Medley 224: Education, Babbling, Rolling Funds, Birth Rate, Magic, Google Careers, Idea Flow...

This is the Monday Medley, a newsletter that goes out, you guessed it, every Monday. I republish it here for sharing and referencing, but if you'd like to sign up you can do so right here:

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Happy Monday!

This is the last week to get in the new Effortless Output in Roam course early, to start on a capstone project before the remaining videos launch next week.

We already have a few hundred new & old students in the online community, and some of them have some really cool projects picked out.

I'd love to see you inside! And if you're not sure if Roam is right for you, check out my article on why I love it or my Power of Roam email series.

Alright, on to the Medley

The World of Data

πŸ‘Ά This is a fascinating visualization of how decreases in child mortality relate to decreasing birth rate. Goes to show how much our instincts around how many kids we need to replace ourselves in the population has changed over time as medicine improves.

πŸ“Š Before looking at any kind of data though, one thing it's essential to understand is relative vs. absolute risk, as laid out in this piece. It doesn't have anything to do with the birth rate data, but it's a very useful heuristic to have when looking at statistics, especially anything that's been editorialized. As always, if you haven't read How to Lie With Statistics, I consider it essential for being a smarter consumer of information.

The World of TikTok

πŸ‘©β€πŸ« Continuing my trend of TikTok articles, this one is more on the history of TikTok and sheds some light on its origins as an education tool. The current educational content on TikTok is actually quite good and I feel like it has a lot of potential for gamifying or "funifying" education, though it's certainly much less watched than the dog videos and dancing.

The World of Education

🏫 On the education note, it sounds like Google is rolling out new educational tracks to help people learn how to be Project Managers, Data Analysts, and UX Designers without having to get a 4 year degree. These "Google Career Certificates" would qualify you to enter a job search service that Google is providing, which includes making you eligible for jobs at Google. It honestly sounds like a great idea and I'm really curious to see where it goes. I think we'll see way more of these programs pop up in the next year or two as the value of college gets demolished by COVID.

πŸ€” And for reasons beyond comprehension, California passed some restriction on Lambda School that forces students who enroll to pay more than they would in any other state. It does fit with California's recent trend of passing questionable laws that hurt the companies that made it great, though.

The World of Technology

πŸ€– I loved this piece from Robin Hanson from 2017 on "Better Babblers." The premise is essentially that AIs will learn how to speak in the kind of non-understanding jargon that you might get from someone who just heard about a topic on a podcast and is regurgitating what they heard, vs. deeply understanding it.

πŸ’¬ What I liked about it so much is that I think he's 100% right about this being what most AI speech emulators, like GPT3, are doing. But I also think that's what most humans are doing when they talk about most things. (Myself included).

🧠 I mentioned this in my "Improving Idea Flow" article but there's this sense you can develop for when you're just repeating something you heard on a podcast, and if you listen to the same podcasts as other people, you can tell when they're just regurgitating something they heard on one of those podcasts. It's great for feeling like part of the in-group, but not great for having a deep understanding of a topic.

🎧 And I think that podcasts are unusually winner-take-all as a media sources (vs. blogs, TV, books, etc.) so one way to reduce your babbling might be to listen to fewer, or more obscure, podcasts.

The World of Finance

🧻 AngelList launched "Rolling Funds" recently, which is a pretty neat new take on Venture Capital. Alex Danco wrote a good piece on how these new funds will actually help more people gain the social capital of having invested in sexy startups, a big form of status in the Silicon Valley crowd.

🏦 And on the other side of venture capital and startups, Paul Graham put together a short piece modeling out just how bad a wealth tax would be for the founders of companies.

Just for Fun

😱 I'm not sure how I found this, but Jonathan Swift's proposal for... managing... an abundance of poor children in the 1700s is a pretty hilarious piece of old comedy. At least I hope it's comedy.

πŸ§™β€β™‚οΈ And I don't write fiction, but I really enjoyed Sanderson's First Law of Magic as a lens for looking at the different magic systems in fantasy and science fiction books.

End Note

As always, if you're enjoying the Medley, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up. I try to make it one of the best emails you get each week, and I hope you're enjoying it.

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And should you come across anything interesting this week, send it my way! I love finding new things to read through members of this newsletter.

Have a great week,
Nat

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