Following Genuine Interests Forms Positive Feedback Loops

  • Niklas Luhmann said that he never forces himself to do anything; the same is probably to be said about all great scientists, and tool-makers that are "scratching their own itch"
  • in The Act of Creation Arthur Koestler writes about a monkey playing with a stick for no apparent reason (touching it, pushing things with it, etc.), and then, when a banana is placed outside the cage, suddenly realising ("bisociating") that the stick can be used to get to it - Richard Hamming would probably say that the monkey was forming some kind of Idea Hook
  • following genuine interest also makes it easier to get very good at something - there's internal motivation, and making even a small step forward feedbacks into the interest, making it easier/more exciting to take the next step, learn more, etc.
    • this is a useful mechanism for developing an interesting Career, but also seems to work for hobbies and interests in general
  • this approach requires Being Honest with Yourself - otherwise the interest is not really genuine, and the whole thing might not work that well
  • I try to approach this by deliberately collecting my Interest Vectors, and reflecting on Why Do I Do Things

I never force myself to do anything I don't feel like. Whenever I am stuck, I do something else.

— Niklas Luhmann

  • this ties into being authentic - no point in making things that someone, who doesn't care about myself, would like - I should Follow Genuine Interests
  • there seems to be an overlap between building and publishing a lot, and being able to find work which allows for building more - another example of how Following Genuine Interests Forms Positive Feedback Loops:

    The sheer volume of your work is what works as a signal of weirdness, because anyone can do a one-off weird thing, but only volume can signal a consistently weird production sensibility that will inspire people betting on you. The energy evident in a body of work is the most honest signal about it that makes people trust you to do things for them.

    — Venkatesh Rao - The Breaking Smart AMA

Szymon Kaliski © 2022
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