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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an interesting look into his writing process. The biggest note here is that he reads source materials and selects some for his newsletter. Then he does way more research on the topic to provide better context to his thoughts. Then he writes a draft, and continues to think about the idea.
In Issue 085 I highlighted Casey Newton’s lament that note-taking tools didn’t improve his thinking and noted that many of the people I coach struggle with having insights. What everyone I talk to is missing is time to think and make connections. They want to just take a note and then have an insight fall on their heads.1
You need time to think. You need time to work your notes and make connections.
I know highlighting the time that Kareem has doesn’t relate to most other people. I’m not rich. I have 3 kids and a dog that interrupt me. I need to write code a number of days a week so we can all eat.
But I can always find an hour a week to think about things. I can go out on the dog walk with a question in mind and think about it. We can idealize the amount of time someone famous has, but we don’t quite need all the time to get the benefits of thinking.
You don’t have to understand the whole book the first time you read it. In fact hard books will take multiple reads to really get the content out. The biggest issue is that poorly written books with nothing useful to say can mask themselves as “hard” books you just don’t understand yet.
I’ve found this with some very popular content creators that talk about note-taking and thinking. I’ll read their articles 3 or 4 times, watch their videos multiple times, and even pause them to think about what they’re saying. They’re saying nothing.
It seems that people who say nothing use many of the same words as hard thinking people to dupe you into believing that they’re saying something insightful. What they’re really doing is tossing out a word salad at you in hopes you fall for their marketing ploys and purchase more stuff from them.
David Sparks (aka MacSparky) released his Obsidian Field Guide. His courses have been great so if you’re not into my Obsidian course then check his out. It may suit you better.
The founders of Ai companies want you to believe that the tech they’ve invested in is a big bad deal you should be worried about. But, maybe Ai isn’t nearly as big as they want you to believe. Microsoft spent $10 billion dollars on an investment in OpenAI2. A year ago we’d all be dumping Google search and using Ai to get the best relevant information in our searches.
But Ai usage in search is falling and Microsoft’s big bet on Ai search has left Bing in the same spot with 3% of search traffic. This is in the face of terrible results in Google search due to SEO companies pushing out so much crap that you can never find useful content from some person writing about their passion unless you click past 15 pages of cheaply produced list content that has flooded the market.
Ai is like crypto hype. They want you to believe so you spend money on Ai and they can recoup their investment. They need you to go in on the hype of their monkey jpgs (wait NFTs) so they can make money while you end up with little of value.
One question I continually have is if Sam Altman is saying that Ai needs regulation because it’s an existential threat to humans, why is he building it? The regulation he wants is only to build a moat around the field so that his company can stay out front with what it’s building. The regulation is plea is there to make it sound like Ai is far more important than it is, because if it “needs” regulation it must be a big deal.
What he doesn’t want is laws that allow people to sue OpenAi based on the content it produces. He wants to be absolved of the misinformation that ChatGPT spits out, while continuing to reap the financial rewards of having “hot” technology.
The Cost of Opening a Bookstore
One of my recurring dreams is sitting in a bookstore surrounded by…books. I know this is a dream because I don’t really want to stock shelves or have to open and close the store and sit in my store all day waiting for customers. I just want to own a bookstore when it’s easy to own and when I want to walk in and have a bookstore.
On that note, I liked this article about the economics of opening a bookstore. I’m not one of those people that wants to work 14 hours a day. I want to ride bikes in the middle of the day, and have time for my own reading. I’ve got kids to take to sports, and a dog to walk.
Maybe one day when I retire I’ll turn my personal library into an appointment only bookstore. But then I’d have to part with my books.
Last year I read The Diary of a Bookseller which I enjoyed, and also put a damper on my enthusiasm for owning a bookstore as it showed the work it takes to keep it running.
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- There is also a long discussion on Casey’s article on the Mac Power Users forum. ↩
- And OpenAI isn’t open. It was but they took it private and want you to think that it’s an “open” company as part of their marketing campaign into fooling you that they matter. ↩