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Nicholas Chen friday, december 2, 2022
Haven't published a freeform post like this in a while, but I want to do it more often. Some things have happened that have resulted in me having a lot of free time on my hands.
It also looks like header/bold/italic rendering is broken on exegesis. This will be fixed eventually.
Marshall McLuhan and The Medium Is The Message
I finally got around to reading The Medium Is The Message, which I probably should have gotten to ages ago. Joining a reading club finally got me to pick it up. I'm glad I did, because it's really good.
If I hear people talk about a book a lot, I feel less inclined to read it, because I feel like I already have an idea of what it's going to say from hearing people talk about it all the time. This is sometimes true, but The Medium Is The Message really caught me off guard. I always hear people say "it predicted the internet" and "it was ahead of its time," and I went in with the expectation that it would be both of those things, and was still surprised at how much it predicted the internet and how ahead of its time it is.
Honestly what I like most about it is how it's formatted (fitting for a book titled "The Medium is the Message"). It's formatted kind of like a "zine", with text paragraphs interspersed with images with shorter form text overlaid of them. Somebody in the book club said it looked like Facebook's "Red Book", and I agree.

I really like the medium of the book! The contents of it obviously relate a lot to
tools for thought, but I think the medium/form provides inspiration as well - I'd love to see a tool for thought that lets you make a zine-like thing, with hyperlinks and other bells and whistles. ideas exegesis The Medium Is The Message
Guitar and tools for thought
I've been playing lots of guitar.

It's right next to my desk and whenever I have an idea or hear something I want to transcribe, I pick it up and play around with it. It's become something of a stress toy for me. If I pick it up, I won't be able to put it down, and it's gotten to the point where if I want to get something done I have to shut my guitar in the closet so I'm not constantly picking it up.

Obviously this is pretty great for improving at guitar and worse for other things (like working on exegesis). It did get me thinking, however, about why I like playing the guitar so much. How can I make a tool that feels as great to use as a guitar?

I love the tactile feel of touching strings and getting the instant feedback of sound. I love being able to minutely control my touch and have that change the pitch and timbre of the sound (bending the string with my fretting hand, plucking the string with my fingers softly or abruptly to create a warm or bright sound).

Compared to a piano, a guitar is easier to transcribe on, because your muscle memory translates across different keys. This makes it almost like a REPL for musical ideas - you can take a song, and guess it out on a guitar very easily. I really, really, really like this.

tools for thought
Spitballing here: If I wanted to make my code environment more like a guitar, I'd work on setting up my tooling such that I'm able to toy around with ideas very quickly. If I see a cool app, I should be able to make a toy version of it in a few minutes, the same way I'm able to transcribe other songs quickly on my guitar. It should be very quickly accessible, like having my guitar next to my desk.

It seems like
https://replit.com/ would be a really great fit for this! I just wonder what the best way to reduce friction would be. How could I put repl.it "next to my desk?" A bookmark seems... ok. But I'd want something more ready at hand. If I could put a giant repl.it button on my desk, or have the top 100x100 pixels of my screens dedicated to a repl.it button, or have a "dynamic island" on my screen for repl.it, I think that'd be a lot better.

Matuschak on peripheral vision: https://notes.andymatuschak.org/Peripheral_vision
Being more fruitful
I want to up my creative output.
For the past year, I made the mistake of trying to fit a bunch of ideas into exegesis, when I really should have spun them up as separate smaller projects. Not only did this create a lot of bloat in my codebase, it also created unneccessary design challenges that resulted from trying to fit a bunch of apps into one.

In the future, I want to work quicker, and make smaller prototypes of things first. I want to screw around with smaller, more playful projects. If those prove successful, then maybe I can integrate them into a larger project, but that shouldn't be the starting point for new ideas. I want to be more playful, so I can be more prolific.

exegesis personal-reflection