This might be a site thing, but all of the content in the spoiler’s blocks are visible to me.
Do you also do it as a preemptive move like I described, or for other reasons?
Quick description of a pattern I have that can muddle communication.
“So I’ve been mulling over this idea, and my original thoughts have changed a lot after I read the article, but not because of what the article was trying to persuade me of …”
Genera Pattern: There is a concrete thing I want to talk about (a new idea - ???). I don’t tell what it is, I merely provide a placeholder reference for it (“this idea”). Before I explain it, I begin applying a bunch of modifiers (typically by giving a lot of context “This idea is a new take on a domain I’ve previously had thoughts on” “there was an article involved in changing my mind” “that article wasn’t the direct cause of the mind change”)
This confuses a lot of people. My guess is that interpreting statements like this require a lot more working memory. If introduce the main subject, and then modify it, people can “mentally modify” the subject as I go along. If I don’t give them the subject, they need to store a stack of modifiers, wait until I get to the subject, and then apply all those modifiers they’ve been storing.
I notice I do this most when I expect the listener will have a negative gut reaction to the subject, and I’m trying to preemptively do a bunch of explanation before introducing it.
Anyone notice anything similar?
Short aside on training wheels: balance bikes are a thing that I only learned about this past year as my niece was using one to learn how to ride a bike. Their claim is that steering and balance are the hard parts of learning to ride a bike, not pedaling and breaking. This seems “Duh!” obvious in retrospect.
So it seems like it training wheels try to get rid of having to balance at all, and have you focus on things that aren’t super essential, and then force you to make a big scary jump. Balance bikes start you with balance in a situation where that’s all there is to focus on, and once you have that, adding pedals is easy (my niece was able to ride her actual bike on the first shot).
I’m enjoying the irony that training wheels, the literal go to metaphor concerning assisted learning phases, are a bad example of it. I wonder what else might be similar.
Mayhaps less helpful then pointing to literature on the topic, but you reminded me of the extent to which I try to apply the frame of sub-agents/children. In that frame, what you describe sorta sounds like “helicopter parenting”, and in counter my mind goes to “What are all of the intuitions I have about what is involved in letting someone else grow on their own terms and letting them get into trouble to learn from it?”
I don’t feel confident suggesting that as a recommendation, but it might be a useful direction to look.
Not only are X and Y close to you, but you know that they are also close to each other; this is why you can invite them both at the same time.
Noting that I consider this to be a very important quality. There’s a 6 person friend group from high-school that I’m still in regular contact with, and it has a lot to do with the fact that any subset of us can enjoy each other’s company.
I’ve recently started hosting dinner parties and inviting various friends, and I’m now thinking about how to make it easier for them to all connect together, so it’s more of a community feel and less “We all know Hazard.”
I both approve of this problem solving method and realize I don’t know what’s going on in the minds of people you have needed to defend this idea to.
I’d paraphrase your idea as running with the hypothetical “what if these ideas were connected?” A huge amount of my creative leaps come from exploring “what if”s. It feels very simple to keep my “what if” explorations seperate from my most rigorous known truths, at least for intellectual topics.
So an actual question that would help me understand more is “what have other people said in conversations were you were defending this idea?”
I realize I was a bit vague in my intro. I rewrote it. Does that address what you were thinking?
I see the apparent tension you mention. My only interaction with Lisa Feldman’s model is a summary of her book here, so I’ll try and speak from that, but let me know if you feel like I’m misrepresenting her ideas.
Here theory is framed in terms that on first glance make me suspect she’s talking about something that feels entirely at odds with how I think about my own emotions, but looking more carefully, I don’t think there’s any contradiction. My one paragraph summary of her idea is “stuff happens in the world, your brain makes predictions, this results in the body doing certain things, and what we call ‘emotions’ are the experience of the brain interpreting what those bodily sensations mean.”
At the key point (in regards to my/your take-away) is the “re-trainability”. The summary says “Of course you can’t snap your fingers and instantly change what you’re feeling, but you have more control over your emotions than you think.” Which I’m cool with. To me, this was always a discussion about exactly how much and in what ways you can “re-train” yourself.
My current model is that “re-training” looks like deeply understanding how an emotional response came to be, getting a feel for what predictions it’s based on, and then “actually convincing” yourself/the sub-agent of a another reality.
I bolded “actually convincing” because that’s were all the difficulty lies. Let me set up an example:
The topic of social justice comes up (mentioned because this is personally a bit triggering for me), my brain predicts danger of getting yelled at my someone, this results in bodily tension, my brain interprets that as “You are scared”. I used to “re-train” my emotions by saying “Being scared doesn’t fit our self-concept, so… you just aren’t scared.” It really helps to imagine a literally sub-agent with a face looking at me, completely unimpressed my such incredibly unconvincing reasoning. Now I go, “Okay, what would actually deeply convince me that I’m not going to get yelled at?” This probably involves understanding why I had that fear. This might involve some exposure therapy. It’s also important to note that it might turn out that, yes, I will get yelled at 50% of the time in a conversation on social justice.
