The Mental Pivot Newsletter: No. 2
The smoke situation in San Francisco has improved tremendously these past few days and—unsurprisingly—so has my mood. Welcome, new subscribers and onto the updates…
What’s New on the Blog:
Airr is a podcast note-taking app (iOS) that has become increasingly polished and fully-featured over the past few months. I’ve covered podcast note-taking in a series of posts on the subject. More recently, I’ve integrated Airr into my podcast workflow. Check out the app (it’s free) and let me know your thoughts.
Android users, don’t despair. The Airr team is considering an Android version. If interested, you can register for the beta waitlist.
Thanks to reader JK for recently sending a link that inspired me to revisit the Airr app.
This is my weekly roundup of interesting links and internet finds. You can read the complete post on the blog, but here are the highlights:
Buying Myself Back: When Does a Model Own Her Own Image?: Emily Ratajkowski recalls intensely personal stories from her career that explore themes of objectification and exploitation.
The Four Kinds of Side Hustles: Nice framework for generating ideas for a new side business.
How HTTPS Works: Wonderful illustrated explanation about a core internet protocol. Should be basic web literacy for everyone online.
“I Have Blood on My Hands”: A Whistleblower Says Facebook Ignored Global Manipulation: Frightening: “I have personally made decisions that affected national presidents without oversight...” Social manipulation continues unabated on our biggest social media platforms.
When Technology Takes Revenge: “Seeing technology as part of a complex system can help us avoid costly unintended consequences.”
When You Browse Instagram and Find Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Passport Number: Cautionary tale in which a photo of a boarding pass is casually posted on social media. A cyber-security expert sees it and a lesson on the dangers of posting even seemingly innocuous personal information online unfolds. The amount of data the airline transmitted in cleartext in the source code is astounding.
Podcast: The Myths and Questions of Education: Marc Andreessen discusses the real purpose of collegiate education as well as the economics behind higher education.
Podcast: Why Nobody Feels Rich: Hint: “We are constantly comparing and contrasting our lives with those of others.”
The rest of this week’s link roundup can be read here.
From my Notebook
I keep a lot of notes on interesting ideas I come across. This might turn into a regular segment where I pluck something from my notebook to share on the newsletter.
The Curse of Knowledge occurs when an individual attempts to communicate with another party but cannot do so effectively because he or she is unable to put themselves in the shoes of their audience. The problem stems from our erroneous assumption that the other party shares the same foundation of experience and knowledge that we do. The result is that we omit key pieces of tacit knowledge and logical connections that we are innately familiar with but our audience is not. The result is we fail to express or explain our ideas effectively because of this preexisting knowledge.
Cognitive psychologist and noted author Steven Pinker sees this cognitive bias as one of the biggest impediments to effective writing and communication. Watch this interview in which he explains this phenomenon to Joe Rogan.
I personally encounter it all the time when reading instructional guides—computer programing tutorials are particularly bad in this respect. This is one reason why I prefer screencasts to books when learning a programming language. In a screencast, I can see each and every action the instructor is taking whereas with other types of media the instructor may inadvertently omit an important step assuming that the action is too obvious to state or just plain “common sense.”
The remedy? Communicate clearly, in a linear step-by-step fashion and assume that the other person is starting from a position of limited knowledge. At the very least, don’t assume the other person’s current level is equivalent to your own; fill in any gaps they might have as it pertains to understanding your argument or line of thought.
No doubt I’m guilty of this error as well, but I’ll do my best to circumvent this personal blind-spot.
Odds & Ends:
Fans of entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant should check out Eric Jorgenson’s book that “collects and curates Naval’s wisdom from Twitter, Podcasts, and Essays.” It’s titled the “The Almanack of Naval Ravikant” and its free to read or download online (.epub and .mobi formats are also available). Alternatively you can obtain physical or Kindle copies off Amazon. It’s the spiritual successor to the popular “Poor Charlie’s Almanack” (a collection of the wisdom of legendary investor Charlie Munger).
I love books but I’ve never loved Goodreads (the book social network). It’s nice to see people are working on alternatives. One worth checking out is StoryGraph. Further reading on the topic: “Why Goodreads is Bad for Books” and “I Want to Fix Goodreads.”
By the way, I have yet to find a single, satisfactory listing of new and forthcoming non-fiction releases (Amazon’s lists are subpar in my opinion). However, the best option I’ve found so far is the Kirkus list of non-fiction. It doesn’t have all the publishers nor does it contain notable self-published works, but it’s a good starting point for what’s new or coming soon.
Blogger John Yeung wrote a recent piece called “Mapping the Podcast Ecosystem.” In it he identifies 10 components of the industry (e.g. content producers, hosting, analytics, etc.) and offers a helpful infographic noting many of the key players.
Writer Jay Pelchen offers his spin on writer archetypes in his piece “Writing Process: Gardeners, Architects and Engineers.” The best part of his post is that he shares his very robust writing template which can be downloaded here (note: it’s an .xlsx file).
Saw this on Harold Jarche’s blog: The Institute on the Future has posted their “World-Readiness Toolkit” which you can download for free from the page above. Includes some interesting ideas to explore regarding future scenarios, business and technology trends and anticipated power shifts facing the socio-economic landscape in the coming decades.
In a similar vein, if you enjoy thinking about future cultural and technology trends, check out Rohit Bhargava’s Non-Obvious publications. Bhargava spends a lot of time considering these ideas from a marketing standpoint. I’ve also posted a set of book notes on his latest work “Non-Obvious Megatrends” which is a decent introduction to his ideas.
Reminder on the dangers of searching for web domain names is discussed on a Hacker News thread titled “Never search for domains on Godaddy.com.” The gist of the problem is this: when you enter keywords for an interesting domain but fail to purchase it immediately, the domain name registrar purchases the domain, and then marks up the price for resale. This is not a new problem (unscrupulous registrars—or enterprising ones depending on your point of view—have been doing this for years), but it is a good idea to be very selective about where you run your domain availability queries.
Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo is seeing a big spike in usage. This is great news for fans of Google alternatives.
Photographer Todd McClellan offers up pleasing artwork involving everyday objects reduced to their individual components. Subjects include a dismantled Classic Mac, an accordian, and manual typewriter. Check out the virtual gallery titled “Things Come Apart.”
This reminds me of James May’s videos featuring reassembly of interesting objects like motorcycles, guitars and telephones. British subscribers may already know his work on BBC Four, but those of us in the United States need to resort to YouTube videos of his program.
Apple announced the Apple One bundle which combines a number of services like Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, Cloud storage into a single subscription package. Will be interesting to see what impact this has on stand-alone services like Spotify. You can find more coverage on the offering from CNET, Daring Fireball, and The Verge.
Are you ready for the next generation of video game consoles? I know I am. I’ve been playing video games since the Atari 2600 era and I still enjoy gaming today. Sony finally announced the launch date for the PlayStation 5 along with pricing. Microsoft did the same last week regarding the new Xbox. For some head-to-head comparisons on the new systems, launch titles, and pricing, can be found at Engadget and GameSpot.
Star Wars fans rejoiced at the unveiling of two new trailers this week. The first is the official trailer for season two of The Mandalorian (popular Disney+ series). The second was a high-quality video short titled “Hunted” for the EA video game Star Wars: Squadrons (it’s worth watching if you’re a Star Wars fan). Frankly, both videos gave me far more enjoyment than the Disney sequel trilogy (now you know my opinion on those films).
If this newsletter was forwarded to you, you can go here to subscribe.
Alternatively, you can also read the full archive of posts, book notes and link roundups at my blog by going here: https://mentalpivot.com.