Check your ambition – 5 things worth sharing this week
Nick here. I’m winding down the 1 thought per day experiment at 15 instead of 30 posts. It just got tiring and so I decided to stop keeping that pace. Whoever promotes “publicly commit to something and gain accountability” clearly hasn’t met me! I back down from my writing commitments all the time. Not proud, but not ashamed either.
For this end of year period, I’m retiring into my digital personal space — i.e. my blog — to write. I’ll probably only be publishing there all December, and occasionally I’ll pop a newsletter like this into your inbox to share the posts that I think are worthwhile.
Alrighty, taking from some recent posts on the blog, here are 5 things I thought were worth sharing this week —
I recently reflected on a period of my life when writing came effortlessly.
“Then, once the toast was gone and the coffee cup was half emptied, I’d pull out my laptop and write about what I’d learned.”
The story of my almost-catastrophic encounter with ambition. This is a re-share that I think is timely as we enter the end of the year tradition of life contemplation…
"Who would I share the joy of achieving anything if you're not around?" I elaborated, the matter-of-fact tone slowly melting away. "I cannot think of anyone else I would like to share the joyful moments of my life with."
This New Yorker piece — A Coder Considers the Waning Days of the Craft by James Somers — was a good read about the impact of ChatGPT on the programming craft.
“Perhaps what pushed Lee Sedol to retire from the game of Go was the sense that the game had been forever cheapened. When I got into programming, it was because computers felt like a form of magic. The machine gave you powers but required you to study its arcane secrets—to learn a spell language. This took a particular cast of mind. I felt selected. I devoted myself to tedium, to careful thinking, and to the accumulation of obscure knowledge. Then, one day, it became possible to achieve many of the same ends without the thinking and without the knowledge.”
I had a conversation with my manager recently about wanting to work on a different project, and as he pursued my “Why,” I offered that it could be that I get bored after crossing a threshold of knowledge and skill. Afterwards, I sent him my notes from Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard.
“I’ve always thought of myself as an 80 percenter. I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach about an 80 percent proficiency level. To go beyond that requires an obsession and degree of specialization that doesn’t appeal to me. Once I reach that 80 percent level I like to go off and do something totally different; that probably explains the diversity of the Patagonia product line—and why our versatile, multifaceted clothes are the most successful.”
Is it stupid to pay out of your own pocket for a tool that you use exclusively at work? Do you insist your employer pays? I recently spent €29 out of pocket for a tool that I use at work and reflected on this decision.
“My screenshots are annotated with ease and are aesthetically pleasing for myself and my colleagues to look at. My screencasts are mind-bogglingly smooth and professional, automatically overlaying hotkey keystrokes on the screen and producing ripple effects from mouse clicks.”
Have a wonderful December!