#001: Ali Abdaal • collectivity • Heavy Baile

Welcome to the first edition of Ephemerata, a weekly-ish digest of links, ideas, learnings, and sounds that I think are worth sharing.

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The name is a joke about my historic avoidance of chronologically organized platforms for major output (see Discussion is ephemeral)—I’m embracing the transient nature of newsletters and playing to their strengths.

I’m doing this to stimulate discussion around what I find interesting and also to share things before they disappear into the void of my journal.

It will likely center around music | design | technology, but probably include whatever attracts my curiosity. You can subscribe at https://buttondown.email/ephemerata—I’m using a wonderful privacy-focused alternative to Mailchimp.

So let’s get to it!

ALI ABDAAL

I’m super happy to have discovered the Youtuber Ali Abdaal. I deeply resonated with one of his videos about putting yourself out there online in which there’s some useful advice and perspective that can dislodge common fears and hesitations.

There’s another video about confidence which changed my mind about several things:

[People can’t distinguish between fake and real confidence.]

[Most people have the spotlight on their own lives and are not judging other people constantly, so stop doing that and you might relax more.]

[Every one is friendly but you have to make the first move. Most people are afraid to go first.]

Pro tip: try to look past his clickbaity titles, they were written for someone else, not you.


HUMANITY

Beau of the Fifth Column with some great advice as always, here around how to keep the fire alive when your collective is ‘out of season’:

[Infighting develops during lull periods because comrades have nothing to do. Train, get involved in other causes, do something fun.]

[Break up cliques by playing team sports mixed with people from each side to instill camaraderie.]


Scott Alexander wrote about combatting irrationality:

[If a conspiracy theorist is no different from a scientist because ‘everything is political’, then words have no meaning. What isn’t rational then?]


Alex Danco makes an interesting distinction between purchases for convenience versus signalling:

[Opt-in commerce is challenge-oriented whereas opt-out commerce is convenience-oriented.]

[If people identify with the challenge you’ve set for them, the transaction becomes a moment worth sharing.]

[People want meaning, to become something, to express themselves. How does what you sell help them succeed?]


I’m still reading Get Together by Bailey Richardson. The last few chapters had some tips about the messaging used in communities:

[Tell an origin story that describes your personal journey (self), the collective journey (us), and what people can do to get involved (now) plus ‘why now?’.]

[Nudge members into inviting others by communicating how their involvement is important to the community’s success. Make it easy for them by giving them the shareable assets. How can we make it easier for them to do it on their own terms?]

[The leader of Downtown Girls Basketball takes a cool team photo at half-time, including even the new people and those who need to leave early, and offers to send it to anyone interested. Nearly everyone wanted it and many posted it to their social media.]


Finally, https://www.microsolidarity.cc has some good vocabulary for talking about community building at different scales, recognizing the inability of English to make the distinction between groups of different sizes.


TECHNOLOGY

Huginn is an open-source alternative to IFTTT.


I can’t get enough of Snapdrop—sooo useful to transfer files and links between different devices. Why is this still hard in 2021? It’s also a 0data app that works without an account.


The next time someone says, “I’ve got an idea for an iPhone app”, I will forward them https://shouldyoubuildamobile.app. It presents the pros and cons of a ‘native’ vs ‘web’ app as a neat checklist. (Thanks @boris via Fission’s Discord).


LANGUAGE

A provocative idea about language learning: learning can be conscious but acquisition can only be subconscious.


MUSIC

(All the following items can be accessed as a one-click playlist).

Billy Hart’s Enchance, if you’re into free jazz. (via Dan Weiss).


I’ve been getting into Pedro Martins lately. He’s actually from Brasilia. A genius guitarist and it seems like he definitely spent time with Toninho Horta’s work. His latest album VOX is a celestial dream.


Also from Brazil: Heavy Baile, incredible funk beats (not the jazz kind but the Brazilian genre). Check out Carne de Pescoço as well as this mixtape with some dope dancing in a basketball court.


That’s all folks!

Feel free to reply and share any reflections you might have.

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