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⚡️ 85 thoughts from May'22

I need to decide how I'll distribute my logs through email. The simple route is 3-5 per week. But there's a certain wonder in peaking into someone's unedited mosaic of thought. It's hardcore, but it's distinct. It stands out from the wave of filtered, curated tidbits.

Michael Dean
Michael Dean
34 min read


The pits of despair
May 31, 2022 11:05 AM

The pit of despair is unavoidable, especially when a creative work takes you more than a single session. Writing daily atomic essays is often void of psychological pain. You just knock it out. When you work on something for a week or more, you go through the oscillations of [this could be "the" one] and [I don't have what it takes and never will.] Someone (or me) should write a piece on navigating the pits of despair.


Memories collapse, but artifacts sustain
May 31, 2022 7:03 AM

The past is fuzzy. When left inside your own head, your memories mutate and warp over the years. Your memories from high school are passed down through 5 different versions of yourself. It’s a story-- removed from the real thing. But pictures, letters, clothing, trophies, trinkets, books, old blocky cell phones without batteries, and bowls filled with disgusting resin– those are intact– they're the artifacts from the good ol' days. They're more true than memories.


Holoporting
May 30, 2022 8:41 PM

When I visited my parents, my out-of-country brother's presence was there– through the Ring doorbell, the landline, and SMS. Multi-point presence. He felt like a smart-home– just speaking through the walls. When I think about the future of VR, I think almost all the communication technology we're familiar with now is just a passthrough. It's temporary. We're stampeding towards a future of "holoporting"–or, digitally enhanced teleportation. We'll have the ability to have hallucination-grade face-to-face experiences with people across the world (sponsored by Verizon 6G).


Jones beach
May 30, 2022 12:13 PM

At the edge of the ocean there’s a constant breeze— I feel lodged in some wind tunnel. I count the people around me. 91.  A perpetual roar of water crashes every 4 seconds to pierce the white noise chatter and kiddy splish splash. There's a battleship in the distance through the fog, and a propeller plane in the foreground selling vodka on printed vinyl banners. Happy Memorial Day.

I just read (skimmed) a Joan Didion book– the opening paragraph is about the stories we tell ourselves. Now here I am, sifting though potential narratives to tell myself on the beach. There must be some thread of meaning to make this day worth remembering. Maybe there’s not, and I'm just a writer grasping for something to cover. I could just be here— fingering my phone as my feet gets splashed by the occasional tide that makes it up the shore.

Before you’re 10 years old, there’s an unquestionable responsibility to sprint face first into icy waves (ocean water is brutal in New York until August). That was the point of the beach. Now I don't know. It's been a fun day with Danielle and Kristin, but now I have a minute of alone time and I find myself tangled in a web of heat, cynicism, and wonder. Jones Beach could be anything. It’s a beautiful day for families, and it’s the collapse of Rome? A good writer, can find some grain of sand and show you that a whole generation lives within it.

There are hordes of flesh at the beach, but only two ways to slice it: empathy or judgement. Either this person glows as some mysterious human that I'll never fully understand– or– point blank, this person's a beach rat.


Pencil smudge
May 30, 2022 10:55 AM

As I was reading the White Album by Joan Didion on the beach, I realized my pencil was melting into my hand. I embrace the yellow smudges and turned my finger into a highlighter— my wife’s friend watched in disbelief (either I’m resourceful or a psychopath).


Weekly vs. bi-weekly
May 30, 2022 7:14 AM

Focus on 10-15 small, novel projects over a 2-week period.
Focus on 3-4 weekly deliverables (newsletter, thread, music demo)


Read near a computer
May 30, 2022 6:57 AM

Some types of books are better to read alongside a computer so you can take notes and organize your thoughts as you read. I tried reading “The Dead Sea Scrolls” at the local pool club, but I got hit with a few history-altering epiphanies about Jesus every paragraph-- I had no tools to organize my blown mind.


