I started posting daily to this blog on the 9th of January 2020. Today marks the one year anniversary of this project.
Reflecting on the past year, my main takeway from this project was that writing every day is fun but stressful. Some days in a desparate attempt to write something I ended up posting a YouTube video I found interesting with a line of commentary about the content. I did whatever it took to keep the streak going.
Ultimately I think the project was a success; I probably wrote around ten thousands words last year and I feel that my writing has improved considerably. That being said I'd like to focus more on deeper, longer-form content in the future – complex ideas take time to chew on that a daily posting schedule doesn't allow for.
For the rest of 2021 I'm switching to a weekly-post model, in the hope of writing longer-form (> 1000 words) content where I can explore subjects more deeply. I'll also spend more time exploring the topic of super-intelligent AI, when it might be with us, and how we can mitigate the risks it poses to our future.
Here's to a great 2021!
Notable Posts From The Past Year
- Napoleon on Homer and Virgil. Napoleon admired Homer but thought Virgil was a "schoolmaster who never did a thing in his life".
- City of London Corporation. The bizarre 800-year old history of the City of London.
- The Tiny Roman Empire. The huge Roman empire wasn't that huge.
- How the Ancients Shaved. Turns out all you need for a good shave is a sharp rock and water.
- The Tabula Peutingeriana. A map that illustrates the deep ties Ancient Rome had to South India.
- Rewriting from Scratch. Why the natural impulse to start from scratch is usually a bad idea.
- Why Large Engineering Teams Exist. What do the thousands of engineers at FB, Google, Stripe, Amazon, etc., do?
- The Outside View in Software Projects. How to improve time estimates for software projects.
- Tools vs Frameworks.
On math / science:
- Area of a Circle. An interesting geometric approach to calculate the area of a circle.
- The Fermi Paradox is Silly. Is it really a paradox that there are no aliens among us?
- The Anthropic Principle and Observer Selection Effects.
- The Double-Slit Experiment. What are electrons really? Particles or waves or both?
- The Problem With Averages. Why the average is a misleading metric for some distributions.
- Two part series on how natural selection works: Part I, Part II.
- If it rhymes, it must be true.
- How to Value Things. How to decide on the value of an asset.
- Learning Epistemic Humility with Storyline.
- Life Lessons from Terraforming Mars.
- How Salmon Farming Works.
- Why Does Cooking Work?
- Acquiring Tastes: A Theory of Novelty. How we acquire tastes for new foods, and more generally, new experiences.
- The Time for AI Safety is Now.
- What Will Get Better. What things will improve over the next few decades, and what won't?
- Culture over Intelligence. Intelligence and first-principles thinking are overrated. Imitate 95% of the time so you can innovate the 5% of the time it really matters.
- What's Better on Audio? What kinds of books are better listened to than read.
On papers / books read:
- No Silver Bullet. Fred Brooks' paper on software complexity.
- Map Reduce.
- Distributed Systems Tracing with Dapper.
- Why are the Prices so Damn High? Why education and healthcare costs are growing in America and in the West more broadly.
- Concrete Problems in AI Safety.
- The Dream Machine. Biography of one of the pioneers of the computing revolution.
- Writing and Structure.
Weird miscellaneous thoughts: