Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Donald Trump, Drama and the hidden price of 'Free'

(~ 10 minute read)

A lot of people wonder how exactly Donald Trump managed to go from being a running gag to actually running for President of the United States! Lots of people have lots of theories from various perspectives, but I believe that the nature of the Internet itself (cat videos, memes and all) is also largely responsible for the fact that Trump was able to capture the public imagination the way he did.

If you're reading this, chances are that you spend quite a bit of time on the Internets. Most of you probably use it as a utility, like roads or public transportation; you don't need to worry about how it works, you just have to open an app or your browser and get to it!

Something is changing now though, and I think it's important that we understand what it really means that most of what we get online (Social media, online magazines, stuff like that) is available for free. Forget all the if-you're-not-paying-for-the-product-then-you're-the-product stuff, this goes much deeper.

The current situation is this:
  • The Internet as you know it is almost entirely paid for with advertiser money.
  • BUT, almost no-one clicks on ads. It's something like 2 clicks (or less) per 1000 'impressions'. [1]
  • If you're an ad-supported site, the only way to make the math work is to have immense traffic coming to your site to justify advertisers still paying you.
  • "Real Journalism" and "Quality Content" only get you so far so you need to start selling-out pretty quick. And click-baity titles are just the start of it...
  • Along comes someone like Donald Trump; A large, public figure that everyone loves to hate and with a lot of media attention. So even more articles get written (with his name prominently in the title) because they know people might just hate-click. (Much like this very article, actually)
  • Trump definitely understands this dynamic and so takes care to make himself as divisive and visible as possible and Boom, he's the Republican nominee (and probably the President by now, if you're reading this in the future).
It's like the old line about there not being any free lunches; well, mostly everything is free and it turns out that the price we pay is having to deal with people like Trump. It doesn't just stop with him though, this is something that virtually every public entity has to deal with, from politicians to newspapers to media personalities. Everyone is vying for eyeballs and if a little 'shock and awe' rhetoric is needed then that's exactly what will get used. The problem is that even if the speaker knows it's just a publicity tool, his audience might actually get riled up and so we the people are getting angrier at each other and we're not even entirely sure why.

It gets worse before it gets better unfortunately:

Nuance is dying

I don't know if you've heard of The Last Psychiatrist but they're kind of amazing! Sadly each post is several thousand words long though and extremely dense in parts (but also incredibly funny, in a dark sort of way) and the thing is that our current ad-supported ecosystem doesn't support that kind of engagement. If you're on one site for too long, that's less ads that can be shown to you so it's better to have short pithy articles that you can click away from as soon as possible. (for example, I'm trying to keep this article as short as possible. Almost done, promise!)

And so as competition gets more fierce and as everything gets more noisy, everyone needs to be get progressively louder and angrier and scandalous-er to keep people's attentions. There's also an incentive to produce content as quickly as possible, which discourages any kind of painstaking, labour intensive research process or anything. Think of the rise of gaming channels on YouTube and the fall of sketch-comedy channels. (see also: the rise of "Drama" in every possible medium)

The only real currency is Attention

In this ad-supported economy we find ourselves in, the only thing that really matters is your Attention. That's the final thing that's absolutely and actually scarce, because we can only consume so much media at one time and you can only create so much at a time. (Thank you for spending some Attention on me btw. It means the world, you have no idea!)

The latter is less valuable to The System though, because creating means there's less time for you to consume! So while they might pay lip-service to the "value" of creators, your real value to this current system is as a consumer.

It may already be too late

I'm not going to lie, things look pretty bleak right now and I'm not sure what can be done.

What I'm both scared and hopeful about is that this is not one of those times that some legislation or system change can solve everything. For example as soon as our cities produce electricity using renewable resources, our homes automatically become greener without us needing to do anything extra. However unlike electricity generation, this problem is not centralized; it's with the entire media landscape i.e. it's dispersed among each one of us. What we need to build as a priority is our individual understanding of the situation.

Mostly just understand that your Attention is the key thing everyone is vying for, it's less about your actual Money as such. Oh, speaking of which...

Pay for stuff whenever possible (please)

Not to be preachy (well maybe a little) but all of this is happening because we've been borrowing against the future and trying to build "audiences" in the hopes of someday making the money back.

Next time you're consuming anything, think about the value it's adding to you and consider paying something small as a 'Thank You'. I mean, even giant organizations like the Church won't turn away your ₹50 (or local equivalent) donation and they're practically raking in the dough!

