Against Ambition

“Ambitious” is a word that I’ve been hearing a lot lately. It’s often used descriptively when talking about people, but also prescriptively when talking about desirable characteristics in a friend/partner.

I think both of these are misguided, and that “ambitious” …

High-leverage Housekeeping

Work produces artifacts — documents, code, spreadsheets — and we often don’t consider it “work” unless it produces these.

These artifacts implicitly become an internal measure of work — the more artifacts you produce, the more work you’ve done. It’s easy to get caught …

Constructionism and the Future of Learning

This is the (lightly edited) written transcript of a talk I gave a few weeks ago at Experience Haus’ conference, The Future of Learning. I hope to condense it down into a more digestible essay soon.

The talk is about constructionism, a learning theory that’s been around since the …

Thinking at the right level of abstraction

In school, I often wasn’t sure when I was allowed to think.

In many subjects, we learned simplified versions of things. This was necessary, I’m sure, but it made it hard to meaningfully think about those things.

Despite being fascinated by animals and plants (fish, in particular), …

The Pleasure of Guilty Pleasures

I love finding out other peoples’ guilty pleasures.

I don’t mean the “I sometimes eat a whole tub of ice cream” kind. The kind that you’d admit to at parties. I mean the “I have an anonymous instagram account where I compile clips of Rick Grimes for my own later …

Measure: a mental model for decision-making

Should you spend £30 on a pair of jeans, or £100? Should you get that anti-reflective coating for your glasses? Should you go to the gym, or spend that time working?

Good decision-making usually boils down to investing resources — time and money — in the right way. Doing this requires estimating …

This Is Water — some thoughts on introspection and personal growth

There are these two young fish swimming along. They happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” The two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other, and goes “What the hell is water?”

This …

Notes from Malcolm Gladwell's writing Masterclass – Part 4

Here are my notes from Malcolm Gladwell’s writing course on Masterclass. It has 6 hours of dense video content, so these notes will be split into 4 parts published over 4 weeks.

Misrepresentation, misunderstanding, and miscommunication are on me. The good stuff is on Malcolm Gladwell.

Link …

Notes from Malcolm Gladwell's writing Masterclass – Part 3

Here are my notes from Malcolm Gladwell’s writing course on Masterclass. It has 6 hours of dense video content, so these notes will be split into 4 parts published over 4 weeks.

Misrepresentation, misunderstanding, and miscommunication are on me. The good stuff is on Malcolm Gladwell.

Link …

Notes from Malcolm Gladwell's writing Masterclass – Part 2

Here are my notes from Malcolm Gladwell’s writing course on Masterclass. It has 6 hours of dense video content, so these notes will be split into 4 parts published over 4 weeks.

Misrepresentation, misunderstanding, and miscommunication are on me. The good stuff is on Malcolm Gladwell.

Link …

Notes from Malcolm Gladwell's writing Masterclass – Part 1

Here are my notes from Malcolm Gladwell’s writing course on Masterclass. It has 6 hours of dense video content, so these notes will be split into 4 parts published over 4 weeks.

Misrepresentation, misunderstanding, and miscommunication are on me. The good stuff is on Malcolm Gladwell. …

Learn by exploration, then by theory

I’ve never been very disciplined on long flights. I always have grand productive plans going in — reading and writing, maybe some coding — but they never pan out. I’ve enjoyed a lot of average blockbusters in uncomfortable seats.

Last month, however, I managed to spend an entire 8 hour …

Against Social Optionality

I sometimes feel like being stuck on a desert island with someone is the only way to interact with them truly sincerely.

In different social situations, we have different degrees of social optionality — the ability to freely abandon one person/group for another.

Consider the following situations, …

Book Review: The War of Art

I was a little skeptical of this initially — it’s a self-help book, not one that most people have heard of, and you can tell by the cover that it’s independently published.

The title is what convinced me to give it a chance. The book tackles the challenges of trying to create art. The …

The Amazement of the Knowledgeable Person

The deeper you get into magic, the more profound your amazement becomes. There’s an intermediary stage where you go, “Oh, is that all there is? It was just a thread?” And then when you work with a thread for four years, and you work out what must exactly be done to make that thread into something …

Netflix-onomics

Netflix had a cracking line-up of new content last month — Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why, Season 5 of Arrested Development, and 4 stand-up specials, amongst others. This year they plan to spend $8 billion on content, on-par with media juggernauts like Time Warner (HBO) and Disney.

$8 billion is a lot …

Points Inflation on Hacker News

Is it harder to get to the HN front page now than it used to be? This is a very difficult question to answer. Are points on HN worth less today than they used to be? This is easier to answer — yes.

Here’s a graph showing the median score of HN front page submissions over time. The dots …

What actually happens when you buy a domain name?

You’ve just thought of the next big thing. It’s gonna have AI, and you’re going to put it on the blockchain.

You go onto GoDaddy, enter the name in, and boom —

domain unavailable

Eventually you find one that isn’t taken, and \$10 later, it’s yours. Of course, you never ended up starting that project.

But ever …

Trophy Hunting: Not Quite

This is an issue that every so often captures the public’s hearts and minds (in unequal parts), most recently with the case of Cecil the Lion (2002 - 2015). Cecil was killed by an American dentist by the name of Walter Palmer, who forked out \$55,000 for the right to carry out the hunt. You’ll …

The Pilot and the Plane

The defining struggle of my life has been discipline — doing the right things at the right time. Through this lens, my past year has been a trail of abandoned gym plans, half-baked projects, and decision paralysis.

None of the life advice think-pieces I’ve read on Medium have really clicked for me, …