Family bbq
May 29, 2022 4:30 PM

  • Golf games are casual-- talk business afterwards
  • What do you wear to a wedding in the Bahamas?
  • A private villa with 9 bedrooms for $500 a night
  • Swiss and Cheddar cheese are outliers at this BBQ
  • I almost convinced my cousin that I'm friends with Elon Musk
  • Danielle’s sabbatical was well-received
  • Is it normal for family barbecues to have 3x the number of desserts than people?
  • Uncle Al (the kids pal)– I haven't seen Uncle Al in over a decade. He retired over 28 years ago, but now he's bored and he drives an electric Hyundai Kona. It takes 7 hours to charge. He was super friendly to my wife. Are his kids the one who owned the laser tag arena?

Red ants at the pool club
May 29, 2022 12:45 PM

The Weissman Family Pool Club. It's 1pm-- the DJ clicked a button, cranked his music, and immediately walked away from this laptop. I was sitting right in front of the speakers reading. He played "Brown Eyed Girl" and other singalongs– a weird backdrop for reading  Christian conspiracy theories. I made it work for 20 minutes, until I realized the whole pool club (and even the surrounding blocks) was infested with red ants. They were inside my bag, and suddenly my whole body was itchy (even though I couldn't find any on me).


On zettlekasten: linking vs. prioritizing notes
May 29, 2022 11:30 AM

Whenever I open myself up to the idea of a zettlekasten style system of atomic notes— I become skeptical, quickly.. It’s so appealing, but it might be an organization fetish. It sounds good in practice, but every time, I forget and underestimate how long it takes to groom atomic notes.

I've found that essays don't need to be combination of atomic notes. The more important truth is: ideas are power laws. Out of every 100 ideas, there is ONE that is 10x (or more) valuable than the rest. A zettlekasten is about treating all ideas equal– it's about linking the other 99 ideas together, even if they're low leverage.

More important than linking notes is prioritizing them. Which note has the juice to blossom into a powerful essay? Once you decide, you can search your archives, search Google, and tap into that good-old noggin' (the subconscious is practically a free, personalized AI text generator).


New car
May 29, 2022 10:29 AM

  • Took Merle for a test drive in our new Mazda CX-30. We ran across Lynn and her two granddaughters (12 & 10 years old?)— They’re mom has a CX-5 in the same color. Merle thinks it’s too low, but likes the steering wheel and says it’s smooth.
  • I picked up an Impossible Burger at Starbucks. I'll admit I'm paranoid of the innocent dude next to me in an old Nissan. Can he tell my car is new? Is he the kind of guy that would come out and scratch it while I'm eating artificial meat inside?
  • Good speakers & sunlight completely change the experience of driving. I've been in the dark (literally) for too long. The interface wheel is amazing. I feel like I'm "jinba ittai"– Japanese for, "horse and rider unified into one body. " The ability to like songs and navigate Spotify from the road is a game-changer– I predict that I'll be more into music this summer than I've been in the last 3 years.

Blurbs on John Dwyer's improv album
May 29, 2022 8:44 AM

  • "A red hot record, Dwyer et al. are on fire throughout. Moments are more reflective and pastoral, but when they turn up the temperature, the group are incendiary. Oh Sees remain a crucial force, of course, but these free-jazz, swamp-rock jam records might just be the best thing John Dwyer has ever done."
  • “For me personally, what’s psychedelic is the ability to improvise,” Dwyer says. “I love it when bands can take a song you know from a record and not be jailed by the constraints of the written version, and stretch it out. I’m sure it bores the shit out of half the crowd, but it’s what I’m going to do regardless.”
  • Curious– the history between John Dwyer and Ty Segall

Post-it power
May 29, 2022 7:47 AM

Digital systems are great. But even though I can build advanced "object-oriented architectures" in Notion, I’ve resorted to tracking my most important weekly habits through post-its on a wall. While digital systems are efficient and powerful, the benefit of analog is that your information has presence in your environment. It’s hard to miss-- it’s reliable. My guess: augmented reality will give digital objects the presence & persistence of our analog tools (post-its, clocks, etc.).


How to taunt the right fielder
May 28, 2022 9:42 PM

  • Backup! Backup! Nick's the Backup!
  • All bat, no glove!

