It's like a really good problem to have tbh, but there's a problem with managing this. This week there was a post about how to pick a good non-fiction book. Figuring out what the best content for me for the time I have is the problem. It's a problem we all have right now.
Also that was a really well written post, a love letter to newsletters. I really enjoyed it.
There's a part of me which harbors great sadness over the amount of historical art such as music and games which get completely ignored by the public with its ephemeral tastes. So as a natural reaction I've become an amateur art historian, spending lots of time going back and playing old games (not hard because I grew up on retro), listening to old music, watching old films... then spending time to learn about the people and effort behind these works of art. I even took a film history class.
I have books from the 1600's on my reading list. Some of them require learning another language which at some point I will have to set aside the time to do.
So how the hell am I going to have time to appreciate the cornucopia of art being thrust at me today from all directions?
It seems today you have to make the choice of appreciating the here and now vs appreciating the past. If you aren't an archivist or historian chances are you simply won't have the time to go back and explore.
And that's worrisome, because whereas the pace of masterpieces being released throughout history has been quite slow and manageable, presently I feel like I consume several masterpieces a year across several mediums.
All of this amazing content will be lost forever inside the noosphere, and the fantasy of living forever through your art and contributions to society is becoming more and more unattainable.
"Ars longa, vita brevis" is an amazing quote however, and thank you for sharing that with me.
Yes and no. As far as I can tell, the pace of content creation and distribution has been exponentially increasing since at least the Renaissance. So, while it is undeniably true that the current pace is unprecedented, it has also been true at any point in the past you care to examine. This means that the feeling of being overwhelmed by a deluge of new information is something of a constant throughout history.
The printing press, the telegraph, radio, tv, the internet, and most recently the mobile internet are some of the reasons for increases in the firehose of information being thrown in our faces.
Here’s an excellent book on the subject https://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Ourselves-Death-Introduction-...
I figured you would say this, which is why I stressed that we have crossed some kind of threshold. The effect of the internet, cheap electronics, free online resources as well as the fact that we now have 8 billion people in this world all culminate to set the stage for an entirely new era of creativity.
We are living in the New Renaissance. People will be discussing this era in history books for a very long time, like we do the Renaissance now. Why do we focus on the Renaissance and not the period of creation between then and now? Because it marked an unprecedentedly different era of creativity. And here we are again. So your mention of the Renaissance really only strengthens my argument.
Their works are all over 100 years old and regularly read (or performed) today, long predating the internet and most predating the telephone. The internet is still way too new to say how history will remember it, and I don't see any evidence that the creativity explosion that started in the Renaissance ever stopped.
It's amazing you can point to the Renaissance as an obvious point in history where things transitioned but you aren't able to see it happening right now around us.
Of course it doesn’t, I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. However, the changes brought by the internet don’t feel categorically different than the ones that came from steamships, telegraphs, radio, film, telephone, railroads, or airplanes. Each of these innovations changed the world as we know it by making it easier for new ideas to spread, and a corresponding increase in the quantity of available content. You may be right that the internet has ushered in a new Renaissance, but history may also decide that the old one never really stopped, or that the seminal invention of this era was one of these earlier ones, or even one that doesn’t get invented for another decade — predicting how history will judge the present is always difficult, and never certain.
"But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body."
Just acknowledge this and just enjoy what you can.
A few years ago I thought I could get through my to-read list, then I realized I couldn’t and stopped worrying about it.
Becoming an amateur art historian has greatly enriched my day-to-day life and given me much inspiration in my own creative output.
As a multi-disciplinary artist I feel called to recognize and hold important people and their creations in my memory, in order to help them live forever like they wanted.
In an age where we have a growing abundance of material to go through and discover, it shows the futility to hold attachment to our own personal marks on this world during this life. There will come a point where even just the relevant amount of material to our own interests will exceed the time one can consume in a single lifetime, perhaps we have already passed that point.
You can look at just the best 0.06% of YouTube, and never touch the back catalog.
Nothing wrong with focusing on work, especially if you're an entrepreneur or very ambitious. I respect that.
But I think most of us are just putting our eight hours in and then doing other stuff, and that's okay too. The problem I see in the US is that the latter group of people is subconsciously guilty about this and thus spends their free time reading about how to be better at work. It's yet another manifestation if the "temporarily embarrassed millionaire" culture.
How about reading or learning about something that has nothing to do with your day to day job that you find interesting?
EDIT: I was brought up in ex-USSR country, place not quite known for work ethic.
