Recommendation: The Cool Tools Show

I suppose this is a meta-recommendation: the tool is the Cool Tools podcast, featuring Mark Frauenfelder and Kevin Kelly. If you’re into or interested in one or more of… Technology and internet stuff DIY and craftiness Electronics / makerism Gardening Books, publishing and design Conversations with interesting people Tools! … then you are likely to enjoy this podcast. It’s shortish…

Not long ago, or Little by little (3): scarcity and subsistence in rural Suffolk

[For those who came in late… Start with Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening… A village in Suffolk [in the east of England], circa 1900: There were seven children at home and father’s wages had been reduced to 10…

Not long ago, or Little by little (2): Indoor plumbing

[Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening, little by little: It’s the Chinese city of Kunming in 1980: Li Kunwa and Phillipe Ôtié’s A Chinese Life is an amazing memoir – a lens into sixty years of struggle and upheaval…

Not long ago, or Little by little (1)

Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening, little by little: It’s London in 1930. Ethel has left her work as a lady’s maid; Ernest is a milkman. Raymond Briggs’ Ethel and Ernest is a brilliant book – very funny, very poignant. I share it here as an example…

Extending books: Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen on Timeful Texts

Picking up Tuesday’s post about transactional reading and contemplation, here’s something interesting that goes a little further in thinking about how we might immerse ourselves in books or other texts. Today’s gem comes from Andy Matuschak (former leader of the R&D group at Khan Academy and all-round interesting fellow), who’s working on developing more effective tools for thought and learning.…

Misreading the mind: Ezra Klein and Nicholas Carr on transactional reading and contemplation

Ezra Klein: If you can get the argument of a book – through book reviews or book essays or a Wikipedia page or something – that actually isn’t what the book can do for you primarily. Getting the main argument of a book is very easy. It’s the time you spend in in it, where you begin to make connections…

Resource: 109 mental models from Farnham Street

Mental models are how we understand the world. Not only do they shape what we think and how we understand but they shape the connections and opportunities that we see. Mental models are how we simplify complexity, why we consider some things more relevant than others, and how we reason. A mental model is simply a representation of how something…

Astonishing wealth inequality graphic

Inequality isn’t my favourite hobby horse, mainly because: “Fair” and “equal [being / having the same]” are often (wrongly) assumed to be the same thing; “Equal [being / having the same]” and “[of] equal [worth]” also seem to get conflated; I don’t think that “equality [being / having the same]” for all people is possible or desirable, assuming that we’re…

Matt Mullenweg’s hierarchy of improvements for video calls

In short, invest in this order: Quality of internet connection (line and router). Voice (Get a good microphone. He recommends this affordable headset or its two-eared sibling.) Lighting (“Makes even a normal webcam much better.”) Camera (a great webcam or something much more elaborate). More details on Cool Tools #235 – or on way more detail at the excellent distributed.blog…

Aristotle on virtue as a mean (4) – leaning out (or “Whose fool are you?”)

On pushing out the boat [Start here] This is quite dense, but interesting. After summarising his argument so far, Aristotle suggests that the best way to aim for the virtuous mean is to lean away (or “hold the ship out”) from the excesses or deficiencies we most naturally tend towards. This leaves us likely to err in the opposite direction,…