McKenna as a "psychonaut"
May 28, 2022 3:29 PM

We have a cultural respect for those who explore the edges of outer space (Neil Armstrong), but barely acknowledge the inner astronauts. Carl Jung and Terence McKenna, among others, have gone to the edges of human consciousness and returned to report on their strange findings.


The growing divide in Internet "usage"
May 28, 2022 10:20 AM

I haven't been on Instagram much in recent years. But now I'm on there daily since I set up an account for my drawings. I got exposed to Reels. I clicked on one to check it out, and literally holy F. Before I knew it, I lost 30 minutes. I was shocked.

I told my wife about it and she goes, "oh yeah, that happens to me 2-3x a day." This is normal and it's crazy. We all know these companies are incentivized to get the population hooked on their products (TikTok, YouTube, and Reddit all have short-form video now). Addiction has been cried about since cable TV. But, this... the re-engagement loop has shortened from 30 minutes to 5 seconds. "Just one more" takes on a new meaning. I consider myself as someone with strong focus, high will power, and good attention management, and I still got short-circuited by Reels. I have no problem with Twitter addiction, but the passive nature of short-form video cuts into the brain in a completely different way.

I'm not against social media. In fact, in the last two years I've seen how powerful it is if used intentionally. The Internet is crazy powerful, but two things are happening. 1) Those who harness it are transforming their life in extreme ways– merit is being rewards like never before. But at the same time, 2) monolithic Internet companies are sucking away the attention of a large % of the population. There's a widening gap in how people engage with the Internet (is "Internet literacy" a good term for this?). You're either a super user, or you get used by it. You either bring your own fantasy into existence, or your fantasies get shaped by advertisers and influencers.

One stance is, "be on the right side" of this phenomenon– but even if you're one of the few who harnesses the Internet– the macro-culture you're lodged within is still worse for it existing.

Idea: Use TikTok or IG reels for 8 hours straight and write about the experience.

Random thought: The next phase of addiction (still a decade or more away): artificial intelligence will be able to generate content specific to you! The game will translate from "targeting" existing ads based on your preferences, to procedurally generating fantasies for each individual at minimal cost. This is AI at at it's darkest.


Music in a bar
May 27, 2022 8:40 PM

At a dive bar in Bayside. With a burrito in my belly, the Mets are beating the Phillies 5-0 with Calvin Harris cranking in the background. It's making me think that AI might have more of an imagination than many of the market-tested top-40 market hits. But the idea that computers might have an imagination is preposterous to many, including my mother-in-law.


The Internet and the mutation of English
May 27, 2022 1:51 PM

There are proper rules of the English language, but there are always forces that comes in and mutate the current iteration. The Internet is, in my opinion, a strong historical force that might only be beginning to stretch the English language. I'm interested to explore the evolution of language over time, and to look at how the Internet is changing how subcultures use English. Think about viral memes, coined phrases, new slang, casual lowercase typing, intentional mis-spellings, the need to make writing scannable (using 3 instead of spelling "three"), bolding, etc.


From the Jukebox whitepaper
May 26, 2022 10:26 PM

  • "We have had algorithms generating piano sheet music (Hiller Jr & Isaacson, 1957; Moorer, 1972; Hadjeres et al., 2017; Huang et al., 2017), digital vocoders generating a singer’s voice (Bonada & Serra, 2007; Saino et al., 2006; Blaauw & Bonada, 2017) and also synthesizers producing timbres for various musical instruments (Engel et al., 2017; 2019). Each captures a specific aspect of music generation: melody, composition, timbre, and the human voice singing. However, a single system to do it all remains elusive."
  • "Generative models have been applied to the music generation task too. Earlier models generated music symbolically in the form of a pianoroll, which specifies the timing, pitch, velocity, and instrument of each note to be played. (Yang et al., 2017; Dong et al., 2018; Huang et al., 2019a; Payne, 2019; Roberts et al., 2018; Wu et al., 2019). The symbolic approach makes the modeling problem easier by working on the problem in the lower-dimensional space. However, it constrains the music that can be generated to being a specific sequence of notes and a fixed set of instruments to render with."

