Morfternight #46: Rearranging websites is fun.
The one where we talk about enjoying the journey and learning without forgetting.
🤩 We welcome two new Morfternighters who joined us last week! We love to have you here and remember: like a smile, this newsletter can be shared with others without you losing anything.
📷 Photo of the week
Haystack - More Photos
👋 Good Morfternight!
One week into my summer break in the French countryside, I am enjoying good friends, good food, and walking around in nature as planned.
I am also using the opportunity to reorganize my stuff online once more…
As you may remember, I recently split my single website into paolobelcastro.com for my home page, paolo.blog for my essays and illustrations, monochrome.blog for the photos, and morfternight.com for this newsletter.
As it was bound to happen (but well, I had to try), it isn’t sustainable to manage four separate websites, and I do not publish nearly enough content on each of them to be annoying to whoever follows.
All those addresses still work, but I have brought most of the content back to paolo.blog. The only missing parts are this newsletter’s archives and the online shop, but as I still have two more weeks of vacation, I have high hopes to be done before returning home.
I guess one could say that I have more fun working on those websites than appreciating the final product, which is a perfect segue for the rest of today’s Morfternight.
🌍 It’s the journey, not the destination…
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a reflection spurred by listening to Marshall Goldsmith on the Knowledge Project podcast.
I have recently been more focused on measuring the value of what I do by evaluating the outcomes than the process.
I like this approach because, on the surface, it allows for smarter work by focusing on quality instead of quantity.
Goldsmith underlines, though, that randomness has such a weight on the outcome of our actions that focusing only on impact presents a high potential for unhappiness.
A few days ago, I read The arrival fallacy: why we should decouple our happiness from our goals by Dr. Hannah England on Ness Labs, and it reminded me of another negative aspect of focusing only on outcomes or reaching goals: the happiness that procures is short-lived, compared to the effort needed to achieve most objectives.
It is much more effective to focus on the journey and spread multiple smaller milestones on its path.
Translated to building software products, it makes a lot of sense.
It is much better to iterate fast and ship often, navigating from one milestone to the next in rapid succession, than betting the house on that one new major feature that will take months to build but, when ready, will change our lives and business forever. (Spoiler alert: it won’t.)
A word (or two) on learning
I love learning new things, for fun or because I need them. I sometimes regret forgetting things I learned in the past but haven’t practiced much.
For instance, I love Maths, and I used to be pretty good too, but after turning 21, I changed my path, stopped studying Maths and Physics, and took a deep dive into Photography. As I recently helped my youngest daughter E. with her studies, I realized how much I had forgotten.
This seems pretty standard for humans: anything we have learned but then don’t use for many years is progressively forgotten in favor of new learnings (except riding a bike, according to popular wisdom).
It is a much bigger issue with AI, as our current models can learn how to do something but then need to reset and start from scratch to learn something else.
I liked reading about The Computer Scientist Challenging AI to Learn Better, an interview with Christopher Kanan, a researcher trying to program AIs that can learn new things without forgetting the old ones.
Back to us humans, I also found a few interesting tips about maximizing learning opportunities in a busy life.
> I have recently been more focused on measuring the value of what I do by evaluating the outcomes than the process.
> I like this approach because, on the surface, it allows for smarter work by focusing on quality instead of quantity.
> Goldsmith underlines, though, that randomness has such a weight on the outcome of our actions that focusing only on impact presents a high potential for unhappiness.
So true. I found some of Annie Duke's writing useful from this point of view. For example, the NFL coach story from Thinking in Bets. The coach took the right decision from a probabilistic point of view, it just so happen the opponent team got lucky and the play didn't work out for the—I butchered the whole story, but I hope you get the point.
Hi Paolo, nice post! With interest, I read your section about how you split and then recombined the sites where you publish your work. Although my site is fairly new I am considering some splitting and division because some of my main topic areas are very different from each other. But I need to consider all pros and cons for doing this. so thanks.
Also, the arrival fallacy article is very good and it was timely for me to see it as well.