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Nicholas Chen friday, september 24, 2021
Sitting in the MU again, this time with a view of the quad. Listening to "The Time of the Season" by the Zombies.
I did not do a braindump yesterday, the words did not flow easily. Best not to force these things. journal


Yesterday I had an idea for a club, and I've decided to start it. It will be called the Davis Hypertext Society.
The goal is to recreate the feeling of a musical jam session, but in a website.
The club does 2 things.
One, it meets up every week to critique a website chosen by members. The website might be one with exceptional design/animations/content/functionality. As a group, we'll discuss what we like about it, what we don't like, and then ideas for using the website's concepts in our own work. We'll also take guesses at how the website works technically, and take a look under the hood to see if our guesses are correct.
Two, we will maintain a collective website at https://rhizome.world/. The site is open source, you can find the repo here: https://github.com/nichwch/rhizome-club.
The idea will be for members to create their own pages on the site, to experiment with one-off ideas inspired by the website critiques.
The goal is to keep things creative and lighthearted, to mess around with as many ideas as possible.

Fast Jazz

I looked up "fast jazz" on Spotify and it's not nearly fast enough. Maybe it's the red bull I had this morning.

Focusfocus focus-machine ideas

I've noticed a huge productivity problem for me is not being able to decompose tasks effectively. If I'm in a focused state of mind, this is easy and I can get work done. If I'm not, then something as simple as getting out of bed becomes difficult, because even getting out of bed constitutes a number of distinct tasks that need to be separated and ordered and then executed - physically getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, putting in my contacts, making breakfast, etc. etc. focus focus-machine ideas
I've noticed a strange tradeoff, where the more things I pile into my morning routine (getting in a run, doing hw, etc. etc.) the freer I feel for the rest of the day, but the harder it makes it to actually get out of bed and face these mundane tasks. If I just do what I want in the morning - code side projects - I jump out of bed easily, but then I feel the weight of obligations over me. If I handle obligations in the morning, then the thought of doing boring things makes it hard to get out of bed focus focus-machine ideas
I've found writing down tasks and decomposing them into smaller ones helps. Right now, I do this in exegesis, which honestly feels somewhat suboptimal. I also have another side project called https://focusmachine.app/ to remind me of what I'm currently supposed to be focusing - it's really stupid, it just asks you what you want to work on and then spams you with a reminder to focus on that at user-inputted interval. focus focus-machine ideas exegesis
The two of these combined could be a powerful tool for focus - something to help you decompose a larger goal into smaller tasks, and something to remind you which particular little task you're working on so you don't get distracted. The less powerful it is the better, because at a certain point having enough features in your todo list means figuring out how to input todos become another todo item. focus focus-machine ideas

Visual developer tools

Front end development should be way more visual. A great deal of front-end development pain points cannot be fixed with fancier libraries and languages, because the fundamental mismatch is trying to create something visual with a text-based tool.code ideas tools for thought
For example, I'm starting to suspect that no styling library is going to provide a good experience, because the fundamental pain point is trying to express a visual idea with a text-based set of rules. A styling library can provide some affordances that make things easier - easy theming, dark mode, conditional styles, etc. etc - but the fundamental painful experience of trying to express a visual idea in code cannot be ameliorated with better code tools.code ideas tools for thought
Fortunately, it looks like there's progress being made here, with projects like https://github.com/blocks/blocks. I want to build my own solutions, maybe borrowing from current projects.code ideas tools for thought
I want to clarify that I'm not bullish at all on no-code. I think "no-code" and "low-code" are the wrong way to frame things. There is a place for tools like this, but it's more productive to think of them as "visual developer tools."code ideas tools for thought
The vision is to have a tool that provides a visual interface for creating layouts, and maybe even rigging up basic stateful logic, or data fetching logic. I've more or less nailed down a preferred personal stack for creating projects with React, Express and Postgres, so it shouldn't be terribly difficult to even integrate database logic/fetching logic into such a tool (so long as some flexibility is lost on technology choice).code ideas tools for thought

Thinking as social

Talking to Emma-Salinas (of Gen Z Mafia fame), I tried convincing her that exegesis was a useful tool because it was a good way to get personal-reflections down. She wasn't convinced, so I asked her what she thought a good way for personal reflection was, and she responded "talking to people."
That was an interesting reply, and it really got me thinking. She said something along the lines of twitter being her favorite tools for thought.
Having done this daily exegesis braindump journal thing for a bit, I think there's something of value to her response. I get down my thoughts *easier* in my journal posts than I do in my private exegesis posts.
In On tools for thought: knowledge management vs creativity, I argue that the main value add of tools for thought is that they enable personal-reflection and creativity, not that they help us manage knowledge. However, I think to actually capture this potential, tools for thought have to be social. This will be a big focus for exegesis moving forwards. devlog