A grump comments about the AI-Beatles
May 26, 2022 6:57 PM

"[This is a] novelty, but as a satisfying source of music: hell no. Music is not "sounds," music is a human communication with intent. These generated songs are music and lyric gibberish, and are empty intellectually for the listener. Complete failure on the intent and purpose of music."

Not sure if this user is a musician, but so much of the early songwriting process is discovering melody through singing gibberish. While some people start with the lyrics and then craft melodies from them, it's possibly more popular to start with the melody and apply meaning after the fact.


Curiosity vs. wonder
May 26, 2022 12:11 PM

Curiosity is asking a question with the intention of finding an answer. Wonder is the willingness to sit in a question forever. (from Arthur)


Artist as an instrument
May 26, 2022 9:27 AM

Gibson created an instrument– a creative tool for other musicians (like the Beatles) to express themselves. Now, AI is turning artists into instruments– they become tools for others to express themselves. Think of all the people with music locked in their head, who don't have the time to master instruments– now they can share their song ideas.


Persistent OS
May 26, 2022 7:30 AM

In the recent past, I'd always open a new tab when I needed something (ie: my calendar, or my email). I found myself in a mess of tabs. Now I've set up my desktop as a series of 5 fixed, full-screen zones. I've memorized the order, and I can easily flick left and right to find functions when I need them. Spatial memorization makes a huge difference.

  • 1) Gmail / Slack
  • 2) Calendar / Notion tasks
  • 3) Work plane (the only non-full screen zone)
  • 4) Notion log / Obsidian
  • 5) Spotify

Write the thread before the essay
May 25, 2022 12:47 PM

I've always thought it could be useful to turn essays into threads, but the opposite might be more true. By writing the thread first, it forces you to distill down to the essence. When you expand your thread into an essay, you're only expanding on the ideas that matter most.


New 10-point morning routine
May 25, 2022 8:40 AM

  • Meditate, and refresh on the [mindfulness, perspective, flow, discipline] framework
  • Launch logloglog with a note
  • Set up your 5 desktop zones (messaging, calendar, focus, notes, music)
  • Read the post-its on the wall with monthly goals
  • Make coffee, and get ready while it's brewing
  • Archive yesterday's Notion log into Obsidian
  • Check all my messaging apps and get back to people
  • Get back to Inbox zero
  • Look at bi-weekly project list and convert into tasks
  • Check the plants, check the hampers, make the bed

Mentioning sex in public
May 24, 2022 7:49 PM

I’m nervous to post my David Foster Wallace thread on Twitter since it covers sex pretty explicitly. But I'm also pretty sure that vulgar writing advice is the kind of content Twitter was meant for.


Rules for Slang
May 24, 2022 11:18 AM

Speak in slang so that you directly resonate with your in-group, but use context clues so that you invite the out-group into your world. Don't ever use slang in a pretentious way. The book Naked Lunch comes to mind. It was written in a stream-of-consciousness, but lazy way– there was no effort or care if the reader could follow along. I love imaginative, crazy, and idiosyncratic writing projects, but the reader should never be abandoned.


YouTube comments on the AI Beatles
May 23, 2022 11:41 PM

  • “This exactly like listening to the Beatles on a shitton of shrooms. You have a general idea of the music but you can’t point out anything specific and time isn’t behaving right.”
  • "Imagine in a couple of years when Jukebox 2.0 is a thing and we can generate music that doesn't sound like we're picking up an AM radio signal from another universe, on top of the AI actually understanding how rondo form works. Once you have those two flaws licked, you basically have everything you need to generate whatever you want. I mean you could still stand to have a means to transfer instruments and singers."
  • "If by "AM radio signal from another universe" you mean the "uncanniness" of the material, in my opinion that can be an attractive feature and it is likely to influence human artists stylistically once this method of generating music really takes off."
  • "Why does Jukebox handle Beatles songs so well? Like, honestly, I've not really ever heard any truly awful results from it with them."

