In social networks, the function of ‘friends’ is primarily to heighten narcissism by granting attention, as consumers, to the ego exhibited as a commodity.
— Byung-Chul Han, The Burnout Society, p. 43
What I'm Reading
If you’re a writer or an activist or anyone else engaged in critical synthesis, then the news-stories, ideas, sights and sounds you encounter are liable to tug at your attention: this is a piece of something bigger, and maybe something important.
Every day, I load my giant folder of tabs; zip through my giant collection of RSS feeds; and answer my social telephones — primarily emails and Twitter mentions — and I open each promising fragment in its own tab to read and think about.
If the fragment seems significant, I’ll blog it: I’ll set out the context for why I think this seems important and then describe what it adds to the picture.
These repeated acts of public description adds each idea to a supersaturated, subconscious solution of fragmentary elements that have the potential to become something bigger. Every now and again, a few of these fragments will stick to each other and nucleate, crystallizing a substantial, synthetic analysis out of all of those bits and pieces I’ve salted into that solution of potential sources of inspiration.
That’s how blogging is complimentary to other forms of more serious work: when you’ve done enough of it, you can get entire essays, speeches, stories, novels, spontaneously appearing in a state of near-completeness, ready to be written.
— Cory Doctorow, The Memex Method
What seems like a difference in talent often comes down to a difference in focus.
Focus turns good performers into great performers.
Two keys to focus are saying no to distractions and working on the same problem for an uncommonly long time. Both are simple but not easy.
(From Farnam Street Blog Newsletter, May 16th.
Marshall McLuhan was one of the best technology theorists of the 20th century. Whenever he evaluated a new technology, he asked: ‘What does the new medium, when pushed to its limits, reverse or flip into?”
By saying this, he meant that sufficiently advanced technologies flip into their opposite.
— David Perell, Monday Musings
The final type of conversation, akin to listening, is a form of mutual exploration. It requires true reciprocity on the part of those listening and speaking. It allows all participants to express and organize their thoughts. A conversation of mutual exploration has a topic, generally complex, of genuine interest to the participants. Everyone participating is trying to solve a problem, instead of insisting on the a priori validity of their own positions. All are acting on the premise that they have something to learn. This kind of conversation constitutes active philosophy, the highest form of thought, and the best preparation for proper living.
The people involved in such a conversation must be discussing ideas they genuinely use to structure their perceptions and guide their actions and words. They must be existentially involved with their philosophy: that is, they must be living it, not merely believing or understanding it. They also must have inverted, at least temporarily, the typical human preference for order over chaos (and I don’t mean the chaos typical of mindless antisocial rebellion). Other conversational types—except for the listening type—all attempt to buttress some existing order. The conversation of mutual exploration, by contrast, requires people who have decided that the unknown makes a better friend than the known.
— Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life, p.249-251