I started this blog as a way to have polished/finished things online and shared but it has increasingly evolved via experimentation into something quite different.
Rather its somewhere at the intersection of being an Instagram for thoughts, a public notebook, a collection of 1st drafts of various things, fragments for 1st drafts, a public noticeboard, a commitments/targets pad etc. Something of an experiment in the benefits of radical transparency for driving progress in various projects/personal endeavours. So its primarily a blog written for myself at present (see Alexey’s piece below), with the knowledge its possible for others to read it being useful. There are various posts kept private at the moment. See also the Annex re an intriguing suggestion from Bamford’s biography of Leonardo regarding how Leonardo used his notebooks that was also in my mind when thinking about the uses a blog could serve…….
I’m hoping its the solution to a problem I alluded to in my April 2020 piece re-advice for lockdowns, namely that as an undergrad my weekly essay provided an organising feature to my explorations and study, whereas post undergrad this system vanished. Even if no one reads the essay, its a helpful exercise. So committing to a cadence of publishing things here drives progress, the knowledge it might be read means I get my notes in a slightly better form, and over time I hope more substantial things might emerge.
One benefit already is I’ve realised the benefits of creating a rudimentary blog post as a placeholder to be grown later and added to, like a stub wikipedia page. Having something on a public blog is far more ingraining of it in memory than having it in a google doc. Its kind of like establishing a mental ‘schema’ of a kind for your explorations. The things you have blogs on gain prominence in your mind and plans. So if you see lots of small, undeveloped posts like this one go up, that’s why!
I’ll have 3 broad categories of posts over the years.
Series 1 – Notes for an Emergent I – I have a lengthy series of blogs/notes collections loosely covering what I think are unusual/under-appreciated aspects of embodied cognition and neuroscience that allowed me to learn to see in 3D, which is my main blogging focus over the next two years.
Series 2 – Zen Habits – Transferring lessons from Zen Buddhism into everyday life as a journal of my own experiences exploring zen (early days). Looking for another name as this name is already taken by another blog – Deep Living (after Newport’s Deep Work), Zen Living….. hard to find one that isn’t cliche.
Other general posts – collections of reading lists, unusual stuff i’ve found online, photos, general notes etc.
I’m also likely to blog at some stage on: Notebooks of Leonardo & Newton, and approaches to keeping notebooks/notes, especially re digital vs paper, Memory Palaces as cognitive living spaces, maybe some notes on ‘economics’……. again, posting this makes me more likely to write them, establishes them in my mind etc etc
Having a blog – Alexey Guzey’s “Why you should start a blog right now”
If I could change/create one work habit from age 18 it would have been to have a blog. Alexey Guzey summarises this in his blog post well, so I will just link to that. If you don’t have a blog I strongly recommend reading his post and starting a blog of your own, even if it is password protected and no one can read it.
“Summary: in this post I explain why you should start a blog (to help others and to help yourself), what to write about, and how to start it. I hope to persuade you that you should start a blog even if you feel that you have nothing to say and even if almost nobody will read it.”
Read here – https://guzey.com/personal/why-have-a-blog/
Some blogs I check periodically. I mostly get articles via twitter and being sent them but these blogs are useful.
The homepage of the zen monastery I’m a patron of – Korinji.org
Steve Hsu’s blog –https://infoproc.blogspot.com
A collection of intelligence/foreign affairs reporting – intelnews.org
Zen Habits has an excellent collection of minimalist lifestyle advice – https://zenhabits.net/archives/
https://www.calnewport.com/blog/ – imo best thinker re how to work and get stuff done in 21st century.
https://terrytao.wordpress.com – I don’t understand the maths but it has some excellent productivity stuff there.
A free thinking blog – Quillette
Annex – Langford on Leonardo’s Notebooks in ‘Becoming Leonardo’, w/comments
First line refers to Leonardo, then Pacioli was a collaborator/tutor on mathematics, then it reverts back to Leonardo.
Note – I disagree with the highlighted bottom right hand page text “one thing we know for sure: he would’ve loved sticky notes. A match made in heaven.”
Did Leonardo use Silverpoint tablets as ‘workpads’?
Gattis, Moffat & Thompson did a reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes in the 21st century with Cumberbatch playing Sherlock as the misanthropic but hero detective. If I ever adopt the challenge of writing a TV series, I’d try to do similar for Leonardo. I think you’d have to set it slightly in the past, otherwise you would have the near impossible challenge of discovering things for him to discover etc. If you set it in the past, you can fictitiously assign him other people’s creations, discoveries, and mannerisms….
Relatedly, if I could do a ‘forbidden experiment’ and take the DNA of any human in history and birth 100 clones of them, born into different circumstances and with different tutoring/mentoring, I’d almost certainly take Leonardo (another couple would be Newton and Von Neumann, erring toward the former as I think he’s a more interesting/mysterious character – will blog later on that.). Far more interesting even than Dinosaurs and Mammoths….. PS – maybe possible oneday? https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/leonardo-da-vinci-descendants-trnd-scn/index.html this might enable us to find which of the skulls, if any, at X is Da Vinci’s and get his DNA…… It could be the basis of an interesting science fiction book also, perhaps combining with the paragraph above….. I have ideas….