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All that Substack content that arrives via email

I’m not a paying subscriber to any Substack at the moment. During the height of the Twitter related drama that was occurring I did subscribe to Platformer for a bit. Earlier this morning I enjoyed a free post from a different publication and hit the like button and was about to add a comment. Unfortunately, they have a setting on Substack that presents me with a prompt, “Only paid subscribers can comment on this post.” It is of course followed by a suggestion to upgrade to a paid subscription to unlock the ability to comment. In this case the author simply won’t get my thoughts or receive any communication from me on the subject. I appreciate the idea that people could gain income from writing a Substack. Independent journalism and writing in general is always a good thing to encourage. Some of that output might not be very good, but that is how the great sorting of attention brings things forward and pushes others to the background. 

Sometimes things that I write pick up a bit of attention and people look at them, but the vast majority of the content that I have produced over the last 20 years has been pushed to the background during the great sorting of attention online. That is perfectly fine with me for the most part. I’m writing for the purpose of observation and mostly for my own learning and personal growth. My methodology of processing complex ideas at times involves writing about it to work on advancing my consideration. 

Throughout the last 2 years I have added 16 different Substack’s to my recommendations list apparently. 

  1. https://investinginai.substack.com/
  2. https://decision.substack.com/
  3. https://www.platformer.news/
  4. https://mindfulmodeler.substack.com/
  5. https://zetter.substack.com/
  6. https://brief.montrealethics.ai/
  7. https://dblalock.substack.com/
  8. https://techtom.substack.com/
  9. https://lastweekin.ai/
  10. https://garymarcus.substack.com/
  11. https://mikeelgan.substack.com/
  12. https://thegradientpub.substack.com/
  13. https://askwhy.substack.com/ 
  14. https://aboutchromebooks.substack.com/
  15. https://newsletter.mollywhite.net/
  16. https://joefattorini.substack.com/ 

They all provide a variety of different insights to my email inbox throughout the weeks or in some cases months. They arrive at a variety of intervals. Some Substacks are way more active than others. My efforts for example arrive every Friday. That makes it a weekly Substack and it has pretty much always been that way. I know that the team over at Substack would really like us to interact with the content on the smartphone applications or in the feed as a collection of content. I’m guessing that most people still read and consume the content as emails either as they arrive or when cleaning out an inbox.

Starting down that writing path

A lot of my thoughts have been drifting toward what content should be put into the backlog for this year. Sitting down to rework my writing plan is something that happens at the end of the year and after building out what needs to be done I start down that path. This year got a little bit more complicated based on recovering from being unwell. Sometimes people describe a bit of fogginess or a lack of focus that occurs post this novel sludge that has been going around for the last couple years. It certainly did take some time to get back up to a solid game shape afterward. One of the things that I have been doing is going back and reviewing some of the work that I completed in that window to see if what happened was solid or needs some rework. 

To that end, my writing backlog for this year’s Substack posts is an area that I’m going to keep looking at each week until I’m super happy with it as a go forward plan. Right now the backlog file has a list of posts from week 105 to week 148. That leaves 8 fresh uncopied slots for the year to fill up and of course whatever content ends up getting replaced along the way. Sitting down and writing a chapter every week is an interesting way to go about creating a book. You really have to make sure the flow and content is set up in the right order or the content being created will be a collection of essays and less of a collective work. 

While this post certainly falls into a common weblog post tag theme of writing, Substack, and thinking about my writing plans it has become more a process blog than a collection of events. Blogging a series of process stories in a row that are essentially only relevant to my interest and amusements at the time might not seem like the best idea, but oddly enough this practice has been going on for years. You can easily check the archive and you will find while tactically unfortunate that this trend is certainly dependable. Striving toward the ultimate goal of a perfect possible future always provides opportunity. 

One of the base levels of effort that helps set up a solid writing habit is the creation is on a daily basis filling up the blank page. You can see it in a word processing program as you get to the bottom of what is considered the page. It slowly comes into focus as the paragraphs pile up and you get that sense that in just a few more sentences a victory will be achieved. One of the things that has troubled me about that writing process is just how fast and easily some of the new chat style models are producing content. All of these words were produced after downing two shots of espresso, sitting in my office chair, and spending time striking keys on the keyboard at the start of the day. Perhaps it is debatable if I’m just a slower prompt than what ChatGPT delivers in a few moments. I like to think my writing has a deeper relevance to what I care about which in the end is the core of how experience is expressed in prose. It’s that voice, experience, and more importantly directionality toward an ongoing narrative and focus on my writing plan that I like to think makes my content distinct.

