Links Worth Spreading

Last updated June 28th, 2021
16-min read

Ted Talks™
are for Ideas Worth Spreading

This list
is for Links Worth Spreading

This list continues to evolve today & I still fight the temptation to bloat it over time. I publish smaller best-of's, but this is a permanent home for my most shared links. There's enough recency bias on the worldwide web. These ideas have withstood the test of [my] time (...& attention-span).

Table of Contents

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On Health:

On Wealth:

On Progress:

NOTE: despite my best efforts, this list ended up more US-centric than I'd prefer. Check out this world map scaled by population & this animated world map of twitter activity over one month (2013) ...only one channel & in 2013!

The internet isn't just your country. Really, it's become one of its own. Those links will give you a better feel for your fellow citizens of the web. You'll bump into more of us each year.


Like it or not,
we're all stuck on the same spaceship! 🚀

How aging will kill you
& what you can do about that

Don't worry, there's no strong-arm philosophy/product/pitch at the end here: just a survey of some exploratory research. This isn't a short-sweet tactical summary, but rather an interesting strategy that might make you reconsider your approach.

Here's Peter, both an engineer & accomplished medical doctor, speaking to a room of medical researchers so don't expect to follow every detail of this discussion. This is a great summary of some of the best current thinking on how to not let aging sneak up on you so much.

Seeing an ordered list of aging-related disease based on likelihood really reframed how I think about taking care of my body. There's a "longevity Olympics" that you have decades to train for & it looks nothing like training for the normal Olympics. You might not even aspire to live much longer than average, but you can start thinking about how to live better in the coming decades.

"The key to living longer [for now] is delaying the onset of chronic disease"

Improve your air quality

A data-driven rant on why you should care about air quality & a supplementary guide for a cheap DIY air purifier that totally gets the job done

In an urbanizing world,
sensitivity to air pollution both outdoors & indoors will probably continue to grow more relevant

I promptly chucked my ultrasonic humidifier out the window after reading this

You don't have to be local

This simple thought-piece tapped me at the right time: it gave me permission. This realization is slowly dawning on people all over the world. The more friends you make in different countries/timezones, the more people move closer to major urban hubs (especially ones far away from you), the more you question how you distribute your time locally vs globally.

The automobile reshaped America when it shrunk the time-distance between the opportunities of the city to further stretches of land (now suburbs). The internet shrinks that distance between you & everyone else down to within your room. There are entire semi-public conferences going on as we speak all around you in this City in the Sky. Perhaps you should network a little more around these Shops in the Sky?

How would you approach the world differently if that window of opportunity was closing? Thought experiment: if the internet as you knew it today only had another 10 years before fracturing, imploding, or getting monopolized by AI, would you reconsider your approach to this once-in-a-civilization opportunity?

Your favorite friends, artists, & coworkers in the literal whole world are at last reachable up there. Is it not worth a few extra years searching? Distance is no longer an excuse. I just didn't realize I even had a choice.

r/PersonalFinance flowchart

(Specific to the U.S.)

The art of investing is the art of decision-making. Every decision you make is a vote for the person you'll become. This is the lazy-yet-informed approach to maximize your returns relative to your risk & effort. Recall that tired 80/20 saying about "the 20% of efforts that will yield you 80% of the results"?

In my experience,
you'll take this 1 of 2 ways
(assuming this is new to you):

Some people are so ecstatic that they binge this kinda stuff for months, but others...
let's just say
it's not their idea of fun

If you're already intimidated or overwhelmed at the mere idea of counting up all the bills on your counter or fees in your accounts, you're probably suffering from a backwards case of "grass is greener". Ignorance is not bliss & you know it: it eats away at you from the inside until you're a hollow shell of your former self. Getting clear on "your finances" is the only antidote to stress, the only therapy of its kind. For some of you, thinking about money is like eating broken glass & staring into the abyss, when it's actually more like roping off a crime scene & getting the victims the answers they deserve.

You may think you have nothing, that you're doomed, but a quick google search will find you many stories of people that have gotten out of significantly more dire financial circumstances. Just because you have 40k/80k/120k in student loan debt & several thousand in credit card debt is far from the end of the world.

The grass really is greener on the other side

I recently wrote about "Whose Ladder Are You Climbing?" when it dawned on me that many "career ladders" felt more like spider webs of someone else's design to tie me up & bite my head off. Without getting to know you, I'd consider this one of the few ladders worth investing the time to climb. What matters is that it's a climb of your own design.

