then composed his draft manuscript of Liber Novus before beginning on the art. The art and calligraphy came later, they were composed over the following 16 years or so. The text - compiled principally between 1914 and 1915, with a last section added in 1917 - is Jung's primary record of his extraordinary odyssey across the threshold of consciousness, and into the heart of mythopoetic vision. As he said: "This inner world is truly infinite, in no way poorer than the outer one. Man lives in two worlds." This is the journal of Jung's exploration of the inner world - and it ranks as one of the most important journeys of exploration in the record of human exploration. Dr. Shamdasani, who spent thirteen years editing Liber Novus for publication, has strongly suggested that one should read the text before even looking at the images. I agree.”
@April 23, 2022 9:49 AM (EDT)
The hallucination generation (kids born in the 2030s)
@April 22, 2022 7:58 PM (MDT)
Convert the book symbols into a Notion database.. the ultimate guide for inserting imagery into your writing charged with archetypal power
@April 22, 2022 7:53 PM (MDT)
The art of returning to a state of childhood innocence (cessation of ego)— regardless of circumstance and self-image (which is a reflection of your circumstance)
@April 22, 2022 7:47 PM (MDT)
The original resurrection
@April 22, 2022 6:41 PM (MDT)
I personally use Notion as my long-term knowledge base (second brain)-- Miro is for quick "exercises." It's great to visualize essay structure, form strategies, make diagrams, etc. But my file system in there is kind of messay & chaotic-- and not great for retrieval. Both tools can be used in a variety of ways-- it's really about how you use them, and the systems you build around them. I have so much momentum around checking Notion daily-- but Miro, I dip in to for very specific things.
@April 22, 2022 6:26 PM (MDT)
Two VR apps for AEC collaboration (The Wild & IrisVR) were acquired by Autodesk last month— just found out today. It could be fun to write a long-form piece on Autodesk, software acquisitions, and the architecture industry. I remember the phrase “software pimp” used back in the day.
@April 22, 2022 2:58 PM (MDT)
Zweigg— the formality of old dress..
@April 21, 2022 6:14 PM (MDT)
Based on the reaction of the psyched-out group walking past me, the guy in front of me on his phone is TikTok famous.
@April 21, 2022 6:05 PM (MDT)
Nature.org on Mall St in Denver
@April 21, 2022 5:59 PM (MDT)
A skit with tech metaphors interpreted literally
@April 21, 2022 6:28 AM (MDT)
There’s an amazing tension between Kurt Vonnegut’s “the shape of stories” video and his novel Slaughter House Five.. One is about imitating simple forms— the other is about completely abandoning form.
@April 21, 2022 5:44 AM (MDT)
Our perception of time is directly related to our goals posts. When you think, “that year flew!” it might be because you’re comparing two events that are a year apart, and you have amnesia on what happened in between. If you reflect on the day-to-day events of what happened in a month— time is molasses.
@April 21, 2022 5:36 AM (MDT)
- Impressions of Denver— reconciling old stereotypes
- Online relationships rarely have spontaneous circumstances
- The 3-dimensional nature of people in person
- Gorgonzola cheese fries plus an ahi tuna salad (sans the ginger)
- “Trust falling into the Internet”— a net of people to help you
- Observational writing is about making associations/seeing patterns
- How do concepts for solo-writers scale to teams?
- We often fail to realize we grew up with rare/singular experiences
- (ie: growing up on a “competitive” Christmas tree farm)
- Textbooks vs. stories
- The power of a team— each one brings in a superpower in 1-dimension
@April 20, 2022 5:43 PM (MDT)
Funny how Newsletter Junkyard is all anti-niche, and now I’m approaching Twitter with a niche mindset. My latest thinking is that it might be platform dependent. My website & newsletter represent the full range of my interests— but Twitter just represents one of them. There is a natural synergy between them. Twitter is where you learn to write form me, but my Newsletter is where I actually write. If I played the meta-game (writing about writing) everywhere, I’d get bored.
@April 20, 2022 5:37 PM (MDT)
Notes on Denver from Thomas, my Uber Driver. He was born and raised in Queens, New York, but moved here 31 years ago:
- He’d take Denver snow over New York Snow. A big difference is in how fast it melts in Denver.. The higher altitude brings stronger radiation and faster meltage. 30 inches of snow can melt in a week in Denver, but could linger for a month in New York. There are around 3 serious snowfall events in Denver that require shoveling, but the sun usually handles the rest. Even though Colorado, to outsiders, has a “snow and mountains” vibe, it’s actually an arid climate. Summers are in the mid-90s, but with little humidity— it rarely, if even, gets above 20%. NY summers are rough with humidity.
- He referred to driving drunk passengers as “blood work,” and prefers passengers who are stoned. Today is the Mile High 420 Festival in the Town Square, featuring Lil John. Since it was legalized in Denver ~10 years ago, he’d notice an influx in tourists at this time of year, and saw the city slowly grow each year.
- State capital— gold plated roof— from the 1800s. The town was a financial center around the gold-rush. Another example of how cities almost automatically arise based on pre-existing geography, geology, and resources (ie: Manhattan’s skyline is related to the ancient bedrock below it).
- High altitude has interesting implications for baseball. They used to play at the Bronco’s stadium, which was generally small. In higher altitudes, the ball travels further, and games were ridiculously highly scored (ie: 15-11). Coors Field in 1995 featured the deepest outfield. I knew that already, but what I didn’t know is that they humidify the balls before game to add a slight water-weight to the ball. It’s a way to counter-balance the altitude.
@April 20, 2022 5:34 PM (MDT)
Arthur said my Newsletter Junkyard was a fun “free fall of visuals.” This is exactly what I’m going for. A friend called my Wilbur Doyle story an “acid trip.” I want to figure out how to wrangle a subconscious eruption of imagery as I orbit around a single idea. The sentence-to-sentence flow and the “shiny dime” should be simple, clear, and easy— yet the bombardment of non-linear imagery should leave a strong emotional impact.
@April 20, 2022 5:26 PM (EDT)
$10 editing helps improve sentences. $10k editing determines which paragraphs should exist.
The core idea is like a source of gravity that bends every sentence towards it.
@April 20, 2022 2:33 PM (MDT)
Another huge takeaway from going semi-viral on Twitter for the first time— the power of having friends also writing in public. The thread could have easily sat there, but some friends came in to retweet and reply— giving it a boost, showing it to more friends.
@April 20, 2022 11:47 AM (MDT)
Having a log forces you to be mindful of your awareness. Sometime I remember I haven’t logged and the epiphany makes me realize I’m in a thought loop. Instead of people- watching, architecture-gazing, or reality-pondering, I’m simulating a situation over and over in an attempt to resolve the details and find clarity. Thought looping can be a game changer in some situations, but hell if it’s always on and you’re unaware of it.
@April 20, 2022 12:59 PM (EDT)
Notion humor— a whole genre.
Marie Poulin on Twitter: "Why bother cleaning the toilets when I can write a formula that tells me *when* to clean the toilets? pic.twitter.com/8B0PrOpetV / Twitter"
Why bother cleaning the toilets when I can write a formula that tells me *when* to clean the toilets? pic.twitter.com/8B0PrOpetV
@April 20, 2022 11:03 AM (EDT)
My daily organic impressions on Twitter jumped from 12 to 78,000 lol.
A brief glimpse of relative virality can easily hi-jack the mind. I’m trying to resist. I’m watch all sorts of “parts” jump into converge-mode, and even time-to-build-out-a-strategy mode. But the beauty in this last thread is how anti-strategic it was.
These were just notes from an almost daily feedback gym I’ve run since September. I decided to post them on Geneva (to make Geneva more valuable for WOP-alum)— and based on the reaction (17 flame emojis)— I thought, why not make this a thread?
I owe the reach of this thread to David, as well as some friends from Write of Passage— both for giving me feedback on it (huge s/o to Louie Bacaj who created the threadx.app), and for replying to and re-tweeting it.
