Mental Models: How to Train Your Brain to Think in New Ways

“A mental model is an explanation of how something works. It is a concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your mind to help you interpret the world and understand the relationship between things. Mental models are deeply held beliefs about how the world works…

…To quote Charlie Munger again, ’80 or 90 important models will carry about 90 percent of the freight in making you a worldly-wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight…’

…My hope is to create a list of the most important mental models from a wide range of disciplines and explain them in a way that is not only easy to understand, but also meaningful and practical to the daily life of the average person. With any luck, we can all learn how to think just a little bit better.”

—James Clear. “Mental Models: How to Train Your Brain to Think in New Ways.” Medium.com. February 15, 2018.

His list of the most useful mental models might warrant revisiting every now and again.

Against Ageism

“The day old age strikes, our lives appear comfortable, even privileged, but our hearts are numb with permanently thwarted desire, our throats choked with longing for things we will never have again, and our future, we are sure, is too bleak to contemplate. We stare in terror into the abyss and ask ourselves: Who am I now?”

—Sharon Butala, “Against Ageism.” The Walrus. March 19, 2018.

The Game of Everything, Part 1: Making Civilization

“Why, we might ask, did Civilization turn out differently? A big piece of the reason must be Sid Meier’s unwavering commitment to fun as the final arbiter in game design, as summed up in his longstanding maxim of “Fun trumps history.” Meier, Bunten, and Crawford actually met on at least one occasion to discuss the games of everything they each had in progress. Crawford’s recollections of that meeting are telling, even if they’re uttered more in a tone of condemnation than approbation: “Sid had a very clear notion: he was going to make it fun. He didn’t give a damn about anything else; it was going to be fun. He said, ‘I have absolutely no reservation about fiddling with realism or anything, so long as I can make it more fun.’”

—Jimmy Maher, “The Game of Everything, Part 1: Making Civilization.” The Digital Antiquarian. March 16, 2018.

Interesting throughout.

Facebook’s Surveillance Machine

“Should we all just leave Facebook? That may sound attractive but it is not a viable solution. In many countries, Facebook and its products simply are the internet. Some employers and landlords demand to see Facebook profiles, and there are increasingly vast swaths of public and civic life — from volunteer groups to political campaigns to marches and protests — that are accessible or organized only via Facebook.”

—Zeynep Tufekci, “Facebook’s Surveillance Machine.” The New York Times. March 19, 2018.

It’s a Catch-22. You have to be willing to tell Facebook, as well as the employers and landlords that demand access to your social media accounts should you choose to have them, to fuck off in order to get “vast swaths of public and civic life” off of the Facebook platform. Regulation isn’t going to solve the problem of Facebook and the feudal Internet. Thinking that regulation can solve every problem is one of the central contradictions of U.S. liberal political thought. But then, U.S. conservatives have similar notions of deregulation. You can’t have small government and a global war on Communism, terrorism and drugs.

Sometimes there is no reform that will square the circle, and you have to make a choice. It’s perfectly reasonable to choose not to use Facebook. It takes two to four weeks to shake off the desire to check it, and then, most likely, you’ll spend more time with those closest to you rather than cultivating all the weak ties out beyond your Dunbar number of acquaintances that Facebook facilitates. Not everyone can do it, but many people could (and should).

Gobo

“Sign up for Gobo, link it to your other social media profiles, and you can take control of your feed. Want to read news you aren’t otherwise seeing? Use our “Echo Chamber” filter to see what we call “wider” news. Want a better balance of men and women in your feed? Use our “gender” filter to rebalance it. Want to take a lunch break and just see popular funny videos you friends are sharing? Use our “virality” filter to pick only the most shared content. With Gogo you’re in charge of the algorithmic filters that control what you see on social media. We’ve built a bunch of filters like these already, are building more, and have made it possible for other developers to add filters too. Sign up, try it out, and see if it changes how you think about how social media should work.”

Gobo