Medley 261: Technology, MDMA, Skeumorphism, Smartphones, Intelligent Photo, Course Score, Alchemix...

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!

Today I released another set of videos for SEO for Solopreneurs. There are now three modules released in the course, with many more coming. Early access is still discounted, and the price will go up along with launch when the rest of the videos are done.

And Adil and I pushed a big update to Course Score! We now have bookmarking for courses you want to take, and we're releasing badges throughout this week to show off how many courses you've taken in different categories.

Alright, on to the Medley!

The World of Skeumorphic Design

πŸ’Ύ When presented with a new technology, our first impulse is to copy & paste our existing styles onto the new tech.

🌐 This tendency is generally called "skeumorphism" and you see it everywhere online. Many web pages and applications resemble their real-world counterparts in familiar but not always necessary ways.

πŸ—ž The New York Times homepage looks like a newspaper. Early MP3 apps looked like radios or walkmen. YouTube focused on the landscape video format we're familiar with from television.

πŸ“Ό But eventually we start to fully realize the power of a new technology and our use shifts from skeumorphic to a more tech-native solution. We realize our music players don't need to look like tape players, and we end up closer to Spotify.

πŸ–₯ This extends beyond design considerations too. Early desktop computers were often glorified typewriters before we realized what else we could do with them. The Internet was used for mail. Smart phones were used for calling people.

🏦 It's interesting to see how this is playing out, and will continue to play out, it the crypto and decentralized finance space. So far most DeFi projects enable the same kinds of financial activities we do in the real world, just faster and without a banker involved. But now we're starting to see less skeumorphic technologies arise that take advantage of some of DeFis strengths to let us use money in interesting new ways.

πŸ“ˆ One of those is Alchemix: a platform for taking out debt based on the future yield of your capital.

πŸ’΅ Let's say you have $10,000 in cash, and you need $5,000 for a down payment on a car. And let's say that your $10,000 is earning 10% interest in a stable coin based "savings account."

πŸ’² If you cashed out $5,000 from the savings account for the payment, now you'd only be earning $500 a year and it would take you 7-8 years of compounding interest to get back to your $10,000.

⏳ But with Alchemix, you can lock up your $10,000, take out a loan of $5,000, and Alchemix will just collect the interest on your $10,000 until you've paid off the $5,000. So instead of waiting 7-8 years to get back where you started, you're only waiting 5.

πŸ€” As far as I know, there's no good analogue for this kind of loan in the TradFi space (correct me if I'm wrong), and it introduces a much better mechanism for building wealth while recognizing there might be bumps along the way. By not decreasing your principle, you continue to increase the base amount you're accruing interest on, which helps ensure your wealth and access to capital increases over time instead of sporadically decreasing.

⏩ And even if you don't need any debt, you can still deposit money into the system and earn interest on it, so it's there for if you do need to take money out in the future.

☝️ We're starting to see what people in the DeFi space mean when they talk about building "money legos." Most of the DeFi programs that have been built so far are faster, more efficient, digital versions of things we have in the real world. Now those are laying the foundation for new technology that will let us use capital in ways we never have before.

πŸ‘ The Alchemix posts on Medium are quite good if you want to learn more, as are the more detailed Docs.

The World of Pictures

πŸ–Ό My friend Nick asked a good question on Twitter this week. Has there ever been another photo with as many intellectual heavy hitters as there are in this one? I'd be curious to see any potential competitors (I couldn't think of one).

The World of MDMA

πŸ“ƒ Research on the benefits of MDMA for PTSD continues to show incredible results. Another paper was just published in Nature showing MDMA assisted therapy significantly improved patient outcomes compared to a placebo after as few as three sessions.

πŸ’Š With studies like that I always wonder about the placebo... how could you not realize you're not on MDMA? Or Mushrooms?

The World of Tracking

πŸ“± And this is pretty insane: just using the accelerometer data in your phone, researchers can figure out your height, weight, sex, driving style, intoxication level, and even possibly what you're saying.

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