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ȘȈǤƝȘ 78: Abysmal Knowledge

6 minutes read

“I’ll not listen to reason… Reason always means what someone else has got to say.” —Mrs. Gaskell

In the Middle of the Valley by Ivan Shishkin (1883)
Welcome to Signs of Life, a periodic roundup letter from Other Life, the coolest newsletter in the world. If someone sent you this, subscribe for yourself here.

In this edition, you'll learn about:

Upcoming Events and News

Other Life x Urbit Meetup in East Austin. Tomorrow night! (Saturday April 9 at 7pm.) and the Urbit Austin Meetup will join forces for an imperceptible early-Spring mixer next weekend. RSVP even if we're friends, so I can confirm a venue of the right size. Register here (free).

What is IndieThinkers? April 13 at 12pm Central. This will be an open meetup/information session for anyone who is thinking about joining the next cohort of IndieThinkers—our accelerator for writers and creators. It starts on April 25. I’ll give an overview of what we actually do, who is likely to benefit, who is unlikely to benefit, etc. Register here (free).

The Other Life podcast now has a private studio in Austin. I spent a few weeks ordering things and setting it up, now the first two interviews are in the bag.

The new Other Life podcast studio in Austin

The first episode of the podcast was published on January 14, 2017! That’s about 5 years ago. I’ve never quit, but I’ve definitely missed weeks and taken long breaks. Now we’re entering a new era for the podcast.

By 2023, the Other Life podcast will cement its position as the most important podcast nobody’s ever heard of. :-) On that note, did you catch our two recent media mentions? 1, 2.

People still have no idea, just wait...

Around this room will grow a dense network of the most independent writers, hackers, founders, and cultural outlaws in America—before anyone's ever heard of them. We’ll start with the ~100 I already know in Austin, expand to people passing through Austin, and eventually start flying people out.

Subscribe on Youtube, and subscribe on your favorite podcast app.

Two Keys to Writing on the Internet

Successful internet writing is determined by two key conditions, which have to be met sequentially.

The first requirement for writing on the internet seems obvious but is not: You need to have something to say. Many people want to write, but don't; it never occurs to them that they don’t have anything to say.

Fortunately, the solution is simple. Go find something to say. There are roughly two different ways to obtain something to say.

The first is classical erudition, old-fashioned and patient study of great works.

The second is through adventure + introspection. Do literally anything hard, risky, or strange, and combine it with thinking.

The most widespread error in contemporary internet writing is the idea that you can produce meaningful internet writing by curating and re-mixing internet content.

Remixing classical erudition is a path to originality; remixing derivatives will only ever be doubly derivative.

The second requirement of successful internet writing is volume plus consistency, or in one word: Execution.

Tools are overrated; systems are overrated; frameworks are overrated. Simply deciding to triple your writing volume immediately is underrated.

Execution is a greater filter than Having Something. Many people have something to say, or can succeed in obtaining something to say. Few can lock themselves to the desk long enough, and consistently enough, to produce a real body of work.

When I look at who succeeds the most with, it's not necessarily the highest-IQ people. It's those who Have Something (something real) and who give it the most hours the most consistently.

Realness plus execution is the greatest revenge against everyone who ever thought they were smarter than you, everyone who ever looked down on you.

Take your revenge.

A 6-week accelerator for indie thinkers working on the internet.

Job Openings

Part-time crypto office job in Austin. I know someone looking to hire a recent college grad, in Austin, to help with different tasks around the office. It’s a crypto-focused business and you’ll be working in the same office space as my new podcast studio. Pay is $20-$25/hour; about 2 days/week (could change). Hit reply if you might be a good fit.

Book publishing job (remote). I know an editor at a well-known NY publishing company looking to hire an editorial assistant. Work will revolve around non-fiction book publishing and admin. She likes weird people who didn’t go through the Ivy League and who don’t live in NY (I think this means remote is OK); internet-savvy Zoomers especially welcome to apply. Salary is $45k with benefits. Hit reply if you might be a good fit.

The New York Review of Books is Dying

No literally, their readers are almost dead.

If you think the creator economy and Web3 are gaining momentum right now, just wait 16 years.

16 years is when the average NYRB reader will die.

From the NYRB's classified rates sheet

If your idea of “making it” is to see your book reviewed in the NYRB, you better find a new dream.

The “creator economy” and “Web3” are cute words for a transfer of wealth from credentialed Boomer libs in the Paper Belt to pseudonymous Zoomer accelerationists on the internet (and Millennials just barely keeping with it, like me). (Image source, life expectancy source.)

Marginalia Search: An Independent DIY Search Engine

“Focuses on non-commercial content, and attempts to show you sites you perhaps weren't aware of in... The software for this search engine is all custom-built, and all crawling and indexing is done in-house.”

Marginalia Search is a small independent do-it-yourself search engine for surprising but content-rich websites that never ask you to accept cookies or subscribe to newsletters. The goal is to bring you the sort of grass fed, free range HTML your grandma used to write.

Hat tip to the Sonya Supposedly newsletter.

The Imperceptible Country

Highlights from the Other Life community this week

Become a citizen

Is the difference between Indica and Sativa a marketing-induced placebo? "During the war on drugs, selective breeding pressure chose cultivars convenient for growing in a clandestine environment. This is observed as %THC going from 2-5% to over 20% for a bigger reward, overall terpene levels dropping for a lower risk of being caught (terpenes smell), and shorter plants with quick cycles for efficiency.

All of this resulted in a more or less homogeneous chemical profile which is hard to categorize and doesn't provide significantly different chemical profiles. While your bud became mostly the same, the creative naming by marketers exploded for even more confusion."

By ~ripnyt-ripnyt in the city. Read and/or reply here.

An Octopus? "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to generate octopuses. MI6 has connected the Klaus-Fuchs (this guy Fuchs) AI engine to the only known image in existence of the Quartus Co logo. We need to generate 500 possible renditions of what Quartopus, the Quartus octopus, looks like in various disguises.”

By ~rabsef-bicrym in the city. Read and/or reply here.

Idea: Form a syndicate to buy Miladies as a group? "We could make a syndicate DAO (investment club) via; you'd get club tokens in proportion to your deposit; cannot publicly solicit, this would only be open to you all, my friends in this private group; cannot be more than 99 people; every person who joins must be involved in each purchase decision."

By ~hatryx-lastud in the city. Read and/or reply here.

Abysmal Knowledge

Eve of St. Agnes by English painter John Everett Millais (1863)
“We do not need the learned man to teach us the important things. We all know the important things, though we all violate and neglect them. Gigantic industry, abysmal knowledge, are needed for the discovery of the tiny things—the things that seem hardly worth the trouble.” —Chesterton


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