View Sidebar

Post Tagged with: Media

Why I Only Read HN

Why I Only Read HN

I used to read everything.  BBC News was my go-to for international news.  Then the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes. For a while, I visited TechCrunch and Mashable daily. I used to get a lot of news from Facebook and Twitter. I followed reddit religiously. I used to think that reading as much media as possible was important for me to become good at my job. I used to think that reading news was productive. It turns out it is not productive.

So, for three years now, my only source of news has been Hacker News. I have discovered that:

  • Anything important that happens in the world–even if it has nothing to do with technology–ends up on HN anyway. It is the best portal to legitimate news from other sites.
  • I can let the community at HN guide my news consumption. They are the smartest, most engaged community of any site on the internet (in my opinion). Which means not only can they filter bullshit out for me, but they bring up insightful points worth mentioning, letting me cut through to the essential sides of an issue.
  • HN happens to be a very diverse community. Before HN jumps down my throat for saying that, what I mean by diverse is intellectually diverse. Every article submitted to HN goes through a rigorous vetting process by which all possible interpretations of an issue are presented, debated, and usually respectfully addressed.
  • HN helps me stay on top of my industry–that’s always a plus. But it also helps me stay on top of politics, economics, world affairs, sociology, psychology, etc.
  • A lot of things make waves on HN that don’t really affect much of the rest of the world, but they’re really important. For example, I followed with sadness the brilliant and hopeful writings of Pieter Hintjens as he died of cancer. When he chose euthanasia, the mainstream media barely made a peep. But I’ve been thinking about him for weeks.
  • I actually learn new things from HN, which is more than I can say for CNN and the rest.

The team at YC has done a very good job of building a thoughtful, engaged, smart and introspective community, without allowing it to grow out of control and become corrupted like has happened to so many other great sites. I’m proud to be a part of it and contribute where I can.

November 1, 2016Comments are DisabledRead More
Elevate the Conversation

Elevate the Conversation

I was recently introduced to a proverb:

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

It’s amazing how succinctly this quote (usually misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt) describes the way most of our daily interactions work. Look at the media. Find yourself reading People magazine? Maybe you’d learn more by watching the Events on CNN. And you would learn even more if you cracked open the Economist and read about the great Ideas in there.

When you are having a conversation, the first question you should ask is, are we talking about People, Events, or Ideas? And if it’s People or Events, see if you can elevate the conversation.

This is harder than it seems. We all are tempted to talk about people that we know. We are natural gossips. These are conversations we all have had:

  • He just got a new job
  • They just got married
  • I really don’t like her
  • Did you hear what happened to him?
  • Brad Pitt got engaged

Could it be because these are such easy topics? After all, it requires no intellectual engagement to discuss the petty lives of others. But people much wiser than I have said that such meddling makes the meddler even more petty in turn. So when you find yourself trapped in a conversation about People, what’s the solution?

Elevate the conversation. Talk about Events.

Conversations about Events are probably the most frequent. The litmus test for a conversation about Events is, “Could I be having this same conversation with someone else without changing it?” If so, you may be talking about Events, which again, are conversations we have all had:

  • The current election
  • The weather in Chicago
  • Something awesome that happened last night
  • A great movie you’ve seen

Events conversation require some engagement. They require both parties to understand the events in question and formulate their own opinions. But they do not demand that the parties interact with each other. Events conversations are safe, perhaps, which is why they appear to be so frequent. Have you noticed that all Small Talk is Events Talk, unless both parties have a mutual friend, in which case the conversation immediately devolves into People, the path of least resistance?

Next time you are having a conversation about People or Events, see if you can elevate the conversation. Talk about Ideas instead:

  • Is it in America’s best interest to be in Afghanistan?
  • Can capitalism cure poverty?
  • Do employees perform better when they can work from home?
  • What should Europe do to curb the debt crisis?
  • What is the role of religion in modern life?

It requires effort to turn People into Events and Events into Ideas, but it’s totally doable. For example, turn People into Events by asking and inquiring what People do for a living, then turn Events into Ideas by deconstructing the problem they are trying to solve and learning the foundational concepts that make that problem worth solving.

Most people like talking about Ideas. After all, everyone has them. But they may not be comfortable openly discussing them with casual acquaintances. Or perhaps it’s just easier to stick to well trodden ground, where the risk of confrontation is low and the social rewards may be high.

But I’ll tell you one thing: the people I remember the best are the people who want to talk about Ideas from the get-go, and who don’t care about the petty formulations of People and Events. If I meet an Ideas person, that’s someone I want to get to know better.

April 24, 2013Comments are DisabledRead More
WineChannelTV Interview @ midVenturesLAUNCH

WineChannelTV Interview @ midVenturesLAUNCH

WineChannelTV presents “Enjoy the Detour” with Brian Mayer of Midventures from WineChannelTV on Vimeo.

September 13, 2011Comments are DisabledRead More