Also don't worry, I'm not talking about your illegal streaming habit so much as all the small things you might consume that are a part of your daily life that are created without the backing of massive media companies or investors.(If I were smarter about this maybe this would be the point where I pitch my Patreon page or ask for a donation... *sigh*)

If you really can't afford it, that's fine! Switch to Linux if you can't afford Windows, maybe 'like' a video if you can't afford to pledge money to a YouTuber... do whatever you can at that moment.

If nothing else, create as much as possible

Honestly, the most dangerous, rebellious, disruptive thing you could possible do is to create. Create anything, even a tweet's worth of content, but put it somewhere that you have control over it (like on your own website) where you decide whether an ad gets slapped next to it. Posting that witty insight to twitter or Facebook just gives up your creativity to people who'll then monetize the living shit out of it.

Or y'know what, post it to wherever you like. Anything's fine, just try and have fun with it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Further reading: 
[1] Display advertising clickthrough rates

Friday, 27 May 2016

It's really okay to fail sometimes

This is a story about failure...

I had the chance to go for a bit of a (micro) adventure last month. Went with some friends to Makkalidurga and the plan was to get off at the station, walk along the track for a bit and then turn off into the hills and trek up to a temple that's at the top.

For a variety of reasons we reached the Makkalidurga with a (woefully) inadequate six litres of water for the six of us for the entire trek. At night btw, did I mention that? ヾ( •́д•̀ ;)ノ We were supposed to trek up, set up camp on the summit and then trek back down in the morning in time for the train back to Bangalore.

There was finally a moment of reckoning, when we were about 75% up the hill. We had about an hour remaining to reach the top, and we had only two bottles remaining. We would've definitely reached the top but it would've been a Pyrrhic victory; We'd have had no water through the night, we wouldn't be able to eat because we'd be too parched and we'd still have to make it back down the next morning (in the heat, and hungry) and back to the train station before we'd get anything to drink.

The choice was obvious and so we walked back down till we found some flat space, pitched our tents and tried to get some sleep. The next morning we woke up, shared the remaining bottle of water and started back down. (We also found one small temple near the lake and refilled our bottles there so that was pretty awesome, but either way, there's no way it made sense to continue on to the summit)

We reached the station, found a coconut guy (and guzzled that ish), then bought all manner of fizzy, sugary sweetness from somewhere (and guzzled that as well) and had all the water we could possibly have. The worst of it was over... we were super ready to go back home to our creature comforts! (ˆ ڡ ˆ)

Looking back...

The thing is that I was feeling a little disappointed on the way back to the station. For me the joy in treks was to struggle to reach the top so that I could then enjoy a feeling of serenity and accomplishment at the top: You're literally standing above your normal life and you get a little perspective to just mellow out. I felt like I'd failed to achieve that 'Mountain-top Moment' and that the trip hadn't been fully completed. Worse, I felt partly responsible because maybe I should've bought water earlier rather than hope to buy it enroute.

I found an empty berth on the way back, climbed up and slept like a rock till we got back home. We got off at Yeshwantpur Railway Station and went back to Tanisha's place to get our bikes. Around that time (I think) something kinda clicked for me...

The journey to acceptance

Y'see, I felt like everyone else had just enjoyed the experience but Tanisha's the one who generally goes on trek's and I thought that she'd be disappointed as well and I was surprised to find out that she was completely at peace with the entire escapade! (° o°)!

That's when I realized that in being so focused on reaching the top, I'd lost out on experiencing all the little moments of serenity that were littered throughtout the trek. 
  • Walking around and finding the trail when we thought we'd lost it; 
  • scrambling over bramble thickets; 
  • Lieutenant Worf (our canine companion) deciding to adopt us at the train station and accompanying us; 
  • the same Lieutenant (promoted to Admiral) for being the best goddamn guard dog ever through the night; 
  • the way the stars looked when the torch lights went off... and on and on and on. 
Being so focused on the fact that I'd Failed to reach the top meant that I disregarded all those moments as they were happening...

