30 Comments

I really enjoy the living room concept. It can feel that way when you have people truly engage with something you write. I feel like I could throw a banger of a party with my subscriber list.

The Dostoevsky quote, and this piece as a whole, reminded me of a line from Proust that David Sasaki wrote in his newsletter once when we first got connected on substack: “Reading is that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude." When we write and publish things, we’re screaming into the void hoping that miracle will materialize.

Great piece. One of my favorites you’ve ever put out.

Expand full comment
author
Jun 20·edited Jun 20Author

I can't wait to be at that party :) It's interesting you connected with David on Proust bc I think the first chat we had was about Dennett - just curating a living room filled with philosophy junkies. Thank you for reading, I appreciate you.

Expand full comment

I’m down for some Negronis in the living room with some hot playlists and philosophizing. (Or maybe 0% beer if Michael is still reasonably off the alcohol.)

Growing up in rural Washington, Ohio, and then suburban Southern California, it was hard to find people nearby that I had much in common with. But it’s true what Michael wrote back a few months ago: you don’t need much in common with people if you spend enough time with them. Through Substack, I’ve found a couple dozen people who I have tons in common with, but we haven’t spent any time together.

Part of me wonders if I should try to change that, and proactively meet some of those people in person, including you and Michael and Anthony. Another part of me thinks, maybe a Substack “friend” is another kind of relationship — the kind that Proust was describing — both intimate and distant.

Either way, I’m happy to be reflecting on your reflections … in the midst of solitude. (In this case, in Girona, Spain.)

Expand full comment
author

Substack friends are definitely special - sometimes more than any Twitter or Instagram or Clubhouse friend I've made. Intimate and distant, yes; but also connected on the medium of what we think about and how we feel about that stuff. It's the type of friends that exist beyond the small talk, and I think that's why they feel special. Not just a force of habitat or coexistence, but a willing connection.

Enjoy your solitude in Girona!

Expand full comment
Jun 28Liked by rish

I believe that like attracts like. I also believe that those who seek true artistic connection online find those like-minds. Such as mentioned in this article, creating a human algorithm.

Expand full comment
author
Jul 2Author

Completely agreed. Thanks for stopping by!

Expand full comment

Loved reading this. Randomly came across it in my feed amidst the mundane LinkedIn-ified "Big Algo" (props) success waffle.

I don't think I fully roll with influence being "core". I think it's more of a symptom, but in this day and age it's masquerading as "core" because of the sheer weight of Big Algo's (feel like you should create a character called Big Algo who pops up in your writing now) influence on how we are now wired. Power (to gain) or the need to be loved (to manufacture) feel more "core" (with the role of influence in brackets).

More of an observation. Which is in itself an irony that proves my point. I shouldn't need to say that, but the toxic ecosystem that previously normal discourse now festers in has conditioned me to ensure there's no doubt about my motives. Big Algo has made outrage and meanness natural to a point of needing to clarify neutrality. Crumbs.

Anyhow, I still get the craic of your crack. And might knock on your living room door (I thought that was real at first) again some time soon.

Nice one 🙋‍♂️

Expand full comment
author
Jul 2Author

Haha I love the idea of personifying Big Algo, might just use that the next time I feel overtly influenced.

It's funny you mention Power as the "core" because another draft of this post was focused a bit more on the element of Power, through influence. I do think that influence can be a symptom rather than a driving force, but to your point, it has become more of the core, whether we like it or not. It's the reason I write and the reason you comment, even if it's a product of Big Algo's sly intentions. Big Algo's intentions can also manifest as mean comments - take a gander at some of the other comments on this post and you'll see what I mean lol

Thanks for stopping by, the door is always open!

Expand full comment

I wonder whether, given the drop in drinking from generation to generation, that “overtly influenced” is like 2024’s version of lashed. That thing which craved to a put of losing cognitive function and becoming a more embarrassing version of yourself. Lol.

Yeah, sorry about the negative influence. I read a book called Digital Liturgies. Very interesting and insightful book about the role of the web, social media and smartphones on how we operate, view ourselves, are influenced etc. Good craic. Well, aside from the utterly depressing stuff.

I like to think those of us who aren’t posting the mean stuff are at least combining the powerplay influence with something more positive like sharing - a place of humility and desire for betterment. Hey ho.