The key thing I’m learning (first-hand now) is the potential danger of high-scale positive feedback. Of course, it feels great, but that’s precisely why it’s dangerous. As soon as the attention fades— there begins the plot for the “next move.” For the first time in a long-time, I’m looking at Twitter through the lens of quantities, influence, and opportunity. If my primary goal were personal audience building— then this is the right mindset— but it’s not! (I want an audience to be an emergent property of my primary goal).. The danger of [niche] fame is the subtle reprioritizing of goals. It’s a case study in “adaptive preferences.”
My real goal is mastering the craft of writing & editing. It’s the thing I’d do in jail. I can play the Twitter game, but I shouldn’t be too strategic about it (trying to be strategic about Twitter is exactly what locked me up in the last months/years).
Twitter is where I’ll share the “burnt-ends” from my pursuit of craft. If anything, it’s actually liberating to have some limitations:
- Twitter is where I write about writing. On Twitter, I’m a niche. Twitter isn’t meant to capture all of the dimensions of myself— it’s strictly a place to share the process along my writing journey.
- Logloglog (on my website), is where I’ll share all of my unfiltered thoughts. If you’re interested to check them out, it’s there— but I won’t push them on you.
- My newsletter (tentatively titled Dean’s List) is where I write. There are no constraints here. It’s goblin town. I can write about anything, I can write in prose, I can be delirious, and it doesn’t have to appeal to everyone.
Nonetheless, I still need to get down the basics of Twitter etiquette. I suddenly have people to thank and reply to, at the most inconvenient time. I posted this thread right before I ran to a family party— got home, passed out, packed a suitcase, and then left for the airport at 7am. I’m the plane right now scrolling through the carnage and making sense of how I feel.
To date, most of my attention has been on being a member of a low-scale, high-quality private WOP community— now there’s a pressure to engage with a larger public community as a “citizen of the Internet.” My favorite kind of interaction is 1:1, collaborating deeply on an essay for 60 minutes... Twitter is the opposite, engaging with 60 people for 1 minute each. There’s probably an art to managing both.
@April 19, 2022 7:48 PM (EDT)
“Better off being deaf than 6 feet underground.” My 84-year old grandpa at a birthday dinner.
@April 19, 2022 5:28 PM (EDT)
Lesson learned on the Twitter algorithm. If you skip a day in posting, you’ll have less reach. The machine is unforgiving!
@April 19, 2022 1:52 PM (EDT)
Idea to build out a music section on my site
@April 19, 2022 12:22 PM (EDT)
Worth going to Governor’s Ball and writing about “the death of rock.” I went to this festival in 2013— it was filled with bands I loved. When I initially saw the lineup, I passed. But now I’m realizing that it’s an opportunity to write about culture.
@April 19, 2022 11:12 AM (EDT)
- I wonder how paintings of realistic apes would fare in the NFT market.
- My thought was to have a realistic ape painting on a shitty looking pixelated island with pixelated apes looking at it likes an alien
- Kind of like those monolith obelisks from 2001: A Space Odyssey
@April 19, 2022 8:37 AM (EDT)
Alexa has been on mute for weeks = timeout in the Abyss
@April 19, 2022 7:51 AM (EDT)
An old writing project of mine that I’d like to revive is about documenting my family history. The project is called KIN. The idea is to interview everyone in my family and extended family, and figure out ONE key thing that happened to them each year. Imagine a kind of longevity-focused “social network,” where everyone gets one editable post per year. I’d set this up in Notion, and there would be 3 views:
- Focusing on a single person, seeing year by year what they did
- Seeing what your whole family did in a given year (ie: 2003)
- Comparing what everyone was up to at 8 y.o. (across generations)
@April 19, 2022 7:26 AM (EDT)
Wild Costa Rican horses and the element of risk (flash back to Martin’s ranch)
@April 19, 2022 6:40 AM (EDT)
I had a bizarro-world dream about the Building a Second Brain book launch. At one point Tiago’s head (first brain) was amorphous and changing sizes. Later on, we were all packed in a high school gym and there was a football-game vibe, where everyone was amped up that no one could hear the speeches. (For context, I skimmed the book’s landing page yesterday).
@April 17, 2022 11:00 PM (EDT)
The last few days have felt like a proper decompression:
- Picked Danielle up from the Bayside train station and hung out there for the night. We got cookies first— and spotted some teenagers shoplifting. Pizza second (unexpected, but drawn in by bizarre flavors— surprisingly good). Closed off the night at a bar with Moscow Mules (the same spot and drink as that night in December, except this time they weren’t in copper cups).
- Friday was a work binge— but a fulfilling one. I got done as much as I could knowing that I’d be trying to take time off on Monday and Tuesday.
- At night I was a chauffer for Danielle and her friend Christin, who wanted Peruvian food but didn’t want to deal with the nightmare of parking. I wasn’t invited, and grilled them for it. Enjoyed the car talk. Christin is moving to Seattle this summer. My fare on the way back was over-the-edge humor.
- Went clothes shopping on Saturday morning— something I rarely do or enjoy. I like to think my wardrobe is 70% a product of gifts I receive on holidays. I’ll admit thought— it was fun to completely shift gears away from heady-matters, and instead, focus on something relatively mindless.
- Spontaneously decided to go to a Honda dealer in the afternoon (our 2001 Jeep is a decade past it’s best years). Tried out an Accord, a CRV, and a Civic. The deal-breaker with the Civic was the manual seat adjustments. The deal-breaker with the CRV is that the windshield made my wife nauseous. The interiors of the higher-end Accord (EXL) were nice, and I made note of what I liked about. Ultimately, it didn’t have 4-wheel drive, which is a bummer. It seems like our only other option is a Tesla. /s
- Watched a few episodes of Severance with Danielle this week. It’s a cool concept— employees undergo a brain surgery so that they have no memory or awareness of their work-life.. It’s cool, very surreal, but the pacing is slow— and given we never started an episode before 10:30pm, I doze in and out of each episode, only half conscious of what’s happening— in hindsight, this might be the exactly how you’re supposed to watch Severance.
- Aunt Susan from Florida is in town. She’s not blood-related to my wife in any way, but she’s her mothers long-time partner in crime. She’s here for Passover, and we got Mexican food for lunch on her way out of town. I feel guilty because my mom’s cousin owns the restaurant next door— but this Mexican place is literally our favorite. Very guilty.
- Discovered a local Barnes & Nobles I didn’t know existed— it has a working cafe open from 9-9.. Will be frequenting there. They had a section of “local interest,” and found a book of our town that showed our exact street and plot of land from over 100 years ago. It was a dirt road and woods. Cool to see. Bought 2 of these local history books. Also got “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace” and “The White Album” by Joan Didion.
- Ended up binging the first 50 pages of Consider the Lobster. It’s his piece called “Big Red Son” on the porn industry— focused on his reporting at their awards show in Las Vegas. I’ve underlined over 60 “Wallacisms” and plan to write an essay to reverse-engineer his prose.
@April 17, 2022 11:46 AM (EDT)
The Beatles Guide to Writing. A chronological account through their history, but, each chapter is centered on a lesson that applies to writers. Could imagine atomic essays, a long-form essay, and finally a thread.
@April 16, 2022 2:53 PM (EDT)
Department stores are a full on sensory assault— disorienting patterns, cologne stench, and strobe lights. Do not make eye contact.
@April 16, 2022 11:42 AM (EDT)
Funny paranoid thought.. wondering if the Interior designers at Macy’s use Patterns that intentionally disorient you as you move. It subconsciously causes you to stay still and shop.
@April 16, 2022 10:57 AM (EDT)
12 favorite paradoxes (a writing exercise I did in September 2021)
- 1— How can the cyborg have heart?
- 2— How do we trust the blind pilot?
- 3— How do we live naked in a glass house?
- 4— How do you smuggle an elephant into a wedding?
