The Liked List, 2019

Instapaper has this concept of publicly-viewable profiles of everything that you’ve liked via the read-it-later service. Mine is here. They’re good for seeing the kinds of reads I’m “liking” from around the world wide web, but the problem with them is that there’s often no context about why I liked a particular piece. Did I think it applied to my particular circumstances? Or did it strike a chord and resonate with a certain part of me? Or was it simply well-written?

Two years ago, I started a thing where I posted a dozen or so of my favourite reads of the year, out of all the stuff that I liked in Instapaper over the course of the year. The idea is that they’ll give you a little extra context about reads I think are worth your time, that you may not have discovered yourself via your own organic sources. Blogging may be dead, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find extremely compelling reads on the internet. So without too much more preamble, I present to you: The Liked List for 2019. In somewhat reverse chronological order of when I liked it, and excluding extremely popular stuff you’ve probably seen elsewhere, or stuff that I don’t think is noteworthy enough to write about…

  • The Art of Dying
    I don’t read about death all that often — I certainly don’t go out of my way to read about the dead and dying — but when I do, I read extremely eloquent pieces that manages to nicely unpack an entire lifetime into a 40-ish minute read. On the one hand, that’s kind of sad, that one brilliant, amazing, human life can be condensed down to a single piece on a website, but on the other hand, it’s a really great read. I can only hope my life’s summary is as well written.

  • 30 Years of Depression, Gone
    After reading pieces like this, I have to wonder whether mental issues like depression are all “in your head”, as some say, or aren’t at all, as others — mostly present and former sufferers — proclaim. Maybe both are true, to some degree, and while there may not be a particular silver bullet for whatever condition you suffer from, there’s definitely anecdotal evidence out there that says there’s no end of things to try.

  • Harnessing the Power of Shower Thoughts
    I’ve been going on walks, and pieces like these reinforce my decision to do so. As it turns out, there’s plenty of evidence to support the theory that the most effective learning strategies involve both focused and diffused thinking, and walks/showers/rest — any activity where you’re not actively thinking about the problem you’re trying to solve, or the thing you’re trying to learn — can be as effective as concentrated effort. The two combined? You have a new superpower.

  • Is it iPod shuffles or iPods shuffles?
    From 2005, comes this piece which is now more timely than ever, now that AirPods Pro are a thing. Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller tweeted one never needs to pluralise the names of Apple products, but it seems the jury’s still out on whether it’s AirPods Pro, or AirPods Pros. Use whatever feels right — it’s 2019, and language is now more fluid than ever.

  • Does meta have to mean murder?
    This discussion topic about the usefulness of the “Meta” Stack Exchange echoes many similar thoughts I’ve been having about my own discussion forum. Sure, our little site may be a little too small, too niche, or too insular for that kind of discussion, but it’s still interesting to think about.

  • Athleisure, barre, and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman
    Impossible to not read after the seeing that title, but a fascinating insight into what it’s like on the other side of the fence.

  • Why the trial by ordeal was actually an effective test of guilt
    This is one of those things that you probably haven’t thought about before, but comes across as so smart, 200-IQ, galaxy-brain, when you read about it. More like this, please.

  • The Stranding of MV Shokalskiy
    A nicely written account of what happens when you try and get to Antartica with a bunch of tourists attempting to emulate a journey undertaken by Douglas Mawson 100 years prior.

  • I was wrong about spreadsheets, and I’m sorry
    Everything is spreadsheets now. I’m now more painfully aware of this fact than ever before. There are entire departments at work (and probably at yours, too) that run almost entirely on spreadsheets, which have somehow become as ubiquitous as the internet itself. Spreadsheets aren’t without their own limitations, of course, but they provide such a low barrier to entry, combined with a relatively high skill ceiling, that if you have a problem, the solution is probably a spreadsheet.

  • The Surprising Benefits of Relentlessly Auditing Your Life
    Case in point: if you’re going to “Toyota way” your entire life, including your spouse, marriage, and kids, then you’re going to need a lot of data. How do you record all of that data? Why, with a spreadsheet, of course! Even if your goals aren’t the same as Toyota’s goals of higher quality and increased profits, even if your values can’t be distilled down into a number in a cell, you can get surprisingly close by doing just that. It’s gamification, of a sort.

  • Is High Quality Software Worth the Cost?
    I’m a little closer to the developer team at work now, and while I’m not (directly) involved with the software development process, I get pretty close. When I read pieces like this, I can’t help but think about how they apply to my particular organisation, and how they might apply if I worked in a larger/smaller team, using the same or similar software development methodologies that we do. For better or worse.

  • The Problem With Happiness
    While the title may seem like a misnomer — how could there ever be anything wrong with happiness? — this piece goes a long way to explaining how the pursuit of “more happiness” has revealed that happiness is actually kind of hard to measure. What metric do you measure happiness by? Is it more sleep? A meaningful life? Interesting creative pursuits? Happiness, as it turns out, is complicated.

  • The 5 years that changed dating
    It’s hard to overstate the impact Tinder has had on dating, especially in the last few years. If you believe finding “the one” is merely a numbers game, in which case you want to see and be seen by as many people as possible, in which case it follows that Tinder, which lowers many of the traditional barriers to meeting someone new, will be right up your alley. Alternatively, there are those that think Tinder cheapens relationships by lowering the same barriers of entry to meeting someone new. There’s very little effort required, but is that really putting your best foot forward in what might be a long-term relationship? See also The Verge’s piece on how dating needs to move beyond the swipe.

  • Fuck Yes Or No
    Either way, whatever your beliefs are in how to meet new people, the most important thing I’ve read about relationships this year is that you should absolutely only be with people who want to be with you. This is from the guy who wrote that “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k” book that I guarantee has assaulted your eyeballs whenever you’ve even glanced a bookshelf at a bookstore in the last few years. Profanity aside, his advice for only proceeding with relationships on an “enthusiastic yes” basis has plenty of merits.

The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.

Tags: ,