Question: What is the use of college?

A question and some attempts at an answer

I’ve recently realized why I’m bad at regularly publishing blog posts: it’s because I think I know very little. To publish something, you have to be acutely self-assured in the veracity of what you’re writing, which means either a) it’s something you have deep knowledge and experience in that you can speak with authority on, or b) it’s a personal anecdote, which you’re inherently sure about. Call it rationalism or a crippling need to self-question and avoid overconfidence bias—the result is that I don’t think I have a lot of answers.

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I’ve had an peculiar experience with minimalism. I’ve spent most of my (short) adult life living out of a suitcase or a backpack, always ready to pack, zip, lock to go to the next destination, whether that was a city or a stage in life. After doing long-term travel for nearly a year, I recently came back to New York, signed a lease, and started accumulating stuff. Stuff, like headphones, blenders, sofas, laundry hampers, flatware, and coffee tables.

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In design, constraints can actually be beneficial in the creative process. For instance, designing for a specific size or form factor, such as a small mobile phone, can make you think in ways that bring about new design concepts that would never have emerged without the constraint.

So too are constraints sometimes beneficial in other parts of life. Putting a time constraint (also known as a timebox) on a task can make you focus on that task more effectively. Conversely, having a lax timebox can result in Parkinson’s law, that is, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

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Building Sustainable Habits: Why We Make Excuses and Resist Habit Change

Why do we have habits that we want to achieve, but still meet resistance?

Why do we have so many goals in our lives that we never do? Why do people know that exercise is good for them, and will make them healthier, but never do it? Answering this question is core to figuring out how to change people’s behaviors and help people execute on the goals and habits they’ve been trying to build.

The answer lies in the idea that we know that it’s good for us, but the instinctive and impulsive part of our mind doesn’t want to carry out the habit because it doesn’t know that it’s good for us. Why is that? And how do we change this and build sustainable habits using as little willpower as possible?

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I didn’t know Aaron Swartz personally. We never spoke, not in person nor by email.

Yet, his suicide today has left a big hole in the world for me.

I found my own sadness baffling. I didn’t know the guy. Why did I, deep down, feel such a void in the world?

The reason was: I felt a rare connection to Aaron because of his thoughts and actions. An invisible connection that only existed at the intellectual level, not a social one, through his writing, technology, politics, and his willingness to show humanness.

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