|December 5, 2014||Posted by Joseph Buchignani under Uncategorized|
I composed this email for Cal Newport, but found he’s deliberately unreachable, so I thought I’d post it here instead.
I’m a fan. I’ve read your books, adapted them to my purposes, and taught them to my students.
I watched with interest your transition to the world of work and struggles to articulate an effective post-college productivity system.
I think what’s missing from your system is an understanding of real strategy. Basically, undergraduate college and high school don’t require strategy, because your objectives are all handed to you, and information is more or less perfect. Then you get to the real world, and discover things don’t actually work that way.
The world’s armed forces have made similar discoveries, and I think the strategic evolution is most advanced there, forged in the ultimate crucible of war. I highly recommend you read William Lind. His description of the three generations of warfare is lucid, compelling, and generally applicable.
Essentially, your academic productivity system is an excellent implementation of 2nd generation warfare thought. In metaphorical terms, a student’s life is like fighting war as a video game where you have perfect information about your enemy and your units at all times.
In the modern economy, life is more like real modern warfare – you’re rarely certain where your own forces are, and you definitely don’t know the location of the enemy. You don’t even know your objectives half the time.
The answer to this radical environmental change is a similar revolution in thought – 3GW – as practiced by the German blitzkrieg. Recon pull, avoid the surfaces, exploit the gaps, assign a schwerpunkt and roll up the enemy’s rear. It means constantly executing the OODA loop – observe, orient, decide, act.
This chaos wreaks havoc with any fixed schedule. So as wonderful as that tactic is (and as wonderful as trenches are at protecting troops), you have to get out of the damn trenches and maneuver. Recon casualties are guaranteed, risk is part of the game, but the reward – rapidly paralyzing, overwhelming and annihilating the enemy – is well worth it.
My vague impression is that most of your post-college innovation focuses on deep work. This is only a tactic. I think you need to zoom out of the tactical level to meet the challenges of the new environment.
In my opinion, no productivity system has properly implemented the lessons Lind puts forward, so this is more of an opportunity than a criticism. In fact, I’m working on something myself, along those lines. But the more, the merrier!
If you want to check out Lind, I recommend starting here:
My own system is called Cyborganize, but I’m redesigning it precisely because I was also stuck in a 2GW mindset. Trench stalemate is an ugly, ugly thing.
|March 21, 2013||Posted by Joseph Buchignani under Uncategorized|
For the most part, Forney’s book is an explanation of how to convert an internet writing addiction into small potatoes profit, enough to maybe fund a minimalist lifestyle. There’s potential to get bigger from there, but Forney hasn’t done it yet and so can’t speak to that much. But often getting that initial traction is the hardest part. It’s a book for blogging newbies, and succeeds as that.
If you aren’t an introverted reading and writing internet addict, you should ignore this book and move on. If you are, this is a chance to turn an addiction into a mildly profitable hobby, and maybe an eventual freedom business.
Where the book shines is it covers a missing step that the Tim Ferriss’ and even Ramit Sethi’s of the world don’t cover. That first hurdle is often what prevents people from ever getting traction.
The idea appears in chapter 4, “The Three Tiers of Online Hustling”, which is the only chapter that was interesting to me, a longtime internetter. It is actually an extension of my Cyborganize.org concept of T3, T2 and T1 blogs, applied to monetization. (Forney picked the idea up from an older blog of mine that went defunct.)
He’s correct, a T3 blog is a great search platform to find what things you write about that will actually interest people. This can then be parlayed into an online side business. Blog interest doesn’t guarantee a workable financial model. But it signals that #1 you can generate content on the topic and #2 there is attention for what you generate. Audiences have inherent value, some more than others. Finding that value is impossible if you don’t enjoy generating the content to grow the audience.
It’s how to go from internet ramblings to (maybe) a Roosh lifestyle. Light on details, but the conceptual model is there.
Note – while you’re in the struggling T3 to early T2 phase, don’t promise to make eventual products free. Fight the ingenopathic urge.
