Byte Tank

Pedro Lopes Notes

Make the Meme Transcend Its Host

There is an ephemeral nature to everything. That includes me, you and this blog. This blog is currently hosted in GitHub, and nothing guarantees that after I’m long gone, or even before, GitHub might cease to exist. How to account for that?

One way to keep these writings alive, would be to assign a third person with the task of keeping this establishment online. What happens when that person is gone though? It’s turtles all the way down.

Another way would be to find a self sustainable digital mechanism to keep this blog alive, ie, a bot. That has its own issues as well, since technologies change and distributed systems like IPFS come and go.

The other option to extend the lifespan of these digital contents is to have these writings persisted into a physical medium. A book. No maintenance required. As long as it can be kept safe from unfortunate book burning events, the probability that a single copy remains alive, and can be made accessible (such as a public library) to someone and hopefully improve their life, increases.

No Input, No Output

The jump from a humble blog to a book is quite a leap. Outrageous even. Perhaps doable.

Some of the books I’ve recently read gave me some guidance and ideas on how to take that germinal idea into fruition (note that the following links are affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases whose commissions help this small establishment, at no additional cost to you):

  • Rolf Dobelli’s The Art of the Good Life is a collection of 52 articles that Dobelli wrote for a newspaper column.
  • Dobelli also previously wrote The Art of Thinking Clearly (I did not read this one), which reveals the most common errors of judgment, and how to avoid them, throughout 99 short chapters. Although the idea the idea of 99 chapters seems to have been original to Nassim Taleb’s project to publish “99 (convex) heuristics”
  • Steven Bartlett shares on his Diary of a CEO book that at 21 years old, he made a promise to himself that every day at 7PM, he would write a tweet or make a video delivering a single idea, and then post it online at 8PM, which Steven claims to have been the habit the most difference to advance his knowledge and skills. It completely changed his life trajectory, and consequently it’s the piece of advice Steven most strongly urges for anyone looking to be a better thinker, speaker, writer, or content creator. The key here was that he made it a daily obligation, not just an interest.
    • From this, I assume that this habit was foundational to his Diary of a CEO podcast, which eventually resulted in the book above
  • After listening to Benjamin Franklin’s biography on audiobook, I’ve came to learn that not only was Franklin a statesman, diplomat, scientist and inventor, but also a prolific writer, printer and publisher, which were unbeknownst to me. As a publisher, Benjamin Franklin wrote several dissertations and essays 1 (such as the ones under the pen name of Silence Dogood), which I’m sure to have fed into Franklin’s books, which brought many interesting ideas to a large population, like his own autobiography, which could be seen as a compilation of several of his ideas and reflections / writings (these go hand in hand).

Apart from finding the above points inspirational, they also make me think that creating a discipline where I consistently share my reflections and experiences via writing or videos, not only helps me solidify my thoughts and provides more immediate feedback on how valuable these are to its viewers / readers (which allows me to course correct and iterate 2), but also provides the building blocks to put together a hopefully meaningful and concise book to help surpass the limited lifespan of the digital medium that hosts this blog and my YouTube videos.

No Input, No Output

― Joe Strummer, lead singer of The Clash

The Path Towards Physical Persistence

Given the above, here are some action points to put the wheels in motion towards building “physical persistence” via a book, and give better chances for its memes to transcend their host 3:

  1. My low priority 2024 goal is continuing to publish blog notes and videos. The numeric goal I’ve set for myself is to publish 12 blog notes, about once per month. From these, make the respective YouTube videos, but this would be a stretch sub-goal (albeit, one that I really enjoy)
    • This was a consequence of my recent “personal performance” review for this year’s personal goals, which was a good opportunity to reflect on what went well, what went less well, what was achieved, and what was missed. One of the aspects that I aim to implement for the upcoming year’s goals is to use numeric goals, where applicable.
  2. Once 50 or 99 meaningful blog notes are written, attempt to compile them into a book.
    • Why 50 or 99? Upon reaching 50 notes, I might feel that not enough substantial content was generated to be distilled into a book. Once 99 notes are reached however, it would be more certain that enough meaningful content was accumulated (hopefully). I would expect the distillation process to remove several notes that would be deemed to have less quality.

Looking forward to 2024! 🎉

  1. On the extensive range of writings that Benjamin Franklin did, there are also hilarious examples such as Fart Proudly, an essay about flatulence written while he was living abroad as United States Ambassador to France

  2. One the learnings from making the Survival Ball video game, was that the lack of exposure throughout it’s development process lead to less visibility to the ones who might be interested in it, and less immediate feedback on what worked and what didn’t work, which could have possibly have helped to craft an better product, by virtue of allowing faster / less painful pivots

  3. Coined by the British evolutionist Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene (1976), a meme is a unit of culture—such as “tunes, ideas, catch‐phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or building arches.” In humans, memes have supposedly taken over much of the evolutionary burden of the traditional units of heredity, the genes. Dawkins introduces them because in his opinion the rate of human cultural evolution is far too rapid to be simply a function of gene‐centered evolution.