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#91 Just Do It.
Lessons from John Cutler, Kristen Berman, Kevin Kelly and more
In “Parable of the Redwoods”, Kevin Simler shares two important observations:
Wherever we find a tall organism, we can reasonably infer that it evolved in an ancestral environment with other tall things.
It's in that struggle that we, like the redwoods, developed some of our most distinctive characteristics.
First one is not intuitive. Kevin shares multiple examples from the world of trees to make the case for it. The second one, however, is fairly true. We know our survival depended on it in the past and continues to do so. We’re good at facing adversities & challenges, if we make up our mind for it. There is no other truth.
I’ve some good things to fuel our curious journey. Let’s jump right away.
1. Developing alternative explanations
John Cutler is covering some really good topics around product thinking, solutioning & all things product building in his “The Beautiful Mess” newsletter. I love his simple and easy to understand models.
In a recent post titled “Probably, just, maybe, perhaps”, he shared a simple framework for digging into something very complex.
His approach includes building the ability for developing alternative explanations for challenging situations (while also acknowledging our defaults).
Here’s the relevant snippet summarizing his idea.
2. Designing for error prevention
Kristen Berman recommends system-level interventions from behavioral science to reduce visits to ER. The post is written with the American healthcare system in mind, but covers a bunch of important topics that are relevant to any problem solving.
Type of interventions.
Path of least resistance
We had covered her discussion with Lenny for his podcast in #75. Right for Wrong is a powerful idea and worth revisiting.
Dan & Louis-Xavier’s Growth.Design case studies never fail to provide a new learning or two. I love them because they are able to surface details and interactions that are beyond obvious. It’s fun to attempt answering the questions they raise.
They recently shared a study around A/B experiments done for a paywalled experience. There are ethical & not-so-ethical solutions in discussion here. Check it out if you want to understand the psychology that is used to do such design solutions.
Note: You may have to create a free account to access this post.
4. Future Cringe
Future Cringe’s subtitle reads - “One day we’ll look back on this moment and wonder: what were we thinking?” 30 thinkers share their predictions. These are some tough commentary on our current habits & likings. Kevin Kelly’s inputs are the highlight of the post for me.
Thankyou Kevin Kelly for providing access to this post.
5. Art & Entertainment
McSweeny’s internet tendency dishes out some of the finest pieces of humor I’ve read in recent times. There can be a few cultural nuances at times. But, by and large they are super successful in making it a fun read. They recently published the best of 2022 post. Some of my favorites there include Middle-Aged Restaurant, Tunics, A Parent’s Typical Day, and a Librarian’s Typical Workday. Grab your favorite cup of brew and give them a shot.
Ten Tenets of Chindogu: You may be hearing about this “Chindogu” thing for the very first time. Don’t worry! As you read these tenets & see some examples, you will know they are all too common. My favorite bit about them: “The creation of Chindogu is fundamentally a problem-solving activity. Humor is simply the by-product of finding an elaborate or unconventional solution to a problem. You try your best, you nearly succeed. Then you realize, sardonically, that your problem may not have been all that pressing to begin with.” (via Joost Plattel)
6. Little moments of joy
This newsletter has been a constant companion in my journey of life & learning in the last couple of years. I have covered a lot of events in my life. I shared places I visited, things that I have done, books I read, music I liked & much more. In some ways, I’m chronicling some parts of my life through these tiny updates. It’s fun to go over these, when I read older posts. I intend to continue doing these, for myself. Feel free to skip this section, if you must.
Listening: Wellerman (Sea Shanty) is playing in a loop. The beats, rhythm and the feel is so comforting.
Reading: I just finished Persepolis. This graphic novel shares such vivid pictures of life in Iran. It uses humor so beautifully to share complex ideas & cultural nuances.. I’m happy I picked this one.
Watching: White Lotus season 2 did not disappoint. The characters, their stories, crazy turn of events and the beautiful background music - this series has so much going for it. The story line is not straight forward, I felt confused or wanting more in both the seasons. And that title track is the best of the lot from all the TV I’ve seen in the last few years.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Wonders of street view. Another fun toy from neal.fun. This site keeps dropping fun games every now and then.
The culture tutor on how to use semicolons.
Stickiest non-sticky material. I loved not just the product it covers but the way the professor explains the science behind this product. Simple & very effective. (via Morning Brew)
How did school buses become yellow? Some trivia from the history of the largest mass transit system in the United States. (via Joost Plattel)
UX lessons from a 17th-century warship disaster - this post was not sourced from LinkedIn or any ancient literature. (via Sidebar)
Story of a 12 year old Japanese spy, also read better as what not to write on your security clearance form. (via YC newsletter)
Isobelle Ouzman (@isobelle.ouzman) creates book sculptures.
And, here’s a random post from the past.
Title of today’s post needs no introduction.
Before we sign off, here's a quick life lesson from Calvin & Hobbes.
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
If you enjoyed this post, show your love by commenting and liking it. I write this newsletter to share what I learnt from others. If you learnt something from this today, why not share it with a couple of your friends to continue this chain?