Your Rickshaw Weeklinks: Flip it, shorten it, question it, critique it, minimize it, continue it, notice it, and get it.

8 things we found worth sharing this week.

  1. FLIP IT. Another way to look at the world, shared by Vicki, originally Tweeted by @MapScaping. All maps are flawed, but some are useful.

  2. SHORTEN IT. Daryl Chen wrote a haiku every day for a week and wrote an article about it. It might seem silly, but that’s sort of the point.

    cat ate my haiku 
    he licked his chops and said, it 
    could have been much verse
    — Daryl

  1. QUESTION IT. Based on this article about a idea of planting so many trees that the climate can’t help but recover, I asked on Twitter:

    And got a bunch of great replies, including this informative article from Betony:

    Lesson learned: especially when something fits right into your confirmation bias sweet spot, instead of assuming it’s true ask “what’s the best case against this?”

  2. CRITIQUE IT. This much-debated blog post by Mike Davidson criticizing Superhuman was a really great example (in my view) of how to provide direct feedback to a company without demonizing them. I annotated it with thoughts about the exact techniques he used, and why I thought they were so effective. One of those things is to not only criticise, but to also point super clearly to a path of repair, which, to their credit, Rahul and the Superhuman team seemed to be at least partially receptive to.

  3. MINIMIZE IT. Who wants to buy a plot of land and order a bunch of micro pre-fab houses and found a new city? You can apparently get a house for $20,000 on Amazon with Free Shipping. If you prefer to pay closer to the cost of a real home, there are plenty of ways to do that too.

  4. CONTINUE IT. There’s been a lot of discussion about this trend of life re-examination, and this story about Brian May (guitarist for Queen) finishing his PhD 37 years after he began it, is inspiring (hat tip to Nadja). One of the most active channels in the Rickshaw Discord community this week (reply if you want an invite!) has been in a new channel called #be-good-with-money. A few of us shared our work histories with salary numbers and have been comparing cost of living, mortgages, and all kinds of other weird numbers you normally wouldn’t share with strangers on the internet, except we’re all just having a mini-life-crisis/life-reevaluation together and it’s sorta fun. Here’s the first half of my career:

  5. NOTICE IT. If you haven’t seen this amazing infographic, now you have (click to see the animation):

  6. GET IT. Paul shared a link to this episode of Song Exploder, which is a really great podcast where musicians dissect songs they’ve written, letting people into the process that lead to their creation. The lovely episode with Big Thief’s song Cattails was relevant to a discussion because, in Paul’s words:

    Starting around six minutes in, one of the band members, Adrianne, describes a moment in the recording process when she and the band barely knew the song well enough to get through it and they were still performing it with the emotion that comes with creating something new. And that take got recorded and released. And this all reminded me of the first time I heard someone describe this—Brandi Carlile was interviewed by Elisabeth Moss at SxSW and called this "the rock n roll moment... when you know the song just well enough to get through it, but not so well that you know how cool it is. It only happens once.”


Thanks for reading. If this list of things isn’t interesting to you, you can unsubscribe here. If it is interesting, I’m always open to feedback and suggestions for improvement. If you’d like to join the Rickshaw Discord community where all these links were originally shared, just reply to this email and I’ll send you an invite.

Have a great week!

Buster

Weeklinks: color wheels, living in space, and how toilets work

8 things I found worth sharing this week.

  1. 5 COLORS: You may or may not be aware of Magic: the Gathering. It’s a card game where you build a deck of cards and essentially play a very complicated version of War against one or more other players. One thing that makes it complicated is the fact that there are 5 colors, or suits, or philosophies, for playing the game. White wants peace, Black wants power, Blue wants perfection, Red wants freedom, and Green wants acceptance. Each has its own ideology for how the world should be, and sees the other colors as potential obstacles in the way of that vision. ANYWAY, the thing I want to share is this fascinating article about how it’s possible to represent these 5 colors in a color wheel that cover a wide swath of ideology in a pleasant way, but what does the wheel look like from within each color? Surely Black doesn’t interpret White as just wanting peace, but rather see the desire for peace as a flawed strategy for gaining and using power appropriately. And, while it’s nice to see the color wheel from above, we’re each in the wheel seeing it from our location on the wheel, interpreting other colors from that perspective and also blind to how others see it from other perspectives. If that’s interesting, you’ll also love this article by Magic’s head designer, Mark Rosewater.

  2. WANING AMBITION: The 5 colors led to a discussion about age and ambition and Meep shared this Atlantic article. Many of us are somewhere in our late 30s to late 40s and are experiencing first-hand this feeling of career ambition losing its momentum. From the sampling of people in this group it seems like more of us are feeling this than have an outlet to talk about it.

  3. LIFE-PLANNING SYSTEMS: Jon Bell shared this amazing work-in-progress titled Cadence, by William Van Hecke. William describes it as: a pamphlet about my personal productivity and life-planning system, tentatively titled Cadence and jokingly titled Fetting Things Done. I love things like this, and also appreciate not taking them too seriously.

  4. ART-MAKING BOT: A question: “What if I wrote some code that would automatically make a square of art every hour? How could I make it interesting?” Jon got to work and called the experiment ArtBot.

  5. LIVING IN SPACE: I’m reading Wool (which is great) and recently came across the author, Hugh Howey, on Twitter. He’s had a couple threads about space travel and colonization recently that are both super contrarian and seem to be obvious at the same time.