For examples of people who made it big doing something like this, look at Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferriss. However, in both cases they started at T2. You may not have the discipline for that depending on your compulsion to write, and your writing ability. Starting at T3 makes it easier.
As a reviewer, I have to say that it sounds like Forney doesn’t enjoy what he’s doing because he’s being overly disciplined about his process. I support an organic content generation strategy – you write what you feel like, then work with what you’ve got. It sounds like he’s forcing his raw content generation, which isn’t good.
If you’ve got the writing bug, Forney’s book is worthwhile and covers a lot of technical tips that will bring you up to speed. Although Forney’s methods are overkill, his explanations will save you countless hours fiddling with stupid stuff. If you’re writing a blog, you should get the book. Buy it here.
|November 5, 2012||Posted by Joseph Buchignani under Uncategorized|
This site is unfinished. I started doing some other things and will come back to it.
Occasionally I get requests from people for help or advice in setting up their organizational systems.
Get in touch with me on Skype chat and I’ll walk you through your own customized setup for free.
I get something out of this too, because it gives me insight into my audience.
|April 4, 2012||Posted by Joseph Buchignani under Uncategorized|
If you require a proxy to connect to Dropbox, you may run into an error with the GUI installer that prevents Dropbox from starting on Ubuntu.
The solution is to follow the instructions here.
You will need to enter two lines into the terminal, and start Dropbox from the terminal. Or you can add the startup line to your startup file.
|March 6, 2012||Posted by Joseph Buchignani under Uncategorized|
Scott Young is a recognized expert on rapid learning and hacking academia. He recently wrote a post describing how he is completing the MIT computer science program at 4x the normal pace.
What is Scot’s philosophy of learning?
“Most students learn in an iterative fashion—take lesson one, master it, then move onto lesson two. The academic system basically enforces this method of learning since lessons and homework are trickled out in lockstep.
There are two weaknesses with this approach. First, you don’t get to see how early concepts are going to be applied to later ones. Second, it doesn’t allow you to invest your time in the topics you find most challenging, instead you conform to the pace of the group. …
I prefer a recursive strategy. First I “learn” the entire course material, which usually doesn’t mean I’ve mastered it, but I understand the basic principles. Then I recursively deepen my understanding on harder topics until I’ve mastered it. This deepening can be done by deliberate practice in problems as mentioned previously or by using intuition-generating methods like the Feynman Technique.”
Some very interesting ideas. But how do they apply to those of us working in the real world?
Well, you can observe two things about Scott’s strategy:
1. It is high speed and high volume
2. It is recursive
Step 1: He scans a large body of material at high speed.
Step 2: He then returns to the hard (but valuable) parts, and focuses on them.
There is only one info management algorithm in the world that is specifically designed to support this workflow: Cyborganize.
All the other info management systems are locked into a linear, progressive paradigm, much like the way traditional academia works. These systems, such as GTD, expect a predefined life path in which “reading assignments” and “homework” are doled out in paired bits.
That is not how life works.
If you read any Steve Blank, you know he is constantly hammering the differences between traditional management and entrepreneurship. Traditional companies are designed to execute an established business model. That is what traditional info management systems are good at. But startups must SEARCH for a viable business model, before they can ossify into a structure optimal for executing that business model.
Well, life is much like a startup. If you intend to grow and evolve as a person, then you need Cyborganize, because you need to SEARCH for new life models.
On the other hand, if you just want to be a union man punching the clock, then GTD is fine for your utterly predictable life.
Personally, I think you can achieve greater happiness with a flexible, evolving approach. But I don’t judge those who find stasis fulfilling.
|March 6, 2012||Posted by Joseph Buchignani under Uncategorized|
“Stanford Professor BJ Fogg identified the three things you need for behavioral change: motivation, ability, and triggers. A trigger is reminder to do something now. ”
- quote from Ramit Sethi’s blog
Compared to some of the tools out there, like PersonalBrain and Ultra Recall, the tools I recommend for Cyborganize seem pretty simple and limited.
That’s a good thing.
Why? Because fewer organizational options means you have obvious triggers guiding you to the next step in your info-processing algorithm.
