Friday Finds (Kanye, Gin, Christianity, YouTube, Urbit)


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Hi friends,

One the hiring front, the application window for the Write of Passage Marketing & Content lead closes on Sunday evening.

Here's what I want to share this week:

Podcast with Anthony Pompliano: Pomp interviewed me about the decline of mainstream media and the rise of creators who will take their place as cultural influencers. (Watch the interview | Listen on Apple | Listen on Spotify)

Why You're Christian: Last night, a friend asked me: "What essay are you most proud of?" Why You're Christian jumped to mind. I wanted to write about something deep but controversial without talking down to people who I disagreed with. I've received more beautiful responses from this essay than everything else I've published this year... combined.​

How I Write an Essay: Every, a publication that bundles business-focused newsletters, interviewed me about my article writing process. He wrote about how I write from conversation, use Twitter to validate ideas, and unlock serendipity by sharing ideas in public.


Today's Finds

Deconstructing Kanye West's Voice: Kanye recorded his first single, Through the Wire, after a car accident with his jaw completely wired. On the track, his voice is muffled and his words are hard to make sense of. On the track, he says: "Yo, Gee, they can't stop me from rappin', can they?" This video deconstructs how Kanye used autotune to alter his voice early in his career on albums like 808s and Heartbreak. And on Graduation, he even used synthesizers that sound like the human voice.

Why Liberalism Failed: People increasingly see freedom from attachments as an unalloyed good. But Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen argues that the push for freedom from the constraints of family, tradition, and religion have actually reduced liberty. The more individualistic a culture becomes, the more it needs a big state to support it. If you're interested in the ideas but aren't ready to commit to the book, I recommend this talk with the author and this podcast (with a worthy list of critiques in the comments section).

YouTube Thesis: Sequoia Capital is widely regarded as the best venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. They were early investors in Apple, Google, Oracle, PayPal, Stripe, YouTube, Instagram, Yahoo!, and WhatsApp. This memo from 2005 shows how they think about an investment. If you’re still curious and want to learn about the firm, I recommend this podcast about Sequioa’s history.

Urbit: What if we could rebuild our computing infrastructure from scratch? What if a platform could guarantee privacy, allow people to customize their computing stack, and incentivize a computing environment where our emotions aren't so manipulated? Though the vision is grand, the project is still in its early stages. And though it's little more than a chat forum right now, this project has incredible energy around it — like Bitcoin in 2011. I recommend two introductions: this formal one and this informal one.To learn about the project's philosophical underpinnings, I recommend this essay about digital communities and this one about Christopher Alexander's influence.

Gin, Television, and Cognitive Surplus: Reading Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody was one of those moments where I realized how transformative the Internet could become. This speech is a good place to start. He compares modern sitcoms to gin during the Industrial Revolution. People didn't know what to do with their lives, so they drank and drank and drank. Now, they watch and watch and watch. Only later did society wake up to new ways of living, made possible by the Industrial Revolution. Shirky argues that something similar has happened since World War II. But this time, the social lubricant wasn't liquor but sitcoms. We spent most of our free time watching TV. Now, with the Internet, we have a giant cognitive surplus. Americans watch 200 billion hours of television every year. Meanwhile, the whole Wikipedia project — every page, every edit, every line of code, and every translation — represents the result of roughly 100 million hours of human thought. Every year, we therefore devote ~2,000 Wikipedia projects to watching television. What if we could transfer some of that energy into something more generative?

Have a creative week,

David Perell Logo 2x

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