An old failed poem
May 22, 2022 12:19 PM

suddenly born, cut the umbilical cord, doctor plugged in an Ethernet cable,
on the corner table at 4 years old, a plastic heap, of silicon guts, running MS-DOS
a pixel river docked on my desk, angelic to ancients, un-strange to me at best, glyph-diving binge-clicks for hours, an anonymous fish with stealth-mode power, I was,
a lurker, a gawker, a front-seat observer, as a cybernetic whale swallowed the virgin Earth,


Summer Publications
May 22, 2022 12:14 PM

  • Montreal Poetry Prize — May 25
  • Degenerate Art — July 10
  • Gigantic Sequins — August 1st

logflow
May 22, 2022 10:48 AM

1) Capture everything in real-time in a private Notion
2) Every morning, move the notes into Obsidian, and process any high-leverage ones
3) Every week, copy the best logs into Obsidian– publish, but don't send through email
4) Every month, send out the logs through email


Abercrombie and Fitch documentary thoughts

May 22, 2022 10:42 AM

Watched this on Netflix last night.. it’s interesting how the root of an idea makes complete sense in some areas, and yet can be extremely offensive in others. When it comes to startups & pleasing customers— you can’t please everyone, you might intentionally exclude certain demographics so you can best satisfy others.. What makes Abercrombie different is they excluded based on looks & race— something people have no control over.. It’s interesting how modeling agencies can totally get away with that. Abercrombie tried to fuse modeling with retail work, and couldn’t really get away with it, because of the precedent set by other retailers.

One counter-point, maybe it could be argued that if there is a market of options, then any individual company has less of a need to cater to everyone— through the market, there is a mosaic of opportunity and specialties. Whether race, looks, etc. should be factor into that— that’s where it gets dicey. In any case, Abercrombie had slimy, shit, and shallow values. I’m glad it didn’t work out— but the conclusion of the documentary feels off.

I think there are still open question in our culture about inclusivity vs. exclusivity. The trend seems to be ‘inclusivity, everywhere, always, at all costs’— but that seems to be as absolute and pure as Web 3’s “decentralize everything, always, no matter what.” Am I for inclusivity and decentralization? Of course— but that doesn’t mean we should shed all nuance from our thinking. I think absolute ideologies are at risk of bandwagon thinking, a reduction of critical thought, and unexpected problems.


Private log

May 22, 2022 10:30 AM

Hello again. I might re-start logloglog as a semi-private practice. When idea capture is private, it prevents self-consciousness. It’ll let the best stuff come out. Then there’s a process of pushing the best stuff (top 50%) to Ghost.

It’s funny how the second I moved logloglog into the private sphere, I erupted and create 5 logs in 9 minutes. When it’s in public— there's a subconscious filter– you ask, "is this valuable?" The threshold is much lower when it’s in private. It’s a pad for thought, vs. a pre-determined epiphany log.


Thoughts upon discovering the AI Beatles
May 22, 2022 7:30 AM

  • A song could be a endless radio station– one song constantly mutates
  • Imagine feeding in a 15-20 second loop and having it generate ideas back to you
  • When an artist turns into a script, they become immortal– Lennon resurrected
  • AI makes music more collaborative– it's the next extension of remix culture
  • AI fills in skill gaps. Now lyricists can have a voice. 50 variations on a poems
  • If something gives you the chills or makes you smile, it doesn't matter how it's made
  • Some AI variations are better than the original
  • Improvements since 2016-2017 (this is near nonsensical)
  • Lennon/McCartney as an app
  • Infinite Beatles demos
  • The AI Beatles definitely don’t have a knack for repetition lol— it’s like the AI captured their voice, and is able to generate into the future eternally— but it has short-term amnesia. It can't return to recent patterns.
  • AI is writing Paul McCartney baselines that even Paul would slap his knee, spit out his coffee, and go “no fucking way!”
  • I'm still shocked that the AI-generated Beatles exist in a pretty convincing way- it's like we're the guy in the movie Yesterday who suddenly accessed another dimension of Beatles music.
  • Crazy to think that their original catalog of music might one day only be a fraction of how people know them.


