Discover more from Stay Curious
📓 Leaky delegation, Dark side of your superpower, Good manners and Super Mario effect
Ideas from LessWrong, Tyler Cowen, Paul Graham, Nikhyl Singhal, Gapingvoid & more
Hi and welcome to the post #121.
We have a lot of new folks here today. Welcome to the gang.
Here’s what we will explore today:
🥡 Leaky Delegation
🎙️ Tyler Cowen & Paul Graham in conversation
🦸 Shadows of superpowers
🫂 Good manners
📝 Biggest regret & opportunity cost
🎮 Super Mario Effect
And much more…
1. Plea against Delegation & Outsourcing
Darmani’s “Leaky delegation: you are not a commodity” is a philosophical take on the core thinking of delegation and build-vs-buy decisions. He has examples & anecdotes to back his point. However, I will leave it up to you to find out if they make a compelling case.
It’s a great read presenting a counterintuitive idea to a popular notion and gives some good food for thought.
A couple of things that I bookmarked in this:
… the do-or-delegate decision is often not about two alternative ways of getting the same thing, but rather about two options sufficiently different that they're best considered not as replacements for each other, but entirely separate objects with overlapping benefits.
… you pay more because of information you don't have about the product or service. This one is the reverse: you pay more because of what the seller doesn't know about you.
Delegation is a coordination problem, and solving it means solving principal/agent problems, of which the main ones are communication and risk.
2. Tyler Cowen & Paul Graham in a conversation
I listen to Tyler Cowen’s podcast for the questions he asks. He is pointed and takes a lot of effort to go beyond scratching the surface. Tyler’s knowledge and experience on varied fields is unparalleled. Still, his questions have a certain ‘curious’ feel like that of a student.
His conversation with Paul Graham is fun and brings forward the best of both these ‘experts’.
Here’re some of the questions to pique your interest in this episode:
Why is there not more ambition in the developed world? Say we wanted to boost ambition by 2X. What’s the actual constraint? What stands in the way?
Does AI make programming even more like painting?
If you’re good at talent selection, who is an underrated painter and why?
If you think that something has gone wrong in the history of art, and you tried to explain that in as few dimensions as possible, what’s your account of what went wrong?
Why can’t we build good British country homes anymore?
Which kinds of ideas come more naturally to you while you’re walking?
3. Dark Side of Your Superpower
Nikhyl Singhal’s latest post around “shadows of superpowers” is written on the following premise:
Though it may feel really counterintuitive, your strengths could be the source of your struggles. It’s possible for a superpower to shine so brightly that it obscures a challenge, or weakness, intrinsic to your strength. So you are not only not gaining other skills, you’re also not fixing the hidden shortcomings that will inevitably hold you back.
If this has not struck a chord yet, the following summary table (from Nikhyl’s post) of the dark sides of superpowers will make it abundantly clear.
Nikhyl has gone to great lengths to expand these superpowers. He introduces a process to identify these shadows, understand why they exist, and suggests how to eliminate them.
It’s a long read, but worth every minute of your time. I highly recommend this one, you are bound to find something useful for yourself here.
4. Gapingvoid on Manners & Communication
For a long time, I believed that Gapingvoid’s magic is in the visual magic that Hugh MacLeod and his team create. But, as I continued to follow its work, I’ve changed my opinion. Macleod’s visual storytelling is amazing, but its magic derives a lot from the words that are written alongside. There are ideas that make you think, anecdotes that make it relatable and finally a light hearted commentary that never feels preachy.
Sample some of the recept post to experience this magic:
1) Where are your manners? “Between 'can do' and 'may do' ought to exist the whole realm which recognizes the sway of duty, fairness, sympathy, taste, and all the other things that make life beautiful and society possible."
5. Biggest regrets & Opportunity cost
Ben Yoskovitz’s “One of my biggest regrets: wasting years of my life” is a timely reminder for all. His story feels relatable and his lessons useful.
Couple of ideas that stand out to me:
Question worth asking: Of all the things you could be doing with your life, why this?
The more shots you take, the more shots you make. Maximizing your time is about increasing the frequency of sets & reps.
When you recognize that everything has an opportunity cost, you have a chance of making more intellectually honest decisions.
His ideas on opportunities cost reminded me of a line that I had bookmarked from Satyajit Rout’s post:
On any day your opportunity cost isn’t printed on your vision board in front of you. Nor does it appear in your inbox, marked urgent. You have to go looking for it.
It’s a harsh truth spoken in plain speak! Don’t you agree?
6. Light reads & videos
Some interesting blogs & videos from not so usual topics of interest.
1. The Super Mario Effect - Mark Rober takes cue from how video games work to show how we can trick our brain into learning more. He has a compelling argument and his delivery style makes it fairly entertaining.
2. There and back again: the product dilemma: A post from The Browser Company’s newsletter sharing an internal memo around a feature removal and later its relaunch. You may not know the product or feature, still this makes a good read to just see some good communication & problem solving in action.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
How Thomas Edison tricked the press into believing he'd invented the Light Bulb.
The secret life of the 500+ cables that run the Internet. A good primer on their history, the underneath technology and their importance in today’s super connected world.
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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