- 5— How can we learn to believe in Santa again?
- 6— What if Paul McCartney died in 1966?
- 7— How would a lunatic give a TED Talk?
- 8— How would a poet run a business?
- 9— How can you embark on a whale hunt without starving?
- 10— How would librarians categorize books on acid?
- 11— How can greed lead us all to paradise?
- 12— How can the experts benefit from amnesia?
@April 16, 2022 9:58 AM (EDT)
Potential epic project— curate Kent Bye’s podcast
@April 16, 2022 9:56 AM (EDT)
Would love to make a habit to attend one awesome Social VR experience per month and write about it. This technology is so nascent, and could be so fundamental to the future. There’s this fleeting moment where you can capture people and culture as technology is growing through it’s weird and awkward stage.
@April 16, 2022 9:24 AM (EDT)
I think something FINALLY clicked in terms of creating a leak-proof digital system for notes... A core idea in BASB is that “the note” is the most important unit. When the note is the atomic unit, you’re system is SO granular. In Roam or Notion, these note databases can scale up into the thousands. I’ve had Notion databases with 5,000+ notes. My key thing now is to focus on the “Resource” for long-term storage. This isn’t a resource in the PARA sense. But here me out:
- Any note goes in a global note database (notes go in here)
- Each note is tied to a “Resource”— there are only ever ~100 of these
- Every week/month— you archive notes out of the global Note dB, and into the local Resource. When I say a system is “leak-proof” I mean that the total number of notes in my Global notes database never exceeds ~200.
TLDR: Delete, Archive, or Synthesize more than you blindly add
@April 16, 2022 7:56 AM (EDT)
It’s a skill to wake up and defend your blank mind from ideas, obligations, and impulses. Sometimes it take a Saturday morning to help you remember that.
@April 15, 2022 11:00 PM (EDT)
In an age of information abundance-- we find ourselves having to trust our curators. There's too many rabbit holes to get lost in. So we trust writers and curators. But what happens when these curators have incentives other than truth?
@April 15, 2022 4:48 PM (EDT)
Feedback Gym Notes
4/15/22 - 4pm ET
Thanks to Ken, Leo, Arthur, Cam, Charlie
- Writing has the ability to frame reality
- Ordinary things we overlook are sources for meaning
- The definitive history vs. a magical event
- 100 year scope vs 24 hour scope
- Anti-strategic > strategic
- Goal: Written and published— 5 minute version
- How to add variety to the Feedback Gym format?
@April 15, 2022 12:42 PM (EDT)
The Greek Orthodox church is on the Julian calendar, while the Catholic Church is on the Gregorian calendar (I think). It's usually off by a few weeks each year, but they happen to align once every ~5 years.
@April 15, 2022 12:14 PM (EDT)
There's this rush of urgency when new ideas come in-- but time is the best arbiter of quality (better than another person)-- You can look back and see if it holds that same excitement.
@April 15, 2022 10:45 AM (EDT)
@April 15, 2022 9:42 AM (EDT)
- If we’re in the age of abundance, we’re about to enter the “Era of Reckless Abundance.” This doesn’t mean AI-generated content will be any good or better than human created content.
- With an infinite amount of content, and an infinite amount of monkeys, one of them will eventually write something better than Shakespeare. There will be a whole industry around mining AI-generated art, literature, and music.
- The serious excitement and potential here is AI-assisted art. AI will help us fill in our weaknesses. Any craft (music, art, architecture) requires excellence across many domains. We naturally have sublime strength in one facet, yet we’re held back in another. A musician has to be a lyricist, an instrumentalist, and a composer. What if someone is a genius lyricist, but can’t do anything else? They can use software to arrange a song through blocks— then they can tweak AI-filters to alter how the idea is rendered. Is this a sin?
- I think I have Kadinsky-grade composition skills (maybe that’s a stretch), yet almost all my other skills around fine art are pretty shit (ie: color, technique, blending). AI could leverage one of my skills & fill in the rest for me.
@April 15, 2022 7:50 AM (EDT)
29 house plants
@April 15, 2022 6:54 AM (EDT)
“I have before me, on the slated surface of the old desk, the two large pages of the ledger, from which I lift my tired eyes and an even more tired soul. Beyond the nothing that represents, there’s the warehouse with its uniform rows of shelves, uniform employees, human order, and tranquil banality— all the way to the wall that fronts the Rua dos Douradores. Through the window the sound of another reality arrives, and the sound is banal, like the tranquility around the shelves.
I lower new eyes to the two white pages, on which my careful numbers have entered the firm’s results. And smiling to myself I remember that life, which contains these pages with fabric types, prices and sales, blank spaces, letters and ruled lines, also includes the great navigators, the great saints, and the poets of every age, not one of whom enters the books— a vast progeny banished from those who determine the world’s worth.
In the very act of entering the name of an unfamiliar cloth, the doors of the Indus and of Samarkand open up, and Persian poetry (which is from yet another place), with its quatrains whose third lines don’t rhyme, is a distant anchor for me in my disquiet. But I make no mistake: I write, I add, and the bookkeeping goes on, performed as usual by an employee of this office.”
— Fernando Pessoa, pg.26
@April 15, 2022 6:42 AM (EDT)
It’s hard to know signal from noise when ideas occur— but it’s easy if you give it time.
An idea around filtering your thoughts:
- Write down all your thoughts in one place (20 ideas a day)
- At the end of the day, copy your best ones into a new place (3 of 20)
- At the beginning of a week, pick 5 ideas worth developing (5 of 21)
So you have two filtration processes: One at the end of each day, and one at the beginning of each week. It helps you cut out 95% of your ideas. Only sit down to work on ideas from the week before that make it through your filters.
@April 14, 2022 4:05 PM (EDT)
Feedback Gym Notes
4/14/22 - 4pm ET
Thanks to Ken, Karena, Rueben, Chris, Cam
- It can be tricky to determine how much context to give new readers. No context leaves them confused. Too much context gives them bored. How can you convey context in an interesting way, so that it appeals to both beginners and experts?
- Write your first draft for yourself. Write your second draft for a stranger.
- The structure of our first draft often is the product of free-association. As we write one paragraph, something comes to mind, and so we jump into that idea. It’s like surfing your Roam graph. It’s like you’re a cartographer— you’re getting a sense of the whole terrain. However, don’t confuse your process of discovery as the most efficient directions for new travelers. (Karena)
- What’s the balance between transactional and transformational? (Ken)
- Some words clearly mean one thing. Other words can have various interpretations. If you use one of these words, it can change the color and meaning of an entire sentence of paragraph.
@April 14, 2022 11:58 AM (EDT)
Domain Hunters.. harpoons.. door-to-door.. blackmail— the makings of an Internet-Age action movie.. there must be some wild stories around high-traffic domains & domains with common names.
@April 14, 2022 9:44 AM (EDT)
Song of the Sausage Creature By Hunter S. Thompson - Narration
I loved this article so much I had to voice it over. Hunter S. Thompson test rides a Ducati and writes a review. While it's not all that informative it is of...
“There are some things nobody needs in this world.. and a bright-red hunchback warp-speed 900CC cafe racer is one of them.. But I want one anyways. And on some days I actually believe I need on. That is why they are dangerous.” — HTS
- “There are some [unnecessary]”.. (cliffhanger)
- “[detailed description] is one of them”.. (resolution)
- [Character confesses they want it].. (tension)
@April 14, 2022 9:41 AM (EDT)
Hunter S Thompson and Ralph Steadman - Weird and twisted nights.
Heard this on the documentary: Gonzo - the life and work of Hunter S Thompson. I like the song.If you're a fan or remotely interested in Hunter S Thompson, t...
@April 14, 2022 9:39 AM (EDT)
Dreaming of being a tile designer..
@April 14, 2022 9:24 AM (EDT)
Fleet Foxes - A Very Lonely Solstice
Fleet Foxes - A Very Lonely SolsticeAlbum Streaming Now * LP/CD Available Spring 2022Stream & Pre-Order: https://fleetfoxes.ffm.to/averylonelysolstice Availa...