So yea, I think I learnt something on that trek after all. And if you've failed at something it just means that you tried something that was outside your comfort zone, and that's totally okay. Just try and enjoy the process of it if you can, those Mountain-top Moments aren't just on the Mountain-top. ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ

P.S. I'm trying out these Japanese emoji for these more personal-type posts... lemme know what you think. :D  
P.P.S If you'd like to read more about our trek, you can check out Tanisha's lovely post about it... April Microadventure | Fudge Together

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Sympathy for the cancer cell

Cancer is arguably one of the worst diseases we've ever had to deal with as a species. Without going into too many details, it's almost perfectly suited to the times we live in and to our lifestyles nowadays. Add to that the sheer complexity and variability of all the various types of cancer and it's not hard to see why we're having such a hard time with it.

So here's the thing, obviously we as human beings are super mad at cancer cells. They're the worst, they've clearly lost the plot - They're being selfish and stupid and they're putting everyone in danger in the process. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge though; their only crime is selfishness and that's not something we sentence people to death for in our societies (a la chemo-therapy for the cancer cell). What's going on here, and could there be something we could learn from the choices the cancer cell is making.

What's so great about being multi-cellular anyway?

But first what is the game really, what are all these cells doing together in the first place? For several million years cells pretty much did their own thing. But life's pretty rough for a single cell (living the single life) out there in the world. Ordinarily, living things are always looking for unoccupied niches to move into and "being bigger than the biggest thing around" is almost always a winner. Thing is that there are physical limits to how big an individual cell can grown[2] and so eventually getting bigger means a bunch of cells have to clump together and assume a single group-identity; Now, as a group, there's more organisms to eat and less of them that can eat you! (yaay!)

Being multi-cellular also has a bunch of other benefits:
  • You can become hardier, by having the outside cells become tougher to protect the insides.
  • You can also live longer, because little bits can die and be replaced.
  • Individual cells can also start specializing and "following their dreams" because of the increased safety available. [1]
This is a great deal for most cells which is why some single cells try to cheat and hide themselves within a multi-cellular organism. Bacteria and viruses are constantly trying to invade and chill out in the relative safety of the organism and have a bunch of kids. After a while this starts to threaten the larger organism so we have police-men cells (our immune system) who go around evicting these interlopers.

All of this is to say that having a group identity is a very particular kind of contract. There's great benefit, but at some point each individual is asked to consider the fact that they're part of a larger system and sometimes that means sacrificing themselves for the greater good; Everyone from the white-blood-cells all the way to the humble skin-cell defend the organism with their lives to keep the game going.

Are well-behaved cells just 'goody-two-shoes' then?

Maybe all the "good cells" in the organism are doing their duty because they're just heroic and noble and high-minded individuals? Or conversely maybe they're just scared and brainwashed and kept together by fear of being alone...

Mercifully, I don't think it's either of those things. When a new individual - a baby - is born, that organism is formed from the division of a single sperm and a single egg making a single zygote. That means that every cell in the baby is equal to every other cell and they all trust each other implicitly. Importantly, they also have equal value to each other; no portion of the organism can survive without every other bit doing their job - it all needs to go together. The cells don't need to compete with each other, because they all have the same general aspirations and 'values' that govern them.

In that sense, maybe self-centered selfishness really is the worst crime of all because the cancer cell essentially rejects the original bargain. Most cells divide about fifty times and then self-destruct and give way to their children to continue on. Importantly, it's not that they "die" per se, it's that they self-destruct after a point. This is necessary because the process of division introduces errors in the cell (kind of like aging) and if it were to continue dividing indefinitely, it would start to proliferate increasingly crappier cells. This is the final clause in the contract, that eventually the cell allow itself to be replaced. 

Cancer cells are different though, cancer cells are functionally immortal. They ignore the self-destruct signal and just continue to divide. Essentially that's what a tumour is, it's like over-population on a cellular level. The tumour then grows bigger and consume more resources and space until eventually the larger organism is threatened. (This is obviously a gross oversimplification but bear with me.)

We clearly see the error of the cancer cells ways but personally I can't help but sympathize. If you had immortality literally at your finger-tips, would you not atleast consider taking that path regardless of the consequences? "Death is pretty final", it must be saying "Why should I have to sacrifice myself for people I've never met!"

Immortality used to be much easier to come by...

Nobody wants to be considered a "loser".

Once upon a time it was enough to live a good life and have children (if you wanted to) and raise them to be decent and send 'em out into the world. Maybe a gold watch when you retired, if you were really lucky. Children are a kind of an immortality in a way; life might feel boring after a while and the child is basically you, except it's eyes are fresh and it can find wonder in things that have perhaps lost their shine. Then after you die they can carry forward the memory of you. Even without children, a life of contemplation and grace used to be it's own reward and was something to be aspired to for it's own sake.

