Rob Knight

Week of 14 Feb 2022

February 19, 2022

My focus this week was on web design. It’s always my job, but we’re on a project right now that has me thinking about design all the time. I love it. As someone who constantly thinks about how websites work, I enjoy projects that go deep on design principles.

I also thought about how we change our minds. The episode of Maintenance Phase I mention below was a reminder that people are flawed, and they bring their own biases to everything they do. We have the scientific method, peer-review, the first amendment, and other mechanisms to try and mitigate for our moral and cognitive failures. But there will always be people who test those mechanisms and even get through them.

  • The most important news of the week is that we all lost our collective shit on Tuesday when we discovered the NYT version of Wordle had a different answer than the wild-type Wordle. The horror.
  • On Vox Conversations, Sean Illing spoke with the co-writer of Don’t Look Up, David Sirota about the real themes and messages in the movie. It was--as many things are today--hopeful and disheartening. I particularly enjoyed their discussion about the movie showing the failure of our institutions--something I’ve thought about a lot lately.
  • What are your ‘fuck it this makes me happy’ non-frugal purchases? This Reddit thread was a joy to read. I love discussions like this. Expert opinions from people who carefully choose what they splurge.
  • I haven’t read any of Johann Hari’s books, but his new one, Stolen Focus, sounds like something I’d enjoy. I listened to him talk about the epidemic of our shrinking attention spans on Vox Conversations and the Ezra Klein Show. Both hosts pushed hard on Hari to present practical solutions. It seems like we’ve reached a point in the Internet Age when it would be wise to have our in-person human rights extended to our devices and the companies that make them.
  • Maintenance Phase is amazing. I will cherish this podcast for as long as Aubrey and Michael want to make it. This week’s episode was a thorough (and thoroughly enjoyable) take down of the movie ‘Super-Size Me’. As someone who ingested (huh) all of the movie’s flawed logic and data, this episode put me in a very reflective mood.
  • Lastly, holy shit this podcast series about a massive MLM scam disguised as a cryptocurrency investment is riveting. It’s also fascinating. To my earlier point about changing your mind, you can see from the folks in this series that MLM scammers exploit an existing flaw we all have in our thinking: once we are monetarily invested in something, we often become psychologically invested in it and our tribal instincts can be a very powerful force to overcome. I ran through the entire series in a couple of days and I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re at all interested in MLM scams, cryptocurrency, or human psychology, listen to this series.