@April 14, 2022 9:23 AM (EDT)
The way you pronounce every word is an opportunity to distinguish your singing voice.
@April 14, 2022 9:23 AM (EDT)
Covers let you focus on other things..
@April 13, 2022 4:04 PM (EDT)
Feedback Gym Notes 4/13/22 - 4pm ET
Thanks to Cam, Matt, Leo, Ken, Promeet, Danny
- It's easy for a backlog of essays to build up that have received feedback. As soon as you receive feedback, set up a calendar event so you block out time to implement and publish.
- Pop culture references are polarizing. If you mention “Squidward” in your essay, some people will instantly resonate, and others will be alienated. Use context clues so that people can find value, even if they’re unfamiliar.
- There are two ways to use imagery. 1) You can paint an immersive scenes, with multiple details around the same place. 2) In the context of a chain of logic, you use quick metaphors and phrases to help color your ideas.
- Getting good feedback from someone you’ve never met before can be a game-changer. Maybe you assumed that a certain type of personate wouldn’t resonate with your work, but then they do after you show them. It refines and puts a face on who your potential audience is.
- We had a discussion on data vs. stories. The truth is, data is often colored by the stories it’s wrapped within.
- Don’t poo-poo the scrap heap. At the bottom of your draft (sometimes referred to as the graveyard), are points that could be worth resurrecting, or, seeds for new essays.
@April 13, 2022 10:21 AM (EDT)
Just got an emergency alert in NY— a high-pitch fax machine siren— out of the mouth of an analog synth.. It’s been a long time since we’ve got any alerts here. Definitely since before the Russia fiasco. My first thought: “duck and cover!” In reality: “WANTED for Brooklyn Subway Shooting: Frank James, Black male, 62 years old. Any information can be directed to NYPD Tips..” Seems like the manhunt is ongoing.. Yesterday was scary. I know people in Industry City, and used to commute into that station, at that time, every morning, for 1-2 years. The whole situation is surreal. From the details I put together, he filled a subway cart with a smoke bomb [when it stopped in between stations], and then started shooting into the fog. From what I currently know, no one was killed. How? How is that possible on a rush-hour subway? I’m left wondering, was he trying to kill anyone? Did the fog force him to aim blindly into mist— or, did he intentionally aim low, only looking to cause city-wide panic? Is this the psychologically traumatizing shooting in NYC history?
@April 12, 2022 6:08 PM (EDT)
I wrote “omw” to my trainer since I was late for our session, and my phone auto-corrected it to “On my way!” and I sent it by accident. An AI made the executive decision to twist my tone. It assumes “omw” to be an error, not an intentional use of casual slang. “On my way” would’ve been fine, but the exclamation mark is a symbol that should be used with great responsibility and tact. /s
@April 12, 2022 4:06 PM (EDT)
Feedback Gym Notes 4/12/22 - 4pm ET
Thanks Cam, Chris, Ken, and Leo
- There’s a skill in how you interpret feedback. Whiplash is the feeling of getting shaken up by too much feedback, or, contradictory feedback. With time, you’ll feel more comfortable turning down suggestions.
- Don’t throw Feedback Grenades. It’s not helpful to dive into someone’s draft, dump all of your ideas and reactions, and then let them sort it out themselves. Suggest what their next step might be.
- The main goal of feedback is to improve the essay you’re helping out on. Treat it like you’re co-writing with them and you want it to be the best it can be.
- As a feedback giver, it’s important to establish rapport early on. Show that you see the end goal they’re going for. If you can’t do that, then the writer might not trust any critical suggestions you give them.
- For early essays, it can be helpful to ask questions, riff, go on tangents, and get into the weeds on ideas. For almost finished essays, it helps to be tactical, specific, and focused.
- It helps to be real and accept if you haven’t found your “shiny dime” yet. False hope misguides you into thinking you’re almost done with your essay. By accepting the main idea isn’t clear enough, it lets you make bold moves to discover what matters most.
- There are two ends of the feedback spectrum— group-feedback <> 1:1. There is value to each side, and it’s probably best to shift back and forth between the two.
@April 12, 2022 2:31 PM (EDT)
Comedian Mike Lawrence Works on His Latest Joke // ALL DAY
Ever wonder how comedians refine their jokes? We tagged along with Mike Lawrence as he performed at 3 different NYC comedy clubs and learned how the man who ...
@April 12, 2022 12:51 PM (EDT)
Feedback Gym Notes 4/12/22 - 12pm ET
Thanks to Melissa for hosting!
Also thanks to Kelly, Rik, Khyati, and John
- First drafts often have most of the ideas you need, they’re just severely out of balance. It’s common for a 1-2 sentence exploration to actually deserves it’s own section. First drafts might contain a handful of these dense, non-obvious nuggets. They’re hidden within 80% bloat. It’s a game of “needle in the haystack.”
- If you’re sharing a throwaway draft, tell your editor! “I plan to re-write this, but give it a read and let me know the 1-2 themes you’d like me to unpack and focus on.” They won’t obsess over the details, and they’ll help you synthesize instead.
- Look in between your Google comments. Do you have a streak of paragraphs that have no comments? Were there no sentences that were good or bad enough to comment on? You can’t know for sure how these dry patches are performing, but you can almost always benefit from compression.
- It can be valuable to duplicate a draft before sharing it so new readers have fresh eyes.
- We often attempt to compress our essay down to a one-sentence summary to include when we share or distribute. This can be tricky. Through iteration, you can test out a bunch of sentences until you capture the essence. But— you could also “start with the Tweet.” Keep your summary sentence at the top of your doc and adjust it as you go.
@April 12, 2022 9:53 AM (EDT)
Reaction to a draft from Charlie Becker:
As a culture, we're becoming overwhelmed with information-- we're numb and lazy. So we rely on writers & feeds to curate things for us. When we trust these curations (who have incentives to exaggerate and shock) without verifying-- it can slowly warp our worldview. As this trend accelerates-- it becomes important to remember "active research.” We need to get our hands dirty in the source material.
@April 12, 2022 8:54 AM (EDT)
I remember first hearing this laying on the carpet of Colin’s living room some time in 2016. It sounds like psychedelic lounge music.
@April 11, 2022 4:40 PM (EDT)
Feedback Gym Notes 4/11/22 - 4-5pm ET Thanks to Cam, Karena, Chris, Swarupa, Ken, Ruben
- A prompt isn’t something you answer once. Your whole writing portfolio can be based around answering a single prompt over and over. The Profile (a popular newsletter) is basically Polina Pompliano doing the Curation assignment every week. Don’t worry about finding new prompts. You can answer the same 5 Write of Passage prompts again, but in a completely new way.
- Writers are intimately familiar wit how their own ideas are connected. Readers aren’t. It can be helpful to explicitly tie parts of your essay together. Don’t fear being too blatant or obvious. You can be subtle and nuanced in the details, but be blatant around the core themes of the piece (generally).
- It’s easy to spot repetitive and bloated language in someone else’s essay. But for our own writing, every word feels precious. We have blindspots. What are some tricks to get around them? Edit your work in a different medium. Print your work and cross things out with a red pen (like Paul Graham). Or, edit on your phone— when you scroll through your essay with your thumb, it makes you feel like a reader.
- A funny hack to kill your darlings: write your drafts in Comic Sans or other grotesque fonts. Don’t let mediocre words hide behind designer fonts.
- Weight lifters train in weighted vests. Baseball players swing their bat with a weighted doughnut before they step up to the plate. It makes their bat seem lighter when it matters.. What is the writing equivalent of this?
- An exercise to try: write for 20-30 minutes with no editing or deleting allowed. If it helps, remove your backspace key, or, use blindfolds. Typos are encouraged. The goal isn’t to have a workable draft. The goal is to only move forward— as fast as you can— letting your mind fire off on associated ideas. Read your draft back— highlight the best 3-5 sentences or ideas worth unpacking— and then delete the rest.