The game has changed and we're held to vastly different standards these days. Regardless of your aspirations, there's always someone better or more successful than you. Even if your goal is to help people, you might never be as influential as a Bill Gates, for example. When an author dies, his fans might pay him tribute in some way. Entire nations might weep at the loss of a musical legend. Even the passing of a businessman leaves his enterprises behind to continue his legacy.

What has really changed nowadays is that we're aware of the process of history being made and so to "win" nowadays is to have one's name recorded in the book of our species. Now maybe that drive to achieve produces the odd Elon Musk or two but there are no rules for whose name gets written down in our collective consciousness. So if the object is to win at any cost, more often than not you're going to get people who're obsessed with winning even if it means the larger organism is at risk. For the cancer cell to win, it doesn't care that the game itself might end - winning is the only thing on it's mind.

Reconciling with the cancer cell...

Villainizing the cancer cell won't really solve anything. In a sense we all have a bit of that cancer cell within us. It's fears and insecurities are very much the fears and insecurities of our time and we as an organism need to figure out how to deal with it so that the larger game can go on. 

We are the most advanced species we've yet found, and we're sitting on this planet and teasing apart the secrets of the very universe itself. Our imaginations and our reach could potentially take us far out into the cosmos to learn new things and discover new beauty and truth. Yet at this moment in our history it could all be undone, because we've been told we need to be Rich and Famous And Beautiful AND Healthy AND Successful AND influential AND And and...

Right now we're playing a finite game, where we're playing to have Winners and Losers. We need to start playing the Infinite game, where we play so that the game keeps going.[3] Isn't that more fun anyway? How boring the universe would be if there was nothing happening and nobody playing... we might be insignificant chemical scum on some tiny planet but yet we dream of distant quasars!

What does this mean for the individual?

None of this is going to change overnight, sadly. But we could individually reconnect to our sense of who we are, to then maybe re-embrace our collective identity.

For myself that means a process of really thinking about the work I'm doing at any moment and why I'm doing it and what I'm working toward. I mean, we live in a society and we find ourselves with the actual opportunity to be happy; how tragic it would be to give all that up to chase some phantasm of "glory".

What if we were to just really think about what our best contribution to humanity really is, as a combination of skills and interests and passions and then work toward that? Maybe in the absence of the pressure for glory, we might actually have a shot at achieving greatness.

Sources and further readings:
[1] Why are you multicellular? : 'It's Okay To Be Smart'
[2] The most important moment in the history of life : 'It's Okay To Be Smart'
[3] Why we play the game of life : Shots of Awe

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Commentary about War and Violence in Games

I was put across this interesting article the other day about the Call of Duty series titled How can a first-person shooter have a victim complex? and it got me thinking about games and war and violence and how these things interact. I've watched a few video essays on the topic and just wanted to collect them all together.

First we have to get something out of the way, that 'Call of Duty' and 'Modern Warfare' and all of the rest of the war FP (First-Person) shooters are all necessarily misrepresentations of war. And not in the sense of their graphical fidelity, it's just boring as all hell to do the actual combat things. Snipers might sit for days in the same spot waiting for a mark to pass by.

Most FPS (First-Person Shooter) games, especially war games, allow for a certain kind of hero/power-fantasy that's enjoyable in it's own way but as the article talks about, after a point you need to justify all the senseless violence and then that gets into troublesome territory.

Violence in Games

There's another question that comes up which is why violence is such a big theme in video games. I mean computers make it possible to render pretty much anything onto a screen and yet we overwhelmingly end up making super violent stuff where we run around in spaces and shoot people.

One perspective is that as computers evolved to be able to support gaming, the way that computers think about things makes it easier to make spatial simulation games which then makes a certain kind of violence just the path of least resistance.

Another perspective emphasizes the human element in the sense that killing is just something that appeals to something deep within our pschology.

Shooters around the world


Interestingly, even a single genre of games like the FPS has drastically different takes depending on which culture it comes from. And that could stem from way a Western perspective views a gun compared to a more Eastern conceptualization.

What makes all of this more complex is that all of the people involved with making and selling the games all have their own agendas and aims that they're trying to further.

The military uses video games as recruiting tools but then that feedback loop wraps back around and now our public expectation of what war is like is shaped by those very games themselves.

Alternative War-Games


One that I found was a game called 'This War of Mine'. Super interesting, check out the first video as a brief introduction.

