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Tinkered Thinking: White Mirror | Infinite Loops Podcast with Jim O’Shaughnessy (EP.132)

Key Takeaways

  • Tinkered Thinking’s 20-minute writing exercise:
    • 20 minutes in the morning to write
    • An additional challenge of no editing
    • It’s got to be new, cohesive, and somewhat finished every single day 
  • Many people get stuck when trying to come up with a serious, impactful story. Just writing about whatever you like or enjoy is more likely to deliver results
  • According to Tony Seba, technology adoption follows as an S-curve
    • The evolution and development of ship design before the engine is actually a compounding of a whole bunch of S-curves
    • “Technology is wiggling forward, and part of the reason it can’t sprint forward is just because of all of these little frustrations and inconveniences that we experience as users.”Tinkered Thinking
  • You can learn a lot in hell if you figure out how to bring a little bit of heaven with you
    • The tedious, horrendous activity can be really enjoyable and quite meditative if you figure out how to bring that piece of heaven with you into this hell 
  • Viktor Frankl reminds us that even if decisions are out of our control, we still have control over our state of mind, our disposition
  • “Curiosity solves any sort of insecurity or lack of confidence because you’re too busy exploring something to have the wherewithal to be self-conscious.”Tinkered Thinking
    • If you’re not curious enough, you haven’t asked yourself the best question about the topic at hand
  • “If you don’t take action based on what you hope the future to be, you’re just playing Russian roulette with disappointment.”Tinkered Thinking
  • Prayer does work but only if you pray about the right things, and the right things are things that you can control (William James)
    • Praying for better outcomes about things that you can do something about changes the way that you behave daily, and the change in your daily behavior compounds into results that are the things that you’re praying for

Intro

  • Tinkered Thinking (@TinkeredThinker) is a writer, artist, art project, and brand. He is the winner of Infinite Loops’ White Mirror competition (“Lucilius Parables”)
    • Contrasted to the Black Mirror series, the goal of the White Mirror competition is to explore a more hopeful future for humans
  • “If you don’t take action based on what you hope the future to be, you’re just playing Russian roulette with disappointment.”Tinkered Thinking
    • Tinkered Thinking (the winner of Infinite Loops’ White Mirror competition) and Jim O’Shaughnessy discusses writing, technology, the power of curiosity, optimism, and much more
  • Check out Tinkered Thinking’s website
  • Host – Jim O’Shaughnessy (@jposhaughnessy)

Why Write Short Stories?

  • Before, Tinkered Thinking was extremely serious about fiction writing
    • He was also quite a Luddite (people who dislike new technology)
      • Typewriter and no cellphone
    • He would spend 12 hours rewriting a single sentence
    • It was not until he watched one of Tony Seba’s lectures on disruption technology that he had an intellectual shift
  • He gave up the dream of writing “literature” and got interested in different things (e.g. coding)
    • Eventually, he just missed the act of writing so he came up with a challenge
  • 20-minute writing exercise:
    • 20 minutes in the morning to write
    • An additional challenge of no editing
    • It’s got to be new, cohesive, and somewhat finished every single day 
  • And you push it out the window and then the next day, fresh sheet, something new
    • He did that for 3 months and had 50,000 words worth of entries
    • He also built a blog as an exercise for coding; the blog became a placeholder text for all his new writings
  • Novella versus novel versus short story
    • “It was a matter of waking up on Sunday and being like, ‘Okay, I need to bust out a short story like now.'”Tinkered Thinking
    • All of the Lucilius Parables were written in under 30 minutes
    • He would sit there thinking about it for 20, 30 minutes, and then the actual execution was very quick
    • If you want to get creative about something, this is the perfect way to do it
    • Many people get stuck when trying to come up with a serious, impactful story. Just writing about whatever you like or enjoy is more likely to deliver results