That one with a bit of last day of the year musing

This will be based on the order of things; the last weblog post of the year. We have made it to the last day of the year and I’m sitting down to write with a couple hours available to me before the slate of college football starts today. It should be a really great day of watching college football. I’m ready to move over and start writing from the sofa at some point in the next two hours. Right now I’m working out of my office and pushing things forward.

I did spend some time this morning looking at maybe buying this laptop https://hpdevone.com/ which happens to be on sale today. Generally, I just develop using my Pixelbook Go chromebook and that has been fine for me recently. It would probably be more fun to move over and use that laptop for a bit in 2023. We will see if I end up going that way later today and completing an order.

A few things that could be completed

Yesterday, I got back into the practice of daily writing. My overall December writing output for this weblog was a little slow with only 6 missives so far making it all the way to publication. At the start of the day I had a 30 minute window of extreme clarity which was a pleasant way to start the day. With a bit of hindsight on that one I should have sat down and started working on something, but instead of taking that path I just let my thoughts wander around to see where things would end up going. My desk is set up with a computer, keyboard, and monitor for the express purpose of generating prose. Each day I start my efforts by sitting down and working toward the creation of prose. During weekends on Saturday and Sunday all of that effort is generally focused on producing the weekly content for The Lindahl Letter. Weekdays on the other hand are more about stream of consciousness based writing. Certainly that will veer into the creation of a variety of things. Sometimes I end up producing academic content or other times it might be the seeds of a short story. 

Right now at this very moment I’m looking at the week ahead to try to figure out exactly how much time I have to spend on a few things that could be completed. It’s that time of year where all the loose ends that could be closed out before the end of the year get a bit of consideration. Certainly far more things require a bit of doing than could possibly be completed. The other core problem around that path forward is that sustaining effort to close out things that could be completed is actually harder than it sounds. Generally, if those things were going to be self powered to resolution they would have been compelling enough to be closed out in the first place. Giving a second round of effort to something might be enough to close things out or it could just be effort to force a false start death rattle. Either way things end up a few of them are going to get a bit of time devoted to them here in the next few days. It is that time of year where chasing down windmills with a titled lance and absolutely no horse happens. 

>>>>>>>>>>

Read: https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/2212/2212.11279.pdf which is also kept at another website here: https://people.idsia.ch/~juergen/deep-learning-history.html

My winter season recap edition of prose

About a week ago on Tuesday, December 20, 2022, my immune system was defeated by the onset of some flavor of SARS-CoV-2 in Kansas City. Our drive back to the house in Denver to set up a quartinee fort was pretty uneventful. It has been almost a week now and I’m just now mentally clear enough to sit down and write in a stream of consciousness fashion. Sometimes people talk about a fuzziness or a loss of concentration that happens and it was certainly a factor. The first couple of days brought chills, fever, headache, and some type of respiratory crud. It knocked me off my writing game for a solid week and a couple days in that stretch I mostly just stayed in the same spot. Really the only lingering system was a loss of taste which is hard to describe to someone, but is really a bummer of a thing to experience. Mentally I know what the orange slice or my espresso shots should taste like, but everything is dulled and muted. That new taste experience continues and I’m hopeful it will slowly cease over the next couple of weeks. 

We made the best of the Christmas season for sure, but it was one where I lived my best quarantine life and stayed in the guest room. Fortunately, nobody else in the family at the house came down with anything which is really wonderful. That includes the dogs as well who were super happy to see us, but did not come down with anything. It was a Christmas full of cold and snow on an epic and pretty large national basis. A massive winter storm swept the nation with talk of massive changes in temperature. Denver had a 47 degree drop in temperatures across a two hour span for a totality of things getting 75 degrees colder. We had negative temperatures for two days and it was miserably cold. The aforementioned dogs did not think it was funny at all and were lightning quick to pop in and out of the house for the minimal amount of required business. 

Things have now warmed up and as you can tell by this brief missive of somewhat lucid prose I’m back at the keyboard working on some things. On the brighter side of things 2023 is almost here and this next week will be one of reflection and intellectual adventure. I’m going to be able to spend some time trying to focus now and review my five year writing plan.

Staring down that writing plan without hesitation

Today I sat down to spend some time deeply focused on my 5 year writing plan. I’m about to enter year two of this plan and I was trying to decide if now would be the best time to revise and extend my previous plan. A year has passed and now instead of covering 5 years the plan only covers the next 4 years. I have been taking a pretty good and lengthy look at what has been identified as part of my year 2 ambitions. Based on where things sit right now I’m not sure I need to revise the writing plan. Things are set in motion for year 2 of the writing plan and adding something to the end of the plan won’t really do anything to or for my current writing efforts. It might just be the right time to take no action on that one. Probably at the end of 2023 the writing plan will need to be revised and a new commitment will need to be made to complete that work.  

