There’s never been a better time to be a questioner—because it is so much easier now to begin a journey of inquiry, with so many places you can turn for information, help, ideas, feedback, or even to find possible collaborators who might be interested in the same question. As John Seely Brown notes, a questioner can thrive in these times of exponential change. “If you don’t have that disposition to question,” Brown says, “you’re going to fear change. But if you’re comfortable questioning, experimenting, connecting things—then change is something that becomes an adventure. And if you can see it as an adventure, then you’re off and running.”
—Warren Berger, A More Beautiful Question
Transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS, is an interesting idea. Groups are studying how electrical currents affect cognitive ability and control over fine motor skills. For years, the military has applied the technology to various tasks. I wonder how long it might be until we have “reading hats.” I wouldn’t mind working through Bavinck or Vos with an extra jolt.
I thought this was an interesting phenomenon in the use of cryptocurrency.
At just over six years old, Seoul-based KakaoTalk has more than 170 million registered users on its flagship chat app, and enjoys nearly 93% market penetration in South Korea.
I absolutely loved Cal Newport’s Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. From beginning to end, Newport cuts through the mess and offers a genuine way to engage in “deep work,” through penetrating and sustained thought. If you feel crippled by incessant emails, text messages, and social media, which cultivate low-value “shallow work” done in a state of distraction, you need this book.
The life of study is austere and imposes grave obligations. It pays, it pays richly; but it exacts an initial outlay that few are capable of. The athletes of the mind, like those of the playing field, must be prepared for privations, long training, a sometimes superhuman tenacity. We must give ourselves from the heart, if truth is to give itself to us. Truth serves only its slaves.
—A. G. Sertillanges, O.P., The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods, p. 4.
In order avoid inheritance, gift, and income taxes while also retaining control over how the money is distributed, many of the ultra-wealthy have formed private foundations. Critics see these foundations as a vehicle for plutocratic influence over the democratic process, effectively weaponizing philanthropy in the war of ideas. In her book Dark Money, Jane Mayer describes the rise of the private foundation:
Unable to gain congressional approval, Rockefeller got the New York state legislature to approve his plan. Legally, however, the Rockefeller Foundation, the granddaddy of all private foundations, was at first limited to promoting only education, science, and religion. Over time, however, the number of private foundations grew along with the kaleidoscope of issues into which they delved. By 1930, there were approximately two hundred private foundations, according to Reich. By 1950, the number had grown to two thousand, and by 1985 there were thirty thousand. In 2013, there were over a hundred thousand private foundations in the United States with assets of over $800 billion.
Excerpt from: Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
As I consider some strategic initiatives at Reformed Forum, I’ve been reading a lot on content marketing lately. I came across a great checklist for creating and maintaining an editorial calendar.
Is there anyone in the digital marketing industry these days (or any industry, really) who thinks that they have their jobs completely under control?
I’ve always enjoyed digging around data. Sometimes you find unusual correlations. I came across such an anecdote reading Adam Grant’s Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World:
Not long ago, economist Michael Housman was leading a project to figure out why some customer service agents stayed in their jobs longer than others. Armed with data from over thirty thousand employees who handled calls for banks, airlines, and cell-phone companies, he suspected that their employment histories would contain telltale signs about their commitment. He thought that people with a history of job-hopping would quit sooner, but they didn’t: Employees who had held five jobs in the past five years weren’t any more likely to leave their positions than those who had stayed in the same job for five years.
Hunting for other hints, he noticed that his team had captured information about which internet browser employees had used when they logged in to apply for their jobs. On a whim, he tested whether that choice might be related to quitting. He didn’t “expect to find any correlation, assuming that browser preference was purely a matter of taste. But when he looked at the results, he was stunned: Employees who used Firefox or Chrome to browse the Web remained in their jobs 15 percent longer than those who used Internet Explorer or Safari.Thinking it was a coincidence, Housman ran the same analysis for absences from work. The pattern was the same: Firefox and Chrome users were 19 percent less likely to miss work than Internet Explorer and Safari fans.
Then he looked at performance. His team had assembled nearly three million data points on sales, customer satisfaction, and average call length. The Firefox and Chrome users had significantly higher sales, and their call times were shorter. Their customers were happier, too: After 90 days on the job, the Firefox and Chrome users had customer satisfaction levels that Internet Explorer and Safari users reached only after 120 days at work.
—Adam Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
What are you to make of this? One possible explanation would be that the IE users weren’t as technically proficient. Upon further study, that hypothesis didn’t prove true. Housman eventually concluded the differentiating factor was a user’s willingness to reject the default. The Firefox and Chrome users put in extra effort to do something different,. Their browser use didn’t make them better workers. It merely indicated their drive to make a change for the better.
Here’s a classic post from Maria Popova at Brain Pickings.
Journaling, I believe, is a practice that teaches us better than any other the elusive art of solitude — how to be present with our own selves, bear witness to our experience, and fully inhabit our inner lives.