"What I've Been Up To" Ramble

Posted on October 12, 2018 by Richard Goulter

I haven’t published anything on this blog for some time.

I’ll break that absense with a bit of a ramble.

I’ve just relocated to Vietnam, to live with my girlfriend.
Currently, I’m on a “personal sabbatical”.

The first part of this ‘sabbatical’ has been spent on relocating, and on catching up on some of my Steam backlog.
(I did meet with some of my friends before leaving Singapore, too).

Currently I’m transitioning from “playing games” to “personal organisation”. I’m trying to establish some discipline or deliberateness about how I go about being productive.
One part of that is looking at PlainTextAccounting as an improvement on how I have (or haven’t) been tracking where my money goes.
Another aspect of this is to actually make use of the org-files I’ve been dumping content into.

I’ve been fairly good at “write-only notes”. This could be considered as journalling or logging.
I haven’t been good at considering “why?” about these notes. And without a purpose, there’s no cost for the notes not having any structure. (Without structure, it’s expensive to refer to notes; but if you’re not referring to the notes, then this doesn’t matter).

Part of that is fine. You don’t know what the structure/discipline should be until you do it.
But, uh, now I can see that there’s value in: 1) reflecting on what you’re doing, 2) having some criteria to consider when reflecting.
– That sounds rigid; but the point of the structure is to guide and serve, rather than to limit realised potential.

On the topic of “being productive” and disciplined, some interesting media:

Related to this: social media.
I haven’t been spending as much time on social media recently as I used to.
This isn’t a “I’m being disciplined about it” thing.
It’s partly a “not especially interested”; and I think partly I want to organise my social media stuff too.

I’m not particularly negatively affected by “people post their perfect selves on social media”. Albeit, I suppose I’m guilty of posting some good times on social media, which maybe does affect others.

I do find myself drawn-in by e.g. the titles/questions in the Quora Digest emails. (I haven’t thought much about why this annoys me).
I’m also drawn in by the “what’s next? what am I missing out on?” allure of Twitter and Hacker News. (I think Reddit communities have the same draw to them, so I don’t go on Reddit).

Well, uh, yeah, Twitter is probably my favourite social media site for arguments, which I’m fascinated with.
And while the tribalism and culture-war politics is admittedly a big draw for me,
I think another aspect of what I liked about Twitter was its referential nature. Since the 140 characters wasn’t enough to explain or link to any context, tweets would inherently refer to events. As a user, you had to be “in the know” for this to make sense. My experience was often having to puzzle together what people were talking about from various tweets.
There’s a kind of “open to anyone who makes the effort” inclusion to that.

In terms of “organising myself” and “being disciplined”, my concern here is a lack of deliberateness in consumption.
e.g. Spending about an hour looking through various programmer-related discussions on Hacker News or trending GitHub repositories seems fine (especially if it’s an hour I have set aside to do that).
But spending however-long getting mad about slights against my tribe (or dumb things my out-group do) on Twitter until I’ve seen pretty much everything people in my timeline have gotten mad about … doesn’t seem so good.

One sensible solution here is “don’t go on Twitter to consume politics if it’s unhealthy for you”.
But I kinda reckon if recommendation-algorithms will naturally find this kindof stuff for me: Instagram’s recommendation manages to show me cartoons with a propaganda-level of political fervour.
– On the other hand: most people are able to move through life and the internet without being politically, tribally worked up about everything. (I’m not sure if this is a case of “once you’ve tasted the forbidden fruit, you can’t go back” kinda thing).

CodeSections’s “Mastodon Elevator Pitch” argues in favour of Mastodon essentially as a ‘technical solution’ over Twitters outrage-encouraging site. The incentives of the system are geared to avoid the outrage that Twitter’s induces.

Kialo is another ‘technical solution’. Kialo is interested in visualising and structuring the arguments on contentious topics.
I haven’t looked at it enough to have much of an opinion; the only one I’ve looked at was “The Last Jedi is one of the Weakest Star Wars Movies So Far”. I guess the hope is that, if points must be made (and supported), this doesn’t give much room for emotion to sway perspective. Yet, I still like Haidt’s “reason is the press secretary of the emotions”.
– Perhaps the point of the site isn’t persuasion so much as a dialogue with less heat to it.

For myself, I’d first wonder whether “doing social media slower” would be ‘better’.
Like, instead of a “retweet and this gets retweeted immediately”, a “review in 24 hours, and retweet if I think it’s still a good idea to do that”. But I suspect if shown the same input I’d behave in the same way, and still be mad again 24 hours later.

Another couple of dumb ideas:

I wonder how analogous the “outrage machine” of social media (and its ills to society) is to “herd immunity” with vaccinations.
As in, if a critical mass of people were immune to outrage, or “fake news” or mainstream media clickbait, then the pathogens won’t go viral amongst vulnerable.
– With biological diseases, a vaccine is an inert (or very weak) form of the disease. This strengthens the body so that the actual disease can’t take hold.

I stumbled across a conspiracy-theory video on YouTube once.
I didn’t stay to watch it.
And obviously only idiots fall for conspiracy videos, right?
But, I kinda wonder how much of the crap in those videos I’d fall for.

Another idea,
maybe I’d be less annoyed by dumb tweets or whatever if I took the time to (1) describe why I’m annoyed by it, (2) figure out an explanation for why the dumb tweet was said, in a way that provides dignity.
– Like, maybe trying to code content to a model like SSC’s “Varieties of Argument” is another way to deal with the emotion?

Newer post Older post