A running list of links I find worthwhile, RSS feed included. Previously these were saved to Pinboard but more recently they're saved directly to this site through a simple WordPress plugin. This section of the site is still a work-in-progress.

Sometimes we get the probabilities wrong, like with the breath-born Borgesicorns. Sometimes, however, we get the opportunities for improbable events to happen wrong. Usually, narcissists that we are, we err on the side of not realizing how many chances there are every day for nutty things to happen, what with other humans being myriad & real, and not just flitting into and out of existence when we notice them.

Paul Kedrosky

March 28, 2020 thinking

This March 19th daily update from Ben Thompson is locked to those who pay for his (consistently excellent) Stratechery membership. But in it, he and Eugene Wei talk about how information retains value and the implications this has for various media and publishing companies.

March 23, 2020 media

Yes, Stoicism is partly about making it so you don’t break as easily — so you are not so fragile that the slightest change in fortune wrecks you. At the same time, it’s not about filling you with so much courage and hubris that you think you are unbreakable. Only the proud and the stupid think that is even possible.

Instead, the Stoic seeks to develop the skills — the true strength — required to deal with a cruel world.

Ryan Holiday

March 23, 2020 philosophy, stoicism

Cal Newport summarizes and links to a great post from Jeff Huang about how he organizes the work day. Huang is a computer science professor at Brown University and relies on just an annotated text file to time block his day and stay on track. I love the flexibility of simple tools like this.

March 16, 2020 productivity, work

One perspective on why corporations speak the way they do. We try to actively avoid this within Automattic and even have a public anti-glossary page about the phrases we work to cut out of our communication.

March 15, 2020 language, work

A great excerpt from Dan Heath’s new book Upstream. I’m a quarter of the way into the book as well and, so far, it’s a helpful overview of how to think of upstream solutions to chronic problems.

Downstream actions react to problems once they’ve occurred. Upstream efforts aim to prevent those problems from happening. You can answer a customer’s call and address her complaint about a missing itinerary (downstream), or you can render that call unnecessary by ensuring that she receives her itinerary up front (upstream).

Dan Heath

March 15, 2020 customer service, thinking

Craig Mod details his experience after 1 year of running a paid membership program. As a subscriber to both Roden and Ridgeline I think he’s done an excellent job with each. And one of the easier-to-overlook aspects of this recap is the prior track record Craig had in writing:

I had been publishing essays, articles, and newsletters for over a decade, building up a not-inconsiderable base of readers.

Craig Mod

February 23, 2020 newsletters

Fantastic essay from Paul Graham on the art of writing usefully. He boils it down to importance + novelty + correctness + strength and expands on the role each plays in an essay.

Useful writing makes claims that are as strong as they can be made without becoming false.

Paul Graham

February 22, 2020 writing

It feels like blogging is still frozen in amber today because we haven’t yet figured out how to attach status to it. People have been blogging for decades, but the most successful bloggers still look surprisingly old-school, with entire micro-communities that thrive solely in their comments and adjacent forums. Although there are an endless number of blogging platforms, they’ve all struggled to create value beyond utility. They provide technical infrastructure for writing and publishing, but not social infrastructure.

Nadia Eghbal

February 22, 2020 blogging, newsletters

Barrett Swanson takes a trip through the world of the paranormal to report on why it retains such appeal for many. It’s an Automattic production, so I’m naturally biased, but I find The Atavist to be doing some of the more interesting web-native magazine publishing out there.

February 8, 2020 society