    Thread 1 (click on it and read it through):

    Then come back and click on Thread 2 and read it through as well:

    Since he’s a science-fiction writer, I had to ask:

    Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction also creates strange truths sometimes.

  6. HOW TOILETS WORK: We sometimes think we know how things work better than we really do. Read this article below and then actually look up how toilets work, it’s not uninteresting!

  7. WEEKNOTES It’s the Week of the Elephant 🐘 for me, and this week will be good if I write to 3 more people about potentially offering blurbs for my book, I get in some exercise, and I make some progress on 750 Words. Nothing too ambitious on the plate this week, which is nice. Full #weeknotes here.

  8. BONUS: Oh, and I’m gonna finish watching Good Omens too. What a great show.

Thanks for reading. If this list of things isn’t interesting to you, you can unsubscribe here. If it is interesting, I’m always open to feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Have a great week!

Buster

Weeklinks

8 things I found worth sharing from the last week.

Hello friends!

Last week I decided to resurrect my Discord community to see if it might serve as a better “behind-the-scenes” community for the topics we’re all interested in. For those not familiar with Discord, it’s like Slack but a bit more focused on working well for interest-based communities. It’s not nearly as slick as Slack, but there’s no 10,000 message limit for free communities, and it’s possible to group channels, and it uses only a single account no matter how many communities you join. If you’re not in there already, come check it out. There are ~100 people in there now, and it’s pretty fun so far.

There’s a channel called #share-stuff, where anyone can share links that they think are of interest. A few that popped up this week:

  1. Wait But Why’s very entertaining analysis of the betting strategy of Jeopardy’s largest winner ever, and why he may have made the wrong bet on the night he lost. (Here’s a direct link to the conversation in Discord, if you’ve joined.)

  2. Two great comics: How to draw a horse, by Emma Hunsinger, which is about a lot more than drawing horses, and yet also very much about drawing horses. And Adventures in Depression (which has a part two) by Hyperbole and a Half.

  3. I went down a rabbit hole on the topic of pragmatism last week, because someone on Facebook called me a utilitarian in the most derogatory way possible. Turns out, they were right! This entry on pragmatism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a fascinating read. This question on Twitter evoked a number of great responses:

    Haider Al-Mosawi replied:

    And we continued the conversation in Discord (see the #pragmatism channel, that starts here) and ended up coming to see each other’s perspectives and have a great conversation. It shows to me that productive disagreements can happen on the internet, but we need to use all of the tools available to us to make sure they actually have room to happen.

  4. Jon Bell shared a fascinating project he’s working on that involves AI-generated maps and crowd-sourced world building:

    This led me to Robin Sloan’s generated map experiments, which he talks about here. That led to the open source project that he used to generated maps, which is fascinating in itself. It also led to Lob, which is what he used to send 1,000 generated maps out to people programmatically, and that led to a few of us deciding to send postcards to each other for fun.

  5. I shared this NYT article about five Navy pilots who claim to have spent several minutes (with lots of corroborating data on their scanners) observing an unidentified flying object that flew around the skies in ways that no known aircrafts are currently capable of. There was a fascinating debate about this in one of the Facebook groups I’m in, and I think even if you put aside where you personally sit on the matter of UFOs, it’s a great opportunity to watch how our own belief systems, and hope systems, communicate when new information like this is put forth. Here’s an interview with one of the pilots:

    Note how much the interviewer wants him to say that he believes it was aliens, and how deftly he avoids saying that. And yet, he also says that it’s not not aliens, so you can take away whatever you want!

    I’ll leave you with some fascinating deep breathing gifs shared by Christin, made by the same guy that makes Strange Planet, one of the funniest comics I’ve discovered in a long time. They don’t play inline so you’ll have to click to see them:

    This comment is worth thinking about.

  1. This interview with David Whyte by Jonny Miller is SOOOO good. If you need a break, download this episode and go on a long walk. It’s guaranteed to make you feel a little less anxious and confused about the world.

  2. Lastly, I re-formated and slightly re-imagined my weeknotes to be a little lighter and easier for me to update on a weekly basis. I’m enjoying the cadence of weekly updates for myself. Is anyone else here doing weeknotes or interested in maybe starting up?

Thanks for reading. I have no idea if this list of things is interesting to you or not. But if not, you can unsubscribe here. If it is interesting, I’m always open to feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Take care, and have a good week.

Buster

What can we do about our bias?

As you probably know, I’m deeply obsessed with bias, and have been trying to advocate for shifting our thinking about biases away from “annoying brain bugs” and towards “unavoidable constraints to our thinking” for a few years. Explaining exactly what that means has always been a challenge, to say the least. Almost 3 years after the first cognitive bias cheat sheet post was published, I think I finally have an answer to what we can do about our bias.

I published a Medium article titled What Can We Do About Our Bias, but you’re not a Medium subscriber, don’t worry… this friend link should enable you to still be able to read the post.

The post describes a 4-step roadmap for developing an always-on, honest relationship to bias.

Also! Substack (that I publish this newsletter through) just happened to launch discussion threads today, so if you have feedback, questions, or thoughts about this new post, click through and ask away. I will answer every question submitted within the next 24 hours as honestly as I can.

Read the Medium post

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