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“Everything starts out looking like a toy” (No.9)
Observations at the intersection of data and systems.
This week’s toy: this dataviz of Harry Potter spells will help you decide between “Stupify” and “Alohamora” in your next wand-wielding exercise. This is edition No. 9, coming at you on August 29, 2020.
The Big Idea
We often talk about willpower as if it is a muscle, and feel we can train our ability to resist temptation like a weightlifter. But what if self control is an inherently limited resource? Laverl Z Williamson writes about a 2017 study,
individuals who experienced more temptation were less likely to achieve their long-term goals, even if they also reported using more inhibitory self-control. This suggests that using inhibitory self-control to resist those cookies might help you in the moment, but not in the long run.
We might not get more self-control no matter how hard we try, so we need to ensure the times when we use our willpower are higher value.
What’s the takeaway? Instead of trusting yourself to avoid the cookies (metaphorical or otherwise) in the cupboard, you’ll have better luck building a system where cookies don’t enter the house and tempt you.
We’d like to know …
Peanut butter is neither nut nor butter. But what goes best with it?
Click the tweet to vote.
Links for Reading and Sharing
These are links that caught my eye.
1/ Date formatting is hard - Excel misread genetic data as dates, so scientists renamed the genes. If you’ve ever tried to import CSV data including ambiguous time and date information into Excel, you’ll appreciate the humor here.
2/ Not all masks are equal - Now that many of us have masks for every outfit, there is some scientific study going on to determine which masks work best. Spoiler: regular cloth masks > gaiters.
3/ We’re gonna need an AI to find the AI - Deep Faked Sports may be coming to a screen near you. This is great news for video games, and less good for professional sports players.
The prospect of “Deep Fake” sports does raise the question of whether Machine Learning or AI agents will eventually become personalities in their own right. “GO GPT-3” is not exactly an inspiring chant, but I’m sure we’ll refine that with enough iterations.
On the Reading List
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind - about now, we all need a little bit more internal calm.
The Artist’s Way - an intriguing way to start a practice through art.
What to do next
Hit reply if you’ve got links to share, data stories, or want to say hello.
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The next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a “toy.” - Chris Dixon