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Thanks Alan, that looks like a pretty fantastic list of books to get engaged with.

Definitely agree with this sentiment:

> I should mention that reading lots of "poor books" is also part of literacy: they help the understanding and appreciation of "good books" considerably.

I see parents bemoaning their children reading sort of simple formulaic series like The Hardy Boys but frankly that's how I started out and now those parents complaining consider me some kind of authority due to my collection of books and wide ranging reading habits.

It's ok to read spy/dective fiction or romance novels. As long as you make an attempt to explore outside those genres at some point it'll be fine.

It's like the three stage rocket leaving earth's gravity. The payload is supported by an immense amount of push from something that will be thrown away later (until Elon Musk came along). You don't necessarily get better readers by increasing the quantity of payload.




I quite agree with this. I don't think of "junk novels" as "poor" in that sense. A lot of getting fluent is just doing, so reading lots of junk fiction that is fun is generally good (I certainly did). To me a "poor" book is one that is not up to its subject and/or its intent. There are lots of great junk novels.


[sent an email]


There is also a lot of really important "high hanging fruit" that needs to be done (for example real education for the entire world).


Absolutely. There is no question that we're not even at the beginning of making a dent in the Education space. I think once we have fully immersive virtual reality we'll still just be at the start of understanding the inputs/outputs. The people studying transcranial simulation are a bit out there but the essential idea of understanding how our students understand is clearly vital. Having the ability to know when a student has truly grasped a problem or stumbled onto the solution, just that alone would be magnificent. Also the idea of a good pedagogue for each child, monitoring and helping the child's entire education cycle into adulthood and beyond would be a great thing. I'm sure you've read the Diamond Age and are familiar with The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.

Thiel often says something to the effect of that when he worked out the value of Paypal, that the major value really came ten, twenty years later. So it would be important to focus on looking at those companies which could have a reasonable chance of having that kind of longevity and not worry so much about big spikes in valuations in the here and now i.e. sustainability was the major driver of returns vs the attraction of viewing investments as being lottery tickets.

The same thing is almost certainly true of the Net+Education. The major structural change the Net brings to advantage our lives probably doesn't exist yet or is in very nascent form. Either way the good stuff will take considerable time to mature to get us to that high hanging fruit.

Education in particular has so many sacred cows blocking the way to improving it. We do need some of your 'Whoosh' moments to break the conventional wisdom[s] that exist about Education though. It is more than possible that The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer and VR and transcranial monitoring/stimulation are the wrong paths.

We'll probably make horrible mistakes you know, but the Net is kind of like a giant Undo button that should allow us the ability to retrace our steps to where the initial error got made.

Whatever happens, a whole lot of ox is going to get gored! :-)


I forgot to ask. It's been circulating in the back of my mind for a while now.

What do you think about Urbit?

It seems to represent a fresh new start!


They have verve, and that's generally a good thing. In this case there are a lot of details that need to be grokked to make any reasonable comment. The use of combinators (a kind of dual of lambda calculus) harks back to an excellent thesis by Denis Seror at the University of Utah in the 70s that produced a safe, highly scalable and parallel implementation. I haven't looked at it more deeply (and probably should).


I'm sure Yarvin & the team will be delighted to hear it!





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