Best of all, the top of whatever ladder you choose is probably way lower than you think! You almost certainly don't need to park your dreams behind some arbitrary "ermm, 3 million??" number [assuming no extreme inflation]. I've met people that will say with a straight face that they need a couple billion to do what they "really" want to do. Dream big, but don't be the person that can't start building today. There are probably opportunities to get 60% of the experience for 1% of the cost. This corner case was precisely the reason Tim Ferriss wrote the scammy-sounding-by-design-but-100%-legit-&-game-changing book "The 4-Hour Workweek" (you could probably preview the first 2 chapters on Amazon for free if you're that curious)

"How come there's no 'life essentials' class in high school??? I wish someone had taught me earlier about budgeting, taxes, how to change a tire, etc
...ya'know, the ~AcTuAlLy ImPoRtAnT sTuFf~, not math with letters"

—every American has this uncle

The flowchart linked above is your stable foundation. This isn't the be-all end-all on the art of investing for people who've entirely escaped the game of money, but this could be a more sustainable path to get you there.

What if you're a trigger-happy capitalist who wants to YOLO more than 1% of your net worth into speculative investments? Hey, live your life. BUT if you don't at least understand these fundamentals in & out, you haven't earned the right

"Rule #1: never lose money
Rule #2: never forget rule #1"

—Warren Buffett

"A fool & his money are soon parted"

That's my plea
& I hope you'll thank me
for not burying it further down

P.S. Your parents called 📞
they want to know when you're finally going to get a haircut & a "real" job

Their words, not mine

because I value integrity:

I'm not a "Fiduciary Financial Advisor" (nor am I a Medical Doctor), & I don't play one on the internet. This is strictly for informational purposes only. I've placed a high-level of trust & confidence in your critical-thinking abilities to decide on the best course of action for you. There will always be rare windows of opportunity to completely disregard all conventional advice (& many many many more scams misleading you with the fantasy of getting rich quick). My hope is that this perspective/philosophy/approach simply provides a useful comparison to other financial ideas you might consider over your lifetime.

2 decades of inflation

(Specific to the U.S.)

Like many things,
you might not take an interest in economics
but economics certainly takes an interest in you!

This single graph explains so much of the current economy around us [in the U.S.]. In the last 20 years, what goods & services have become relatively more costly & by how much?

You may be familiar
with the general idea of inflation
& how $80 was "actually a pretty big deal" in 1910,

but not every dollar is equal [in the way you thought],
so let's peak behind that curtain sector

U.S. Price Changes (2000 to 2020)

Worth noting "average hourly wages"
isn't the same as median hourly wages,
since ~1971 there's been a
...rather controversial divide

Take a good long look at this graph

These are the waters you might not have realized you're swimming in. Outside of the "he said : she said" noise of day-to-day politics, this is the playing field that tells 80% of the story. We're all processors in the same societal super-computer grinding our gears towards better solutions to this problem.

All you need is 10

"but Global™ this!
Macroeconomic™ that
Geopolitical™ these!"

Good news! You can start in the calm of your small world.

This is staying out of the storm. This is soothing wisdom from & for the age of distraction. With today's absurd marketing potential via the Internet, there's this seductive incentive to just try to extract a tiny value out of lots of people, even millions (e.g. living comfortably on YouTube Ad revenue from millions of views, living comfortably on App Store revenue from millions of $.49 downloads).

"Just because you can doesn't mean you should"

It's never that easy & it's the least rewarding. Don't try to skip the line by providing pennies of value to some. Find ways to provide immense value to the very few around you that you can. This is less about top-down spray-and-pray, but rather bottoms-up building your capacity to chew on bigger problems.

Seth is a master of moderation
with a focus on generosity
who inspires by example

He doesn't "try to change the world"
He just shows up every day

After 5 years of consuming every thoughtpiece that gives the faintest smell of entrepreneurship, this is my #2. Only #2 because what it lacks in length & detail is made up for in density & a meditative simplicity. Unlike the others, this is the most timeless. It will never go out of style. It doesn't have any prerequisites. It doesn't even give you permission to procrastinate by reading another follow-up article.

First, 10.
& they'll take it from there
but only once your stuff is good enough

When is it good enough?

When you can stop pushing
because they've started pulling
because they like you that much

Create for 10, not 10,000

First, 10.
& they'll take it from there
but only once your stuff is good enough

Don't try to skip ahead in line: you could scale to 10,000 casual fans but start by WOW'ing just 10 before you bother

By virtue of your work ethic, you just might stumble on the right idea

BONUS: study his writing for a masterclass in simplicity (this blurb was much longer than his average post)

Small Business 2.0 Revolution

If First, 10 was my #2 favorite "entrepreneurship" read, then what could possibly be #1?

