For about twenty-five years I have been copying sentences into the back pages of whatever notebook I happen to be using, using mostly for other purposes…. Of course there are sentences elsewhere in these books: even the briefest, most telegraphic, verbless note is a sentence of sorts. But the end-of-notebook sentences are different, even if someone them come from books I’m reviewing and so on. Unconnected to duty or deadlines, to projects per se, they compose a parallel timeline — of what?
I suppose the word is: affinity.
From the first chapter of Brian Dillon’s Suppose a Sentence, describing a practice that I’m emulating, to some extent, here on this blog. Again, closer to the end of the chapter:
So, not a treasury, then — something closer, I hope, to a kind of commonplace book, product of haphazard notation, ad hoc noticing.
Leylah 🇨🇦 vs Emma 🇬🇧 is, for me, a can’t lose match. I’m excited for both of them and delighted regardless of outcome. It’s a rare and awesome feeling!! 🎾
I’m excited about my library holds list. Should be an excellent autumn for reading :)
- Beautiful world, where are you - Sally Rooney
- In praise of shadows - Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
- Leave Society - Tao Lin
- Morning Star - Karl Ove Knausgaard
- No one is talking about this - Patricia Lockwood
- Something new under the sun - Alexandra Kleeman
- There’s no such thing as an easy job - Kiukio Tsumura
- The biggest bluff - Maria Konnikova
- Essays in idleness and Hōjōki - Kenkō Yoshida
- Fake accounts - Lauren Olyler
- Suppose a sentence - Brian Dillon
Remote work mostly destroys the ability to appear busy, other than having a full calendar. Being on lots of calls does not actually have an output if you’re just on them to waffle on about some bullshit, and bosses no longer have the mechanism to appear busy other than doing work.
From The Work-From-Home Future Is Destroying Bosses’ Brains published on Ed Zitron’s Substack. 📚
A picture of a video of a puffin 📷
Morning reading 📷 📚
Lookout 📷 🏖️
[Mona] remembered something she’d heard a while back from her friend Vlad, a sixty-something Russian novelist she’d met at Iowa during a prestigious writers’ residency in the middle of Yankee Nowhere, at a time when Mona was still a newcomer to the circuit. According to Vlad… peace reigned in Iowa “only beacause we don’t understand each other’s languages, and our ignorance protects us.” To illustrate his point, Vlad told Mona he’d participated in residencies that included composers and musicians as well as writers — and that was real hell. Peace between musicians, Vlad continued, was impossible, because they could all tell who was a real genius and who was just a mediocre poseur. Music was a transparent field in which genius and mediocrity were self-evident truths — and this only ever led to hatred, distrust, and malaise. No doubt about it: not knowing each other’s languages was the key to conviviality, because if we were able to read what everyone else was writing, if we were able to understand it and feel it like music, the Russian calmly concluded, well, then we’d be murdering each other in our beds.
From Mona by Pola Oloixarac 📚
Cucamelon! 📷 🥒🍉
📚The phases of remote adaptation from GitLab:
Phase 1, Skeuomorph : a remote organization will look to imitate the design, structure, norms, ebbs and flows of an office environment. The primary goal is to merely continue to operate the business, but remotely.
Phase 2, Functional: Entering Phase 2 is simple. It begins with leadership asking a fundamental question: “What if we didn’t do things the way we’ve always done them?” Companies in Phase 2 will begin to take advantage of technology to replace things which were manually done, or not done at all. For example, a company will begin to:
- Record all meetings and automatically upload them, plugging knowledge gaps created by undocumented gatherings.
- Attach a Google Doc agenda to every business meeting, writing questions, answers, and conversation down in real-time as the meeting transpires so that knowledge is archived for reference, and for viewing by attendees who are not able to attend live.
- Converse about a work topic in a public chat channel instead of a private channel, so that more input may be gained.
Phase 3, Asynchronous: marked by a company’s comfortability in completing work without mandated synchronicity. Maximally efficient remote environments will do as little work as possible synchronously, instead focusing the valuable moments where two or more people are online at the same time on informal communication and bonding.
Phase 4, Intentionality: marked by an extraordinary amount of intentionality, particularly in areas that are typically assumed to need minimal guardrails. [For example] Measuring output (results) rather than input (hours). This requires a deliberate choice to not measure hours spent working, as well as a strong commitment to outlining deliverables and expectations that can be measured. This enables team members to work towards their goals in any manner they choose.