Technology, Progress, and Optimism

  • Super anti-tech people are still using a lot of tech and depend on it and love it. They just don’t realize it’s tech
  • Insights while doing research for his writings as a deckhand on a ship
    • He became a bosun and fell in love with the concept of sailing
    • To him, the golden age of sailing is much more beautiful compared to the container ship – just a rust bucket with an engine on it
    • However, he soon realized that container ships exist because of this old beautiful thing that he was in love with
    • There’s no difference. One’s just better for a whole bunch of reasons 
    • That is the reason that we do it today: “All the things that I love are actually the reasons why all of the things that I think I hate to exist today.”Tinkered Thinking
  • The S-curve of technology advancement (Tony Seba)
    • According to Tony Seba, technology adoption follows a S-curve
    • The evolution and development of ship design before the engine is actually a compounding of a whole bunch of S-curves
    • “Technology is wiggling forward, and part of the reason it can’t sprint forward is just because of all of these little frustrations and inconveniences that we experience as users.”Tinkered Thinking

The Momentum Metric

  • Tinkered Thinking is in a process of making a meditation app
    • The ones that are out there have this idea of a run streak whereby making “a mistake” and missing a day your run streak goes to zero
  • The idea of a momentum metric is basically a run streak, but if you miss a day, it just subtracts one day. If you miss two days, it subtracts two days. If you miss a week, it goes back to zero 
    • The idea is that you create momentum by doing it every single day
    • If you stop, you lose a little bit of momentum, you don’t immediately go to zero
  • Decision-making and momentum
    • If you decide to invest in a company and the investment doesn’t work, most people think that the decision to invest was a bad decision 
    • However, that is not correct. We don’t know whether it was a bad decision or a good decision
    • The only way we can know that is to use your momentum analysis ( what Jim O’Shaughnessy calls base rates)
  • In other words, look at every decision sequentially
    • As you do this, you build up a base rate or a batting average
    • Not every decision is going to be good. Most will probably be bad 
    • As long as you have some really good ones in there, you’re going to be fine 

The Power of Curiosity

  • “The only Zen at the top of a mountain is the Zen you bring there.”Robert M. Pirsig
  • You can learn a lot in hell if you figure out how to bring a little bit of heaven with you
    • The tedious, horrendous activity can be delightful and quite meditative if you figure out how to bring that piece of heaven with you into this hell 
    • That piece of heaven is your perspective but one that you can control
  • Viktor Frankl reminds us that even if decisions are out of our control, we still have control over our state of mind, our disposition
  • Get really curious about what is going on as you are experiencing it
    • When we are curious enough, confidence is irrelevant 
    • Imagination and creativity alone move us into unknown territory 
    • “Curiosity solves any sort of insecurity or lack of confidence because you’re too busy exploring something to have the wherewithal to be self-conscious.”Tinkered Thinking
  • “You know what? Don’t fake it till you make it. Just get more curious about shit. You’ll be fine.”Tinkered Thinking
    • No path leads to 100% success. Just get curious
    • Don’t fake it until you make it. Why would you try to pretend to be somebody else? 

How to Become More Curious?

  • If you’re not curious enough, you haven’t asked yourself the best question about the topic at hand
  • When helping someone dealing with some sort of conundrum or problem
    • Instead of trying to hand them a solution, try to ask a question that helps them think differently about their situation
  • The question as a concept
    • There are two types of questions 
    • There’s one where the answer is known
      • Request for information
      • Not a genuine question
    • A genuine question doesn’t have an answer
      • It’s an exploration of the unknown
  • The reason why so many people procrastinate is by ruminating on genuine questions (e.g. meaning of life?)
    • There’s no definite answer, maybe you can make it up, but it’s just fun to talk about unless you’re taking action to figure out the answer to this question yourself
  • You have to go on a journey to find out the answer to a genuine question E.g. Will this business model make sense? You got to go on that journey
    • If you take the word question and you cut off the last three letters, you get “quest”

Hope Grows Foolish With No Doing

  • “If you don’t take action based on what you hope the future to be, you’re just playing Russian roulette with disappointment.”Tinkered Thinking
  • People talk about manifesting things, but they should go and actually do something instead
    • There is some truth in the idea of manifesting; we do become what we continually think and do
  • Prayer does work but only if you pray about the right things, and the right things are things that you can control (William James)
    • Praying for better outcomes about things that you can do something about changes the way that you behave daily, and the change in your daily behavior compounds into results that are the things that you’re praying for
  • Don’t hope for things that you don’t have any influence on because you’re going to end up disappointed
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Notes By Dario

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