Information digest #1: Relationships, ethics, anxiety (of generation Y)

Here’s a small summary of things I consumed recently that were pretty interesting. I listed the cool stuff cause, well, it’s cool, obviously.

I've been an avid supporter of reflecting deeply on things I learn, think and feel  for a long time now. The tools I use are notes, walks, meditations and some (not always private) mumbling to cultivate new ideas in my thinking.

For a while now, I've been playing around with the idea to reflect on the things I read every week, since I've been switching around some of my habits regarding information consumption the last months. So here is a first attempt! I use the Timing App to track what I read (and how distracted I am) in a week, and I use Bear notes like a complete addict to take notes about basically everything. Then Trello to organize my tasks.  

Getting introduced to a way to organize my digital life using PARA has definitely played a role into reserving the mental bandwith to commit to this. Thanks Kent and Ben!

So here’s a small summary of things I read that were pretty interesting. I listed the cool stuff cause, well, it’s cool, obviously.

Cool women in tech

When talking to a close friend that cares deeply about equality (gender, but not limited to)  and the obvious issues around this challenge in society, I often stated that signs I got from the tech/Python community show a lot of potential. I thought I'd list some awesome tech ladies that I follow and find really inspiring (a nice reminder of what is possible in the tech community).

I thought I’d add some Twitter and blog links, because they might add something to your perspective on how values of equality are manifested in certain cultures (and perhaps how they aren't, just yet).

I personally tend to ignore a lot of the mascunility that I deem unnecessary and completely impractical, because I can like people for their character regardless of the habits I disagree with. But there is definitely more that I can do here. And probably, we all should care a little more, because the public issues that get recognized are often the ones that get the chance to be resolved.

I personally don’t really want to care about these issues, because I like ignoring things that make no sense to me to begin with. It preserves bandwith, and as long as I can't change it, I don't see the benefit in caring too actively. But that is, I came to realize, quite a weak way of dealing with it. The issues don't directly affect me in the first place, making it incredibly easy to ignore. That says little about how I can raise awareness of how others feel, which is something we do need so much more :)

Articles / vids

Shows a pragmatic perspective of someone that experienced a reason for refining her way of viewing trust, and reflects this on leadership. Also tells a little on why it’s vital for trust to be absolutely transparent (I believe on a personal level, but I also saw this so strongly in my position as a CTO at Blockport). It’s absolutely amazing how big the impact is on trust, safety and a feeling of connectedness, if you entrust others with information.

It’s a great example of how taking action on a value like trust, by entrusting others, allows this value to manifest itself in others (since they feel how good it is to have shared responsibility for handling information).

I like how she mentions certain forms of hierarchy that can coexist nicely with cooperation. I sometimes think people ascribe a dichotomy to hierarchy and healthy cooperation.
Personally it reminded me of when I realised that to improve security at Blockport, we needed to set up an open group that anyone could join to openly talk about 90% of the security related things that mattered to the organization. It helped a lot, and if I had been withholding valuable information on how to keep our users’ money safe, we probably would’ve lacked in security.

She also mentions Github, which is the world’s largest platform for working together on code. It’s where much of the code used by the apps you use every day is worked on. The cool thing is: anyone can improve any project, anywhere. Most of it is public :) Sporadically, discussions aren’t friendly. But generally everyone works together with a strong focus and dedication without even knowing each other personally. It’s awesome!

Well it’s mine, so not too much to say here. I re-read it and updated it to refine the thoughts there, as they were quite vague at points (and possibly still are). But I feel this reflects some of the thoughts I have on suffering. Also, I think I have a lot to learn about writing, so I’d love feedback :)

This one is just breathtakingly insightful I think. Things I found very very striking and thought provoking were how she used ‘dancing’ as a metaphor for how you communicate in a way that maintains a healthy emotional energy between each other.

Also her notions of emotional attachment were very valuable, especially the role of this in a healthy relationship. Who to choose as a life partner, when a relationship is not in a good place but can still be fixed (and when it shouldn’t), and how monogamy is totally possible but just complicated. This in particular changed my perspective on polyamory, which is something I might reflect+write about publicly at some point. In general, my takeaway is that being 100% committed - both consciously and emotionally - and motivated to invest in someone and your relationship is key.

Related read for context (just skim over it)

Relevant for anyone, basically. But I think especially if you deal with social anxiety (which can come over me too). I would implore anyone to honestly reflect on the impact the Social Survival Mammoth has on their life, and in what areas you can start to make little improvements.

Just some small improvements, like he mentions, will show you a way to balance the mammoth and start allowing it to work in your favour. At times the article might attribute a little too much influence over our lives to the metaphor, but at the very least it’s a great way to indicate that we’re just very very wrong in many assumptions and decisions we make.

Interesting to me since I believe in the economy, but also that it needs to change. The economy is such a fundamental part of our wellbeing and productiveness, and I believe it's a machine we should learn to manage better together (where technology can help tremendously).

Quite interesting to indicate both the faultiness of the way we often portray the effect on the economy on the overall wellbeing of a society, and how skewed the public notions of our economy’s strength often are due to awfully ill-applied metrics. I personally don’t always enjoy the rhetoric of these videos as much as I value the facts.
But then again, it’s a way to create a stronger identity around their perspectives in a benign way. It’s hard to make videos that pose contradictions to peoples’ believes and state facts a fun experience, and they definitely take the edge off by making some jokes.

The PARA Method: A Universal System for Organizing Digital Information

I implemented this system in my notes and drive immediately upon reading it. I had been looking for a generic system for so long! Being a big supporter of systemized organization combined with self organization (something I like to see in DevOps and agile cultures), I love how the quality of a system is well expressed in how it synergizes in an environment that is chaotic (I'm the chaos, PARA is the system). So far, it's been working well!

Why generation Y yuppies are unhappy

A thought provoking piece on how the ready-made notion of success is not what we often think it is. Also quite fascinating in terms of individual values that end up being completely skewed, simply by the life that our ancestry has lead. A good indication that we should reflect often on where we are in life and where we actually want to go as individuals, and look critically at the values we find central to the cultivation of meaning in our lives (must read is Mans's search for meaning).

A Simplified Account of Kant's Ethics

Interesting to remember the structure of Kant's Categorical Imperative, and to reflect on it in the context of discussions I had about ethics with very smart people.

I advise anyone interested in ethics to read this through, as it's a great way to show the complexity of ethics. I often find that going through the perspectives of philosophers on ethics shows how incredibly complex it is, and has lead me to believe that ethics is subjected to evolution and is a construct that has its own power structure. This does imply there is no universal good or bad, but it's just contextual.

'Good' is a choice, not a given fact.

State machine replication

For the more techy people with an interest in distributed systems (obviously relevant in blockchain). A nice recap on some of the underlying principles that can be easy to miss if you're used to working on a higher (more abstract) level.

Ciphertext-Policy Attribute Based Encryption (did not finish yet)

I've been slowly thinking about an implementation of ABE in a project I want to start working on seriously. Attribute Based Encryption is a method of encryption that can allow us to not use private information solely for securely storing and transmitting data, but allows us to use 'set' of attributes that need to be present in order to decrypt information.

A good implementation of this, I believe, can lead to more user friendly and more secure systems. Of course, it warrants much more research before working with this. And probably more experts in general. Nonetheless a fascinating topic!

Info consumption goals for next week:

And probably some more :)