I’m sure I’ll drop by another time! Thanks again.

Expand full comment

This is beautifully written and poetically powerful. Obsessed with the entirety of this piece. Haven’t felt seen like this in a while.

Expand full comment
author

Wow this warms my heart! Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

Expand full comment

Yeah this shit hit

Expand full comment

And through that transition, from an individualistic endeavor to a collaborative one, converting anons to friends, is where we find immense power, in gathering the The 1000s or 100s or 10s or sometimes the one fan with whom our beliefs and perspectives hold civilizing influence. The essence of this post. I love this algorithm!

Expand full comment
author

True, sometimes it’s just one person but still that’s enough for a metaphorical roadtrip in a 2-door car :) Thanks for reading, Ma.

Expand full comment

Echoing everyone else's sentiments - this is definitely my favorite piece you've written. You nailed it by highlighting how superficial most of our interactions with algorithms are. Most algorithms see the person on the other end not as a "human" but as an "end user" whose time, energy, and mindshare can be exploited to drive specific metrics or achieve revenue targets. I love your definition of what an algorithm should be, and I think we need much more bridging the gap between human souls in our digital interactions.

I am the eggman, I am the algorithm, I am the walrus.

Also send me your lassi recipe.

Expand full comment
author

Aha, it's interesting to view engagement from a UX/Product perspective with revenue and user metrics vs. something qualitative between souls. Thank u for the support as always - sending my lassi recipe to you now!

Expand full comment

Jk — really loved this expression and invitation to treat digital spaces like our intimate spaces

Expand full comment

Hit me with the aux.

Expand full comment
author

Ask and you shall receive. But seriously if you have a moment, send me what you've been grooving to - I'll add it to the July playlist!

Expand full comment
Jun 20Liked by rish

I enjoyed reading this, thoroughly. “Big Algo” loved the term. We generally do not think many a time before we indulge in social media , many a time, trying to reflect our self image and screaming “ me , me, me meeee!!

I wonder sometimes, how simple conversations no longer exist, where we can have very fruitful conversations and how the “ device” has taken over our attention. Every conversation we have seems to be in total solitude.

I enjoy watching people who are so into their conversations in their respective living rooms ( wherever they are) and are smiling at their devices or expressing anger.

I would say this is by far one of the best loaves I have enjoyed thus far.

Expand full comment
author

Uff that means a lot! I'm glad you resonated with this - I too enjoy watching people flex their emotional sides in special conversations.. it tells you a lot about who they are.

Expand full comment
Jun 20Liked by rish

🫡

Expand full comment

Really beautifully written. The contrast between the objectives of "Big Algo" and your internal algorithm is so so well done.

Glad *some* algorithm brought me here today. Excited to follow along and read more of your stuff 🤙🏼

Expand full comment
author

Sometimes 'Big Algo' does good work! Thanks for taking the time to comment and welcome to Loaf of Thought - glad to have you here.

Expand full comment

Thanks for the time to sit in your virtual living room. As I read, I felt in moments that I was there sipping coffee and chewing on this algo of yours connecting and enjoying some of the beautiful souls who still take time to read and ponder content and allow it to expand their thinking, and their feeling.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks for stopping by!

Expand full comment

Your work should change people by its power- If they click like or write a comment shouldn't matter to me- I've clicked on those mother fuckers.

I am an idea, the nature of ideas.

I need no validation besides being able to exist and continue.

If an idea be worthy It will.

That is all there is to this shit.

There is no point in expressing that special person of you to be understood if there is nothing special there, we are not all special.

A mind is no vacuum- our thoughts are communal and flesh the world.

"What’s the point of having an opinion if not to share it with the world and expect pushback from anon?" (I'm not sure about the end here.)

The point of having an opinion- is that it is beautiful to have an idea of my own creation and it keeps me warm regardless of anyone huddling around it with me- I can roast smores and eat them and have fun- I don't need photos of my fun, nor a witness or cheering section.

If you see my light from afar- come warm to my grotesques- yet remember I don't owe you shit nor you me.

Expand full comment

What a beautiful piece! Weirdly just talking about something along these lines with my Silicon Valley techie dad

Expand full comment
author
Jul 2Author

Haha I'd love to hear what he has to say as well.. Thank you for reading!

Expand full comment