When you accept all this stuff into your world, it is for enrichment. So is playing sports with friends who having a cup of tea and catching up with someone.
I have found that my guilt over not keeping up went away entirely when I switched to this. I don't have an obligation to this stuff. It has an obligation to me for giving it rent-free space in my head.
You're not alone. This is why therapy and coaching are a thing. It's not quite the same thing, but having someone to reflect with you and help you lay things out is useful.
Anything that helps you feel relaxed and at ease.
I'm always super busy with work and side projects, but last December I went to Maui for 2 weeks and it was the best thing I did for myself: when I returned, all the things I had to do ("work") crept back in and I realized what it actually meant to be relaxed (because in this condition, I'm definitely anything but that).
I have 245 videos in my YouTube "Watch Later" queue. (Turns out some parts of the Android YT UI has a max of 199 videos.) And a lot of those are 30min+ lectures. I probably have at least 50hrs of content queued on YT alone. And that's what I haven't watched.
Sometimes I can't choose when I do have the time. I'll have the time to consume 1-3 hours of content and I'll freeze, unable to choose. And half the time I choose something new that's not on my list yet.
They're not like your Jira backlog that someone requires and expects you to work through in its entirety.
They're just lists of things that are "interesting, but not interesting enough to watch/listen to/read right now". So clear them out, I bet you've had some stuff on there for over a year. I know you probably feel some attachment to them, but try clearing out one of the backlogs and see how you feel about it.
I learned this when I accidentally nuked my backlog of open tabs in Firefox, which had lots of things I wanted to get around to checking out in depth. I discovered that I didn't really miss most of them, and the few I did miss, I could find again from memory.
I've done the same thing with tab backlogs. Once I accidentally closed a window and went to re-open it. I couldn't remember any specific thing in that window. I left it closed and moved on.
I watch things like educational videos, interviews, news videos etc mostly on 2x.
Movies I often watch on 1.5x, not always but typically at least 1.3x.
Sometimes I go up to 2.5x or 3x when needed, e.g. speeding through a Let's Play video during a part which isn't particularly interesting any slower.
This is a good Chrome extension for video speed control of all web video content:
For me, I would ask myself if these movie is worth watching, and if the teaching materials are worth ingesting.
Funny thing is that some of this stuff wouldn't be worth watching at 1x, but are worth watching on 2.5x. For example I really enjoy watching replays of strategical games, but much of it is frankly quite boring in real time. Take a typical 2+1 hour game of chess, with minutes between moves, condensed into a 45 minute match with commentary, that's an excellent way for me to enjoy relaxing after a day of work while the washing machine is churning and I'm eating dinner. But I'd absolutely have no time (much less interest) to sit there for 3 hours watching people think.
You have to wonder, what are the odds that all of human content is paced at a perfect speed for all of human consumers?
What are the odds that every lecturer for example, speaks at the same pace, all with the same information density of the concepts they are talking about?
The answer obviously is virtually zero. And so if you have different paces of information density, then the norm should be for every individual that for some content, you adjust the speed of the video!
Some videos pack a ton of information in five sentences, others take ten sentences to convey the same idea. (a density of concepts per sentence) And some lecturers pack those say five sentences in one minute, while others do it in two. (speed of speech) If everyone enjoyed the same pace, and all content was at the same pace, then you'd never have to adjust content-speed. But both of those two statements aren't true. So again, the norm should be that any individual may want to speed up at least some of his content.
In the end it really depends on the content. I don't speed up movies as much for example as news though because in the former, moments of quietness and facial expression are much more meaningful than in the latter and it loses its impact when sped up too much.
What are the odds that every human cultural experience can be reduced to "consumption" of N bits of information per minute?
I say you will benefit more from eating your dinner and relaxing into the churning sounds of the washing machine than you will from another day of your hyperoptimized speed run through life, measured in bits of information per minute absorbed (like a sponge) from 'content' (a term invented by industries that profit by the mindless consumption of your time by their 'content').
Humans moving at 1.5x speed just looks weird, and when I speed narrative (i.e. not documentaries) films, it feels like I am watching them just to feel like I watched it compared to enjoying it.
I had this problem. Here is my solution:
1. Push stuff to physical. Newspapers? Paper delivery. Magazines? Mailed. When the new one comes in, the old one gets thrown out.
2. Set up a dedicated e-mail account for newsletters. Same rule as above. New one in, old one deleted. No exceptions.
News is an information feed. An opportunity to become educated. It should not become an obligation.
