Ran Prieur Watch

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candide
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Re: Ran Prieur Watch

Post by candide »

Today's post at Ran Prieur's site has more links than I want to take the trouble to deal with right now, but it is really good on topics that intersect the kind of questions of technology and skills ERE blog and book touch on.

http://www.ranprieur.com/

candide
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Re: Ran Prieur Watch

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Ran writes
September 5. For Labor Day, I'm thinking about the word "work". One definition is very broad. Work doesn't have to be productive, because Sisyphus rolling a rock up a hill, that always rolls back down, is doing work. It doesn't have to be physical, because chess players thinking about their next move are doing work (and burning a lot of calories). Even meditation could be called work, when the literal intructions are to do nothing.

Another definition is narrow: in the context of a society where tokens are exchanged for goods and services, you're doing a service in exchange for some of these tokens. If you're reading an article about "work", this is usually what they mean, and if you practice reading "work" as "work for money", you'll see the subject more clearly.

Humans like to do stuff. But as a means for arranging the stuff we do, wage labor has only been common for a few hundred years. It is now in decline for multiple reasons, but the main one is that it's failing to satisfy our need for meaning, for our actions to be part of something larger that we believe in. We no longer believe that doing wage labor with more intensity (working hard) will make us rich. Employers are openly calling workers "resources" in their quest for higher stock prices.

In response, the phrase "work-life balance" is putting wage labor in opposition to life. Back in 2004, when I wrote "How To Drop Out", people would say, what would happen if everyone dropped out? That's basically happening now. When I go to the drug store, and half the shelves are empty, I can't complain, because filling those shelves requires a long string of shitty jobs.

It's anyone's guess how it will all shake out. I like to think we're still in the early stages of figuring out how to run an ethical society. For the last few hundred years, the organizing principle of people doing things has been how much money can be made by people doing things, where money is the power to make people do things they would not do except for the money. In a better society, the organizing principle of people doing things is what people enjoy doing.

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Lemur
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Re: Ran Prieur Watch

Post by Lemur »

Part of me just thinks this is the natural cycle of things. Wage workers are in a unique position where they've the upper-hand against they employer...rising wages, low unemployment, remote work, etc., and overall increased negotiation position where the worker can now walk away from bad jobs. So quiet quitting is nothing new - people have been doing this for generations. Barely getting by, doing the bare-minimum, not going above and beyond, your normal so called B-type personalities.

But this could backfire eventually with the talk of upcoming recession. Job layoffs, mergers and acquisitions, cost-cutting efforts, "doing more with less." And once unemployment starts to rise, I could see the power beginning to shift back to the employer. Which employees will make it out the other end? Those with in-demand skills, those who can show on paper what they accomplish, perhaps those who're willing to bend more to manager wishes like going into the office, and those who can prove they are needed to grow the business.

Especially in the USA, I don't think a welfare state exists enough where an "ethical society" can emerge. I think certain Maslow needs have to be met before that could happen. Despite the rising wages and low unemployment, cost of living is still high relatively speaking for the younger generations who aren't home/landowners. So what we see is enough power to demand better...but not enough power to drop out and reform society.
Last edited by Lemur on Fri Sep 16, 2022 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

candide
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Re: Ran Prieur Watch

Post by candide »

I didn't copy the links. Click through to Ran's site if you want them. Full disclosure: I didn't read follow any of the links, but still felt I enjoyed the piece as a whole.

http://www.ranprieur.com/


Ran Writes:
September 12. Today's subject is motivation. This is a well-written article, Excuse me but why are you eating so many frogs, where eating frogs means forcing yourself to do stuff you don't feel like doing.

| These were students who had eaten enough frogs to get into Princeton and Harvard. Their reward was -- surprise! -- more frogs. So they ate those frogs too. And now they're staring down a whole lifetime of frog-eating and starting to feel like maybe something, somewhere has gone wrong. |

There's also good stuff in the Hacker News comment thread. But missing from both is any critique of industrial capitalism. For hundreds of years, machines have been doing more stuff; and when making decisions about whether to replace human workers with machines, the guiding principle has been making money, rather than arranging society so that we enjoy what we're doing.

Mechanization justifies itself with the assumption that useful physical tasks are all tedious chores, which is not at all true. A good book on this subject is Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford.

In thinking about tasks that we should or shouldn't build our lives out of, I've been framing it in terms of tasks we enjoy or don't enjoy. That's not wrong, but this blog post, On being tired, mentions a framing I find more useful: tasks that give back energy vs tasks that drain energy.

This idea gives me the leverage to critique a framing I find less useful: tasks you believe in, vs tasks you don't. That's why I failed as a homesteader. Even though I strongly believed in self-sufficient low-tech living, it turned out that almost all of the actual tasks drained my energy. (The only one that didn't was throwing sticks into piles.)

The culture of motivational speaking assumes that your belief, your attitude, your aspiration are all-important. I think those things are like jump-starting a battery. Then, if doing the actual tasks doesn't give you energy back, your battery is going to die again.

Two related links. Countering the Achievement Society is about reinventing schooling so that it's not about joyless accomplishment, but having the free time to find your place in the world.