My weblog posts have started to receive longer titles. That new trend is probably a consequence of wanting to keep creating original ones. We are quickly approaching the end of the year and I’m looking at the next 25 weeks of my detailed writing backlog. Instead of working on that backlog I have elected at the moment to dance with the blank screen and write down a few observations in weblog form. Right now the weblog is currently split between public and private posts. I’m not sure why I have so many of the older posts in private mode. At one point, I had considered enforcing a sunset on posts where after 3 years or so all that old content will just fade into private status. The way the internet works to preserve things that effort is probably not a solid strategy to actually retire content, but it seemed to make sense to me at the time. 

That lines up with my once doomed effort to put all my weblog content into manuscript form to keep it for posterity. Even the thought of going back and editing more than a decade of my weblog published thoughts does not seem compelling enough to stir action. I’m probably not going to go and do that at any point along the way. My energy and attention are focused on the creation of new content. The older content will have to just remain the way it is and I’m sure that will be fine. 

Working my original content creation plan for 2023

Very early this morning I sat down to work on my writing plan for 2023 and to write 5 longer form tweets that were full of original content. It has felt like Twitter needed some more original content. Instead of working toward writing a weblog post today, that is where I put my attention. Obviously, I decided to package all that up into a weblog post for good measure. This writing effort was part of an effort to mix things up a bit and write in a different way. 

  • This was actually a pretty productive morning. I sketched out a writing plan for about the next 25 weeks. As we move from 2022 to 2023, my primary weekly content creation is going to shift a bit from ML to a stronger AI focus and more content on modern polling methodologies.
  • Building original content within an ongoing narrative related to a specific theme or as a collection takes time. It’s ongoing and sustained. Sometimes the tipping point on that one is when the totality of the narrative becomes large enough it cannot be consumed anymore.
  • Working toward the edge of what is possible while bringing people along for the journey changes the nature of how the community in totality moves forward with that project. Within the summation of that community a general level of knowledge exists. That is a shared foundation.
  • So much opportunity for new business exists as we see the potential intersection of technology and modernity. Changing frontiers of technology are opening the door to all sorts of disruptions in operational patterns that create windows of advantage in markets that are developing.
  • Converting the backlog contained in a writing plan into action involves having a defined time for achieving that objective and a valid writing plan. My efforts to make that happen have been about waking up early and devoting a daily hour to writing.

I’m curious what would happen if I pushed out a few tweets like that on a daily basis. Most of the time the content that I share to Twitter involves links to things that I read and thought should be shared in the stream of things. More content exists in the Twitter stream that could ever be consumed by a single person. We have more signal in the stream than anybody could possibly sort out and that in some ways makes all that micro signal sharing into a general noise.

A 24 hour burst of productivity

Without question the last 24 hours have included a burst of productivity. A lot of that was set up by building out quality drafts in revision and review mixed with following a good process and workflow. Within my Substack posting creation process I work on 5 weeks of posts in planning and review. That allows me to intellectually jump around from one piece of content to another. Having that little bit of writing freedom to focus on one thing and then another is the key element of increasing productivity. If for some reason my writing output slows down on one topic, then I can quickly shift gears to something that is better aligned with my mood or interests at that moment. Learning to shift gears and not try to overly focus on any one thing is a key element of increasing writing productivity. 

Previously, anybody who has been around the weblog over the years will know that I often just engage in the act of pure stream of consciousness writing. I sit down with no agenda and simply write to fill up the blank page. That as a process is an effort that can be repeated forever as every blank page provides an opportunity to write. The Substack or academic writing is a very different type of thing. That is writing to a schedule based on a defined backlog of content that needs to be created. In my case, I literally had a word processing document with 104 items that needed to be created to sprint toward my two year writing goal. My 2022 writing goal was written like this: “Finish writing a collected series of ML/AI essays on Substack and combine them into a manuscript, ‘The Lindahl Letter: On Machine Learning Year Two.’ This manuscript should include both years one and two.” As of right now after that 24 burst of productivity, I’m currently at 101 items complete on a plan of 104 for the year. 

Even right now I have drafts completed for the content that will be included in posts 102, 103, and 104. It would be possible to record those drafts and call it a day for the year, but that would be problematic as the content could be so much better with a bit more tinkering, review, and editing to take it to the next level. My big plans for 2023 include a lot more docs on producing academic papers and focusing my Substack and other writing efforts to chronicling that journey. At some point in the next couple of weeks, I need to sit down and revise my 5 year writing plan as well given that it is currently only spanned out 4 years into the future. A year of writing has passed and it is now time to reconsider the path forward.