That’s why i don’t like wikis and other open ended tools. Too much choice equals no triggers. You have to think hard to figure out what to do next. That takes your mind off the content.
Mindspace is critically limited. Having a confusing workspace can cut your effective intelligence in half.
The Longform Loop goes from Org-Mode to WordPress. Because they are simple, both of these apps keep the triggers rolling continuously. This small-chunks cognitive labor, with the next step always clear.
That way, you can focus on the ideas. Your mind can wander off onto tangents. You can completely lose your place. Simply glance at the screen, and you know what to do next.
Freedom to think is freedom to work.
|March 5, 2012||Posted by Joseph Buchignani under Uncategorized|
I think I’m coming around on CT.
The markup is still way too intensive for the earlier stages of fast text flow that Cyborganize demands. And the structural possibilities are too defined and diverse.
But as an end-stage to the Longform Loop, it makes a lot of sense.
I can see also that it has the potential to fulfill a large part of what I wanted UR to be, but found it too slow and limited to be – a fairly intelligent interconnected text database.
Obviously there are a lot of powerful possibilities here. But you need to already know what you want to do, and be sure it’s not going to change much, before you do it.
One question. I’ve been thinking about UR for a contact manager. Would CT do that better? I don’t see anyone using it for that, and UR seems like a natural choice. Then again, it might be nice to have everything, including contacts, integrated in the final T1.
Here’s a demo vid of CT: http://www.coulthard.com/index.php?/blog/comments/academic_research_using_connectedtext
The home page is also pretty informative: http://www.connectedtext.com/
|December 17, 2011||Posted by Joseph Buchignani under Uncategorized|
Hallelujah, finally found a decent free WordPress theme. I was beginning to think such a thing didn’t exist.
I have fine-grain control over all the important elements. My key criteria are readability, proper balance, and typography.
Since I have control over font sizes of all elements now, I decided to go with a fixed width for easier scanning.
I also figured out how to have a static page and a blog page together on the same site – a major improvement.
It’s right there in the options under Settings -> Reading. You just need to create a blank page and designate it as the “blog” page.
I really like all the options and functionality included in Clear Line. It does a lot more than I’m currently asking of it. And it includes nice integrated share buttons – which importantly you can turn off.
I’ll be using this for all my T2 blogs. It can be adapted for public or private needs. In short, it is Da Bomb. I am ecstatic.
Did I mention you can configure columns however you want? Control H2, H3, H4, etc? I better stop now…
Also, I picked up a new plugin, Redirection, that will eliminate the need to manually fix links when I’m reshuffling my page hierarchy or doing SEO optimization. Verrah nice.
|December 16, 2011||Posted by Joseph Buchignani under Uncategorized|
I wasn’t adhering to journaling.
In the past, I had decent adherence to a journaling system in Ultra Recall. I created separate entries for each day, with dates formatted so they’d sort in numerical order. (2012/12/16).
Then I’d make a parent over 3-4 for half week review, and over two half weeks for a week review, and so forth.
That system worked very well. Each layer of abstraction built into the next. I wound up with a comprehensive review of my life. I was able to pick out major patterns and gain a far more accurate self perspective, which translated directly into higher quality life decisions.
In other words, journaling in this manner is indispensable. If you’re not writing the story of your life, the story of your life will write you.
Obviously, I don’t use UR anymore. At first I looked for a software replacement that would run on Linux.
But then it occurred to me that Org-mode would do this more effectively. I’d just need separate text files for each layer of abstraction. I.e., one for daily entries, another for di-weekly, another for weekly, etc.
But then I realized that the fundamental problem with my journaling adherence wasn’t functionality, but presentation. WordPress offers an inherently superior dashboard style presentation than Org-mode.
Yes, choosing WordPress over Org-mode would require a bit more copy pasting during reviews. But the gains in adherence and usability would be well worthwhile.
Then I had to think through how to structure the journal in Wordpess.
At first I thought that daily entries should be posts. But that won’t work, because the posts are displayed by most recent first, which reverses the needed chronological order.