And A new way of life: the Marxist, post-capitalist, green manifesto captivating Japan is about how much better life will be if we give up economic growth.

candide
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Re: Ran Prieur Watch

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Ran writes:
September 13. Continuing on motivation, yesterday's post was all over the place, and today I have a clean point, inspired by research that shows two kinds of love between couples. The first kind is strong and exciting, and gets the couple together. Later they develop a connection that's not exciting, but deeper and more enduring -- or they don't, and break up.

The word "motivation" points to two different things, which I'm calling aspiration and feedback. Aspiration is how good you feel about doing the task, before actually doing it. Feedback is when you do the task, how much that makes you feel like doing more of it.

My hypothesis is, there is little or no correlation between the two things. So being really excited about doing something, or not, tells you almost nothing about whether you'll be able to keep doing it, or burn out.

If I'm right, then the best life strategy is not to set a goal and sacrifice anything to achieve it. The best life strategy is to cast about trying a bunch of different things until you find what fits you.

zbigi
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Re: Ran Prieur Watch

Post by zbigi »

I completely agree with this take. I've been excited about dozens of things, only to find out they require a ton of work that is quite mundane and boring for me. That's probably extremely common, seeing for example how many people buy music instruments vs how many people continue to play them a year after the purchase etc. I agree that it's best to try out a lot of different things and see where the natural fit is best.

candide
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Re: Ran Prieur Watch

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Ran writes:
October 10. Thanks Matt for suggesting a good tangent to last week's post. I've been using the concepts of "first person" and "third person" in the most basic way: first = from the inside; third = from the outside. It's a lot more complicated, and some people have suggested adding a "fourth person". But I'd rather not be constrained by numbers. Here's how I break it down.

The deepest level of "me" is "I am this stream of experience." (Actually you can get even deeper: I am the void that this stream of experience fills.)

The next level is the embodied self: how to interpret raw sense data into stuff like, "This is my leg. That's a tree. That's the sound of rain."

The next level is the reflective self, or what western culture calls the self. It includes stuff like, "My favorite color is orange. I am an introvert. I have a strong imagination." Ego is the stickiness of the reflective self, its resistance to changing and expanding.

The next level is the social self, where I think about what other people think about me. It's complex, but I'll just point out that there's a difference between "I am sensitive to other people's expressions of what they think about me," and "I imagine myself inside another person looking at me."

The latter, we usually call the "second person", and for the first time, you're taking a perspective outside your own skin.

Another way to get outside your own skin, is to shift from I to we. This has usually been done with the local social unit, the family or tribe. When it becomes reflective (this is what my people are like), the multi-person self is more egocentric than the one-person self: more resistant to change, more resistant to expansion, and more sensitive to the expressions of others.

In theory, the multi-person self doesn't need an opponent to define it, and it can be expanded to include all humans, or all beings. In practice, these moves are done by educated people, on an intellectual level, and rarely on the level of feeling.

Now, it's a whole different way of thinking, to look at something and say, "That's not me." And there's a whole range of ways to do it, but they all come down to the habits and values of your constructed self. You can look at a tree like an artist, or like an ecologist, or like a lumberjack.

Also, "not me" raises a peculiar option, which I think is uniquely dominant in western culture: the "view from nowhere." It's an attempt to strip knowing from perspective, to say, "Never mind what you see, this is how things are." Supposedly this is the view of science, and yet the most advanced science refutes it.

On a practical level, the view from nowhere is probably necessary to make a large complex society work. But we don't have to take it so seriously. You can see it even at the level of the reflective self, where instead of saying "This is my favorite song," we're tempted to say, "This is the best song."

candide
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Re: Ran Prieur Watch

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Ran writes:
October 17. I don't identify as being on the autism spectrum, for two reasons. One is that I've taken a few informal tests, and I always come out barely neurotypical. The other is, I don't think the present concept of aspergers/autism is going to last. When we understand it better, we'll discover that it's actually different things that we've been lumping together, like we did with "consumption" or "senility".

But I do have a speculative self-diagnosis. I call it asynchrony, and it's based on the concept of neural synchrony , "the correlation of brain activity across two or more people over time."

I think this happens through mechanisms that we haven't discovered yet, and I think there will turn out to be a huge variation among different brains, in how easily they can "tune in" to other brains.

A few signs that you may be asynchronous:

1) It seems like everyone but you is a mind reader. You ask people how they know to do something a certain way, and they say, "You just know," but you don't.

2) You don't understand what the big deal is with music shows, live sports, or parties. Other people seem to be getting something out of these events that you're not getting.

3) You find popular trends to be more baffling than compelling.

4) When walking in crowded places, you have to devote conscious attention to not bumping into people.

There are a lot of directions to go with this. Are extraversion and introversion causes of high and low synchrony, or are they effects? Are there trade-offs? Does being worse at syncing with humans in real time make you better at syncing with humans in other ways, or with nonhumans? Can you be bad at receiving but good at broadcasting?

I also wonder how this relates to John Vervaeke's concept of participatory knowing, and the concept of the flow state.

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