Slightly more spoiler-y, this is more of a review than a recommendation video.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

"Being Good" is weirdly difficult

Angel and Devil on Shoulder by Hamera

Generally, I think, we're all trying to do the best we can and navigate complex social webs to try to do the most reasonable, decent thing at any point in time. That can get tough sometimes and it's something that requires constant thought and care and even after all of that there are times when I screw up and end up doing or saying something dumb or hurtful. That's just life, and I'm not complaining, but in contrast to the complexities of daily life I sometimes feel a little talked-down-to by the tone of religions that are like "Be Good!" and that's the end of it.

So here's my problem, and here's what I'm trying to figure out...

Being Good is mostly described as a set of virtuous actions

Take the 'The Sermon on the Mount' (Matthew Chapter 5, specifically) for example. It's actually one of the better examples I've found of real deep, meaningful commentary that you can really get into. It's full of actual, tangible directives that you can then sit and meaningfully discuss and weigh out and bounce ideas against to see what sticks.

There's a bunch of directives toward the end about 'If someone hits you, turn the other cheek', and 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you...' that I'm having specific trouble with, in that they paint a certain image of "Goodness" that revolves around certain actions. But the actions themselves are meaningless on their own because depending on your intention they could have vastly different impacts; they could even be weaponized into some passive-aggressive tactic in skilled-enough hands. For example if someone hits you and then you turn the other cheek but with enough of a glare in your eye the attacker might very well realize that you've now marked him for a lifelong grudge... it might've been kinder (to both of you) to just hit him back in that moment and be done with the whole thing instead of it turning into a blood feud.

Obviously that previous bit is a contrived example but what I mean is that the injunction to "Be Good" is troublesome in the way that "Be Modest" or "Be Humble" is troublesome. In the sense that as soon as you say "I'm a humble person." out loud, you are by definition not humble. Similarly, trying to be good is already self-defeating in the sense that it's a sort of a pretense... and this becomes troublesome because (to bring it back to a religious context) you're told to actually be good or it's pointless, God isn't particularly of the "Fake it till you make it" self-help mentality.

So it might seem that "Being Good" is an impossible task but there's plenty of benefits to being a good person, which mainly revolve around the fact that...

People generally like Nice people.

Clearly you'd be a fool to not be a good person if you could. Good people are generally more loved and respected, and being nice to a person who's being an asshole to you might actually be a disarming move that gets them to leave you alone. Or at the very least it might draw allies to your side against this other person who's specifically casting himself as the villain. At a larger level, companies as well are now finding that doing the right thing is more profitable.

But again, the contradiction stares you right back in the face: people who do nice things because it's beneficial are called psychopaths and shunned and that's seen as the worst possible kind of manipulation. Similarly if companies do something nice but that seems like a PR stunt it can backfire terribly. It seems we recognize that there's a high value in genuineness and put a high premium on it but we have no idea how to be genuinely good. In other words...

We need to try to be good, but not try too much... I guess? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So think about walking for a moment... infact, think about how much you don't need to think about walking. When you need to go somewhere, you just move your legs and walk there; that's how amazing we are at it. And hence it'd be ridiculous to think overmuch about proper walking technique, it's one of the few things we're really physically built for as humans. (Unless you have a physical issue that needs treatment or surgery, but I mean generally speaking). 

I want to be as good at Being Good as I am at walking, basically... that would be a sort of "Natural Goodness" and that would be genuine and nice and I wouldn't have to worry that maybe my motivations were possibly suspect and that I was possibly deluding even myself.

But in the meantime all I can do is try... to... not try to be good? Lol lemme know if you figure this one out. (-.-)'

Monday, 4 January 2016

Thoughts on 'The Stanley Parable'

I played the demo, I was super excited about the game... I've heard loads about it and I've even played the other game that the creator put out ('A Beginner's Guide') so I was super pumped to purchase and play this.

On a purely experiential level it's beautifully disorienting. Everything you think you know about gaming, about being a gamer, about participation and agency and "Destiny" and everything is just upended and thrown at you and the only choice you really have is whether to dodge or stand in the way and allow yourself to be hit by it.

This game should be some kind of required playing for any kind of game designer or experience designer in general, to get them to think about these some of these questions for themselves before crafting experiences for others. It would make them more humane designers I think...