Where that previous one stands the test of time, this one makes up for in relevance & specificity ...even though this window of opportunity has a little more of a time limit.

Looking back now, this essay had a profound effect on my career. It even thematically fits the layered meaning behind the name of my other blog, Creators Who Code. Why? Because the best coders know when NOT to code. They should instead view themselves as more general creators who only code ...when it finally come to that.

Oh, you know how to code?

Good for you. Don't become a hammer that starts look at everything as if it were a nail. The biggest downside to software is often the release time especially for the first iteration.

Another huge takeaway that I completely forgot hit me from this: I did a complete 180 on my lifelong distaste for writing. My writing wasn't actually all that bad, but gosh was it like pulling teeth every time & always over-budget. I'm being way too harsh on my pre-adult writing, but I didn't enjoy it until stirring on this essay: writing done right can provide 95% of the value™ of software for 5% of the time investment! Writing has a significantly shorter product iteration speed, if not the shortest. Why start with software when I can churn out multiple written product tests in a day & see what sticks?

Theory of Constraints

This is an entire series of essays on a hidden gem of the manufacturing industry. People around me today in software probably don't know that "Agile" & agile methodologies are little more than a paint-job over this more timeless idea from a much less sexy industry (which is one reason they dressed it up in new clothes)

  • TODO: elaborate (also Lindy Effect breakdown)

If you're interested in project management, make sure not to skim over any sentences. This paradigm-shift is all about the subtle nuances. The power behind this ultra-deceptively simple forced me to rethink how I approach any project of formidable scale. The biggest diamond hidden in plain sight is when you don't try to apply this to entire organizations, but even on the scale of how you approach your work as an individual.

Everything Is A Remix™

Being original is overrated
nor is it really realistic

"Good artists copy. Great artists steal."

They've continued the project, but I'm referring to the original 2015 version:

A case for optimism

Social media algorithms benefit from a negativity bias, but is the world really getting worse?

Don't lose the forest for the trees

We certainly have no shortage of work left to do, but "knowledge about what we have achieved leaves no place for cynicism". Our World in Data™ is a goldmine of empirical data. I linked the one I did because it felt most relevant but I encourage you to filter their articles for other topics you're interested in! I'll drop one more relevant link for their longer compilation of data on Optimism & Pessimism.

How Software Is Eating The World

Let me be clear, this is a book-length collection of essays elaborating on the ideas of someone who invented the original, graphical web browser & has gone on to run one of the most successful venture capital firms funding countless software companies who lay the landscape for the world you live in today. While the lead writer may drop more SAT words than you've seen in a while, this is a masterful summary of how is eating the world.

For all you "non-technical" folks who don't have Computer Science degrees, I'd commit to whichever 3-5 chapters most grab your interest. You've heard "transformational technology" enough times to question "really? When I look back in history, I don't see any comparison of this much sustaining innovation. Is this all just hype propping up a failing system? How far can this revolution really go?" ...this might be the most thorough introduction to open your eyes.

A Singaporean perspective on US-China relations

This provocative talk is a masterclass in persuasion. Don't let the title deceive you: this ice-breaker comes from a place of deep cultural investment & admiration in Western Philosophy.

...& more importantly, from a well-connected UN ambassador on the other side of the world. If you weren't aware, the country of Singapore is a brilliant city-state that administers by some measures the busiest port in the world. For their size, they could not be more deeply embedded in the global network of trade, which gives them a unique outsider-yet-insider perspective on India, China, & the U.S. to name a few.

This is a cold shower
This is a wake-up call

Regardless of your sentiment towards "The West" (which is much more than the U.S. by the way), you don't have to buy this argument to benefit from contemplating:

"How might we, the world,
best prepare for the day the U.S.
is no longer the undisputed hegemon?"

If that sounds absurd,
I encourage you to revisit
the world map scaled by population
at the very introduction of this page

It's a crucial conversation
because it just doesn't divide cleanly into the "No, we're the worst." "No, we're the best." culture wars & narratives inside the U.S. right now

The other 95.75% of the world
have their own narratives
(not to mention future generations)

Hard-earned lessons in Environmentalism

Coming Soon: rethinking Green™ & notes on ecopragmatism from a lifetime

  • Ecomodernism
  • Ecopragmatism

Nothing unites people like a common enemy. What if there was more than just another person or group to scapegoat?

Memorable Quotes

"Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact:

everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it.

Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again."

Steve Jobs

" the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive."
—David Foster Wallace, This is Water

"...I am better off than he is—
for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows: I neither know nor think that I know.

In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him..."

—Socrates (not in English though)
... —Plato (as documented in his "Apology")
... ... —Michael Scott

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