Making Procrastination Work For You

 

I first saw this TED Talk about a year ago, and I seriously related to this other Tim’s very funny analysis of the process that goes with procrastination. Of course, being a serious, unrepentant procrastinator for most of my life, it has been sitting in my gotta-blog-about-this-sometime file for a while.

But I agree with him that probably everyone, even those hyper-efficient people that I am not, procrastinates on something, at some point in their life. Some of us have just learned to live and work with the panic monster better than them. :-)

Enjoy.

I Could Be Wrong

Randy Newman has release a new collection of his songs, the first in almost a decade, and it is wonderful. The first “album” I’ve bought in many years.

He recently performed four of the tracks for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert and it’s a great showcase of Newman’s talent as both a song writer and performer.

Although the song “Putin” is the one that seems to be getting lots of attention, my favorite, both in this performance and the album, is “It’s a Jungle Out There”. Newman has taken his fun, character-appropriate theme from the TV show “Monk” and turned it into an also fun but very satirical reflection on the paranoia (possibly justified) of modern life.

I could be wrong now… but I don’t think so.

Optimistic Blogging

Techie and long time writer Tim Bray wants you to know he’s still blogging in 2017. Publishing in his own space in this age of massive media platforms.

Not alone and not un­read, but the ground un­der­foot ain’t steady. An in­stance of Ho­mo eco­nomi­cus wouldn’t be do­ing this ?— ?no pay­day loom­ing. So I guess I’m not one of those. But hey, when­ev­er I can steal an hour I can send the world what­ev­er words and pic­tures oc­cu­py my mind and lap­top. Which, all these years lat­er, still feels like im­mense priv­i­lege.

Not sure I would use the word privilege, but I can’t think of anything better, so let’s go with that. I certainly feel grateful that anyone besides me reads this stuff.

Cartoon: Shakespeare at a computer thinking to blog or not to blog, that is the question.

So, where is this blogging stuff going (and maybe we need a new term for that as well)?

I won­der what the Web will be like when we’re a cou­ple more gen­er­a­tions in? I’m pret­ty sure that as long as it re­mains easy to fill a lit­tle bit of the great names­pace with your words and pic­tures, peo­ple will.

I hope so. It’s fun being able to add my ideas to the great mix. And I enjoy reading the wide variety of thought bits contributed by others who still write in their own spaces.

I’m also “still op­ti­mistic about what­ev­er this thing is I’m do­ing here”.

Day Old News

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t watched TV news since sometime back in September. Not the 24-hour talking heads channels, not the broadcast network’s evening summaries, not even 60 Minutes.

Pogo

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping up with current events, in all their crappyness.

Instead of suffering through all the faux debates and BREAKING NEWS!!, I returned to only consuming day-old news.

Some of it comes from the old fashioned paper delivered to the door every morning. Some on websites that write about events from several days or even weeks ago. Maybe a video or two when appropriate.

Information sources like the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and The Guardian (UK) whose writers and editors go beyond just relating what happened but also why it matters.

Of course, that doesn’t mean those day-old sources are 100% accurate. Even with the extra time to develop some context for events, they sometimes make mistakes. Occasionally they create misleading, even stupid, headlines. Even so, day-old is a whole lot more accurate than up-to-the-minute.

I’m not sure I’m a better informed person for this change. And the extra effort required may not be for everyone.

But I feel better.1

Applying a Little Magic Sauce

Speaking of artificial intelligence, how well can an algorithm really understand someone today?

Companies like Facebook and Google have hundreds of coders working hard in the back room to build bots that can analyze the online behavior of their members. Their goal: to better understand them in the “real” world.

Ok, the actual goal is to understand how to sell them more stuff and increase profits in the next quarter.

Anyway, a recent series on the Note To Self podcast looks at the Privacy Paradox and what the online user can do to retain as much of it as possible when confronted with all those upcoming social media bots.

During one segment, they mentioned the Magic Sauce project from the University of Cambridge, which is defined on their main page as “[a] personalisation engine that accurately predicts psychological traits from digital footprints of human behaviour”.

So, how accurate is their British magic?

I skipped the choice of having it dig through and analyze the pages I like on Facebook, but not because I’m afraid of what it might reveal. I have an account but never “like” anything2 and only rarely comment on the posts of others. The bot wouldn’t have enough stuff to work with.

The other choice is to paste a sample of writing from a blog or other source, and I have 14 years worth of that crap. So I selected a more-than-200-word post from this space, one without any quotations which would mix in someone else’s personality.

And this is what I got.

screenshot of magic sauce results

Big miss on the age, but thank you, bot. The rest, I have to admit, leans towards the accurate side, even if I don’t consider myself artistic or organized.

Of course, that was based on just one small sample of my life. The Cambridge Psychometrics Centre has a whole battery of tests to peel back your psychological profiles, including some “Fun” tests (ten minutes to discover your personality disorders?).

But that’s more than enough AI bot training for now.