I haven't even finished all the endings yet, and maybe I will someday but I just finished playing the ending that makes all the other ones kinda meaningless. The 'Final' ending, if you will. I'm kinda shaking right now as I'm writing this... 'ON' and 'OFF' both want to be free but yet they don't see that they need each other. What would one even be without the other; is something really alive if there is not also the possibility of it's opposite? I'm rambling now...

I think this game should be required playing for people of any kind generally. It would make them more humane I think.

P.S. If you do play it, and reach the ending as I did (and are distressed at all, for any reason), check this out: Clicking on this link is a bit of a spoiler for the game, yea?

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Dick Bolles: "How to decide what you'll do in five years" | Summary

How do we figure out what we'll do five years from now?

This is probably the question I hate most during job interviews, and of late it's a question I'm asking myself a lot as well.

I found a Google talk by a guy Dick Bolles who's apparently written one of the most famous guides for job-seekers - 'What colour (color?) is your parachute.' - and here he's talking about how to think about five years into your future. I watched it and then re-watched it just now because I wanted to take notes and I'm putting them up in the hopes that it helps someone else out as well.

Generally people have one of three strategies for thinking about 5 years into their future:
  1. They ignore it
    • They rely on their Luck.
    • "I'll see where I'm at in five years and see what's happening."
    • Effectively, they hope to see the next big wave and then jump on it as it happens.
  2. "I'll know it when I see it"
    • They rely on their Intuition and on being watchful.
    • This is about pattern matching and noticing what's happening.
  3. They decide to try some forethought.
    • That's fine if you're "designing" but "planning" doesn't work.
    • You cannot plan for five years from now.
    • War, natural disasters or new technologies could completely upset your calculations.
    • You can design for the future though; Like planning for a camping trip, you take things you "might" need.
    • Design is gathering together whatever you might need to deal with the future scenarios.
Each strategy has certain conditions that need to be fulfilled if it's going to work. There's no right or wrong or "best" strategy, it's about how you operate.


  1. Whether this strategy works depends on Intersections; the more people you run into, the more likely you'll have "luck"
  2. Maximize your intersections.
  3. Pay attention to meetings, getting on social media, and meetups with people in real life.
  4. For job seekers, get on, (check for companies where friends of yours work).
  5. Note: Basically it becomes a kind of numbers game.


  1. Intuition depends on what you notice and generally you notice things in relation to some kind of benchmark.
  2. Then it becomes important to properly set your benchmark so that you're then more sensitive to deviations.
  3. Think of what kinda jobs you like best:
    • data
    • people
    • things (computers and whatever)
  4. So once you decide that, you can spend the next 5 years focusing on jobs related to that specific field.
  5. That way when something truly cool turns up, it'll be a significant deviation from the norm and you'll notice it.
  6. This is just one way to prime the brain to notice things, check out the video below.

Lifestyle Design

  1. Do an inventory of yourself.
  2. You're constantly put in boxes by situations and other people: "I'm a coder", "I'm in HR", etc and then you live in that box.
    • If you want to learn, you must first unlearn. And the biggest thing to unlearn is the limiting picture we have of ourselves.
  3. The inventory should not be "I'm this" or "I'm that".
    • Instead it can be "I am a person..." and then "I am a person who..."
  4. Again, you're gathering a set of things you think might be useful in five years... 
    • When you go camping, the most important thing is a tent.
    • For job seeking, or fulfilment, the most important thing to do is rethink who you are.
    • What you do flows from who you are!
  5. (Detailed inventory thing is in his book... some "crass commercialism" here. :p)
  6. The inventory should be a set of stories about yourself. Those stories should then boil down into a set of skills.
    • Focus on skills because the more atomic you get in your understanding of yourself, the more flexibility you have.
    • If you're good at teaching, researching and writing then you could be any number of things like a speaker, a scientist, anything.
  7. Think about how you like to use your brain, and what skills you have.
  8. Nevermind what the marketplace wants initially, you can persuade someone to pay you for your skills later. 
    • It's enthusiasm that's the real secret ingredient.
  What you're doing 5 years from now will depend on who you are right now.

Further reading 

This was a super useful talk, I'm sure it'll come in handy soon. Meanwhile here's some other thoughts about work if you're interested:
  1. Your lifestyle has already been designed |
  2. 3 ways your office building hates you |
  3. How to be creative |
  4. Job Advice | 
  5. Makers schedule vs Manager's Schedule | Paul Graham
  6. Screw finding your passion | Mark Manson