Music from machines
AI-generated Beatles album (13 new songs)
Yellow Album (8 new songs)
The Vintage Album (13 new songs)
Elenor Rigby variations (3 variations)
Creep (the Beatles playing a Radiohead song)
Yesterday (3 variations)
Hey Jude (the beginning sounds like an upbeat bluegrass song)
Imagine (sounds like Roy Orbinson in 1964)
How Do You Sleep At Night? (John Lennon song as the Beatles)
Blackbird (upbeat versions)
Ticket to Ride (sounds like the late Beatles)
I Saw Her Standing There (piano ballad meets car crash)
Nirvana (the Beatles as a 90 grunge band)
All Things Must Pass (Paul's version of a George song)
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (jazz piano version)
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (grunge version)
Something (upbeat, as a Paul song, seriously good)
You Won’t See Me (variations)
Isolation (John Lennon song)
She Said (variations)
Revolution 9 (the original already sounds like AI)
Yesterday (Lennon's version)
You never give me your money (turned into "California magic trees")

Other links:
Jukebox Open AI (the technology behind this)
All Beatles songs in 13 minutes (quickly shows the range of the Beatles)
Inventing genres (Christian Trance, Medieval Jazz, and Death Salsa)
AI Simpsons (AI video, really trippy, computers dreaming)
Beatles AI channel (lots of material in here)


Designing cliffhangers that don't piss off your audience
May 21, 2022 2:53 PM

Certain things shouldn’t be left unresolved for 12 months.


Lo-fi note taking
May 20, 2022 11:53 AM

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.


On processing feedback
May 19, 2022 10:58 AM

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.


Unreal Engine 5 is crazy realistic
May 19, 2022 10:32 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2paNFnw1wRs

Friend: “OMG THIS ISN’T REAL”
Me: “How long did it take you?”
Friend: “The whole video lol. I was wondering why you were sending me a creepy train station.”


Synesthesia and lyric writing
May 18, 2022 9:56 PM

Instead of attempting to cram lyrics into melodies, get a feeling for what kind of images, symbols, and emotions arise from the music. Chords, progressions, and melodies have an embedded mood within them, and a good lyricist is able to fish for the words that dwell within them.


Ideas are power laws
May 18, 2022 8:04 PM

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 useful skill is the ability to assess the potential of an idea. Some are worth way more than others. 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.


Ribbonfarm on "lore"
May 18, 2022 6:12 PM


"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."


The idea compass
May 18, 2022 11:18 AM

Up: Context
Left/Right: Parallels & Counter-points
Down: Implications (so what?)


Jeep hunters
May 17, 2022 11:26 PM

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. We didn't think it was worth $500. 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 a month. 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.


Questioning baseball stats (RBI)
May 17, 2022 8:33 PM

  • 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 weigh each RBI by how far it is from the score differential being 1.
  • Here's a wonky article on RBIs and baseball stats: https://community.fangraphs.com/weighted-runs-batted-in-efficiency/

Dog step-dad
May 17, 2022 6:51 PM

When you get into a relationship with someone who has a dog, and you become unofficially responsible for it.


The International Phonetic Alphabet
May 17, 2022 4:34 PM


Questioning the granularity of logloglog
May 16, 2022 9:46 AM

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 at 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.


Premature categorization is the devil
May 15, 2022 10:25 AM

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.


An essay is a chain of answers to invisible questions
May 15, 2022 9:39 AM

If you look at any essay, it’s basically a sequence of questions the author is answering. In most cases, the reader isn’t aware of the question, and in many cases, neither is the writer. It’s actually one of the easiest ways to outline a piece. Ask yourself, what are the key questions I need to answer? Treat each section as an answer to a question. This is something I’m trying out in The Writing Studio. Outlines can be intimidating, so I’m helping writers by shaping a series of mini-prompts.


Problems vs. solutions
May 15, 2022 9:37 AM

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.


Nuanced audience growth
May 14, 2022 9:46 AM

“Audience growth at all costs' sometimes feels like an un-interrogated north star. There’s probably room for a nuanced language on how we talk about audience goals. For example, maybe on Twitter you want to master threads for the purpose of hyper-growth, but you approach your newsletter in the opposite way. You intentionally put a $5/month paywall to reduce your audience size. Only your true fans sign up, and the intimate audience gives you permission to be extra-vulnerable. This space to write without inhibition might be, a) a personal goal of yours, or b) maybe it helps you generate raw ideas to bake into your viral Twitter threads. The lesson here, it’s always worth testing popular tactics against your highly idiosyncratic goals.


