Atoms Is Rapidly Becoming An Extension Of Bits
I don’t think people around me see what I see. I feel isolated, somewhat. Here’s what I notice: People around me see the internet as an extension of offline—it’s a tool for them to connect with people they already know. But to me, the internet is an online-first world. The true magic of the internet is the ability to connect with anyone on the planet. I can talk with anyone on the planet, collaborate with anyone on the planet, deliver goods and service to anyone on the planet, and collect money from anywhere on the planet. This is a big deal. From the numerous interactions I’ve had with people around me, I don’t think they see this, and since they don’t, they prioritize the local, offline world. I have nothing against that (food grows on soil, which exists in the offline world), but there is a misaligned worldview between me and them, which leads to big question marks on their mind, which often leads to conflict.
I know they have good intentions, but I have to do it my way. I’m sorry.
Related: a micro-novel I posted titled Cows.
If The Presence Of Great Ideas Could Be Engineered, Everyone Would Generate Ten Great Ideas Per Hour
Ideas as strange. They come unannounced, like the winds; they bloom when it’s ripe, like flowers. I hesitate to call ideas “my ideas” because it’s not me who creates it. It just sort of comes, y’know, like a lightning zap from the Gods. There are days when I’m receptive to ideas, there are days when ideas don’t come.
How does this thing work? I have no idea. Even this piece of writing is strange. Why do I have the urge to write this? Where does the idea to write about ideas come from? When I play piano, ideas just appear in the brain, and it’s translated into key-presses, which produces sounds. Where the hell did that come from? No clue.
If good ideas could be engineered, everyone would have ten good ideas every hour. But this somewhat random, somewhat woo-woo thing ain’t like that. Good ideas aren’t widgets you crank—they’re more like delicate butterflies that come to you when they feel like it.
I feel like a TV. Yeah… I’m like that. TVs don’t create stuff, they have antenna to receive signals and merely displays them. I have an idea-antenna that can detect ideas whose broadcaster is unknown. It comes from somewhere; it comes from some source…
What Hill To Climb?
One life, many hills to climb. I want to summit that one hill that ends all climbs. Some hills have a clear path, others do not. Climbing a hill means I’m not climbing other hills. I have to pick the right hill, then climb it efficiently. Everyone tells me to follow the well-traversed path. I suspect those paths lead to hills I don’t want to summit. Everyone is happy with summiting stupid hills, not realizing that their climb will never end. I only have so much time, so much energy. I don’t want to climb forever…
Behavior Reveals Desire, Words Conceal It
Like thirst produces the search for water, every behavior has an impetus—from the small to the significant.
If you’re thirsty, in the middle of the desert, being scorched by the sun and the blazing sand, with an empty water bottle in hand, you won’t intellectualize about water, or proclaiming to the world that you want water, or calling it dihydrogen oxide, or lamenting for not having found water. The thirst produces the urgent search for water—there’s water or there isn’t. Everything else be damned. It’s the matter of survival.
The impetus of parroting dihydrogen oxide and intellectualizing about water is likely not thirst, but something else. The impetus of intellectualizing about what you want and lamenting for not having gotten it is likely not the desire to have it, but… something else.
The desire to have a certain desire in-place is also a desire. Imagine sitting beside a drinkable fountain, wishing to be thirsty, intellectualizing about strategies to be thirsty, lamenting to passerby for not being thirsty. “Silly,” you might think. It’s silly. The world is full of silliness. Sentences that start with “I want…” are likely the silliest things of all.
How To Spot Pseudoscience
By the end of this short piece of writing, you’ll know what pseudoscience is. It’s everywhere, and fortunately, it can be generalized to one sentence.
Here’s what pseudoscience looks like: “Do ten jumping jacks, and you might find ten bucks on the street. If you don’t, try again tomorrow. If you do, I’m right.”
What does jumping jacks and ten dollar bills have to do with pseudoscience? Well… nothing. But, you see, you can replace “jumping jacks” and “find ten bucks” with anything. That sentence is simply the pattern behind pseudoscience.
Perhaps these sentences are familiar:
- Sign up for this get-rich-quick program, and you might be rich next month! If you don’t, you need more time. If you do, please recruit your friends to sign up.
- Down this pill and you might lose ten pounds! If you don’t, you should buy this better pill. If you do, here’s our referral code to share with your friends.
- Work hard for ten years and you might be successful! If you don’t, you haven’t worked hard enough.
- Say this and you’ll enchant your partner! If you fail, say that instead.
- And on, and on, and on…
Here’s something a pseudoscience-spouter would say: “Oh, you haven’t found the ten bucks? Well, you just aren’t walking at the right time this morning. Your jumping jacks are done correctly, but, y’know, this thing needs more time. Nothing is instant; patience is key. Tomorrow morning, do the usual jumping jacks and start your walk three minutes and twenty-seven seconds earlier. You might find the ten bucks by doing it that way.” (The next day, after failing to find the ten bucks, the pseudoscience-spouter can just say “walk six minutes and four seconds earlier” or “instead of ten jumping jacks, do eleven”.)
Now that you’ve read this, you can see the “jumping jacks” and “ten bucks” around you, don’t you? If you don’t, read this again tomorrow…
P.S. To read more about this, look up the idea of good explanations by David Deutsch.