I don't think pushing stuff to physical solves my problem of not consuming my desired content. It would solve my problem of having an increasingly longer queue, but at the cost of the environment. I think I would prefer to stay digital.
Last night I had probably 20 tabs open on Reddit that I wanted to read. Didn’t have the time to look through them all so I bookmarked them in Pinboard, closed the tab, and moved on with my life.
Will I ever read them? Probably not, but it’s nice knowing they’re not lost in my internet history and that I could.
I use tree-style tabs, so anything interesting gets stuck in a tree that I can collapse. It might stay there for a month, maybe more.
Eventually I'll either find the time to read/watch/whatever, or realize it doesn't interest me anymore.
Either way, after a while that tree gets closed and the cycle starts over.
It also turns out the YouTube service limit of videos in the "Watch Later" list is at 5000 videos :^)
I’d much rather get email newsletters than trying to stay on top of RSS, which feels like I’m always drowning. And emails are usually much simpler and no flashing ads, no auto playing video, no unlimited scroll, etc.
Hacker news has had a recurring discussion about disrupting email. Of course some startup would love to vacuum up all email in to their own walled ecosystem, wrap it in ads, and charge companies to reach their own customers. Please, no.
For myself, I'm likely much better to start slashing at my email. What suggestions do you have on how to "hyper optimize" with that?
I am not sure if decision fatigue is real, but working from that assumption, too much of my energy is used up on ultimately inconsequential things like this...
I think it is and have largely given up on trying to plan entertainment for trivial things like driving to the store. I either just sit in silence and enjoy it or let someone else in the car pick radio if they want it.
And, of course, sometimes the best choice is no content at all.
I do wonder how increasing quantity and quality of content will effect markets and create new opportunities. Maybe Ev Williams is right and it’s about curation. Maybe something deeper.
As for choosing non-fiction books, pick one that really ticks the fancy. Then follow into what falls naturally next. Unless a person develops some intuition and freedom in this matter it's always gonna be an anxiety-driven ride through the content river.
And someone will make money out of it promising an app to solve your management non-issues. I like to keep a simple big to-read list and another chnological list of things read, and try to have only one fiction and one non-fiction at at time, everything else is just a flow.
Sounds like online dating.
I found https://leavemealone.xyz just before the end of last year and unsubscribed from 238 newsletters. It's made by a couple of IndieMakers.
My inbox is much cleaner now, some might say even boring. Though are they are starting to creep back in as I go about my internet life.
The latest one is available here:
This made me laugh out loud.
Er, that said, I think it's good to do archives for useful emails like yours. Mine is just memes which go stale pretty quickly :)
What do you mean by decentralized in this context?
This makes it sound like revx is the single point of failure.
The whole thing reads to me like the locus of centralisation lies entirely with revx.
I get that email is decentralised / federated.
If revx email host gets shutdown, he can find a new one easy peasy. revx can just update his domain's DNS records to point them to a new server.
The federated nature of email prevents any individual email host from being a single point of failure, which I would believe is the point when comparing publishing via email to publishing content via a social network platform.
My bad, sorry about that.
I also think PDF newsletters are cool if you're doing anything people might like to store. I have been trialing Textmaker 2018 for this in Linux and it will do most desktop publishing stuff like linked text frames really easily, plus export to HTML, pdf, and epub.
I will say that their free tier (I think it's 10k emails per month?) is way more than enough for my use case. I'm not affiliated with mailchimp.
I also sometimes send out essays about things I've been thinking about. My last email had about 1k words about millennials (I am one, ftr) and what the media was saying about my generation.
It's not for everyone but that's something I enjoy about the email newsletter medium - you can always unsubscribe.
I’ve chosen not to subscribe to certain blogs simply because I don’t want to place my email address in more hands who have no incentive to care about my privacy.
Instead, I use RSS daily. Whether it's for the blogs or it's with podcasts.
I just added this feature a few weeks ago to the RSS reader i built (https://aktu.io/about).
Right now there's a few hundreds newsletters you can subscribe to, i'm adding new ones every day, and suggestions i welcome :-)
You can subscribe to a newsletter as you would add a RSS feed, it's gonna showup in your folders, no need to give your email address.
I use Buttondown for my newsletter and would highly recommend it!
I think, ultimately, this is the benefit I see of the newsletter mechanism—it's the ability to control your destiny as a writer and distributor. We simply do not allow for enough of that in this platform-driven era. So let's minimize the platforms.