Picking up dates at baseball games
May 13, 2022 7:21 PM

The food lines are mobbed during the first inning since no one’s had dinner yet. It’s drizzling and cloudy with La Guardian Jets flying over.. Suddenly the rain kicks in, which is a natural social lubricant– conversation strikes. Before you know it, Kristin got the IG handle from a guy on the hot dog line. Turns out Danielle and I are a top-notch wing-crew.


Sanctuary on wheels
May 13, 2022 6:51 PM

I step into an Uber on route to a Mets game, which seems more like a sanctuary on wheels. The center console has a 12” orb that’s pulsing vibrant colors. Lodged next to the driver’s headrest is a literal FISH-TANK with LED lights. There’s a bamboo tree coming out of his center console, a Christ action figure on the dashboard, an inflatable brachiosaurus in the passenger-seat, and crooning out of his Toyota’s speaker is a choir of angels.]


Russian doll marketing
May 13, 2022 3:43 PM

Michael Sklar helped me see the parallel between marketing & Russian dolls. If you don’t know what a Russian doll is, imagine a painted wooden toy that can open down the middle. When you open it, you find an identical toy, 70% of the size, also openable. The toys get smaller and smaller. Russian dolls all the way down. Marketing is the same, whether it’s for an essay or a product. Let’s look at it from an essay. It’s a cascading series of invitations.

  • The title hooks you to read the excerpt
  • The excerpt hooks you to read the intro
  • The intro hooks you to read the section one header
  • The section one header hooks you to read the first sentenceThe first sentence hooks you read the first paragraph

A crisis of tabs
May 13, 2022 3:26 PM

It amazes me how at the end of the day, I often have 4 different browsers open, each with somewhere between 3 and 72 tabs open. I’ve finally admit, I am a mindless internet surfer. Digital sprawl piles quickly. It balloons out of control. I’m going to guess why. We often use the “new tab” feature because of a fear of losing track of where we’ve been. Radical idea: what if Internet browser histories didn’t suck? WHY DON’T THEY UPDATE IN REAL-TIME? JFC it’s 2022. Imagine a sleek browser history panel, hovering in and out from the left, auto-archiving and clustering your past, as you focus on ONE thing at a time.


Baseball should be boring
May 13, 2022 2:07 PM

Baseball is about sitting outside the threshold of excitement. There are long stretches of nothingness, until suddenly, high-stakes situations float into your attention. Notice how whenever someone hits a fly ball into the outfield, almost everyone stands up, hoping it’s a home run?


Curiosity vs. value
May 13, 2022 1:35 PM

Charlie was intrigued by looking at my logs. She said it had the feeling of “looking into my diary,” but it's more structured and curated. I need to find the balance between, 1) writing as if no one is watching, and 2) making it accessible (and coherent) for people who care to read it. It's a very different approach from offering "value" consistency. It's a different offer. It's not a skill or a life-change. It's a curiosity quencher. What if you got to truly understand what person X thinks? Well– this is an attempt at that.


Revisiting my logs from 5 months ago
May 12, 2022 12:20 AM

Reading through my first log on December 9th— three things surprise me:

  • I was off-the-rails on day one. At this point, it wasn’t public, and I truly was writing in private. I was truly saying some crazy shit. I don’t know if I’ve preserved this spirit as much as I would’ve liked. I think a one-month lag will help me unleash in the moment. Whatever it takes to remove the filter.
  • 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. Recently though, I find myself logging ideas instead of detailed personal experiences.
  • logloglog exists because I turned down the opportunity to watch Jungle Cruise with my wife and mother-in-law.

How to introduce a set of essays
May 11, 2022 11:57 PM

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?

