I saw a few tweets this week about how people use task lists and I thought I’d share my method. Over the last nine years or so, I’ve finally refined how I structure my daily task list. When I was a software engineering manager, I developed what I later discoved was simplified bullet journaling. This method also works with the Pomodoro Technique, which is working on a task for 25 minutes, then taking 5 minutes off.
In the early 2000s, there was a lot of hype around B2B portals that would replace expensive EDI (electronic data interchange) infrastructure. I worked on three of them: one in aerospace, another for a specific airline and a third that was meant to be general purpose. The idea was the same: a centralized platform, owned either by a consortium of participants or operated by some third party, would replace EDI with a bunch of XML messages. Sprinkle in some Enterprise Java Beans and let the cash roll in.
The Bose Sleepbuds had an interesting development cycle. Instead of creating something entirely in-house, Bose turned to crowdfunding to figure out the interest level of a high-tech audio sleep aid. The experiment was a success and the product quickly sold out on Indiegogo. I recently received a pair as a gift and, after using them for a few nights, have some initial impressions.
My day job as an industry analyst gives me great exposure to all kinds of business writing. Some of it is good. A lot of it isn’t. A common trait of bad business writing is what I call the illusion of action, or giving the appearance that you’re advising or instructing your reader to do something, but the action is either nonexistent or vague. From the content I’ve reviewed, weasel words are a big contributor to weak business writing.
Data visualizations increasingly inform our daily decisions. Traffic visualizations inform which route to take to the office, business intelligence dashboards indicate how you’re doing on projects and key performance indicators. And data collected by fitness trackers tell you how close you are (or aren’t) to reaching your weight loss or fitness goals.
“…in a functioning society markets are shaped and re-shaped by political power”
During my undergrad, one of the most enjoyable classes I took was how to develop emerging economies. The documented progression of economies from agriculture to manufacturing was fascinating, but it was only a 300-level course and it was short on details. I found Joe Studwell’s “How Asia Works” on some recommended book list and promptly added it to my Kindle.
Deciding what information to include in a presentation is a challenge everyone faces. From the presenter’s perspective, every fact that supports the presentation objective has some value. These might be case studies, data points, primary research, or other elements that drive the point home. Some facts, like primary research studies, might have a high impact while others, like anecdotes and informal stories, have less impact.
On April 30th, South China Morning Post reported that Chinese companies are using brain-reading technology to detect the emotional state of workers. The article was short on details but long on effectiveness claims. If you missed it, the device looks like this:
Sharing a great post from Farnam Street on mental models for problem solving. In my day job, I use a number of these methods for market and product forecasting. One of the most valuable methods is Second Order Thinking:
First-level thinking is simplistic and superficial, and just about everyone can do it (a bad sign for anything involving an attempt at superiority). All the first-level thinker needs is an opinion about the future, as in “The outlook for the company is favorable, meaning the stock will go up.” Second-level thinking is deep, complex and convoluted.
When working with technology vendors, they frequently can’t get past the first level. In their defense, the first order is what’s in front of them – often the next quarter of results. My end user clients, the folks writing checks for technology, are less concerned about the next 3-6 months, but the next 3-6 years. This is where second order thinking comes in. It’s often contentious and imperfect; predicting the future usually is, but this model gives a framework for approaching it.
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The top news item this week is the death of Ascendance Biomedical’s CEO, Aaron Traywick. Also, artificial retinas, YouTube’s apparent attack on nootropics content, and the cognitive benefits of music and language training.
Musical training, bilingualism, and executive function: working memory and inhibitory control
Early studies suggested the possibility of a cognitive advantage from musical training and bilingualism but have failed to be replicated by recent findings. To assess whether cognitive benefits from training exist, and how unique they are to each training domain, this study compared musicians and bilinguals to each other, plus to individuals who had expertise in both skills, or neither. The findings confirm previous associations between musicians and improved cognition and extend existing evidence to show that benefits are narrower than expected but can be uniquely attributed to music compared to another specialized auditory skill domain.
Biohacker and CEO of Ascendence Biomedical Aaron Traywick Found Dead in DC
The biohacker community suffered a loss this week. Aaron was found dead in a float tank in DC. It is currently unknown if [Ascendence](https://ascendance.io] will continue operations. Before he died, Ascendance was planning a CRISPR-based trial for treating lung cancer.
YouTube Is Removing Some Nootropics Channels
YouTube deleted at least three nootropics channels over the past three days, leaving members of the community confused and worried that a larger crackdown is coming. Apparently this wasn’t targeted, per the updated Motherboard article, but it leaves more questions than answers about YouTube’s enforcement and appeal guidelines.
New Studies Show Dark Chocolate Can Enhance Cognitive And Immune Health
Although doctors have known about dark chocolate’s health benefits for awhile, these new studies are the first to look specifically at the brains and immune systems of human patients. Flavonoids, an antioxidant, are credited with reducing brain and heart inflammation, but these antioxidants aren’t limited to chocolate. They’re also found in dark vegetables and fruits.
Pupils are taking drugs to help them perform well in exams, says Dr Miriam Stoppard
It’s finals season for many college and university students, which means a raft of “smart drugs” articles. Many of these are overblown and designed to create more FUD than fact.
Scientists develop ‘artificial retina’ in hope to restore sight to the blind
A cheap new artificial retina could soon be used to restore sight to the blind. Researchers from Tel Aviv and Linkoping have developed a small, photoactive film capable of converting light into electrical signals that stimulate light-sensitive nerve cells in the eye. It is hoped that the research could lead to the development of a wireless implant which could be inserted in the eye of a person whose light-sensitive cells have degraded. This technology may be adapted for other biological applications.