After an era in which platforms have had so much control, it's great to see writers figure out that there are ways around all that. Kudos to Craig, Tim Carmody, and other writers that have been willing to put this kind of work into their business models.
Create an email filter that moves any email with the word “unsubscribe” into its own folder out of the inbox.
It’s an amazing signal for separating direct and bulk mail.
I haven’t really noticed this since I have a habit of clicking unsubscribe on anything that does actually show up and so my bulk folder is usually empty.
The best reason I can think of is it gets more people to sign up to the newsletter. (Who are these people, that would sign up for a newsletter b/c something interrupted them reading the blogpost, but wouldn't sign up on their own?).
A popup is nice for the people who would sign up for a newsletter anyway, but a PITA for anyone else who cares to read the blogpost's content, right?
That said, it is annoying, especially on a page about newsletters. So I just modified my templates to take a variable to turn it off on a page-by-page basis (using Hugo to generate the site). Won't appear for this post anymore.
But thanks for removing it for this page, it's a step in the right direction!
Note: I have no problems with non-popup info about newsletters or other engagement offerings (e.g. end-of-page banners), those are much less intrusive than popups.
One thing I've noticed is that they often appear (can't speak to this one specifically) if you alt-tab to another window to note something. That can be almost annoying as appearing while you are reading.
And, I usually can access the email from my office inbox, so there's that.
I would imagine the interface being a list of newsletters, with a drop down to say how much of the content you would like, an option for what time and what day you wish to recieve the summary and then the actual email to just be the summary with a single link to the full newsletter underneath.
Does something like this exist? My google-fu is returning nothing.
I've built a database of newsletters, there's 500+ indexed and categorised so far.
I'm adding news ones daily, and would love some suggestions so i can grow this database.
I haven't build a standalone website to browse the db yet, but you can check out the newsletters and subscribe as RSS feeds with the rss reader i built (https://aktu.io/about)
A lot of these newsletters are very good (many are not as well). But the volume is just so high.
Same thing with news outlets. There is a huge supply of good content. But there isn't enough intelligent bundling to make it all work anymore. I recently paid for a Medium account, and the reason I did was that Medium is really good at giving you targeted content from a wide variety of sources.
In any case, I'm working on site that is to hopefully
serve as a hub for 2d game developers to share their
scripts and thoughts freely, gaining access to "the
restricted sections" of the site as they contribute (and
yes, this is inspired by Pagemaster.) and as such, the
site will become a library over time.
People can take a penny, leave nothing, or give a roll of pennies and never take any pennies. People should have as much or as little access as they wish. The best thing about this idea I think is when users sign up for their "library
cards" they will actually receive something that
functions like one in digital form. (I may try to look
into making physical cards which I have designed
already! but I still have to work out the logistics of
When they have cards, they will instead
of "chcking out books", be able to create the books
that they want, similar to wikipedia's pdf/book system.
(Everything hosted on site will be open source too, to
be used for whatever purposes including commercial.)
And here's where the ourobouros comes back to bite, I
swear this isn't a tangent.
I think a newsletter would be a better place to start
for me to prototype this idea. WEven though the site is
under construction already. It will be in that state
for a long time too, as this is my first time developing
web content, instead of games! But I could do this.
Thanks for sharing! (I don't self promote in posts, but
if you are interested, just see my profile.)
Really enjoying the content of this website and am glad to have found it.
I will do my best to get this right! Apologies, seriously. So few rules on the formatting is throwing me off.
One easy way to do is by subscribing firstname.lastname@example.org to your newsletter. (Disclosure: I created https://publicemails.com, where this service is provided).
But wouldn’t a website hosted on a platform you control also serve this purpose? Even with the services mentioned in the essay you have a third-party looking over where you data is and have to rely on them if you ever want to retrieve your data back.
I guess you’d also have to add a method for facilitating contact though (uh… email?)
Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings  newsletter is arts/literature oriented, well produced, and full of insights - but often quite long.
I love Brain Picking, although unfortunately I feel that her articles have a certain sort of "sameness" to them.
I love long-form reading. Personally I feel that encouraging long-form reading is important. I disagree that reducing the attention of time required to read is the answer.
My perspective comes from being the CMO of a unicorn, curious about the underbelly of the internet and human mind.
First issue is up at https://buriedreads.com/2019/01/19/how-computing-came-about-...
It would follow that if you want to leverage this platform you need to make better tools to enhance email writing and reading experience.
That interface hasn't changed much over the decades.
Oh my God, we don’t need this.