Cognitive burdens and mental capital

Spend it wisely

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This unintentionally ended up becoming a “cognitive burdens” edition of the newsletter. I have discussed my thoughts on mental capital in the context of the news, but this is a theory that I need to develop more broadly. I finished the outstanding Your Brain at Work this past weekend, and I think that title was a bit of a marketing decision. Though a good portion of the book focuses on managing your day at work, the nuanced understanding of the brain therein is applicable far beyond the workplace. I think this is best read in combination with Cal Newport's Deep Work and Alain de Botton’s The News: A User’s Manual.


I came across Farnam Street, a weekly newsletter that offers “mental tools to deal with whatever life throws at you.” It is rare I come across a publication so dense with useful content. Check out their highly rated articles list for a preview. Their writing is much more comprehensive and nuanced than most websites devoted to these topics. Of particular note are the sections on second-order thinking and mental models.


After some thought, I configured my adblocker block comments on all websites. There has recently been a marked increase in bad-faith argumentation on sites that I frequent. I plan on mostly retreating into books and long-form journalism for exploring different points of view. Far too much of the online discourse rides exclusively on rhetoric (in the modern, pejorative sense), raw emotional appeal, or simply refuses to provide any explanation for a given position. I sincerely hope someone figures out how to build an online platform that allows for dialectic over debate, but I have yet to come up with any ideas around how this might look. I hope to spend some time over the next few weeks looking into scholarship around visual and technological communication design and how this could be applied to a web platform.


Be kind to yourself and others.

Jonathan