• in goals vs systems I argue that goals are for short-term results, but how short really? - probably on the scale of weeks/months/years, where systems are potentially lifetime long
  • ambitious goals can give additional push to work on something, unless they are impossible to meet
    • I manged to build one-project-a-month once, since then my situation has changed and it's no longer possible to do this, I need goals that are ambitious, but achievable, otherwise they become discouraging

you should occasionally set yourself some big, ambitious goal, a goal that gets you excited, that makes you want to get up in the morning, and where you've developed a confidence in your own mind that you have a chance of achieving that goal


Instead of working back from a goal, work forward from promising situations. This is what most successful people actually do anyway.
Flying a glider is a good metaphor here. Because a glider doesn't have an engine, you can't fly into the wind without losing a lot of altitude. If you let yourself get far downwind of good places to land, your options narrow uncomfortably. As a rule you want to stay upwind.

— Paul Graham

  • Michael Nielsen argues for sporadic big ambitious goals, Paul Graham does the opposite - no goals, just trying to "fly higher" when possible

Goals vs Systems

  • goals are about the short-term result

Knowledge Work Should Accrete

  • having a long-term interest vectors, or a set of open problems helps with guiding the "molding" of current projects so they fit into (and help build up) long-term goals

On Browsing

The literature on browsing develops a portrait of a complex, open-ended, embodied human experience, rather than the input-output exchange that characterises traditional information retrieval.


Browsing is an iterative process that entails scanning or glimpsing a field of potential resources, and selecting or sampling items for further investigation and evaluation.


Browsing entails movement through a field of resources; Kwasnik stipulates "movement in a connected space". This movement depends in turn on orientation: a knowledge of the "structure and content" of the browsing field


We may browse with or without a goal in mind, and goals may change as the process unfolds.

Generous Interfaces for Digital Cultural Collections

Research and Day-to-Day

I begin each day by selecting some action-oriented goals which I hope will advance some broader achievement-oriented goal. For example, if I'm working towards an in-classroom prototype around a set of ideas, I might aim to spend three focused hours fleshing those ideas out in sketches.

This is a natural spot for brief deliberation, but once the day begins, I focus on the actions I've chosen and suppress planning. The rest of the day's work becomes roughly deontological. I give myself permission to be satisfied with the day if I spent three focused hours sketching like I'd planned.


  • Andy organises his days in action-oriented goals (like "spend 3 hours on researching X"), which move him closer to his achievement-oriented goals (like "finish writing first chapter of Y")
    • I'm again really interested in Andy's meta-thoughts and amount of self-awareness that he brings into his work (metacognition)
  • be more deliberate about my achievement-oriented goals (something I still play with year-to-year)

Research Themes

  • "visions, not goals" (PARC)

Where Do Ideas Come From?

One way to think about a Dynabook is that it is mainly centered about all aspects of user interface design, especially for children, and not just about how to access, learn and use a computer but how to access, learn and use ideas.

— Alan Kay - https://www.quora.com/What-lessons-were-learned-in-aspiring-towards-the-DynaBook-and-have-any-of-its-original-goals-become-dated/answer/Alan-Kay-11

Szymon Kaliski © 2020