I explained some ideas that I’m doing to help my brother optimize his airline game to a friend by drawing diagrams in a notebook and it felt really good to explain things that way instead of just verbally. I’m trying to take ideas from The Extended Mind and get value from them in my daily life. Namely by trying to do more work in the world as opposed to just on a small screen where I cannot manipulate things easily with my body. Typing is a pretty limited experience and is universal to all thinking done on a keyboard whereas when writing and drawing you are doing typically unique things for different tasks (writing being more like typing, but you have a unique physical connection to a unique piece of paper - your keyboard is always the same). For whatever reason this helps our brain to reason better about the ideas we are grappling with.

Additionally by writing and drawing ideas out you are forcing yourself to engage in conversation with yourself by putting ideas to a page. There’s an example used from Daniel Dennett (who is at Tufts incidentally) that goes “imagine a tiger, now ask yourself: how many stripes does it have?”. You likely will not be able to answer in a simple way because our imagination works differently than we we concretely conjure something in reality. For example if you were to draw a tiger then counting the number of stripes is simple.

There’s another anecdote about Richard Feynman who, at his nobel prize acceptance, was told by a colleague that its nice to have so many of his notes saved because its a record of the great thoughts that occurred in his head. Feynman replies that the thoughts are the notes and that they did not occur in his head at all. Feynman takes the literal interpretation that his thinking was done on the paper and not in his head, and there seems to be growing evidence that there is merit to this belief (Feynman does seem like a pretty exceptional person though so I don’t think its right to say anyone can be just like Feynman by writing on paper. Perhaps looking at his notes could be useful to understanding how he used notes to think though).

Daily Listening

Revisited Whitney’s second album with a friend. I didn’t care much for it when I first listened when it came out and I’m not really sure why listening to it again now. I think I wanted the same vibe of the first album, but it was slightly different so that made me not like it. There’s also this single I never heard that is very solid and maybe a new favorite track of theirs.

Daily Reading

Just a bit of The Extended Mind before I fell asleep.