- A unique role of the editor in a 1:1 feedback session is the power to ask questions. Instead of telling them what you think they should do, you can ask questions. Asking the right question can help them unlock what they’re looking for on their own. If someone is struggling to bring in a personal experience, you can ask them a bunch of targeted questions to unpack the details of a specific moment in time.
- You can think of your draft as a series of subconscious answers to fuzzy questions. Look at each paragraph. What question is this an answer to? If you can reduce your whole draft down to a series of questions, you’ll see which questions are missing. By answering those missing questions, you’ll fill in the holes of your essay.
@April 11, 2022 10:49 AM (EDT)
, to subdivide a single thought -- to expand upon a thought : to unpack an implication / to show an alternate . to end a thought paragraph break to shift to the next idea
@April 11, 2022 7:26 AM (EDT)
Links to music for writing:
- Pink Floyd, live in San Diego 1971
- Olivia Tremor Control-- explanations II (1990s)
- Brian Eno -- Apollo (1983)
- Khrungbin -- Mordechai (2020)
- Tipsy - Uh Oh! (2001)
- Bill Evans- live 1965
- (Mother Earth's) Plantasia -- 1976
- Grateful Dead - Dark Star, Veneta OR 8/27/72
@April 11, 2022 6:31 AM (EDT)
Sometimes there’s a tension around logging personal experience. I can’t mention certain people or situations without permission. But I wonder if I can encrypt everything with alter-egos and pseudonyms so that it makes sense to me, but nobody else.
@April 11, 2022 6:30 AM (EDT)
Meditation 3: 5 minutes.. just focused on breathing, while visualizing an object expanding and contracting, in sync with my breathe.
@April 10, 2022 4:20 PM (EDT)
From a blank page, you can start in two ways: 1) creating blocks and arranging them.. this gives you a blurry sense of the whole, but it’s often void of voice.. and 2) diving straight into the details.. this is writing with life, but there’s no sense of the whole.. I find that excitement in an essay arrives after oscillating between both approaches. Once I get a glimpse of the full shape, and once even a few of my blocks are in high resolution— I have motivation to finish.
@April 10, 2022 3:15 PM (EDT)
The courage to be disliked is something that has to be learned through experience.
@April 10, 2022 9:58 AM (EDT)
The parallels between feedback and persuasion. It’s critical to establish early on that you’re on the same team. If you open with anger, it’s hard to trust your editor.
@April 10, 2022 9:35 AM (EDT)
A personal library is a reflection of your curiosity. One of the reasons I buy physical books is so that there will be a place in the house where my kids can look at my curiosities externalized. I’m always fascinated to look through my late-grandpas book shelf.
@April 9, 2022 9:35 AM (EDT)
Universal incompetence.. In a world of specialization and automation, we’re all incompetent at most things.
@April 9, 2022 9:07 AM (EDT)
When the waitress steals your plate without asking.. there’s this baked-in assumption that it’s unnecessary to devour the crumbs like a savage.
@April 9, 2022 9:01 AM (EDT)
Robots have infiltrated the local supermarket. In addition to the dysfunctional self checkout machines, there is an R2-D2 who roams the aisles with an unclear purpose.
@April 9, 2022 9:01 AM (EDT)
An ancient jukebox at the diner which hasn’t been updated since Now 2.
@April 9, 2022 7:22 AM (EDT)
An essay about the psychology of my Doberman.. He looks scary, and if you project fear, he gets insecure and becomes frightening. He’s actually insecure and dopey in his norm state. I wonder where else fear-based feedback loop occurs.
@April 8, 2022 5:16 PM (EDT)
Feedback Gym Notes 4/8/22 - 4-5pm ET Thanks to Charlie, Juliet, Leo, Cam, Ken, Karaminder, Karena
- Writing & editing are two different mindsets. If you wait a day or two to revisit your piece, you'll come at with fresh eyes , like an editor on someone else's essay. In your first draft, maybe it's alright to explore a huge range of ideas-- knowing that in 1-2 days, you'll come back with the space knowing the single idea worth taking further
- Sometimes it can be detrimental to use big section headers too early in a draft. It can prevent us from seeing the granularity & structure of our thinking. The act of "reverse outlining" is about making a bulleted list of all the ideas we covered in a draft. By compressing our draft down to a short outline, it's easier to re-arrange.
- It can be quicker to re-write full paragraphs than to edit existing ones. Don't delete them immediately. They're helpful to reference as you re-write. Maybe compression is less about filtering and more about synthesis.
- It's okay to write multiple essays about the same thing. Even if you find yourself writing the same essay every 4 months, each time you're a more mature writer when you approach it. You have control over how your body of writing is presented-- and can always feature the latest and greatest.
- Cam has an idea for a live event where you get to pitch an idea for 1-2 minutes, and then have 30-50 people or so give their reaction in the chat. It could be really helpful to get ideas out of your head, and to kickstart the process knowing the "temperature" of an idea. This kind of feedback is "high quantity, low depth"-- and as you develop the essay, your feedback shifts into "low quantity, high depth."
@April 8, 2022 10:32 AM (EDT)
Dark Roast Coffee, London Fog, Salmon Benedict, Omelettes, Bananas, Orange Juice, Sparkling Water, Cashew Queso, Pepper Jack Cheese, Sliced Jalapenos, Grilled Chicken Salad, Sushi (spicy tuna, spicy salmon, eel), Seared Ahi Tuna Steak, Swordfish, Steak (medium rare), Chocolate Lava Cake, IPAs, Moscow Mules
@April 8, 2022 8:23 AM (EDT)
the power of pausing before starting anything
@April 8, 2022 6:52 AM (EDT)
- Breathing (2 minutes)
- On some sort of ship.. not far from shore.. dusk.. cloudy..a book in hand.
- The texture of leaves
- 2006.. in Greece.. the feeling of sunburn
- Goal today: “The goal today is to be present.. that’s a stupid goal... The goal today is to use my log to remain thoughtful and composed throughout the day.”
@April 7, 2022 6:51 PM (EDT)
- Deciding to run Otter as I meditate so I can dictate what’s happening. I confirm that I’m muted on Zoom, and state out loud 3x that “I feel comfortable dictating whatever arises.”
- 3 deep breathes. I notice my balance shifting.
- I’m at the Christmas Tree Farm in the summer. Sky is the deepest blue. Greens. Then it shifts to reds, yellows, and oranges— a stale dessert.. A sequences of paintings of western landscapes.. And, then a cactus of surreal character.. Mental noise. Fade to black.
- I’m scaling inwards, but than have this “start-stop” kind of effect. It’s as if my environment is scaling down, but my perspective is staying the same, and then I reset. I figure out how to scale both my “environment” and “perception” down at the same time, and it feels as if I shrink to the point where I’m microscopic.
- Inside of a subway car.. an old man.. I see his hand on the pole.. and the brown blemishes on his white skin.. his face is a cartoon. My mind tries to figure out who he is, and I realize— it doesn’t matter: this is mental noise.
- I ask myself, “Where to aim?” There is one form of “active imagination,” where you get sucked into random images. Yet, there’s another form, where you intentionally guide your consciousness. You give a conscious frame for your subconscious to fill in.. Again— “where to aim?”
- Realizing the stress I’ve felt today is so insignificant to the big picture... I see May through September as a key season for me. Embrace any turbulence and relaxation in April. A season is coming of razor focus, output, collaboration, and creativity.
- What is a way to “wrap” my May-September insight into a symbol? Maybe something about creating “gates” so that attention is protected.
- That thought suddenly put me in a suit of armor on a horse. We’re stationary. I can feel the rope in my hand. I move my hand left and right to feel the texture of the rope.. We start riding forward. I feel the shake up and down.
