Links #8

8 Marvelous and Melancholy Things I’ve Learned about Creativity - A series of comics about creativity, written by Matthew Inman (of The Oatmeal). This isn’t your typical pretentious creativity essay, full of navel-gazing and sanctimony. The lessons were practical and written with Inman’s trademark mixture of humor, irreverence, and poignancy. “Your ears are plugged” was encouraging. “Creativity is like breathing” felt like a useful framework. “The wondrous utility of self-loathing” described my inner creativity struggles more accurately than anything I’ve ever read. I’ll bet there something in this list that’ll connect with you too (at least, if you aren’t put off by his style).

How to do great work - Part-way into reading this, I realized that this was no normal Paul Graham essay. It felt like a sort of magnum opus… the best parts of his other essays, plus some new content, all pulled together into a mega-guide on doing great work. It was both long and insight-dense. He probably could have added a bunch of filler, published this as a book, and sold a million copies. Required reading for ambitious people, in my opinion.

Thrive - An “open source” computer game where you start as a cell, hunt for resources, grow, evolve, and survive. The game is under development and has ambitious goals (“progress through every crucial transformative step towards cell cohesion, terrestrial conquest, sentience, settlements, and space travel”). The first stage is playable and reasonably fun—I’ve played it a bit with the kids. It feels like a great game for building intuition around biology and evolution.

Subscribe Wherever You Get Your Content - A vision of the future where all internet content is distributed like podcasts. It sounds wonderful. The post also made me realize how sad I would be if Spotify screwed up the podcast ecosystem. Many of the social media giants (Facebook, Twitter, etc) used to have RSS feeds for their content, before they walled them off. Apple could have done that with podcasts (which originated with the iPod) but they didn’t, to their enormous credit. Spotify is trying to undo that and I hope they fail.

Marginalia Search - A search engine for finding small, obscure, non-commercial websites. I used the “random” feature and found this little text animation tool and this Russian page about Japanese emoticons. The search engine also made me grateful for Neocities (there’s clearly a lot of people using it to build quirky little things)! Warms my heart.

Dopamine Fasting - This video inspired me to take a vacation day to do nothing but sitting, thinking, and writing. I really enjoyed it and I hope to do it again in the future (though I’ll probably treat it more like a writing retreat than a “dopamine fast”—I think the “no food” rule was more distracting than helpful).

GB Studio - “A quick and easy to use drag and drop retro game creator for your favourite handheld video game system.” This looks like so much fun. A nostalgia machine.

Beneath the Surface - A short podcast series by Stripe Press about infrastructure. I just finished it and enjoyed it a lot! I’m realizing that I like pretty much everything put out by Stripe Press.

You should take more screenshots - An argument for using screenshots for digital preservation. I’ve kept screenshots for many of the websites I’ve made (see my redesign post for one example) and this post inspired me to go back and collect some more (especially for past client projects). It’s best to collect these soon… the longer you wait the more difficult it’ll be to capture them.