This is getting a bit long/ranty, so I’ll tie it up. I map “repressing your emotions” onto “trying to re-train emotions via unconvincing arguments” and “re-training your emotions” to getting your mind to update certain predictions by speaking its language and giving it actually compelling evidence.
Let me know if any of that landed.
I often don’t feel like I’m “doing that much”, but find that when I list out all of the projects, activities, and thought streams going on, there’s an amount that feels like “a lot”. This has happened when reflecting on every semester in the past 2 years.
Hyp: Until I write down a list of everything I’m doing, I’m just probing my working memory for “how much stuff am I up to?” Working mem has a limit, and reliably I’m going to get only a handful of things. Anytime when I’m doing more things than what fit in working memory, when I stop to write them all down, I will experience “Huh, that’s more than it feels like.”
“Learn from the best” vs “Don’t watch what others do”
(variations “steal the best ideas” “don’t reinvent the wheel”, “do it yourself” “be original”)
I’ve seen this conflict pop up both in the context of doing original research, and in making good art. On the art side, I’ve seen people warn me against watching too much magic, because then you start to sound and act just like everyone else.
You have ideas about what is and isn’t possible. Sometimes watching other people is awesome, because they boost you imagination by expanding what you thought was possible. It seems like the limiting move here is to let other people define your sense of possibility, rather than augment it. Maybe a catch phrase might be “Always let people tell you what is possible. Don’t let them tell you what is impossible.”
One important dynamic is different ways you can acquire knowledge, skill, style. People seem to agree that if you discover a proof yourself, write your own code, create your own script, it sticks a lot more than if you just do/use what someone else tells you. People warning against “steal from the best” could be worried about you getting the trappings of an idea but not the actually useful stuff (don’t cargo cult). People warning against “do it yourself” could be worried about you not being able to derive chemistry from scratch. David Chapman describes a nice interplay in upgrade your cargo cult for the win.
There’s a problem solving move like “look directly at what the problem is and dwell on it” (similar to hold off on proposing solutions). In my mind I stereotype experts and more well read people to be likely to propose solutions right away. An outsider has no frame for the problem, and thus is forced to think directly about it. Now that I think about it, it seems that the “look at the problem” move doesn’t have to be connected to your experience. You could put intentional effort into training this while still learning how people in a given field typically attack problems.
Association, linking and graphs
A defining idea in this space is “Your memory works my association, get your note taking to mirror that.” A simple version of this is what you have in a wiki. Every concept mentioned that has it’s own page has a link to it. I’m a big fan of graph visualizations of information, and you could imagine looking at a graph of your personal wiki where edges are links. Roam embraces links with memory, all your notes know if they’ve been linked to and display this information. My idea for a memex tool to make really interesting graphs is to basically giving you free reign to make the type system of your nodes and edges, and give your really good filtering/search capacity on that type system. Basically a dope gui/text editor overtop of neo4j.
Personal Lit review
This is one way I frame what I want to myself. Sometimes I go “Okay, I want to rethink how I orient to loose-tie friendships.” Then I remember that I’ve definitely thought about this before, but can’t remember what I thought. This is the situation where I’d want to do a “lit review” of how I’ve attacked this issue in the past, and move forward in light of my history.
I take a shit ton of notes. Some are notes on what I’m reading, others are random ideas for jokes, projects, theories, arm chair philosophizing. Not all ideas should be, or can be acted upon right away, or at all (like “turn Spain into a tortilla”). But there is some possible future situation where it would be useful to have this idea brought to mind. My ideal memex would actually be a genie that remembers everything I’ve thought and written, follows me around, and constantly goes, “What would be useful for Hazard to remember right now?” This can be acted on in how you design your notes. Think, “What sort of situation would it be useful to remember this in? In that situation, what key words and phrases will be in my head? Include those in this note so they’ll pop up in a search for those keywords.”
Low friction capture everything
If you get perfectionist with your notes, you lose. This frame imagines your mind as a firehose of gold, and you want to capture all of it, and sort out what’s good later. Record all ideas, no matter how crackpot. Carry a notebook, put your note taking app on your homescreen, set up your alexa to dictate notes, do whatever it takes. One principle that comes out of this frame is to be lax on hierarchy and organization. It should be as easy as possible to just capture an idea, with no regard for “where it goes”. If I have to navigate a file tree and decide where a doc/note/brainstorm goes before I’ve even gotten it out, it might die. The extreme end is NO organization, all search. Tiago doesn’t like that and suggests “no org on capture, and opportunistically organize and summarize and combine overtime”.
