Chrys Krycho, on the business world’s uncritical stance towards revealed preference.
Unfortunately, though, many people operating from that economic frame go beyond simply observing the difference in stated preference and actual behavior. They make our “revealed preferences” normative. This is dangerous nonsense. It leads companies to ignore what users say they want in favor of what they “reveal” they want even if the latter is simply bad. And why? Because our revealed preferences are often maximally consumptive, maximally corruptible — and therefore maximally easy to abuse in the pursuit of power, wealth, or both.
“People click on these ads, therefore they must like them.” 🖕🏻
Much of the work we describe as “growing up” is learning to exercise self-control, that is: to reject what our revealed preferences show our natural inclinations to be.
George Saunders, in Story Club:
The whole idea – and this is true of crazy, experimental stories as well – is that, on the other end of the creative process is a human being not entirely unlike yourself, who has chosen to spend some number of her precious hours on this earth shaping and sculpting the story you’re reading. Therefore, it must mean something, something important.
In A World Without Email, Cal Newport draws a connection between asynchronous electronic communication between people and distributed systems research. That connection is helping me understand that organizations will inevitably turn asynchronous media like Slack synchronous, unless they can design processes that prevent it.
Robin Rendle points out that he can’t leave his website as a legacy when he dies, because the web is inherently ephemeral. Without continued payment for the domain name, a DNS provider, and hosting, websites are lost to time. Only active stewardship allows pages on the web to outlast their creators.
It’s hard to predict which rituals will stick and which will fizzle out. Two years ago, I started keeping a reading log in a large-size Baron Fig Confidant notebook. It’s a timeline, with each row representing a book and each column representing one day.
My family adopted a puppy and are thrust back into what feels effectively like edge-of-the-seat newborn parenting. When I’m not taking her outside to pee, she’s trying to chew on my feet. It’s frustrating, but also a long-term bet that I am highly confident will pay off in years of love and the impetus to walk, live in the movement, and be joyful.
Other projects are somewhat on hold at the moment, but at least I’m getting a lot of reading done.
If we idealize methods that work in conditions we never face and ignore the development of methods that actually match our circumstances, we will perform much worse than would otherwise be possible.
If you are at all technically inclined, the Tailscale blog is a great joy to read. I try to cultivate and attitude of bemused fatalism about the state of technology as a survival mechanism and the folks at Tailscale strike that tone very well.
Things are complicated. The social and commercial effects of computer networks outran the standards. Besides, no matter how well the standards are designed, there are going to be some engineers / companies that just don’t give a shit and will stop thinking about the problem as soon as they get something half-ass working.
On January weekend mornings, when it’s too cold to get the kids outside to play for any real length of time, we all end up cooped up together in the house. More so this year, with COVID cases as bad as ever in Vermont and nowhere indoors to take them to blow off steam (the ECHO Center aquarium is a favorite). By the time, I’ve got my daughter down for her nap, I’m drained — physically, but more so emotionally.
Nearly a year ago, my family went from separating to work and school each morning to permanently cloistered together, with varying degrees of rebellion against the demands of sheltering in place with small children. We have been back to regular childcare for months, but the slow pace of vaccination and the B.1.1.7 variant loom over my partner and I. The prospect of once more trying to keep each other and the children sane while nominally keeping up with our full time responsibilities often greets me when I wake in the middle of the night.