In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to reshare an image that I love so much. Whether good or bad luck exists is a whole argument on its own, but having good and bad days is much more relatable. I try to remember that neither lasts longer than we think and that they are both part of a larger picture. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!
If you’re new here, welcome! Below you’ll find 3 pieces of valuable curated content that aim to make you wiser, wealthier, and healthier — gradually (aka your daily dose of digital vitamins).
You can find all previous issues here, all previous curated content organized/archived here, and if you aren’t subscribed yet — you can do so here.
I highly suggest consuming the full piece here (12 min. read time)
“…the scientists Frances Westall and André Brack wrote in 2018, ‘that there are as many definitions of life as there are people trying to define it.’” — Carl Zimmer
The deep problem of defining life: “You can take a science in which there are two or three definitions for one thing. But a science in which the most important object has no definition? That’s absolutely unacceptable. How are we going to discuss it if you believe that the definition of life has something to do with DNA, and I think it has something to do with dynamic systems? We cannot make artificial life because we cannot agree on what life is. We cannot find life on Mars because we cannot agree what life represents.” — Radu Popa (microbiologist)
Framing first, defining second: “Some philosophers have suggested that we need to think more carefully about how we give a word like life its meaning. Instead of building definitions first, we should start by thinking about the things we’re trying to define. We can let them speak for themselves.” — Carl Zimmer
Main counter-argument: “Life is different. It is not the sort of thing that can be defined simply by linking together concepts. As a result, it’s futile to search for a laundry list of features that will turn out to be the real definition of life. ‘We don’t want to know what the word life means to us,’ Cleland said. ‘We want to know what life is.’ And if we want to satisfy our desire, Cleland argues, we need to give up our search for a definition.’” — Carl Zimmer / Carol Cleland (philosopher)
My two cents: I’m not sure why I thought I knew what the definition of life is, but I quickly learned that I was wrong. This piece shows the deep and complex ideas around life, what it is, and what it isn’t. Who would have thought? Sadly (yet predictable), this guy! I hope I’m not alone on this one. Fantastic read nonetheless.
I highly suggest consuming the full piece here (6 min. read time)
“Most people think of Bitcoin as a digital asset, but it can be thought of as something more general than that: a decentralized organization. Years from now, Satoshi’s creation may be looked at as a catalyst for the slow death of the firm.” — Nick Tomaino
Why Bitcoin/DAOs is killing traditional firms: “Ownership isn’t controlled by an exclusive group of founders, employees, and investors…Data isn’t controlled by any one entity…Decision making power is not controlled by one person or group and there are checks and balances from a broad variety of market participants.” — Nick Tomaino
Why decentralized organizations will impact billions: “Offering new earning opportunities to people around the world who otherwise would not have them (without favoring people in any particular jurisdiction)…Creating clear incentive alignment between users, employees, and founders…Creating new products that weren’t possible with firms.” — Nick Tomaino
Main hurdles: “Decentralized decision making is hard. To date there are no clear best practices around governance and there is still a lot of learning to be done…It is difficult to accurately measure contributions in most types of work today…Decentralization means a lot of different things to a lot of people and often gets abused.” — Nick Tomaino
My two cents: I imagine a piece like this as required reading when being introduced to Bitcoin, decentralized organizations, and the pros and cons to both. Cons in this case, mostly being challenges, but it will be so cool to see more and more experiments emerge. If you have any opinions or other readings on these ideas, you should definitely check out our subreddit!
I highly suggest consuming the full piece here (13 min. read time)
Historical identity shifts: “The social categories — class, gender, ethnicity, religion — that determined the possibilities for one’s life were essentially fixed, as were the way those categories were defined. But then industrialization and the advent of mass media scuttled those categories over time and rendered social norms more fluid and malleable. Identity was no longer assigned but became a project for individuals to realize. It became an opportunity and a responsibility, a burden. You could now fail to become someone.” — Rob Horning
The pressure is real: “It may not be only depressed people who are tired of having to become themselves. Under economic conditions in which maximizing our ‘human capital’ is paramount, we are under unremitting pressure to make the most of ourselves and our social connections and put it all on display to maintain our social viability.” — Rob Horning
Self as individual companies: “We are perpetually ‘unable to measure up’ — we must, like any other capitalist firm, demonstrate an ability to maintain growth or become obsolete” — Rob Horning
My two cents: This last takeaway is sort of really crazy to think about. Comparing yourself to a “capitalistic firm” can be such a stressful thing to think about. It doesn’t even have to be from a monetary perspective, but physically, mentally, etc. always growing, growing, growing…I guess that’s life? This makes me somewhat appreciate the “gradually” approach: where yes, growing is good, but it doesn’t have to be quarterly or be beholden to some crazy goal. My hope is that gradually is a less pressurized view on growing.
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