"Understand" - A short story by Ted Chiang
This is one of my favorite, most thought-provoking short stories I've ever read. It's beautiful and powerful, gets you thinking more, it's wildly entertaining, it's... I simply can't praise it enough.
A big, big thanks to my friend Jay Winder for sharing that with me. His newest company is MakeLeaps, which makes better invoicing for small businesses. They have all kinds of demos and free consultations and things, so you probably ought to check it out if you're running a small business. Here's the MakeLeaps Blog as well, some good thoughts on there.
If you like this blog, I'd strongly encourage you to go read Understand ASAP. It's not too long, and might well be the best short story you read in years.
I'm pretty annoyed because it's been taken down from that site. I was actually just now searching for it to link it to a friend, and your blog post is in the search results. Small world.
Still, I've GOTTA find it somewhere.
Thanks again for introducing me to this. What a memorable story.
One of my favorite sci-fi shorts:
The Death of Richard Dawkins by Steve Yegge
The end is deeply depressing, but I feel better because he can't have been a true superintelligence - I was practically screaming "considering the attack makes you vulnerable" the entire paragraph.
Thank you for posting this!! Very interesting, I am going to read it again later to see what else I pick up on the second run.
Ivan Ilic, a professional pianist, just reached out with a guestpost and reaction after reading "I think the biggest barrier for me to overcome was myself." Some really fantastic observations on breaking through in here -
Sebastian’s last post was inspirational to me, but not because of the story itself, poignant though it was. Although I would love to read a more detailed account of R’s unusually successful turnaround, there was a turn of phrase in Sebastian’s response that really resonated with me.
“The good news and bad news is that there’s almost never a silver bullet. So, you can safely stop looking for [it] and start picking up 1% edges, 2% edges here and there. Trend upwards and establish little good habits, a better environment around you, and so on. R covers this when he says, “Make sure that all the small steps you take are taking you in the right direction. A little bit at a time, over a long period, and you’ll always win.”
The only way to realize the power of incremental positive changes over time is by experiencing it yourself. Although self-discipline has not been my biggest problem, I had a serious slump in the second half of last year. When I needed to move my most important projects forward, I seemed paralyzed. Does that sound familiar?
The past six months have been the first time I have orchestrated my own turnaround, without external factors to motivate me. “Picking up 1% edges, 2% edges here and there” and establishing modest good habits has been so effective that looking back over the past six months, I’m still shocked.
Picture is from this article on the cover of The Wall Street Journal's Marketplace section in 2004. Also see my more recent blog post with a video demonstrating how I find names & compose specific emails that work to get reporters' interest
In this post I'll spill the beans and tell you how I get really good press in outlets like TechCrunch, Mashable, CNET, CNN, CNBC, CSPAN, ABC, the WSJ (cover of Marketplace 7/04), Forbes, TechMeme, FastCompany, BBC, and literally hundreds of other publications.
Nothing I'm going to say here is so revolutionary that others couldn't figure it out yourself, but somehow I've figured out the details to make my formula work, and the magic really is in the details.
First off, let's think about what a reporter's daily life is like. Most reporters, from what they tell me, get several hundred emails a day. Many of those emails are from PR people spinning their latest client. So already it's hard to get their attention. And if you're just another one of those PR people, forget about it.