Why the Internet has driven writing to sound ever more insightful, how writers accomplish this, and what to do about it.
Welcome to Commonplace, a weekly newsletter about building career moats.
Commonplace This Week:
Beware What Sounds Insightful — If you read something on the internet today, the odds are good that the writing was produced to capture your attention (and, yes, this article and newsletter included!)
This leads to some interesting implications. For starters, it means that the best Internet writers optimise for and are able to sound insightful — which is a totally different thing from sharing what is true or what is instrumentally useful.
This week, we take a look at why this is a side effect of the attention economy, how writers accomplish this goal of sounding more insightful than they really are, and what to do about it as a reader.
Elsewhere On The Web:
What Statistics Can't Tell Us About Ourselves — This piece in the New Yorker by Hannah Fry has all the things I love (and obsess over at Commonplace): statistics, compelling narratives, and the difficulties of taking what is true at the population level and applying it to the individual.
The Youtube Revolution in Knowledge Transfer — I was surprised when a content marketer told me last year 'Youtube is now the second most important search engine in the world. There's a whole generation of kids who reach out for Youtube when they need to learn something, not Google!' Samo Burja writes about the fantastic revolution in learning, and what this means for tacit knowledge transfer.
That's it for this week! I'm currently working on a new post in the Chinese Businessman Paradox series, which I'm hopeful will be done next week ... but no promises.