Version control: the first functional system is 1.0. Functional means it’s indefinitely sustainable, meets my minimum requirements, it’s well-ordered and numbered, and it’s written down. Individual implementations get tagged with letters, like morning 1.0.A, and so on. Small changes and experiments get quickie update notes, but don’t count as versions. Big changes get fractional bumps: 1.0 -> 1.1, conceptual overhauls get integral bumps: 1.0 -> 2.0.
Speaking of which, quick change to mnemonic tagging system. Before, A was the default (most common daily version, usually), B was “big” version, C was the slacker version (Cs get degrees). Switch A and B and it’s analogous to typical grading systems in terms of effort. The idea is that a 20% effort, applied judiciously, can get you 80% results, and that this is what I want to shoot for most days (putting forth an A-level effort once per week or so).
The unfortunate thing about trying to design habits and organization systems for dysfunctional people is that they aren’t all dysfunctional in the same ways. My most important dysfunction, which I generally assume as I design stuff, is the incompatibility of my fundamental values with those of everyone around me. Economically, this ought to open up some windows of opportunity, but economics claims no understanding of human values.
It’s actually an extraordinary hassle because you never really understand what other people are thinking. Or what they want. Compound this with a tendency to take everyone’s words at face value and you can be both sensitive and insensitive at the same time, causing great insults with mere indifference. No, I don’t want to see a picture of your baby. People at work say I have a dry sense of humor, which I suppose is just as well, but I’m usually not joking. My sense of humor is actually very silly and childish. I leave it at home.
That got rambly. The point is that I try to design processes that are independent of a priori values whenever practical. Maybe the other TTs want to have families, or nonsense like that. Whatever, I’m happy to help.
TTs do not study fields, we create them.
I have wondered for more than a year whether the symptoms of aspie ADHD-I were once adaptive to high IQ, or a heavy mutational load that could only survive because it accompanied highly adaptive traits. This is my conclusion. Why would we obsess over singular topics for approximately three years at a burst, echew deduction in favor of insights from a massively parallel stochastic computer (the occipital bun), and prefer novelty and creation to standing on the shoulders of giants?
This is why. We are built to learn by observation and build from scratch. We are hackers, not engineers. In a k-selected environment, this is supremely adaptive. In modern life, this is extremely maladaptive. We are naturally creatures of habit, so we need to adjust our habits. And who’s more qualified to design these new systems?
I may have finally figured out a process to get from raw output to organized form. “Raw output” are terse handwritten notes that record various insights, to-do list items, nifty ideas, etc. I write these in free association style in order to clear the RAM, as hellhammer put it. This helps to avoid another dysfunction: obsessive thinking, because I’m telling my brain “okay, I’ll deal with this later, please stop bringing it up”. On a typical day I’ll fill four notebook pages.
During my uptime segment (like right now), I transcribe these notes to a tier-1 blog. That’s the daily dump thing, which I still need to sort out. Time is limited, so most of the notes don’t get expanded into these little stubs. I focus on efficiency: getting as many down as possible within energy and time constraints.
That’s where I’m at. Next are my intentions. (I’ll note here that stuff is meant to fall between the cracks at each step, so that a lot of the raw output never gets transcribed, and a lot of the transcriptions never get categorized, and so on. It’s by design.)
The third step is to reread my stuff and categorize it into major groups with WP tags. This is where technology really helps, because no reference system I can devise makes this easy. Pen and paper are great, but hyperlinks work way better than footnotes/endnotes/huge lists of references to 50-word notes. I would have to clear all those old, unfocused tags out and set myself some numeric limits. Maybe 10 notes for a minor topic, 30 for a major topic.
(After sorting everything into appropriate bins, each note needs an appropriate, descriptive title. I’d call this a subtask, though it’ll probably burn up a lot of time.)
Fourth is to organize these notes into a well-ordered, wiki-style network of ideas. By well-ordered I mean following a sort of faux-outline style that I haven’t put any thought into yet. The idea is to eventually piece together coherent descriptive articles from the raw output, so that is the main design consideration. Organization later, now and always content must be king.
Fifth is to do the necessary editing and rewriting that is necessary to piece all of these ideas together into a final draft.
This method of writing is at odds with the traditional organization of the writing process (plan, write, edit, rewrite). It will almost never present a comprehensive treatment of any topic, preferring a great number of “stubs” and disconnection. This is all acceptable according to my purposes, which are primarily solipsistic.
Academic writing has always assumed the purpose of adding small amounts of sound, durable knowledge to the Western corpus. This is all well and good for MTs, whom I consider the true scientists and engineers, but I am going for something a little more slapdash. It’s adaptive to the TT urge, which is to create systems from scratch from a small number of axioms, few topical authorities, and a great deal of obsessing.
Again, TTs do not study fields, we create them.
Having an alternative diet is somewhat unfortunate because we don’t reap the benefits of a post-scarce industrial diet, while often suffering the adverse health effects. This is a primary life design consideration because bio leveling is crucial to all extracurricular activities.
I touched upon this briefly in “the unsolved problem of alternative living”.
To an extent, I’ve deified the idea of creation by free association and organization later on in the creative process, but there’s a practical limit to this. It often pays off to direct my focus at a certain time, and there are two ways of influencing what I think about: input streams and output streams. Generally, we think about what we’ve recently been reading, seeing, hearing. Similarly, we think more often about the stuff we’ve been working on.
An old writing trick is to set the goal of writing one word per day. Once you’re started, it’s easier to keep going. In the same way, you can (sort of) focus the mad occipital genius by setting the rule that you must write a single handwritten note on the proper topic before writing down any other thoughts, and so on for the other steps of the creative process.
Blather aside, here are the numbers for steps one and two:
C (min) level- 1 note, 1 transcription
B (daily) level- 3 notes, 3 transcriptions
A (big, unsustainable) level – many notes, all transcribed
Urbit’s philosophy is weak because it segregates by ideology, but not by religion. This may doom it to failure from the start, although I wish the project a fruitful life in the meantime and I look forward to continuing to obsess over Nock.
Here’s a basic process for trying to go from a new task to an optimized routine.
1. Jump in, just do it and try to be efficient without obsessing
2. Brainstorm, write down all required tasks
3. Try out this routine for a while with shotgun experimentation: just make whatever changes feel natural
4. Take disconnected notes, particularly whichever experiments felt like successes, ignore failures (these will fade away on their own)
6. You’ve had time to learn and memorize all of the factors, now put that badboy occipital bun to work and find the optimized path
7. Write it down- this is version 1.0
Once I’ve designed a good process for keeping metrics on oneself, maybe I can incorporate genuine engineering into the smaller version changes, and use statistical tools to raise my efforts to genuine “engineering” status.