Distribution Is For Being First In The Mind
Growing an audience by writing or talking (podcast, video) is for having distribution. Distribution gives you the ability to put something in front of people’s eyes. It gives you genuine attention.
Advertisers sell distribution—they’ll take your thing and put it in front of people’s eyes. But that is faux distribution. Do you like it when an ad is shoved down your eyes? I don’t. Ad blocker exists for a reason. Genuine attention comes from real audience—people that know, like, and trust you.
Let’s say you’re an unknown creator and you just created something—a product, a piece of essay, an animation video, whatever. Great, you say to yourself, time to share it with the world. But… where, to who? No one trusts or knows you yet. So, you share it on social media by blasting random strangers, and all you get is crickets—or worse, you get blocked. What if you had ten, a hundred, or a thousand people who would be delighted to hear from you? If you had an audience to begin with, the works you release to the world would likely have a better outcome.
Non-obscure creators have distribution—when they talk, people listen. The zero-to-one for internet creators is being out of obscurity.
P.S. A rough way to measure distribution: If you post something then immediately put the phone down, how much do people see it?
P.P.S. Having built a profitable business also gives you distribution.
Creative Juice At Dawn
Those 4AM writing sessions were magical, y’know? Before those happened, I was always two inches from my dreams, head on my pillow. Then the mind unexpectedly went, “Bro, bro, I got this good idea. Wake up now, bro. Now. Now! You won’t regret writing this down!” Listening to my mind’s suggestion, I opened my super-bright laptop, letting it burn my eyes, allowing the words to gush out on its own.
And those were damn good work.
Compared to the works that were produced early in the morning, those late-night works were super-packed with emotions. Writing those felt like squeezing every drip of blood of my heart—it felt fiery; there was something primal about it. Once finished, I hit the pillow once again, exhausted, with a smile on my face.
(Until this day, I still have no clue where those creative bursts came from.)
What If None Of Your Wants Is Original?
Maybe you want to date her because she seems coveted; maybe you want internet points because others chase it; maybe you wanted that boba milk tea because the waiting line was long; maybe you want that job because your peers are aiming at it; maybe you started that business because the business-gurus are hyping about it; maybe you hate that group because your group hates it; maybe you want to “beat” others because you’re imitating them.
What if the desires that you think came from you were actually picked by your culture? What if you don’t really want what you say you want?
Fishes in a pond are funny. If you put your hands out, pretending to feed, they flock to you. They flock because other fishes flocked, not because of the presence of food. This herd-like behavior is common among humans.
If your business idea isn’t producing weird looks from people, it’s a common one, therefore the herd is already competing for it. People applaud you for starting a restaurant, but those same people would likely ridicule you for starting a commercial space travel business. It’s uncommon, it’s risky; “No one has ever done it before,” they say. The weird looks are a byproduct of not seeing what the founder sees. Being a YouTuber was weird a decade ago, but less so now. The more people understood what the internet is and what it’s capable of, the less weird “internet jobs” look. When space travel is commonplace, people will give you a “that’s cool” response for wanting to be a spaceship captain—the same response people give you now for wanting to be a YouTuber.
It’s not about being weird for the sake of being weird; weird simply means the herd hasn’t appeared. The idea might be worthless, but if it turns out to be valuable, it’s like the first person to find gold-rich land. (Execution is the efficiency of digging the gold, leverage are tools to increase efficiency. Another topic for another time.)
The question “how do I find good ideas?” doesn’t interest me. Here’s a more interesting, potent question: “Some people seem to produce weird, valuable ideas on a consistent basis. What sort of worldview do they have that enables it?” What if consistently discovering weird, valuable ideas is simply an inevitable byproduct of despising the herd and ruthlessly being oneself?
I like ponds. The fishes have taught me plenty of things.
Computers Are Cyberservants
Kings were wealthy because they had servants—one servant for feeding peeled grapes, one servant for sewing shirt from silk, one servant for cooking the best meal the kingdom could offer, one servant as a personal guard (with sword and shield), one servant for… you get the idea.
In the cyberspace, computers are cyberservants. They are instructed by coders, and they can be ordered to do anything—serve sites, securely accept money, render lewd graphics, create a happy-faced AI to talk about the weather, clean messy data, schedule blue light filter on 6 PM, DDOS some server, or even self-destruct. When you send an email, a cyberservant takes your mail and slides it down the recipient’s inbox, like a mailman; when you watch videos on YouTube, a cyberservant takes data from YouTube and displays it on your screen as audio and moving images; when you send Bitcoin, a network of cyberservants around the world mines the block to embed your transaction into the Bitcoin ledger; when you write on Google Docs with your colleagues, a cyberservant sends your keystrokes to your colleagues and displays your colleagues’ keystrokes to enable collaborative writing; when you use Photoshop, a cyberservant manipulates pixels for you; when you run a SaaS, a cyberservant delivers services to your customers and collects money on your behalf; when you encrypt a message, a cyberservant uses math to protect your message from being surveilled.
Computer operators are wealthy because they have an army of cyberservants working for them. Coders are wealthier because they can build any cyberservants they like.