About this list

    This is a running and incomplete list of ideas that have changed the way I thought or interacted with the world. The plan is to continuously add ideas and maybe even spin some of them off into their own blog posts.


    The ideas that most of the things we interact with each day is part of a system. Ecosystems, cities, digital applications, companies, societies are all systems and there for express systemic behaviors. Some of these behaviors such as emergence, unintended consequences, ripple effects, and network effects radically shape our lives and reality.


    Each of us not only participates in, but actively shapes our own reality. Sometimes reality building is a passive accumulation of mental models and thought processes, other times, it’s an active process of shaping your thoughts and actions to move yourself to a new place of existence. Both the extremes of good and evil have examples of people who mastered reality building, not only just for themselves, but for humankind.


    Within a system, behaviors arise that were not intended by the system’s original design. These emergent behaviors typically arise in edges or boundary areas where two parts of the system, or two different systems interact. This type of behavior can fundamentally change how we interact with and view the role of the original system. A fun look at how emergence can manifest is found by following the Dwarf Fortress Bugs twitter account.


    A subset of reality building. The words we use shape and create the world in which they inhabit. Words can reshape your mental models around how something works, how a particular person or group of people should be treated, and what our role is in the systems in which we participate. The first step in changing your reality is changing your vocabulary.


    In school, I was alright in math because I was alright at taking tests. I didn’t like it or understand it very it much. But when I started programming, I built a mental model around functions as being pipelines or prisms for data, carrying it and transforming it as needed. With that mental model, math started to make more sense and became much more approachable. Another interesting mental model is around functions as factories, where they take raw materials and output a finished product.