- Then a flash of white. Pinks and yellows. A field of simple colors and happy circles turns into intimidating mathematical complexity. Compositions with angles, and patterns, and fractals. Sensing a kind of warning in getting immersed in detail.
- Shifting from the visual field to self-reflective thought. I wonder if meditation can be used to ponder the scope of work for the day. Sometimes I only have 30 seconds to determine what to do, and then just rush into it. I get lost in the first task. But if you meditate on the nature of the project, you can feel the tension. You can articulate the one task worth doing, or, conceive a shift in how you shape the whole project.. Don’t be a victim of thoughtlessness.
- Certain things can take on complexity and spontaneity. ie: Personal writing and editing. But “project—focused” work should be anticipated and gated. Pick one high-leverage thing for the day and get into a flow with it.. Other than that— set one hour to batch process all of the micro tasks.
- The visual field is shimmering with static.. A fuzzy image of the Vatican emerges.. high ceilings.. flying gargoyles.. Just for a split second.. It’s heavy.. I try to focus on it, but it’s gone.. Then suddenly, I’m in the backyard of one of my high school friends.
- “Okay Google, stop.” (15 minutes is up)
@April 7, 2022 6:17 PM (EDT)
I see the potential in a daily group that focuses on journaling and meditation. Accountability groups can be extremely effective. They don’t inherently work. I’ll admit to having joined a daily writing group for 100 days without publishing anything (end of 2020). But, these groups can be extremely powerful if shaped properly.
My big open question is on timing. Right now it’s 6pm. I have open-loops from the day tugging at me. I have to pick my wife up from the train in under an hour. This feels like a time where I want to be in a detail-oriented manager mode. There are two paths here: 1) Try to develop this habit at a different time (7am ET or 9pm ET).. 1a) on my own, 1b) with a partner who prefers that time).. or, 2) Use this group as a FORCING FUNCTION to wrap up my days by 6pm (that sounds beautiful).
A whole separate point is the value in dedicating a solid 20 minutes each day to “active imagination.” It’s a very specific type of meditation, inspired by Carl Jung. I committed to this on and off in 2021. I was un-reliable with it, but when I stuck to it, the results were insane. It involves a few minutes of breathe-work, then some warm-up visualizations, followed by a full plunge into subconscious terrains (almost like a lucid dream). My results have gone from completely underwhelming, to, feeling like I made contact with some kind of entity. Self-suggestibility and hypnosis probably play a role in this, but it feels like a discipline that lets you explore and “edit” parts of your psyche.. I probably sound nuts trying to explain this stuff. The more I write about this realm, the more articulate I’ll get.
1 > 4 > 8 > 5
@April 7, 2022 6:14 PM (EDT)
A few things went wrong today:
1) A breakdown in my daily systems
2) Attending to a “fire”— something urgent that was unaccounted for.
@April 7, 2022 5:05 PM (EDT)
Feedback Gym Notes 4/7/22 - 4-5pm ET
- Sometimes you need to draft 3,000 words to be able to summarize your piece in 3 words, so you can then write a 300 word essay.
- Ken can run a 5:33 minute mile
- Cut out filler words. Be careful with phrases like "I think."
- Before you know the shiny dime, it doesn't make sense to polish sentences.
- The "phase change method"-- going from text>audio>text, or video>text>video. Temporarily shifting into a medium can help you refine your idea. ie: As you read your essay out loud to a friend, take notice of how you compress, abbreviate, or re-phrase. Record it.
- Playfulness is often the gap between IRL personality and voice on the page.
@April 7, 2022 8:55 AM (EDT)
Realizing how much better my songwriting could be if I compose over loops. The patterns and technical details are better suited for melodies. Once I have a few patterns that interlock over something that is DEAD simple— only then does it make sense to mess with progressions and modulations.. Of course, this is just one style, but it’s a style that I think would play into my strengths.
@April 6, 2022 8:35 PM (EDT)
When we write we have blindspots. We’re so close to the idea that we can’t see it in it’s full nature. Editors and friends come in like a mirror, to give us a full three-dimensional sense of what we’re doing.
In the short-game: feedback uncovers ideas
In the long-game: feedback uncovers identity
@April 6, 2022 6:48 PM (EDT)
There are two ends of “privacy” to the feedback spectrum. One side is high-volume public analytics. The other is private 1:1 high-density interactions. Both are important, but in the early days, 1:1 is way more valuable.
@April 6, 2022 6:48 PM (EDT)
Write of Passage is a sprint— In between cohorts, it’s a marathon.
@April 6, 2022 11:04 AM (EDT)
I have a ludacris idea for a story about me turning into a pencil. I think of it like a cover on Kafka’s Metamorphosis. This one is called “Eraser Head.” (unrelated to the David Lynch film)
“As Michael Dean awoke one morning from the dream of becoming a “real” writer, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic HB #2 pencil.” [mimic the first line, but then deviate]
Map of the story:
- Descriptions of what it’s like having a pencil body
- Slender yellow tube, ridges
- Elongated, hanging off the front of the bed
- Nervous system of heavy frozen lead
- No arms, no fingers— Paranoia: how am I going to send my newsletter?
- Express no concern about a mutated body
- Awfully hard to be an online writer without fingers
- Gaze fixed up at the ceiling, no neck
- Head was just a massive eraser
- Roll-over to left—
- Poster of Kafka/Vonnegut (autograph?)— detail of room
- Space Grey Macbook— latest newsletter loaded in ConvertKit
- All 103 subscribers, the horror of ghosting them
- Hint that I’m not sure if I’m dreaming or not
- Strange delirium— couldn’t move, like this all day- ask wife
- Wife not interested in my writing— but she had to help me out
- Roll-over to the right
- Rolling as the only form of mobility
- Takes her a while to fully wake up
- 20 seconds before her brain turns on— communicate through grunts
- Finally— “Hey shmoop— Can you help me out with something?”
- Words came out— groteseuq— all jumbled
- Look of confusion, horror, and then a scream
- Confirms— I am literally a pencil, not a delusion
- Situation is serious— really should have pre-scheduled edition 2
- Still not showing any issue with being a pencil
- More concerned about his insignificant newsletter
- Trying to calm down wife
- Terrified, confused, sad about future
- Dream of starting a family is ruined
- Me trying to convince her of the opportunity
- More details about how she REALLY doesn’t care about my writing
- She refused to help me out of bed
- Roll off the bed— BANG, stuck on the floor
- She helps me up
- Ability to balance up-right
- Can wiggle on the floor, hop around, able to move!
- Wife freaks out— staining the floor with lead
- Mother-in-law downstairs— hears the noise on the floorboards
- What is that up there?
- How will she react to this?
- Wife goes to clean it— realizes there are words on the floor
- As she reads them— amazed— she gets it
- I’m not even aware or consciously trying to write, I’m just moving
- Wife experiences a sudden (and unrealistic) transformation
- She finally believes in my writing
- She wants to be my agent
- Flash-forward: our writing routine
- She sets up a vellum scroll down the hallway
- I simply move across it— stories accidentally come out
- She re-types them, sends to my Substack— great success!
- Problem: she notices each day I get shorter and shorter
- Wasn’t sure at first
- Now, top of my head is bellow the door knob
- Running out of lead
- What happens when I’m out? Death?
- Finally— I’m just an eraser (Eraser head)
- She’s devastated—
- I realize I have a new destiny
- Can no longer write, only erase
- Not a writer, but an editor
- Twist/Last paragraph:
- A complete switch in voice
- A parody advertisement for The Writing Studio
- Written like a copy-editor
- Humor in how such a delirious story is tied to a real-life effort
- It’s the last thing you would expect at the end of a Kafka-esque story
@April 6, 2022 10:39 AM (EDT)
Looping is how a lot of songwriters write the melody of a chorus. They’ll loop a 10 second clip over and over, humming something each time, always tweaking it, until they find the right one.
