It feels like a weird time to be writing a newsletter. But it also feels pretty essential that I keep doing so. One of the first things I retweeted since twitter turned into an endless loop of the same 'rona-takes was this, from Robin Sloan:
I feel this particularly in relation to my work with Fathom and hyperlink.academy. This is a time where the traditional institutions of learning are very publicly failing their students and people online want something better. In someways it's a great time to be experimenting with these things.
But, simultaneously, what most people need now isn't more or better learning institutions. There are more fundamental needs lacking, like food, health, and livelihoods.
I, however, am pretty poorly equipped to provide any of those. I can keep doing the work I've been doing, and maybe help in that way.
And to me, the work on education is long work. It's not going to be done today, or this year, or any time soon.
It reminds me of a debate I had with a friend once, over what was the "more important" 1 thing to work on, education or agriculture (in the context of climate change). My argument became that education will always be a worse short term priority than the problem of our time, but it will also always be a better long term investment, as it has compounding effects by making everyone more capable of solving the problems any time presents. My friends argument was, very sensibly, that if we don't solve the problems we need to right now that people will suffer.
The answer is that there 7 billion people, and not everyone has to be doing everything. The solution to tragedy of the commons is not everyone devoting every moment to tending the field, or thinking about it, but trusting each other, to be doing what we need to.
No new essays this week. I have currently, sitting in my drafts, essays on:
Which prompted me to realize I need a better way of handling drafts. I've been reading Andy Matuschak's writing on Evergreen Notes these last couple weeks, and am trying to implement a writing inbox (for now jerry rigged with org-mode and capture templates.)
I have linked to a couple of Andy's notes in the past here but you should just go look through all of them. They're hugely inspiring. The notes themselves are fascinating (though they happen to intersect pretty strongly with my interest so your mileage may vary), covering things like why Powerful enabling environments usually arise as a byproduct of projects pursuing their own intrinsically meaningful purposes or how Inboxes only work if you trust how they’re drained.
This week Thursday I'm hosting a blog tour with Joel Deuck. I started doing these last year2, and am back at it after a bit of a pause. The basic idea is just to chat with a website creator about the nitty gritty of their site, all the little details and features they spent time crafting, but don't get to talk about often. Joel's website, is very cool. I've been excited about Pollen for a while, and he's using it to generate his site, and a book based on the site. He's also doing a ton of other cool things like making the source visible directly on the page. If talking about these things sounds like fun to you, you can RSVP here!
I'm also continuing to hack on hyperlink.academy version 2! Hit a couple roadblocks getting Stripe set up, but got that cleared up over the weekend. I'm soon going to start reaching out to folks to jam on some courses, so if you've had an idea for an online learning experiment, reply to this email pls!!
Finally, last week I said I was going to write a post on my plans for Fancynote. That didn't get done, but it's still on the agenda for this week! I want to plan out an actual experiment complete with a process and model for measuring my results. I'm very fired up after reading Andy's notes, so expect to see a lot drawn from there.