Weekend Briefing No. 464
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend. I’ve selected 12 of the best stories of 2022 to close out the year. Enjoy.
Did your brilliant friend forward this to you?
8,000,000,000 – This year the Earth will surpass the 8 billion person mark. This is a cool visualization to see how the population is distributed by country.
200 – These are the 200 best dance songs of all time according to Rolling Stone.
10 – Here are the 10 best hikes in America.
Everyone has experienced flow—that state of mind where you’re “in the zone” and able to perform tasks optimally with little conscious effort. In flow, time seems to pass differently. Your deep-seated skills take over and run on autopilot. You might even find that you’re able to successfully perform tasks at a level that was previously out of reach. Flow is naturally rewarding. Whether it’s playing baseball, programming or writing a novel, we have some of our best experiences and do some of our best work while we’re in flow states. So how can you best take advantage of flow? Researchers have identified 22 “flow triggers” that can catalyze flow states by either preparing yourself or your environment for them. In this video, researcher and writer Steven Kotler explains how to utilize flow triggers, and also how to understand the intrinsic motivators that drive flow states. Big Think (7 minutes)
Ali Wong’s Stand-Up
This interactive piece is a breakdown of why comedian Ali Wong’s stand-up comedy is so brilliant. There’s a moment 75% of the way into her routine where she got the most laughs—we’ll call that the laughter climax. Why was this moment so funny? After dissecting it, this piece is going to show you how form—the structure of the entire routine—played a big role. Form made the joke funnier. The laughter climax is meta funny. For 50 minutes, Ali has built a universe, with each joke expanding the audience’s understanding of her worldview. As an audience, we delight in seeing all the plotlines converge into one and realizing that the storyteller was crafting a deeper idea all along. The Pudding (12 minutes)
United States of Babel
The story of Babel is the best metaphor for what happened to America in the 2010s and for the fractured country we now inhabit. Something went terribly wrong, very suddenly. We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past. It’s been clear for quite a while now that red America and blue America are becoming like two different countries claiming the same territory, with two different versions of the Constitution, economics and American history. But Babel is not a story about tribalism; it’s a story about the fragmentation of everything. It’s about the shattering of all that had seemed solid, the scattering of people who had been a community. It’s a metaphor for what is happening not only between red and blue, but within the left and within the right, as well as within universities, companies, professional associations, museums and even families. Babel is a metaphor for what some forms of social media have done to nearly all of the groups and institutions most important to the country’s future—and to us as a people. How did this happen? And what does it portend for American life? The Atlantic (39 minutes)
The Latecomers Guide to Crypto
Crypto! For years, it seemed like the kind of fleeting tech trend most people could safely ignore, like hoverboards or Google Glass. But its power, both economic and cultural, has become too big to overlook. Twenty percent of American adults, including 36% of millennials, own cryptocurrency. As it’s gone mainstream, crypto has inspired an unusually polarized discourse. Its biggest fans think it’s saving the world, while its biggest skeptics are convinced it’s all a scam—an environment-killing speculative bubble orchestrated by grifters and sold to greedy dupes, which will probably crash the economy when it bursts. Understanding crypto now, especially if you’re naturally skeptical, is important for a few reasons. The first is that crypto wealth and ideology is going to be a transformative force in our society in the coming years. You’ve heard about the overnight Dogecoin millionaires and Lamborghini-driving Bitcoin bros. But that’s not the half of it. The crypto boom has generated vast new fortunes at a clip we’ve never seen before—the closest comparison is probably the discovery of oil in the Middle East. New York Times (26 minutes)
Rookie Startup Legal Mistakes
Very Important and Hard to Teach
The most important decisions in your life may be whether to marry, who to marry and whether to have kids. But none of those topics are taught in school. They’re hardly even discussed. How could they be? They aren’t problems you can distill down to an equation or even a broad principle. This article is an interesting list of such topics, including: 1) How to recognize that your own views would be different if you were born in a different country or era. 2) How to manage the balance between confidence and ego, recognizing that you might be unique but you’re not special. 3) How to accept your own faults without guilt. 4) How to change your mind, especially about things that were once core to your identity. Collab Fund (4 minutes)
This is a really cool animated visualization about who we spend time with at different points in life. My takeaway: Marry someone you like spending time with. On the whole, the trends make sense. In our younger years, we spend a lot of time with our parents and siblings. By middle age, work takes a lot of time and we see co-workers on the regular. Time with the kids peaks in the late 30s and early 40s. Flowing Data (4 minutes)
Kevin Kelly, founding Editor of WIRED magazine, released 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known on his 70th birthday. Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice from the book: (1) No one is as impressed by your possessions as you are. (2) When you forgive others, they may not notice—but you will heal. Forgiveness is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves. (3) Efficiency is highly overrated; Goofing off is highly underrated. Regularly scheduled sabbaths, sabbaticals, vacations, breaks, aimless walks and time off are essential for top performance of any kind. The best work ethic requires a good rest ethic. (4) You see only 2% of another person, and they see only 2% of you. Attune yourselves to the hidden 98%. (5) The chief prevention against getting old is to remain astonished. KK (11 minutes)
Oliver Burkeman has been an advice columnist for The Guardian for over a decade. He distilled what he learned into a final column. Here are his secrets to a fulfilling life. (1) There will always be too much to do—and this realization is liberating. (2) When stumped by a life choice, choose “enlargement” over happiness. (3) The capacity to tolerate minor discomfort is a superpower. (4) The advice you don’t want to hear is usually the advice you need. (5) The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it. (6) The solution to imposter syndrome is to see that you are one. (7) Selflessness is overrated. (8) Know when to move on. The Guardian (12 minutes)
To maintain love, we need more than anything to follow a few simple-sounding rules (that can nevertheless be very hard): 1) The partner must feel heard. 2) They must feel we are on their side. 3) They must feel appreciated according to their own distinctive love language. 4) The partner must know we are making an effort in their name. 5) They must feel wanted, emotionally and physically. 6) In so far as we are difficult to be around (and we all are), we must explain why; we need to give our partner an accurate map to our areas of immaturity. 7) We must strive to remain calm around their most trying sides. We mustn’t humiliate them about their flaws. We must become excellent teachers and diplomats of difficult messages. School of Life (5 minutes)
6 Forces That Fuel Friendship
There are six forces that help form friendships and maintain them through the years: (1) Accumulation. The simplest and most obvious force that forms and sustains friendships is time spent together. (2) Attention. You have to look for friendship in places you would never expect it. (3) Intention. When opportunity arises, you have to put yourself out there, and that requires courage, vulnerability, and a willingness to let things be awkward. (4) Ritual. The effort of coordinating hangs (or even phone calls) is the biggest barrier to seeing friends. It’s much easier when something is baked into your schedule, then all you have to do is show up. (5) Imagination. It takes imagination to design your life so that friendship plays the role you really want it to. (6) Grace. Grace has two meanings. One is the forgiveness that we offer each other when we fall short. The other is the space that creates for connections—and reconnections—that feel nothing short of miraculous. The Atlantic (12 minutes)
Here are 10 visuals that will make you think. Some of my favorites are: 1) Seek long-term purpose, not short-term dopamine. 2) Self-validation will free you from all kinds of validation. 3) Make big plans, and enjoy little things. Harsh Darji (4 minutes)
Should We Work Together?
Hi! I’m Kyle. This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm that helps startups move fast without breaking things. Most founders want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a flat, monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a 1-on-1 call with me.
When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat. -Ronald Regan