Random Notes

The public notebook of some guy named Scott Nesbitt

From (again) the always insightful The Architecture of Silence:

Move in silence, only speak when it's time to say checkmate.

In late 2022, my mind drifted back to all of the good (or just plain interesting) opportunities I let slip through my fingers over the years. I occasionally joke that when I try to count those missed opportunities I quickly run out of fingers and toes. Maybe there weren't that many, but I've let more than a couple slip away.

The main reason I let those opportunities slip away was fear. I let fear — of failure, of looking like an idiot, of letting a client or editor down, of not being good enough — take hold. I let that fear control me.


I don't think my digital note-taking tools are doing the best job of helping me be smarter/more creative/whatever.

I read that somewhere on the web a while back. And, to be honest, that's not the purpose of a note taking tool, whether digital or analog.

Note taking tools are just that. They're a mechanism for helping you collect information. It's up to you to organize and classify that information. It's up to you to make sense of it, to shape it, to (wherever necessary) turn that information into knowledge.

It's not the fault of a tool if you've collected so much that you can't find anything, or if you just dumped information into the tool without even a scintilla of a plan to keep track of it. Or if you decided to drop everything that you've found into those tools because you thought it was interesting or could be useful in the future.

Note taking tools are repositories. How information is shaped in them is up to you. The tools won't magically turn that information into knowledge or any other usable form — like a book chapter, an article, a blog post, a paper, or a set of instructions.

It's up to you to do that.

No tool is going to make you smarter or more creative, more interesting or better organized, regardless of what a tool's creator or most enthusiastic proponents say. All of that lies with you.

From the wonderful The Architecture of Silence:

Speak only as an improvement on the silence.

Book Blurbing

I do wonder how many people actually buy books because of the blurbs: Stephen Fry, “Magnificent”; Richard Osman, “A brilliant read”, as it might say on the back cover or on the website. Do people really browse in a shop or online and say, “Oh Stephen Fry thought it was great, I think I will buy that”? Publishers clearly think so. If they are right, I have been the beneficiary of many kind people who have read my books and provided a comment, which has taken its place on the covers, or on the Amazon entry, and helped my sales. But are they right?

Can't say that I've ever been compelled to buy a book because of an endorsement it received. To be honest, another person's opinion — no matter how sage or august that person is — has never mattered to me when it comes to choosing something to read.

Recently, I was silently lamenting the fact that I haven't been re-reading enough of the works of Jorge Luis Borges. So, to help remedy that I pulled a collection of his non fiction off a bookshelf and started leafing through it.

I was struck by the book and film reviews that Borges wrote. Many of them are masterpieces of brevity. Few are over three or four paragraphs in length, but Borges packed a lot into that space. In fact, the best of the reviews read like they're condensed versions of essays from The New York Review of Books. The writing is that strong, and the thinking is that clear.


How Many Computers Do I Need?

It's not that I own all that much hardware, but I feel like I have more than I need. In 2023, I'll definitely be paring back when it comes to the devices I own.

It's not bouncing around, trying out new tools and techniques.

It's not constantly hacking in an effort to streamline or maximize your productivity (whatever that means).

What makes you productive is getting your hands dirty and doing the work. Completing that work to the best of your ability. And doing it with the tools at hand.

That's the way it is. That's the way it's always been. As I've written before, your most powerful tool for productivity is you. Your knowledge. Your focus. Your discipline and persistence. Tools can augment that, but they won't replace any or all of that.

As someone wrote:

Can you imagine how good I’d be at the old things if I would stop constantly moving to the new things?

Stick with the old things. Get stuff done.

Jargon. Acronyms. They're everywhere. Sometimes, I think using them is an excuse not to think or for someone to seem in the know or even profound.

Jargon and acronyms have helped bloat the English language and contributed to a level of obfuscation and confusion that's deeper than an unknown foreign language. In fact, people who overuse jargon and acronyms often sound like they're speaking a foreign tongue. Or just speaking in tongues ...

If you work as a technical writer, or even just in a corporate setting, you're assaulted by jargon and acronyms. Worse, you can't seem to escape those jargon or acronyms.

But that doesn't mean you have to put up with either. You can do a lot to minimize the amount of jargon and the number of acronyms that crop up in what you write. By doing so, you can make what they're trying to convey clearer for any reader. Or just for you.


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