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The Context Vortex, Manufacturing Meaning, & Paying the Price for Quality (Reading Notes 7.8.18)

Resource: Eddies in the Informational Continuum
Link: https://us1.campaign-archive.com/?u=78cbbb7f2882629a5157fa593&id=2bc0a6e50f

Thoughts/Reflections:

A context vortex refers to your personal information-processing center of gravity. Whenever you consume content, your context vortex processes it in the same old ways. You can detect the features of your context vortex by looking at the stubborn patterns in your thinking/writing that may indicate staleness.

A context vortex doesn’t need to feel depressing.

You can’t escape the context vortex merely by reading information. It can only be escaped through interpersonal interaction. You need conversations with people who have a different context vortex.

Quotes/Excerpts:

“The world is getting complicated faster than we can come up with terms to describe what’s happening. I made up a new term: context vortex. A context vortex is a headspace where almost every thought you think is similar to, and has a similar effect as, one you’ve thunk before. A context vortex is a memetic Groundhog Day world featuring its own circular timeline.”

1/ I’m not against thinking thoughts multiple times. Often you need to do that to really figure something out. But in a context vortex, your information environment is a circular churn of stale thoughts lacking a central mystery.

2/ It is a regime of repetitive patterns of thoughts that all seem to be vaguely familiar, and well past diminishing returns on attention. A tarpit of tedium instead of an intriguing mystery you’re circling to solve. Insights all seem like echoes of each other and none of them ever changes anything.

7/ Unlike people in a Matrix-like reality, people in a context vortex are viscerally aware they’re trapped in one, but somehow can’t find a way out. And unlike a matrix reality, a context vortex is also not “fake” or virtual. It is just hard to get out of.

8/ A context vortex is not a filter bubble or consensus reality. It does not necessarily keep out information that might be locally distressing, or preferentially let in consensus-reinforcing information.

9/ A context vortex is a space of ideas that allows thought to churn around in circles without getting anywhere. It is not that new information cannot penetrate, but that it cannot be processed in vortex-disrupting ways.

15/ A context vortex has some of the characteristics of depression, but need not feel depressing. Many context vortices are quite cheerful in fact. The shared feature is the repetitive cognitions, and failure to feel and enact surprise in destabilizing ways.

30/ But the good news. There are always neighboring local realities that are not in as strong a vortex state (there’s always some vorticity). Where fresher thinking is possible. Where novelty can be more fully accommodated through change.

31/ To escape in this way, it is not enough to simply immerse yourself in new information. You must think about it differently. The only way to do that is to be talking to somebody who is not in your vortex.

32/ In other words, to escape a context vortex, you must start talking to one or more people who are not in it. The mere act of talking to somebody who is not susceptible to the vortex forces starts to draw you out.

38/ There is no up or down, no subsumption hierarchy of increasingly “real” realities that you can traverse vertically with red and blue pills. There is just a decentralized web of realities, evolving on their own, making and breaking connections.

41/ To survive there, you’re going to have to get good at controlling where your mind goes, as opposed to where your feet go. And that’s much harder. But it’s worth doing.

Resource: 6 year old Young Jack asks Neil deGrasse Tyson, “what’s the meaning of life?”
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgMBGD6MZKc

Thoughts/Reflections:

Meaning shouldn’t be sought as much as it should be manufactured. Meaning is not some abstract intangible thing that exists far away in the heavens. It’s within your grasp and is created every day by the way you choose to live.

The more you learn, the close you move towards becoming one with all the knowledge there is. Knowledge gives meaning because it gives you the power to change people and help people.

Quotes/Excerpts:

“So what is the meaning of life? I think people ask that question on the assumption that meaning is something you can look for and then ”I found it. Here’s the meaning. Here’s what it is I’ve been looking for it” okay and it doesn’t consider the possibility that maybe meaning in life is something that you create you manufactured for yourself and for others and so when I think of meaning in life I ask have I learned something today that I didn’t know yesterday bringing me a little closer to knowing all that can be known in the universe just a little closer however far away all the knowledge sits, I’m a little closer if I live a day and I don’t know a little more that day than the day before I think I wasted that day.”

“To learn is to become closer to nature and to learn how things work gives you power to influence events, gives you power to help people who may need it, power to help yourselves to shape a trajectory. So when I think of “what is the meaning of life”, to me that’s not an eternal unanswerable question. To me that is an arm’s reach of me everyday.”

Resource: Cheap shower curtains
Link: https://seths.blog/2018/07/cheap-shower-curtains/

Thoughts/Reflections:

Paying for the cheaper product isn’t always the most cost-efficient decision. Sometimes the things that are cheap upfront are expensive to maintain.

When you’re hiring talent, building a system, advising people, don’t just think in terms of what’s cheapest and easiest right now. Think about what’s likely to last and what will produce the highest quality.

Quotes/Excerpts:

“The unskilled cost accountant might suggest you outfit your new hotel with cheap shower curtains. After all, if you save $50 a room and have 200 rooms, pretty soon, we’re talking real money. On the other hand, experience will demonstrate that cheap shower curtains let the water out, causing a minor flood, every day, room after room. And they wear out faster. Cheap shower curtains aren’t actually cheap. Productivity pays for itself. Once you start looking for metaphorical cheap shower curtains, they’re everywhere.”

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