@April 6, 2022 10:12 AM (EDT)
Shamanism is a form of religious practice independent from the use of ayahuasca. Think of consciousness-altering plants as a biological shortcut to enter into these realms without years of training.
@April 6, 2022 9:52 AM (EDT)
1— Unconscious incompetence
2— Conscious incompetence
3— Conscious competence
4— Unconscious competence
@April 6, 2022 7:39 AM (EDT)
@April 6, 2022 7:35 AM (EDT)
Notes on looping:
- Read like a writer. Instead of reading entire books, find a section that emotionally resonates with you, and read it over and over. It’s less about finishing or collecting facts. Looping lets you analyze, dissect, and reverse engineer something that you want to recreate yourself. I see Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf is a book that influenced my writing. In reality, I only read the first 10 pages, but I’ve re-read it over 5 times, and I’ve underlined, highlighted, and written about why it’s so good.
- Looping is a huge part of editing too. I get the feeling that some writers don't feel comfortable re-reading what they write more than once. (Similar to how it can be weird watching yourself on video). But solid writing comes from being willing to re-read and tweak a paragraph 5-10 times.
- I'm going to start looking for examples of looping outside of writing
@April 5, 2022 8:10 PM (EDT)
Months 0-6: Deciding if I should do the thing
Months 7-9: Doing the thing seriously, v1, but flawed strategy
Month 10-12: Failure and burnout
Months 13-23: Starting from scratch on a simplified v2
Months 24-27: Rogue experimentation
Month 28: Embarking upon v3
@April 5, 2022 11:23 AM (EDT)
My writing system has 3 “scales” to it— small, medium, and large.
- logloglog is where I log my daily thoughts throughout the day
- The benefits:
- A journal of my thoughts and experience
- Everything is all in one place (searchable)
- Experiment with language (prose practice)
- There’s a daily process (15-30 minutes) of:
- Creating “daily blocks” (see archive)
- Moving old thoughts from the main log into the archive
- Posting day blocks on Twitter
- Preserving the most promising logs:
- Copying them into “essay blocks” in Notion
- Sharing the best logs as Tweets or Threads
Atomic Essays (medium):
- I’d like to post short (300-600 word) essays every day
- This shouldn’t take more than 45-60 minutes
- Knock this out during a daily writing gym
- The goal here is to create a “colosseum of ideas”
- Writing doesn’t need to be perfect
- Writing doesn’t even need feedback
- What matter is taking the best logs & rendering them at a slightly higher quality
- On weekends, I can do “meal prep for writing” - 60 minutes
- Select 5 ideas to knock out on week days
- Gather notes & work out an outline
- This lets you show up and start writing immediately later in the week
- Might as well share screenshots of these on Twitter
- I’ve decided that I want to distribute my best writing through email (instead of treating it as a post-card or link aggregator).
- I can publish an edition roughly every 2 weeks, at 2,000 words.
- Note: not tied to a word length, cadence, or topic
- The Feedback Gym is my mechanism to keep momentum on these.
- 60 minutes each day in the Feedback Gym
- Another 60-90 minutes each day to incorporate changes & write
- I can write a thread through ThreadX to promote each edition
- 1-2 days before
- By time
- Daily— 180-240— 3-4 hours of writing
- 1-2 hours of solo writing (knock out in the early morning)
- 2 hours of social writing (writing & feedback gyms)
- 1 hour - Atomic essay meal prep
- 1 hour - Thread to promote newsletter
- By platform
- Everything exists on my website
- Twitter (~3/day)
- Daily block— a running Twitter thread linking to my logs
- Best logs— as a Tweet or Thread
- Daily atomic essay— Typeshare or Screenshot
- Newsletter promo— as a thread, feedback tested
- Newsletter (2-4 per month)
@April 5, 2022 8:52 AM (EDT)
I like to conduct my bi-annual reviews when my mouth is full of blood. The dentist’s office is a great place for strategic thinking. The act of deep reflection is enough of a mental load to distract me from the gum pricks and the high-pitched drills...
“Short, Medium, Long.” That's my takeaway. It's a fully functioning writing system that can have logs, atomic essays, and newsletters all happening at once. In the past, I could only focus on one scale at a time. The goal now is for all the scales to feed into one another.
@April 4, 2022 9:08 PM (EDT)
Numbers to leave numbers— The Art of Learning.
@April 4, 2022 5:04 PM (EDT)
The good, the true, and the beautiful.. A Platonic framework.. If I had to rank them in importance: 1) The beautiful, 2) The good, 3) The true.. If something has aesthetic or emotional power, and if it is shaped with good intentions, then it doesn’t matter if it’s true.
@April 4, 2022 11:29 AM (EDT)
Feedback & ideas on ThreadX:
- The ability to drag and drop to re-arrange
- Emoji button
- Ability to customize the reactions I’m looking for
@April 4, 2022 11:18 AM (EDT)
When it comes to building an online presence, it’s important to think about how “flexible” your differentiator is. If you say, I’m the X guy, focusing on a, b, c— you are bound to those constraints. Yet, if your differentiator is around voice or format— and those things are built off your personality, then you have flexibility to follow your curiosities and write about whatever you want.
@April 4, 2022 7:13 AM (EDT)
“The days of usenet, irc, the web... even email (with PGP)... were amazing. centralizing discovery and identity into corporations really damaged the internet. I realize I’m partially to blame, and regret it.” - Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey, ex-CEO of Twitter says he is "partially to blame" for the state of the Internet today, and "regrets it."
The conspiracy subreddit is a thinking ground. Above all else, we respect everyone's opinions and ALL religious beliefs and creeds. We hope to challenge issues which have captured the public's imagination, from JFK and UFOs to 9/11. This is a forum for free thinking, not hate speech.
@April 3, 2022 11:05 AM (EDT)
Notes from a call with someone living in Russia:
- McDonald's in Russia— the corporate branches have shut down, but local franchises are still running.. They were asked to shut down, but aren’t, and with no consequences.
- Hershey’s Chocolate— by Europeans, Hershey’s is seen as sour and acidic.
- Artichokes are more expensive than caviar
- The bananas are shaped differently since they’re coming from Indonesia instead of Latin America
- It will soon be hard to get US-banded electronics— Something as simple as printer ink will have to be ordered from China.
- Streaming services are gone, but torrents are back in style
- Western media isn’t covering any aggression by Ukrainians towards Russian civilians— ie: kidnapping a mayor’s daughter.. or sending bomb threats to civilian Russian airports
- Russia is retreating on their ground invasion, but the fear is that it could lead to a new phase of their “strategic operation.”
- Russian propaganda is saying that US sanctions will back-fire and cause the collapse of the US dollar
- Germany has warned of a potential heating crisis next winter. They’re relatively landlocked from where they usually receive oil from. Because of prices and shortages, port countries (Italy) are going to use most of it for themselves.
@April 3, 2022 8:11 AM (EDT)
I wonder if attaining your dream can be boiled down to [ability] x [circumstance]. Ability is something both natural and trainable, but the harder of the two variables is circumstance. If you go from 1>10 in ability, but the circumstance is 0.1 or 0, then the ability you’ve nurtured has no leverage. As important as fostering your ability is the discovery of circumstances that can multiply your ability. In so many cases, your hometown, parents, or college will lead you down a circumstance that has no correlation with your ability. Without rebelling against your circumstance, you’ll always assume your ability has some kind of local-cap, or that your dreams are worth abandoning completely. Early in life, when responsibilities are lighter, there is the opportunity to make radical shifts in circumstance, to see how your abilities fare in different cases. Once you find a domain with traction instead of friction, stick with it. Later in life, the pivots in circumstance are slighter.
