astukari Newsletter #58 - Serendipity Finds You

Hello there,

Things might look a bit different than when you last saw us. That’s because we’ve now finally moved over from Mailchimp to Substack!

On my end, the switch was surprisingly smooth. Hopefully it was smooth for you, too. Of course, not even a day after we finalized the switch people started going mad on how Substack is actually an evil scam. Fantastic. Fortunately it appears that none of the controversy has touched the main reason why I switched over, which is fewer formatting issues and better UI.

As you might imagine, these first few Substack issues might be a little clunky as we try to figure out the best way to convert our old style to Substack. Stay with us! We’ll figure out something eventually. For now, let’s dive in.

Try a mystery article!

🔨What I’ve Been Making

The Crazies, Part II - This is a sequel to my first post on “The Crazies”, or mental illness on the internet. In this one I talk more about the relationship between content creators and the mentally ill, as well as the mentally ill and their audience (if they’re content creators themselves).

Art as Inspiration, Art as Education - In my opinion, there are two ways to use art. The first is as inspiration for future projects as an artist. The second is to learn something about the world.


📚What I’ve Been Reading

Serendipity Finds You - Recently I’ve been big on the idea that there are two types of people: structure seeking (accountants, bankers, government employees) and structure averse (entrepreneurs, artists, writers). This article, written 10 years ago, explains the success outlines for each type.

Learnable Programming - Programming is a nightmare to learn, for two reasons. The first is that stuff is rarely as straightforward as it seems (Hmm, let me make a website with X, Y, and Z. Oh, I need to install 300 packages. Oh, half these packages don’t install for some weird reason. Well, now I need to memorize 50 pages of API documentation). The second, more salient to this post, is that the results of programming are often obfuscated by invisible processes conducted by the computer itself. In other words, it’s hard to tell what the fuck you’re doing when there’s no feedback once-so-ever. So, how do we build this feedback into the learning process?

Central Planning as Overfitting - Title sums it up. Central planning is overfitting, because it takes volatile circumstances (such as running an organization/country) and applies fixed solutions (i.e. a set of rules that should work “for pretty much anything, I guess”).

From Bubble to Bubble - The two sides of America — the pseudo-intelligentsia of the left and the backwater rurals of the right — aren’t too different after all. Whodathunk? I suppose in this case, something more is at play… perhaps the increasingly extremist news media that “optimize for engagement”, or the social sites that push everyone in their own little talky hole with people just like them. How do we solve this problem?

The Real Product Market Fit - Quick summary: in the early days of your company, focus on a problem. Define that problem in your vision statement. Then try a whole bunch of different solutions to combat that problem. Hopefully pick a problem vague enough that it can last you 100 years into the future.