These emotions— gratitude, compassion, authentic pride, and even guilt—work from the bottom up, without requiring cognitive effort on our part, to shape decisions that favor the long-term. If we focus on instilling the capacity to experience these emotional states regularly, we’ll build resources that will automatically spring forth in reflexive and productive ways. In essence, we’ll be giving ourselves inoculations against temptation that, like antibodies in our bloodstream, will be ready and waiting to combat possible threats to our well-being.
7. Pity the readers
They have to identify thousands of little marks on paper, and make sense of them immediately. They have to read, an art so difficult that most people don’t really master it even after having studied it all through grade school and high school —- twelve long years.
So this discussion must finally acknowledge that our stylistic options as writers are neither numerous nor glamorous, since our readers are bound to be such imperfect artists. Our audience requires us to be sympathetic and patient readers, ever willing to simplify and clarify —- whereas we would rather soar high above the crowd, singing like nightingales.
That is the bad news. The good news is that we Americans are governed under a unique Constitution, which allows us to write whatever we please without fear of punishment. So the most meaningful aspect of our styles, which is what we choose to write about, is utterly unlimited.
They hoped that I would become understandable —- and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledy-piggledy, I would simply not be understood. So you, too, had better avoid Picasso-style or jazz-style writing, if you have something worth saying and wish to be understood.
Readers want our pages to look very much like pages they have seen before. Why? This is because they themselves have a tough job to do, and they need all the help they can get from us.
Spade and Sperduti have eschewed the idea that the best way to sell a product is to tell your customers what they should think about it. Instead, they believe that a brand should speak for itself through its interactions with customers. Those interactions, in turn, must be driven by an authentic and clear brand vision. The general idea, says Spade, is that no matter the size of your company, your brand should “act small.”
The modern engineer, while blessed with libraries and frameworks that remove complexity in order to focus on the problem at hand, is still constrained by the need to walk up and down a ladder of abstraction levels. Software engineering is not yet plumbing — or Legos — because our standards are incomplete, our libraries incompatible, scaling is still not free and our software still buggy. All require the creator to leave his or her rung on the ladder of abstraction.
I won’t lie though. At a certain point, I got distracted. Some guy named Richard cold emailed me and offered to help me redesign my website. We spent time working on it and editing it together … Guess what? The design change didn’t affect my sales at all.
It struck me that part of the reason we always stay jacked in is that we want everyone — at the other end of the phone, on Facebook and Twitter, on the web, on email — to know that we are part of the now. If we look away, we worry we will disappear.
We are all on that train, the one that left print behind, the one where we are constantly in real time, where we know a little about everything and nothing about anything, really. And there is no quiet car.
…we have an economic system that, by its very nature, will always reward people who make other people’s lives worse and punish those who make them better. I’m thinking of a labor movement, but one very different than the kind we’ve already seen. A labor movement that manages to finally ditch all traces of the ideology that says that work is a value in itself, but rather redefines labor as caring for other people.
Whenever people complain in the winter, I want them to step back and appreciate what they have. Wait until perspiration soaks through your clothing daily. Wait until humidity violates you repeatedly. Wait until your electric bill is ten million dollars because any moment without freezing artificial air is unacceptable. Wait until you have to navigate the thick crowds of people who are finally brave enough to come outside. It’s a battle you cannot win. Winter is different. You bundle up. You’’e prepared. In the summer, you aimlessly wander. You’re out in the open. You’re vulnerable.