Working on taking some things from draft to done

Things are starting to come together. Tonight I’m working on going from draft to complete on Substack posts for the rest of the year. Right now posts for weeks 98 to 101 are currently drafted. Completing that effort will get me to Friday, December 30, 2022. Getting to that Friday will close out the year and should also give me a couple weeks of cognitive break to plan and prepare to shift over into a new year of publishing. At one point, I was running a couple weeks ahead, but that did not last. 

I have considered publishing each of the Substack posts here on my weblog as well. Instead of going that direction I elected to package all the content up and deliver a yearly published manuscript. Going with the publication based route seemed like the right way to go about it and last year it was pretty rewarding. Friday, January 20, 2023, will end up being the final Substack of the 104 week series. At that point in the journey, I’ll take all 104 posts and get them over to my editor before publication. On the brighter side of things the first 52 posts have already been packaged and edited with one complete cycle. I’ll put the whole thing back into the editing cycle. That seems like the right way to go about managing overall quality and continuity.

Throughout the rest of this weekend I’ll need to finish up writing and ultimately record podcast audio for 4 different weeks of content. A task like that seems like it should be a possible thing to complete. Some time might be taken away from that task to watch the Kansas City Chiefs play football tomorrow.

A storm of modernity and bots

This weekend should include a few time slots to produce some epic prose. I’m still working to round out my 104 week writing project into machine learning. As that project comes to a close the next big journey will start. My five year writing plan and research trajectory will make a jump to the right and the plan will keep on moving along. One of the things that I had become very concerned about was sticking to the plan and producing a large enough degree of output. For example, just today I started to wonder if I should write a quick book called, “Your bot, my bot, our bot: A chat about platforms and bots.” Something about the latest large language models and the very real threat of content flooding has gripped my attention. Good writing comes from the depths of passion around a subject and maybe I should just give in and spend a couple of days focused on that bot project. 

Central to that intellectual question is what happens when we are not able to reasonably tell if our interactions are occurring with a bot compared to a person. We may very well be able to set up a friend bot and text with it all day shortly and it will be hard to tell if it’s not your college friend or long lost work associate. People are already trying to use a collection of video responses to generate virtual versions of a person. Enough video of me exists online that I’ll probably end up being a video bot one day. Maybe my current focus is about what will happen with that next persona and my concerns if it will end up being accurately polite and sardonic. Most of the bigger bots that have been created over the years and launched by even large companies have taken a turn to very mean rhetoric. 

We all know that a lot of internet forums and other online exchanges are not the best places to find civility. Training anything from that type of content is going to be a mirror to it and not as much a leap forward toward a vision of a civil society where a shining city on a hill remains delightfully just in reach. My corpus of writing based on previous GPT models ends up producing thoughts about writing, the process of writing, and complaining about both writing and the process of writing. While I tend to write about those things on this weblog and that is why that content exists in the corpus, my discussions with actual people during live dialogues generally don’t go that direction. People don’t really want to hear about the troubles and tribulations of the writing experience. That type of nonsense is best left for the written page where it can be ignored online or pursued if necessary. 

Within those central questions you can probably sense that my focus on a storm of modernity and bots could very well be a chapter in a book about the intersection of technology and modernity. My guess at the moment is that it could also be a stand alone manuscript and might be interesting. Either way it is probably an area of focus that will end up on my updated writing plan pending the completion of my current machine learning book. It feels oddly cliche to have collected enough content to publish a book on machine learning. A lot of those types of books have come into being in the last couple of years. I don’t think any of them are written in the same style or cover the breadth of content that I have evaluated, but that does not negate the sheer volume of machine learning content that has sprung up into being recently. 

This very weblog contains the two parts of my five year writing plan. First, it includes a reasonable list of upcoming research which describes the backlog of planned things. Second, a page on the weblog is devoted to my research trajectory. That collection of thoughts has been pulled together to help describe the general content areas that are pulling my attention from time to time and end up informing future publications. Together those two things are what fuel a five year writing plan which is really a way of measuring my writing output against both the possible and the rate of my actual production. Overall this is an important way to hold myself accountable to the possible creation of content. It also creates a process where I’m managing my time and screening out things that should not receive my time and attention as they don’t contribute to building something meaningful. You are probably well aware that my goal is to work just beyond the edge of what is possible. It’s just on the other side of that edge of possibility that the remarkable awaits.