Being Busy

By Anupum Pant

In our culture, to demonstrate your value, your importance and that you are needed, you need to show out your busyness badge. You are to walk fast, have no time for sitting down, doing nothing. And soon enough, before you’ve even realised the phoniness of all of these things we do because we were forced to start doing them in the first place, you find that they have become your hard behaviour.

What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it. —Herbert Simon, recipient of Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic.

We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider, a dazzling collection of humor and insight. It talks about something similar too, in a very insightful manner. Following is an extract from the book that you must listen to. It might actually change your life.

via [FourHourWorkweek]

Knowledge is Not Understanding

By Anupum Pant

Let’s say you know how to ride a bike. One day, like Destin, you flip the bike’s handle. That is to say, when you turn the handle left, the bike turns right and vice versa. Yes, a welder can easily do that to your bike with help of a tiny gear system.

The thing about knowing how to ride a bike is that you don’t really understand how you do it. Millions of things go running in your mind when you do it. The algorithm is hardwired. So many things happen in there unconsciously, you never realize. Unless…

You do the flipping and try to ride this new flipped bike. You just can’t. Assuming you know your bike well, you think it’s going to be just a matter of time that you learn to ride this new thing. But it’s not that easy. Especially when you are old. Destin goes around the world offering people $200 to ride this thing for 10 feet without putting down their feet. No one has been able to do it. It takes effort.

Destin put in this effort. He unlearned his old way of riding a bike and took 8 months to master this new flipped bike. To his amazement, he learned it suddenly. One minute he wasn’t even close to riding it and the other minute he was gliding past in his new bike. But it took 8 months and a lot of practice.

Now, he took it a level further. He hopped on to a normal bike, and guess what? He couldn’t ride it. His brain had learned to ride the flipped bike too well. The algorithm inside had changed.

And suddenly, like he had learned to ride the flipped bike, after some practice, something clicked and he was back to riding the normal bicycle. He documented all of it in a video below. Which I think has a very deep message for all of us. It can’t be put into words. It’s a realization.

Also, his son, with a much more plastic brain than his could learn to ride the new bike in just two weeks. Learn it young is another direct message this genius experiment gives us.

500+ Days and Counting

By Anupum Pant

AweSci has been up and running for more than 500 days now. I started it off with an impulse. It was an experiment on my own self to test if I could persist. The aim was to learn one new thing everyday. Something that I genuinely found interesting and wanted to share with the world. There could be no excuses. The rule was to make one entry everyday, just one, not more, not less.

How did I do? Well, I’m proud to say that I did not miss a single day. Right now, the age of this blog in days is equal to the number of posts it has. Of course I had a lot of time some days and much less time for most days. That dictated the kind of posts I shared. I took support from the amazing videos people had made and uploaded on the web. Anyway, an entry was made every day without fail. Initially when I used to have full free days, my posts clearly were detailed and well researched. Those posts definitely were the most popular ones, like the crocodiles do not die post. Although I hold well researched posts in high regard, like those of “waitbutwhy” that was not the point here. Also, there might have been a counting mistake once or twice because I travelled across the world and days changed.

How did it grow in terms of the readers? To be honest, my growth was completely organic. That is to say, I used no advertising or any tricks to increase the traffic whatsoever. I just focused on writing. Agreed, I was excited for the first few days and shared my links at many social media outlets but soon stopped doing that because it wasn’t my aim to achieve big traffic. But, I’m a human being, big traffic of course made me happy. Like one one day, awesci got 17,000+ unique views when a post had shot up on Reddit.

All these days, keeping up with the goal I had set for myself, I learned a couple of things which I’d like to share here, in a new section which I’ll call wisdom (for now). Thus, I’ll not necessarily learn a new thing everyday (Old kind of stuff will keep coming too). I’ll share stuff in “freestyle.” Not just narrowing myself to not writing something unless it has some interesting factoid attached. After all everything, every experience shared has something worth learning, if you look carefully. And that’s science for you.

Instead, I’ll just write what comes to me. I know, the name of the website will not make great sense if I do that. So there will also be posts like they used to be before.

It’s a blog, and I want to keep it like a blog, with opinions and my guts laid out in the open. For the sake of getting it started, making the ball roll, the thing I did was great.

So, if you are looking to start a blog, you might want to hear and learn from the experience I have had with this one. That’s what is coming tomorrow. Watch out.