Wiki Contributions


I really liked this essay a lot, especially how it shows the importance and necessity of creativity in such a rigorous field like mathematics for being able to explore and potentially end up wrong. This sprung up many thoughts:

  • Advice I had heard from Jacob Lagerros, "If you're not embarrassed by what you ship, you ship too late."

    • Contra the first technique the author mentions, having the audacity to put out a bad product seems good for feeling the fear but continuing to work anyways, continuing to explore what's unknown to you.
  • The etymology of the words experiment, experience, and finally expert all are based on the root "-per", meaning "to try, to dare, to risk".

    • In "Lean Manufacturing" Eric says "I’ve come to believe that learning is the essential unit of progress for startups." This is in response to putting out features of a product, finding out they don't work but realizing what it is that they got wrong and being able to update accordingly and reorient in the direction that leads to a better product.
  • Tip: work so fast you don't have time to self-censor:

    • Writing and editing are two very different processes, and writing as if you're writing the final result will be will stunt you.
    • I often write without spellcheck on, otherwise it stops the flow.
  • Quote from another Paul Graham essay "How to Think for Yourself", "To be a successful scientist, for example, it's not enough just to be correct. Your ideas have to be both correct and novel."

    • In your post you mention "being exceptionally talented and trained was, in the long run, not enough to do groundbreaking work because they lacked the capacity to go beyond the context they had been raised in"
    • There's also reminiscing of "definition of sanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results"; if you don't do something different then you won't get different things.
    • The author mentions "But strangely enough, this fragile margin is where the ideas that make our society possible come from" and I think that doesn't get emphasized enough in most formal schooling I've been a part of; instead of asking what people can bring to the table it's mostly "only make time for what others have done".
  • Personal advice on doing projects: Instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity, find a good one, do good and optimize from there (if you're in the state of not being established and aren't sure what to do). (This advice may be wrong, not certain.)

  • When writing a more important email I can't draft the response in the email response, I have to write it out in my notes. I type out the shitty, low quality ideas and then am able to see most importantly 1. the full idea, and 2. exactly what it is that doesn't work. If it's not being observed though, I stay with writer's block.

  • A note on the EA / Rat culture that I've been a part of; I've seen people move into this community and if they say something that's possibly not true / even moderately disagreeable, people will quip back some sort of "That's not true:" and dominate the conversation for a while. The intention is to update, but I see people instead stop adding to the conversation out of fear of being wrong and chastised.

  • I like this twitter thread that aims in a similar direction of this post, and exploring one's own thoughts

  • Maybe a more palatable piece of advice comes from "Sailling True North" by James Stavridis mentions "Creativity and innovation can be paralyzed by fear of failure."

    • In this context he's speaking of war (where some of the advice in the post isn't applicable), but being able to not cave into pressure from outside forces but still recognize and allow those pieces of you that very well could be wrong to surface. This is quite delicate, but I'd argue is massively important.

Paul Graham

Link for the curious

I've heard this comment as, "if you're not paying for the product, you are the product."

I've read this book and tried to read it again as I thought I was missing something, but my impression of the book is that it's somewhat sloppy, a bit preachy of ZK being a cure-all, makes much more complicated a very simple system to the point of obfuscating the main point.

To my understanding, all the Zettlekasten is is having notes with:

1. individual names (if you look for one name, one note comes up), 
2. creating links between associated ideas (if you think, "wow, this reminds me of..." you may forget that connection later, so you link them), and 
3. having indexes to point you to good starting points when you develop strings of thoughts / notes.

The indexes are the most complicated part. It's just that you don't file notes under a single folder (as it separates from the ideas that aren't related, but also the ones that are) so instead you semantically connect ideas on an object level basis. In order to get a general sense of the full thought you developed ("when I was researching about x, what were the main conclusions I came to?") you can look at these indexes for a nice directory of your past thoughts.

I think I've done similar explorations as you've mentioned and have been curious to develop a framework of how to go about this more generally; specifically I get lost in your first example's preservation of structure (I think this is shallow vs. deep dives, could be wrong about the terminology.)

To my understanding, the overall objective is "to get a feel for what is out there." After running through it a couple times, I think I see a general pattern of...

  1. Getting in front of you "what is out there"
    - 100 companies who had 50% of the non-financial assets (NFA)
    - pulling up the nature articles
    - locating the college catalogue
  2. "to get a feel," looking at the things that you aren't familiar with, interested in
    - asking questions about the nature of the NFA that don't initially make sense
    - reading all the titles and any abstracts which sounded novel/interesting

The only difference with the 1st example (capital assets) is that this iterated a bit; top 100 companies had 50% of the NFA --> annual reports of companies --> showing their capital assets (this is the completion of "getting it in front of you", now you can start "getting a feel.")

Is this correct or am I way off? This CIG seems like it'd be helpful for what I imagine your sequence "Gears which turn the world" would've used as far as research methods go. Either way, this seems super exciting, thanks for the post!  

Thanks for posting this! I'd also tag to the idea of the "Illusion of Transparency" that it may seem like common knowledge of how to be a part of online communities but has been fairly foreign to me. It's nice to get explicit steps/suggestions such as this.

On posting related ideas, I see this as incredibly helpful as has been noted by the "zettlekasten" method and being able to develop a highly connected network of knowledge. It's really cool to think of a network growing in the direction of ideas and people by this sort of act.