Unchartered territory
May 11, 2022, 7:11 PM

Quote from Will’s essay: “Learning from experts is valuable– other’s advice can set your sails and start your journey. But keep note of your span from shore. Sail long enough and you’ll enter waters unmapped by others. On distant seas you don’t need a helper. Closer you manual. Silence your Twitter. Turn and face the horizon. Feel the spray of your skin. Steer confidently by the starlight above and your own internal sun. Savor the silence as you press on alone.


Know your mode
May 11, 2022 12:06 PM

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 it. 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)

Crypto as a "best-to-market" play
May 11, 2022 10:35 AM

The whole crypto space has a "first to market" mindset in an infrastructure space that could be a decade away from maturity. Cardano embodies the slow, "turtle" approach– they have a "best-to-market" strategy. It's irrelevant to them if they launch smart contracts in 2018, 2021, or 2024. They have an academic, peer-reviewed approach, and treat their financial infrastructure as if it's mission critical. The philosophy of "move fast break things," works for Silicon Valley social apps, but maybe it'll prove to be troublesome in the sphere of financial infrastructure.


Disruptive projects
May 11, 2022 8:31 AM

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.


The curse of a good communicator
May 10, 2022 10:25 PM

There are some ideas on my site that are well-articulated, around things I no longer believe. When you're a good communicator, there's a risk of spreading wrong ideas. Maybe there's an idea of yours that is in-progress, or wrong– but if you can communicate it well, people will believe it like it's Gospel. (PS- It's okay for your mind to change.)


The scientific method around productivity
May 10, 2022 10:14 PM

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.


Fluid systems
May 10, 2022 9:39 PM


Be fluid in your systems so you can move towards the path of least resistance.
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.


Considering switching from Notion to Ghost
May 10, 2022 9:11 AM

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, the aesthetic is way sleeker than Notion. My biggest block— I'm 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.

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.

Newsletter decision fatigue
May 10, 2022 12:15 AM

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.


Feedback Gym notes
May 9, 2022 4:55 PM

  • On discovering the shiny dime— look through all the noise. Find a pattern, inhabit that lens, and see if that pattern occurs elsewhere.
  • Conversations are a social way to excavate the edges of an idea.
  • The value of a private community for sharing drafts— less pressure.

The effect of drugs on musical voice
May 9, 2022 10:24 AM

Looking for a written history on how the Grateful Dead’s music evolved with their drug-use. Seems like they went through a beer/weed phase (punk), an LSD phase (experimental), and a heroin phase (chill). https://www.reddit.com/r/gratefuldead/comments/3wdk19/drug_use_timeline_a_few_questions/


A Terence  McKenna mindmap in Obsidian
May 9, 2022 10:21 AM

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.


The time horizon of notes
May 9, 2022 10:09 AM

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.


Explaining online writing
May 9, 2022 7:28 AM

The challenge of explaining online writing at family functions.. I’m close— it’s somewhere between YouTube celebrities, LinkedIn, resumes, and travel blogs.


Date awareness
May 9, 2022 7:21 AM

When I had my first digital camera as a ~9th grader, I remember having to manually remove photos from my SD card since storage was limited. I’d sort the photos into folder 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.


Notes on divergence and convergence
May 8, 2022 10:20 AM

  • 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).

Door demolition
May 7, 2022 8:32 AM

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.


On my guitars
May 6, 2022 8:11 AM

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.


Weekly vs. daily habits
May 5, 2022 8:20 PM

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.


Double entendres
May 5, 2022 12:41 PM

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.


The American date format is surprisingly right
May 4, 2022 3:14 PM

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.


A rant on the "Schmetaverse"
May 4, 2022 9:38 AM

  • 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 “schmetaverse” 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.

Post-it doodles
May 4, 2022 6:27 AM

Thinking of starting an Instagram for post-it doodles.


Creativity as a parallel process
May 3, 2022 6:55 PM

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.


Morning tunes
May 3, 2022 10:46 AM

  • Grateful Dead
  • North Mississippi Allstars
  • Flying Burrito Brothers
  • John Hartford
  • Railroad Earth


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📓 Introducing logloglog

Back in December, I started a public interstitial journal. A few times a day, maybe every hour or so, I'd write down what I was thinking. I was surprised at the benefits of this practice.