The Wheel of Time entry on Wikipedia

Yeah, I don't normally link to Wikipedia here. But I came across this recently when looking something up and it really sucked me in. Having spent 25+ years of my life reading this series, some of the books 5–10 times, I consider myself to have a fairly intimate knowledge of the story. But the Wikipedia entry introduced some concepts that were new to me right from the start: The series is set in an unnamed world that, due to the cyclical nature of time as depicted in the series, is simultaneously the distant past and the distant future Earth.…

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Re-reading goals

For the last several years, I've taken part in the Goodreads reading challenge. I tend to come up 3–5 books short each year, but I'm happy overall with how much I've been reading. However, I'm not crazy about what I've done with the books I've read. Often, I've done very little beyond reading the words on the page. I made highlights and perhaps a short blurb somewhere in my notes. But as this was all before I had delved into the world of smart note-taking and making the most of what I read, so most of the books I…

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Matter

I signed up for the beta of this app because there have been a few instances where I wanted to listen to a blog post I had saved. My first thought was that iOS must have some kind of functionality for this (it does). But then some people in the Roam community mentioned Matter. On a recent run, I gave it a try and listened to two blog posts that were around 2,000 and 4,000 words each. And it was a fairly pleasant experience. It's still an AI voice reading text, so it is a little flat. But…

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Why books don't work

I very much enjoyed this longer essay from Andy Matuschak on people truly learn. He makes the case that lectures do not work for the transfer of knowledge. Lectures, as a medium, have no carefully-considered cognitive model at their foundation. Yet if we were aliens observing typical lectures from afar, we might notice the implicit model they appear to share: “the lecturer says words describing an idea; the class hears the words and maybe scribbles in a notebook; then the class understands the idea.” In learning sciences, we call this model “transmissionism.” It’s the notion that knowledge can be…

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Reading in the age of constant distraction

Mairead Small Staid shares a brilliant piece of writing all about reading and its apparent demise. She frames the problem well: The diminishment of literature—of sustained reading, of writing as the product of a single focused mind—would diminish the self in turn, rendering us less and less able to grasp both the breadth of our world and the depth of our own consciousness.So, what we write and what we read helps shape our thinking and our very being? I like that. But Staid goes further — a lot further — and claims that the attack on reading is tied…

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You’re probably using the wrong dictionary

Another excellent read I came across in a newsletter (Sarah Bray this time), James Somers talks about dictionaries. That may not sound enticing, but he does it really well! He first describes the problem: The way I thought you used a dictionary was that you looked up words you’ve never heard of, or whose sense you’re unsure of. You would never look up an ordinary word — like example, or sport, or magic — because all you’ll learn is what it means, and that you already know. Indeed, if you look up those particular words in the dictionary that…

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Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound

It’s one thing to write about how the internet has changed the way we read. It’s another thing to claim how that change in reading as affected us overall. This article from Maryanne Wolf opens with just that: When the reading brain skims texts, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings or to perceive beauty. We need a new literacy for the digital age.What are the problems? Well, the author states there are several: Multiple studies show that digital screen use may be causing a variety of troubling downstream effects on…

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Frontier Journal Issue #2

Isaac Smith released issue #2 of the Frontier Journal. Like issue #1, there are some great articles. But I most enjoyed the Fuel for the Frontier part — it reminds me a lot of a digest email (like this one). He covers a number of topics, but the portion at the end was the best. Issac shares how using analog tools has been a help, but he can still find himself slipping into reactive mode once he gets in front of the computer. A small change has helped: A subtle but significant difference. Instead of making my default work approach my…

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