Put EVERYTHING in your memex
This is embraced by Andrew Louis. This is also embraced by Notion, they want to me the one app you put everything in. I don’t necessarily want on application that can do it all (text, tables, video, blah blah blah), but I DO want one memex command center where the existence of all data and files are recorded, and you can connect and interlink them. This is sorta like tagspace, they are a literally a wrapper around your file system, letting you tag, navigate, and add meta data to files for organizational purpose. I would LOVE if I had one “master file system memex”, special features for text editing, and then specific applications in charge of any more specialized functionality.
Tiago Forte: Build a Second Brain (here’s an introduction)
He’s been on my radar for a year, and I’ve just started reading more of his stuff. Suspicion that he might be me from the future. He’s all about the process and design of the info flow and doesn’t sell a memex tool. Big ideas: find what you need when the time is right, new organic connections, your second brain should surprise you, progressive summarization.
Andrew Louis: I’m building a memex
This guy takes the memex as a way of life. Self-proclaimed digital packrat, he’s got every chat log since highschool saved, always has his gps on and records that location, and basically pours all of his digital data into a massive personal database. He’s been developing an app for himself (partially for others) to manage and interact with this. This goes waaaaaaaay beyond note taking. I’d binge more of his stuff if I wanted to get a sense for the emergent revelations that could come from intense memexing.
(check out his demo vid)
Conor both has a beta-product, and many ideas about how to organize ideas. Inspired by zettlekasten (post about zettlekasten, was the name of a physical note card system used by Niklas Luhmann). Check out his white paper for the philosophy
Very cool. Mixes wiki, trello board, and graph centric views. Has all the nice content embedding, slash commands, etc. DOESN’T WORK OFFLINE :( (would be great otherwise)
Style/Inspiration: Wiki meets trello + extra.
Conor has been developing this with the Zettelkasten system as his inspiration. Biggest feature (in my mind) is “deep linking” things. You can link other notes to your note, and have them “expanded”, and if you edit the deep linked note in a parent note, it actual edits the linked note. Also, notes keep track of every place there mentioned. Allows for powerful spiderwebby knowledge connection. I’m playing with the beta, still getting familiar and don’t yet have much to say except that deep linking is exactly the feature I’ve always wanted and couldn’t find.
Desktop wiki that works for linux. Nothing fancy, uses a simple markdown esque syntax, everything is text files. I used that for a year, now I’m moving away. 1 reason is I want more rich outlining powers like folding, but I’m also broadly moving away from framing my notes as a “personal wiki” for reasons I’ll mention in another post.
Just a wiki software. When I first decided to use a wiki to organize my school notes, I used this. It’s an online tool which is --, but works okay as a wiki.
Emacs Org Mode
(what I’m currently using) Emacs is a magical extensible text editor, and org mode is a specific package for that editor. Org mode has great outlining capabilities, and unlimited possibilities for how you can customize stuff (coding required). The current thing that I’d really need for org mode to fit my needs is to be able to search my notes and see previews of them (think evernote search, you see the titles of notes, and a preview of the content). I think deft can get me this, haven’t installed yet though. Long term, it seems emacs is appealing because it seems like I can craft my own workflow with precision. Will take work though. Not recommended if you want something that “Just works”.
Have used a lot over the years. Great for capture (it’s on your phone and your desktop (but not linux [:(])). I’ve got several years of notes in there. I rarely build ideas in evernote though. This is a “works out of the box” app.
I’ve taken copious notes in notebooks over the past 6 years, I’ve used evernote on and off as a capture tool for the past 4 years, and for the past 1.5 years I’ve been trying to organize my notes via a personal wiki. I’m in the process of switching and redesigning systems, so here’s some thoughts.
I thoroughly enjoyed that :)
Still want to see the full Book of Mormon at some point.
Ooo, good point. I was getting a lot less feedback form than then from other things. There’s one piece of feedback which is “am I on the right track?” and another that’s just “yay, people are engaging!” both of which seem relevant to motivation.
Yeah, being explicit about 1 week would likely help. The projects that made me make this observation were all ones where I was trying to do more than a weeks worth of stuff, and a week is were I decided to move to something else.
I expect “I have a week to learn about X” would both take into account waning/waxing interest, and add a bit of rush-motivation.
Possible hack related to small wins. Many of the projects that I stopped got stopped part way through “continuing more of the same”. One was writing my Hazardous Guide to Words, and the other was researching how the internet works. Maybe I could work on one cohesive thing for longer if there was a significant victory and gear shift after a work. Like, if I was making a video game, “Yay, I finished making all the art assets, onto actual code” or something.