Gist – Writing a “Hello World” because I think it’s important to shake off the cobwebs first. Thinking about thinking with an imaginary audience.

Thinking on Paper

I recently read How to Take Smart Notes, and among a ton of great insights a big takeaway for me was that ‘Writing is the Only Thing That Matters’ – everything you consume, or think, or see, or do, it should ideally be osmosising into a whole that you can externalize, or better, communicate. In fact it convinced me consuming without output, or at least planning for output, is very nearly pointless. Writing gets you out of your head, breaks thought loops, gives you a record to come back to, etc. And it enables thinking to be a group activity (!); an artifact, a stamp that can be passed around and marked up.

This past year I’ve done a lot of writing (in notebooks, and recently in Roam Research), which is essentially just talking to myself. Kind of like a little council of past, present and future me, all huddling around a table very somberly as they discuss with their accumulated wisdom (and, importantly, their ephemeral mindsets) the topics that have managed to stay relevant across each of their respective timelines.

Which is great! Super helpful, fun, and a very healthy habit to be into overall. But I think there’s a risk of navelgazing after too long (the topic that never got irrelevant across all these conversations was ~*~myself~*~, despite how boring a topic that was in 2020).

Writing in this style also carries the very real risk of never getting called out for our bullshit.

Thinking in Public

There’s a trend I’ve seen on some circles of Twitter and some chats that I’m in where ideas are very deliberately just thrown out there as a seed, an anchor that gets latched onto and Borged into the audience’s own context, who then get the chance to chew it up, consider it, ponder it, and then either take it with them or spit it back out into the ether. Preferably it finds its way back to you, so you can consider what they’ve done with it too.

In this way everyone involved enters a temporary shared consciousness, playing hot potato with our words and our thoughts until they emerge, forged and tested, or wilted, shredded, torn apart and left on the floor until someone picks it back up and tries squashing it back together to try it again.

When writing I don’t want to just discuss my ideas with future and past me; I need perspectives outside my own.

I want to be called out on my bullshit, work with Strong Ideas, Loosely Held, and re-engage, seeing where it all leads me and in the long run giving me a less brittle, more empathetic worldview. This requires lots of short-term worldview destruction, but that’s the point, not only worth it but even necessary.

Now finding these perspectives is hard! With anyone whom you ask the favor of tearing down and building up your perspective, you need a sense of mutual trust, respect and even affection if you can find it. Historically the Internet is a risky place to find those kinds of opinions.

So that’s the unsolved variable of this. Fortunately of course I don’t really think *anyone’s* actually going to read any of this, at least for awhile, and kinda-probably never.

But it’s also nice to have my own little island that represents a chain of snapshots of thoughts, that I can surface or hide when it feels right, and at the very least have a place where, when I write, I write *as if* someone *might* read it, because that focuses legibility, and coherence, and an additional shade of context that makes me think the same thoughts differently, which is incredibly valuable even by itself.

So yeah, hello world, hello future me, hello helpful metaphor of ‘the audience,’ thanks for stopping by, and before you go, please be sure to heap on the praise and dial up the criticism.

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