Fragmented Thoughts

Notes, quotes and other things on the mind of Emma Cragg

Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then going forward does not get you any nearer.

Matt Haig shares this quote from C.S. Lewis in Notes on a Nervous Planet. He follows it with this insight of his own:

Forward momentum, on an individual or social level, is not automatically good simply because it is forward momentum... progress might mean doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.

It seems to me that often our egos get in the way of these about-turns. We're too fragile to admit, to ourselves as much as anyone else, that we made a mistake and so we just keep ploughing forward.

If we can get beyond that, and check in with ourselves on a regular basis to ask if we're still heading in the right direction, then maybe we can avoid going too far along the wrong roads.

#progress #change #mistakes #ego

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This was an important decision for me, made some years ago. It is great fun to annihilate something in a storm of arch Menckenesque hail, and I've done it in the past. But I came to the place where I questioned its utility here. If I'm spending time and space on something that is bad, then that is time and space not be used to boost the awareness of something good. And that is a poor trade-off, these days...

I'll only ever tell you about things I think are good. Because, really, that's all we should be spending our time on, and all we should be raising up into the conversation...

Here, we only do the good shit. Okay? Okay.

Source: Warren Ellis, Orbital Operations 9 June 19

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schools should downplay technical skills and emphasize general-purpose life skills. Most important of all will be the ability to deal with change, to learn new things, and to preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situations. In order to keeps up with the world of 2050, you will need not merely to invent new ideas and products – you will above all need to reinvent yourself again and again.

Source: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by #YuvalNoahHarari

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Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. But hope without critical thinking is naïveté. I try to live in this place between the two, to try to build a life there, because finding fault and feeling hopeless about improving our situation produces resignation of which cynicism is a symptom and against which it is the futile self-protection mechanism. But on the other hand, believing blindly that everything will work out just fine also produces a kind of resignation because we have no motive to apply ourselves toward making things better. And I think in order to survive, both as individuals and as a civilization, but especially in order to thrive, we need to bridge critical thinking with hope.

Source: Maria Popova: Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age, OnBeing with Krista Tippett

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When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. And there are no more answers only better and better lies.

Wise words from Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, S7:E7.

#lies #meaning

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You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.

#quote

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If a government is corrupt and fails to improve people's lives, enough citizens will eventually realise this and replace the government. But government control of the media undermines Lincoln's logic, because it prevents citizens from realising the truth.

Source: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by #YuvalNoahHarari

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Humans were always far better at inventing tools than using them wisely

Source: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by #YuvalNoahHarari

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Your network is your net worth. The people you surround yourself with most have a significant influence on your behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and performance.
— George Raveling

Source: George Raveling's newsletter 30/03/2019

#quote #networks

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Notes from the introduction and chapter 1 of Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

In the introduction, Newport highlights:

“the necessity of cultivating high-quality leisure to replace the time most now dedicate to mindless device use.”

The emphasis in the quote above is my own, this mindless device use is something I'm very aware of in my own life and something I'm actively trying to eliminate. In a world where we're all feeling increasingly busy and like we don't have time to do the things we want to do, we need to identify the activities we do that have little benefit and replace them with something more rewarding. I'd say this is my drive behind reading the book.

Chapter 1 takes us back to the early days of smartphones and social media. Reminding us of their original selling points, for example the key feature of the first iPhone was that it combined your mobile phone and mp3 player into one device. It evolved from there to become something far more ubiquitous:

“We added new technologies to the periphery of our experience for minor reasons, then woke up one morning to discover that they had colonized the core of our daily life. We didn't, in other words, sign up for the digital world in which we're currently entrenched; we seem to have stumbled backward into it.”

From this point, the rest of the chapter goes on to argue that our autonomy in this area of our lives has been taken away.

“People don't succumb to screens because they're lazy, but instead because billions of dollars have been invested to make this outcome inevitable.”

The question here is that if we now know this, why do we continue to engage with the technologies, and the companies who make them, that are apparently doing more harm than good? The two reasons Newport gives are intermittent positive reinforcement and social approval, both of which are manipulated by features of the systems, eg tags and likes.

Come the end of the chapter we're well primed to hear how Newport's philosophy of digital minimalism can help us regain control.

#CalNewport #technology #DigitalMinimalism

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