crackle, crackle, crackle, BOOM
These blog posts have been rly fun to read, like twitter (compared to a lot of blogs which recently are feeling like work to read).
Branching paths are actually one of my fav topics specifically, a bunch of math im interested in is directly from this (graph theory, decision theory, etc). If future visa wants to revisit that'd be sick (but up to him when the time comes of course)
i read the essay in one breath, and i loved how it is composed/architected even though you didn't know how the ideas will connect at the outset!
and indeed forgetting aids remembering and learning, this is a subject of a Brain Inspired podcast episode with the neuroscientist Tomás Ryan https://braininspired.co/podcast/127/ . and here is a review he co-wrote about the phenomenon https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35027710/
These recent posts are cool; content aside, I like how they show the movement of your mind as it thinks. I guess making polished output involves sanding down the knots and bumps of the creation process but it can be fun to peek under the hood sometimes
my new blogging strategy is basically to read an existing published post and find a phrase I'd like to linkify, then write something worth linking to and link it. something very crackley about it
love the lightning and ant metaphors. crackle BOOM has lovely parallels to Runs and tumbles, the ancient form of explore-exploit. taking the liberty to drop some lines from my substack's about page
The noble bacterium goes about its days in a series of runs and tumbles. By default, its flagella are set to manically rotate in utter pandemonium and the bacterium flops about like a deranged Magikarp — a tumble. However, upon sensing the presence of nutrients, the flagella synchronise like pranksters on a school-bus and begin rotating in unison, propelling the bacterium forward at an impressive 30 mm/sec — a run. Once the food trail peters out, the tumbling begins again in earnest and eventually sets off a new run, and on and on, the E.coli waltzing about in what mathematicians would call a random walk.
The E.coli’s running and tumbling form a rudimentary albeit elegant solution to the basic problem all self-organizing systems must solve — effectively gathering information in order to navigate and make sense of the world. And by virtue of their simplicity, runs and tumbles offer a striking illustration of the trade-off all such entropic mutineers must make - balancing the ease of sticking to a trusty path with the necessity of shaking things up in pursuit of greener trails.
I think this gets at a core tension in the way we relate to cultural evolution, and points to a better way to approach it. Evolutionary processes are "blind"--they have no way to predict outcomes except by trying every accessible path and discarding the ones that (under present conditions) don't seem to lead anywhere good. Cultural evolution theory tells us this is how cultural change works, but we reject that conclusion because trial/error is costly and painful, and that doesn't seem inevitable. We largely experience life, at least in a practical sense, as a series of conscious, reasoned choices (eg if you want to go somewhere you just follow the google maps directions). For the user, human culture feels more like intentional design than random evolution.
There's a strong intuitive pull to the idea that we should basically be able to transcend evolution. You'll often see popular writeups about cultural evolution imply that the theory describes the way cultural change occurred in ancestral communities where individuals were (presumed to be) not self-conscious of their ability to innovate, in contrast to the intentional science and engineering we have today. But of course, there is no essential distinction between the two at all; they're both evolutionary, and trial and error remains as crucial as it ever was and always must be. This piece is a valuable corrective to that false dichotomy.
Every designed solution that always gets the right answer on the first try is a desire path our ancestors forged, noticed, and paved for us. If we want to leave more for our descendants, we have to keep leaving the paths and trying and failing. We should aspire to equip ourselves not with tools that let us predict the desire paths in advance (although there's a role for that), but tools that make it cheaper, safer, and more fun to go farther off the pavement.
Loving the recent content. Karl Friston's Free energy principle of the brain is a theoretical explanation of why we are pattern matching creatures because of our brain structure (if interested) 😁
I’ve never read something as winding and connected as this
"Pave the Desire Paths" - yes! I'd offer this applies to business operations as well. Often times there's a lot of loose processes that naturally arise as people are figuring out how to do the work (similar to the ants finding the shortest way around the obstacle). So you can get some immense benefits from just hardening what's already informally starting to take shape.
When people complain of Lack of Process, I'm seeing it's usually because there is some loose process that exists but is not officially "sanctioned" or documented or maybe needs a formal "owner" or roles / responsibilities. It's not that people are just floundering about with no consistent structure and making it up again from the start each day.
I recited that Frost poem in school, and I never noticed this nuance. Or maybe I did. I vaguely remember arguing with and correcting people for misinterpreting it in the years following my recitation in that class. Dunno. But there is something really relieving about admitting that the path is revealed after we take it.
The whole thing about writing our own narratives is lovely to see spelled out here. And now I have to stop writing this and get my kid ready for school, so that’s as far as I got today, bye!
The astrological ruler of Gemini is Mercury, and it's a really fun planet in astrology. Planets have distinct natures, but Mercury is neither. It has an adaptable nature, taking on the nature of whichever planet it's linked to by astrological aspect.
In mythology, as you've mentioned, he's also Hermes, a messenger of the gods, but also a psychopomp who directed souls to the underworld. In this way, Hermes/Mercury had the ability to traverse different worlds or boundaries, that speak of liminality or being "in-between".
Mercury also presents mischief and trickery, where he famously stole Apollo's cattle herd and reversed his footprints lol