Camping essentials 📷 ☕️
Ben Evans, on the e500m fine France has levied on Google for “not negotiating ‘in good faith’ to pay newspapers whenever a link to their sites appears in search”:
The underlying reasoning is very simple and make perfect sense, if you’ve never used the internet or thought much about how it works: “Newspapers have to be on Google and FB, but G&FB need them as well for completeless, and G&FB’s market power means the newspapers can’t demand payment for this. So, this is a competition problem”. Sure, except that 1: no-one else pays to make a link either (I don’t, and I have no market power) and 2: why should it only be newspapers that get paid, and not the other 99% of links that show up in search results?
Rainy day boardwalk 📷
Hazy sun 📷
Even with the ancient Netscape web browser, even with data dribbling into your CPU from a telephone line, pumped in from the Bell telephone aqueduct by your dial-up modem, even with the pages taking a minute to unscroll themselves for viewing, often stopping halfway down the screen, the chemical payoff was already enough to flip your animal brain into a foraging jag. You’d focus briefly on the new thing you’d just clicked on, and then ipso facto it was no longer new. What was left was the dying remnant of the secret brain-excitement from the discovery, and the hunger for another hit of this waning thrill, which is to say, the desire to do it again. This sequence of novelty and then boredom and then hunting for more novelty - now neuroscientifically engineered in the platforms and apps that occupy our thumbs - was a basic fuel of mass engagement from the very beginning of the web browser era. The ease of access combined with the sheer number of things there were to click on, the in-effect infinite number of these experiences you could have, meant the tiniest discoveries could keep you clicking after these empty rewards. The evanescence and triviality were key to our deep involvement. Each click, being both a fulfillment and a disappointment, was its own reason to click again.
From Matt Feeney’s Little Platoons: A Defense of Family in a Competitive Age 📚.
Sidewalk book club 📷
[The] absence of social feedback is the default experience in virtual communication, and was from the beginning. You write or post or email or text something and then… you… wait. Every communication you send onto the internet leaves you abysmally hanging. In virtual interaction you are alone in time, in a way that you aren’t in physical conversations.
Pretty much everything you do on the internet throws you into an unresolved future, where human feedback lingers in teasing deferral. For language-having animals like us, whose deep emotional tuning presupposes social nearness, this aspect of online communication means it’s perpetually filled with inner drama, and this inner drama translates into preoccupation, need, a compulsive interest in coming back.
From Matt Feeney’s Little Platoons: A Defense of Family in a Competitive Age 📚. While core narrative/argument of the book concerns parenting, I found the discussion Feeney develops on the internet to be insightful and applicable well beyond how I think about being a parent.
Saturday morning swim 📷
Today I discovered I can hibernate my LinkedIn account. I deleted my Facebook account in 2009 and have been wanting to get off of LinkedIn since then, but I was always to scared to totally lose my professional network. Being able to hibernate feels good. Thanks LinkedIn; bye!
r/wallstreetbets had illuminated something: everyone was now playing the same game, mediated by the same interface. COVID rendered us all crouched, behind screens, contending to steer the same pools of capital in different directions. I think institutional Wall Street is afraid for a reason that’s even more intrinsic than the idea of being liquidated or margin-called. The game that we’d spent decades perfecting and protecting for a select group of insiders was now open to anyone. A great incursion on the social network was unfolding for everyone to witness. The funhouse culmination of Metcalfe’s law.
From “Is this Public? (or…Why I’m leaving TradFi for Crypto)” by Elena Burger via Substack 📚
📚 I’m halfway through Matt Feeney’s Little Platoons: A Defense of Family in a Competitive Age and it is excellent:
For my part, as both an anxious and pugnacious dad, the idea of that this great competition in which my wife apparently birthed our children requires us to submit the inner workings of our family to the needs of an alien, immoral, technocratic, utilitarian system of achievement kind of pisses me off. And the idea that I have to suck up to certain guardians and gatekeepers of opportunity within this system, and my parenting should be devoted to urging my kids into this sucking up as well, roils my fatherly pride. It makes me want to recommit to the idea that my family is a place apart, a vantage from which I can look upon these forges and these people and tell them, No.
This defiant retreat has a romantic appeal, I admit, and it might be a healthy move for parents to make in the short term. But as a general outlook it is counterproductive in the longer run. It takes for granted our atomized predicament as families, and thus reinforces it. Admitting this leads to some of ironic conclusions that might be hard for America’s more conservative defenders of family life to accept: that the autonomy of families is actually undermined by our system of individualized competition; that reorienting the nuclear family away from this anxious striving and toward its traditional rewards and inherent virtues might require heightened solidarity in our social outlook.