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I missed last week and got delayed this week. But the notes keep coming.

Book Reviews

The main update since my last batch of notes (as it pertains to this website) is that I published my review/summary of How to Take Smart Notes.

I'm excited about that for a couple reasons:

  1. I enjoy learning about the process of learning and intend to explore this topic further. It's great to have a milestone to look back upon.

  2. Book reviews are an excellent "attack vector" into a topic. I've always thought about how Vitalik Buterin was first a journalist in crypto before creating Ethereum. I love this concept of being an archaeologist/anthropologist/researcher of a domain before entering. It gives you credibility and deepens your awareness of the space.

That's all to say, expect more book reviews. They're basically "admissions tickets" into any topic of your choosing. They provide the cover fire to enter a new world.

Writing and Coding

Naval identified that media and code are two assets anyone can produce, yet can reach massive audiences:

Code and media are permissionless leverage. They're the leverage behind the newly rich. You can create software and media that works for you while you sleep.

And if writing forces you to get your ideas into a presentable state, then - as @conaw observed - coding takes it a step further:

Code is crystallized thought

I really love these similarities between code and writing, but there's one dimension in which I wish they were more similar: testing.

With software, you can constantly test your work. The work itself might be more unforgiving - not a single character can be incorrect - but the speed at which you get feedback is unparalleled. With code, you can set up an environment in which you get feedback every time you save a file. And this feedback can execute in seconds, or less.

With writing, every time a change is made, we have to read our work. We must switch from a writer's mindset to a reader's - just to see if what we've created makes any sense at all.

Not only do unit/integration tests give you faster feedback to see if your code works, it allows you to "refactor" or tighten up working code such that the same ideas can be expressed more clearly.

There is no such thing for writing - and thus, the feedback cycles are just so much slower.

There's not much of a point here - other than to say I wish there was a way we could get faster feedback on our writing...

Enabling Environments

Right now, I've been in a state of "funemployment" for almost 9 months. Initially, the goal was to travel and build SpaceTime, but those plans quickly got derailed. Since then, I've worked on a variety of random projects: Software Mentor, Summer of Shipping, Feather.

I've learned a lot during that time. But I'm not sure I maximized my learning - and the reason for this is that I haven't quite constructed an environment which provides both sufficient feedback, motivation, and a rate of iteration that makes it all work.

I'm trying to fix that with my future initiatives - the first of which is to grow this website.

And when it comes to choosing content, I plan to let growth be my initial guide. I believe growth is key to feedback, which in turn unlocks an Enabling Environments.

In fact, this was the subject of the example I presented in my "How to Take Smart Notes" review: why "looking for growth" seemed to be common career advice. The idea that personal growth is correlated to product growth "sounds about right", but it's hard to figure out what action you should take about it. The advice of finding a set of things that can grow fast, and then picking your favorite among that set, is a very useful framing. While I don't plan to follow that exactly (in fact, I'm doing the opposite - I'm restricting topics by my personal interest first, and then focusing on growth), it's useful to recognize the importance of growth.

That was a bit of rambling, but in sum:

  • I want to create an enabling environment for myself, which I believe needs product growth.
  • I believe this website can be such an environment, if it grows
  • Thus, I intend to grow this website by first being open about the topics I explore, and then doubling down on whatever works

Will report back if this works. I'm sure there are tons of little details I'll need to overcome to make this happen.

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