@April 2, 2022 7:41 PM (EDT)
walking up from Union Square after a mindless stroll through Barnes and Noble.. Trap music beams from a speaker in a push cart, while a vested man baby talks to his dog.. The Subway roars through vents.. I have an 8:18 train to catch.. I could take the subway, but I prefer the above ground swarm of memes, genes, laughter, and bicycles.. Everyone is executing some kind of script, including me.. The empire state building ahead.. Enjoying a normal walk.. the brights of oncoming traffic and the shadows on the construction tarp to my right are weirdly peaceful.. pondering how my impressions of New York City over the last decade were inseparable from my circumstances and personality.. Even though I've lived in New York my whole life, the city feels like a blank state with the new circumstance I see ahead.. I'm skeptical when someome tries to blanket categorize a city.. People watching again— it's interesting to look at each passing group or person and make a very specific guess on the scripts they're running.. Even if I'm completely wrong, it reveals two things— 1) the sheer range of possible activity happening in any given area, and 2) the limitations of what you think a “script” can be.. You realize how your flash assumptions about your world are just caricatures based on your past experience.. I'm starting to get light headed— every passing person generates a visual field of imagined experience— and while fake, is causing some weird tingling sensations.. Even if the specifics of the ecstasy and tragedy are completely wrong— the range and power are true in the average— and that experience in the aggregate is like a surge of empathy.. And in some strange coincidence, most people in public are strangely put together, while at odd moments that youll never see, they too were struck with ineffable experience.. And here comes the motorcycle gang.. 30 bandits doing wheelies with 36” wide tires.. Finally on the escalator down into Penn.. Train leaves in 3.. passing the fancy escalator in a demo zone.. Going down on the track 15 escalators reminds me of the times I'd commute all the way back to Wyandanch. I made it.
@April 2, 2022 6:55 PM (EDT)
Consider how the point-of-purchase medium in book stores affected the art of the book cover (big obnoxious letters)
@April 2, 2022 6:52 PM (EDT)
Beautiful Spanish music in Union Square.. Low BPM with crooning horns and desperate poetry in a jagged tone
@April 2, 2022 5:26 PM (EDT)
Attitudes around death, frames behavior in other aspects of life.. this is basically the ultimate fear.. If you can sit with ideas around it, you’re likely to be able to approach other ideas that induce fear.. fear as the ultimate blocker
@April 2, 2022 4:57 PM (EDT)
Relentless muting— an alternate to the strategy of the feed vs. the list.
@April 2, 2022 4:41 PM (EDT)
Art as an outlet for aggression.
@April 2, 2022 2:46 PM (EDT)
I remember the lobby of the Bank America tower, the talk on cemeteries and architecture with Matt, and meeting Jan by the fountain.
@April 2, 2022 1:32 PM (EDT)
The red-vested Jesus parade cries for heaven through megaphones on a sidewalk lined with rags.. 2 for $5..sirens, kebab smoke, and cold air fill my nostrils.. New York feels normal, upgraded even, with scaffolding made to look like a church.. “Urban Umbrella” is the brand of scaffolding.. I stroll through it like a two-legged mitochondria, sifting through the densest heap of human capital ever accrued.. all these buildings were uncoordinated, maybe even accidental..if there ever was an architect of this city, it was likely a demon in a tornado of colossal power.. regardless, the end-result is a beautiful mess.. excuse my non-sense I’m typing while jaywalking.. On 38th street.. outside a gift shop with New York stereotypes, there are two radios within earshot— one speaking of Gordon Ramsey, and the other on the Kremlin.. I see a Diva, a wheel-chaired construction worker, and a man who looks like a taxi cab.. a street vendor selling Native American Dreamcatchers and playing elevator flute music reminds me of the original purchase of Manhattan for $26 USD.. I can walk by coughers on the sidewalk without paranoia because I’m triple vaxx’d now.. we’re two years out, the virus is hibernating, and summer is near.. “marijuana, pre-rolls, any edibles ladies?” Street deals in broad daylight within eyeshot of the west’s Mecca.. I’m assuming these are synthetic replicas.. I see a man, sitting crossed legged against a building, bearded, cigarette smoking like he could be an album cover.. I can’t comprehend the vast ranges of past experience behind the swarms of people I see every 10 seconds.. out of every 100 people here, one could’ve been a Persian princess, and another Hitler, if dealt a different circumstance.. spray painters and caricature artists outside of Ruby Tuesdays, and a five year old in a stroller.. I look west at an intersection and see Port Authority and the edges of 8th Street, where I used to have a recording space.. the man in front of me is growling incoherently.. a woman on the corner with a short red polka dotted skirt, and big Minnie Mouse ears.. we are in Mascot territory.. the first billboard I see in Time Square is a marquee that says, “gay, bisexual, transgender, queer,” on loop over and over, finally resolving every 15 seconds with the logo of a meditation app.. the graphic designers at Taco Bell are obviously on psychedelics..as I look east a woman walking next to me look west and we exchange a direct glance in a crowd where no one is speaking English anymore.. I catch a glance of myself in a glass storefront and notice how strange my toothpick legs look like in contrast to my clunky shoes.. A Woman in her 50s with long aging hair looks up at a skyscraper, smiling in genuine wonder.. I look down as I type this log, stationary, and part the sea of an approaching mass of pedestrians.. Plastic surgery face.. I arrive at Time Square— at that iconic perspective, and everyone is here: Elmo, Batman, Cyborgs, an 11’ Statue of Liberty on stilts, wedding photographers.. it’s my first time here since all the Russia paranoia and nuclear dick-waving.. the flash is a slim chance, but for just a second I consider that I could be here painting the peak of civilization into my phone at the very moment before it all evaporates.. a black teenager sits alone at a chess table, waiting for an opponent, playing digital chess on his phone in the mean-time.. it’s games all the way up and down.. a kaleidoscope of social life, with varying shades of casualness.. I sit for a second to look around and see if there are any other people-watchers.. there are, I’d say 15% of us here are un-lodged from this hypnotic place, paying no credence to Mandy Moore’s glowing skin on her 50-foot-face.. she is the Goddess of Time Square today, but she has handlers.. I look at the street signs and realize I overshot my destination by 5 blocks.. On the walk back I confront another 3 synthetic weed dealers spaced 10 feet apart.. “sour, haze, kush, pre-roll.” Then I see a TikTok video in the making.. Spotify ads show a man in a cowboy hat and space suit. Minnie Mouse took her mask off and she looks sad.. I lean to my right to avoid an aggressively low pigeon.. A fight breaks out among a group selling mixtapes but it looks like they were just joking. Bryant Park is in sight. I came here every day for two years to work a corporate gig, but I mostly forgot all the spots in the area.. A kid with long wavy hair is sprinting. Horns, wind, chatter, and the neurons of 127 soon to blossom trees.. I see a face that looks identical to my ex-girlfriend from high school.. I step foot into the park.. portraits, more chess, so many screens, a rare sketchbook, grins, selfies, a defeated napper, Mexicali music, salads, ping pong.. The Lawn is closed, and I find my way to my spot on the steps in front of the Library. I'm an hour and a half early to meet Isabel. Going to put on some music and take a break from logging. Excited to read this all back: an ordinary walk from Penn Station to Bryant Park.
@April 2, 2022 1:09 PM (EDT)
At the bottom each newsletter, I could include buttons to let readers “vote” on the next edition’s topic. (If I use ConvertKit).
@April 2, 2022 11:45 AM (EDT)
Michael Dean’s Chameleon.. is it a newsletter or a pet?
@April 2, 2022 9:08 AM (EDT)
The most important thing I can do with my newsletter in the early stages is set the expectation that each edition will be wildly different. Create a cadence that is unexpected and fun to follow along. Some editions I might be an asshole, some editions I might be technical, some editions I might be vulnerable. An inherent part of this approach is to be misunderstood by anyone who can only dip in for a single edition.
@April 2, 2022 9:06 AM (EDT)
From December-January— I was immersed in concepts around “fluid identity.” In February-March, I naturally got absorbed into a professional identity. I almost lost sight of many of the insights I came to from that winter state of exploration.
@April 2, 2022 9:05 AM (EDT)
Artificially-generated photos of your future children on the wall (x)
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