0506 – More Power

I’ve got a few minutes so I thought I’d run through the blog manifesto I’ve been putting together. I’ve been doing in on Workflowy, which is a great thinking tool. But I somehow also always enjoy writing my thoughts out in full sentences. [1]

Here we go. The first thought that came to my mind when trying to put together my blog manifesto [2] is “More Power.” I think I thought of this in contrast to Less Wrong. I’m not sure why I was thinking about Less Wrong in particular. I was also thinking about The Red Pill, which is a little too “ideological” for my taste. People get all macho and chest-beaty in there, and I’m not a big fan of that. (I think it’s good to be strong and fit, but I don’t think it’s necessary to lord it around. Not saying that all of TRP does that, but there’s just something in the air about the place that turns me off.)

Less Wrong has a bit more of what I like, but it also seems has its own weakness (in my opinion), in that it gets all pedantic and bean-county. People get very invested into their intellectual identities and get into all these protracted arguments. I’d prefer a more “Nassim Taleb” sort of LessWrong, if one existed. That said, while I enjoyed Taleb’s books (and I enjoyed meeting him in person– he’s actually really warm and friendly), I’m not such a big fan of the community on his Facebook page. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Something feels “pretentious”. [3] I don’t mean that as an attack on anybody’s character, I’m sure they’re good people. But something doesn’t quite sit well with me. I don’t feel like I can participate well in the community. That’s on me, not them.

I’ve always been on the lookout for a really great community that I can really feel a part of. I think Quora from 2011 to 2013 was like that for me, but it isn’t quite the same anymore. What happened? I’m not sure. It could be the evaporative cooling effect.

Anyway, I don’t want to attack any community. Communities are difficult to manage and run. I’ve tried before. It’s not easy. People are messy. Handling disagreements and conflicts is hard. I might give it another shot some day in the future. I guess the best way to start would be by writing blogposts that I personally believe are strongly representative of the kind of place that I’d like to be, and then I can invite people to it, invite guest posts, and slowly build something from there. That would be nice. [4]

But what is my top priority? My top priority is improving my own thinking. But the idea isn’t simply to get better at thinking for the sake of thinking (because that can lead to a sort of “thinking porn”, or “insight porn”), but to get better at thinking in order to take better actions and to become progressively more powerful.

Power became a dirty word at some point, but it’s really a neutral one. Power is the ability to effect change. The more power you have, the more change you can enact. I’m talking about personal power, dominion over self. I’m curious about an interplay of discipline, motivation, focus, habits, routines, beliefs, perspective, nutrition, exercise, conversations, creativity and so on.

I know there are thousands of blogs out there that talk about all sorts of similar things. There’s the whole “lifestyle design” blogosphere where people usually talk about travelling and living at beaches… I’m actually not very interested in that.

What am I interested in, then? There are startup blogs, talking about how to do startups, which tend to be tied in with the PR of the companies that are being run… and to be honest I’m not very interested in doing anything very much like that either. (I might do it if it suits my interests, but I don’t think it’s in my interests right now, and it feels like there are other things that I’m more interested in.)

I want to find some peace and calm within myself, but I’m not exactly interested in starting a Zen blog. Leo Babuta’s got that one covered. I recently observed that Zizek is like a mix of Alan Watts, Louis CK and Nassim Taleb all in one. Well, who am I? What am I? I am a mix of all my influences, obviously. But what do I need to talk about? I’m probably overthinking it a little.

I suppose I should go back to the core of my manifesto. More Power. I googled “Power Blog” and found a bunch of motivational drivel. Blah. That doesn’t work. I fantasize of getting into the “power neighborhood” of folks like Zuck, Gates, Musk and so on, but I realize that I’m not so sure if I’ll be able or willing to build large companies. And it definitely seems that if you want to achieve things at that scale, you have to involve other people, and that almost always involves building organizations. (Which, as Musk pointed out, is just a group of people coming together with a common purpose to achieve something.)

So maybe I’m getting ahead of myself and thinking too far ahead. For now the questions I need to answer are– what are the things I can do to increase my personal power in my own life to do the things that I want to do, without being sleazy and smarmy about it? This 1,000,000 word project is one of them. I suppose I’ll do similar things for other things that I care about. Experiments that aren’t meant to be shocking or crazy, just good, simple experiments. And I’ll write about them and accumulate data and see how it goes. For now, it’s time for bed.

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[1] I’m not sure why that is, I’m not entirely sure what the difference is, and that in itself is something worth exploring in a separate vomit. I think it might be as simple as this: full sentences forces me to use a “natural, organic” pacing. Bullet points and diagrams, on the other hand, can get really messy and technical. But organic writing can get messy too, so I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a “know it backwards and forwards” thing.

[2] Which in turn is shorthand for “thinking manifesto”, since my blog is where I want to do my public, precise thinking.

[3] Pretentious is a very pretentious word, which is almost as frustrating as “lisp” having an “s” in it.

[4] I suppose I could theoretically do that for my Singapore blog, too, and that would be particularly worth doing because then I would be able to build relationships with people in the city that I live in. Which would be nice.

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