Then I realized that pages offered the perfect solution. I could still use numerical sorting in titles to make it self organizing. And WordPress supports outline hierarchy for pages. Yeah it’s a little clunky, but it’ll do.
More importantly, I can have the journal as an always open tab in my browser, to drop memories into the day’s entry whenever the thought strikes me. This massively increases adherence.
So now I’m doing my journal in WordPress. I have two days so far. It’s working well. The habit is becoming ingrained.
The following tabs are always open in my Chrome browser: T3, TweetDeck, Journal T2, and the T1 blog page that shows a listing of all my T2 blog addresses, for easy access.
This system is working very, very well. Stuff goes where it’s supposed to.
Now, when I do a review session from the daily level, that entails a little extra work, because my info is fragmented.
I need to pull data from email, my T2 blogs, my T2 twitters, maybe Org-mode timestamps, and any other sources to bulk out those daily entries.
But really, this doesn’t sound too difficult. I only review about 3 days at a time. So I just keep all three open in tabs, and add info as needed.
When done, I dump all that info from the three days into a scratch file, and do the di-weekly review. After that, I don’t have to collect supplemental info for the rest of the review process, unless I find out something retroactively. In retroactive cases, I can just add it to the day discovered, and it will work its way up the abstraction chain.
EDIT: Out of respect for the rule of three, I think I will limit reviews to only three sub-entries per round. So my structure won’t follow “weeks” and “months” and “years”. Instead, three days, nine days (week), 27 days (month), roughly 3 months, roughly 6 months, roughly 1.5 years, roughly 4 years, roughly 12 years, roughly 36 years, entire lifespan. Guess that last one will have to be given at the eulogy
EDIT: No. If reviewing is good, more reviewing is better. I will follow a rule of two instead. Two days, four days (half week), eight days (week), 16 days (two weeks), 32 days (month), 64 days (two months), roughly four months, roughly eight months, 1.3 years, 2.6 years, 5.2 years, 10 years, 20 years, 40 years, 80 years. Yeah, that’s a lot better.
Also, some reflections on the importance of journaling:
Monitoring is passive management. Active management is setting goals. Without passive management, you don’t know if you’re reaching your goals or stuck in a loop. Also, you can’t appreciate your victories or see the forest for the trees. This leads to discouragement and suboptimization. You fail to learn and adapt, and you fail to appreciate. It’s a recipe for general failure.
Later, I want to get this audio watch to log every minute, send it off for transcription or use Dragon Naturally speaking, and develop a full lifelong. See here:
|December 8, 2011||Posted by Joseph Buchignani under Uncategorized|
WordPress has a security/usability bug. The secure option is insufficiently usable.
Let’s say you’re running a semi-public T2 exoself. (Like this one). And you want to make some pages private, for your eyes only.
You can publish it as “visibility: private”. But the problem is that it will then not show up on automatically generated menus of your page structure, which is a huge pain in the butt. The only place it shows up is on the admin panel.
The other option is to get the plugin “Page Restrict”, publish it as “visibility: public”, and check the “restrict post” button at the bottom of the post editing page.
The only problem with this is that the restricted page’s headline still displays to everyone. They just can’t read the content.
This is also lame, but there’s currently no way around it without getting into the code.
Other plugins and source links:
- page restriction
- user access manager
- http://wordpress.org/support/topic/showing-private-pages-in-menu – specifically addresses menus
Ok, I have found a better solution for this.
Scrap the Page Restrict plugin, and grab “Role Scoper” instead.
This will intelligently handle the display of private posts in menus etc, with no need for additional customization.
There’s just one remaining problem. WordPress search engine plugins don’t intelligently handle the display of private posts in search results. It’s all or nothing with Search Unleashed – either everyone can see search excerpts from private posts, or no one can.
The only solution is to disable the search plugin. This isn’t such a big deal on T2 semi-public blogs, since they shouldn’t be incredibly massive. Your T3 still needs the search plugin, but that should be 100% private, so no problem there.
Voila, issue solved