This is a place for me to think out loud. It’s where I articulate my thoughts, ideas and beliefs. There are certain topics I feel strongly about (more on those later). I’m thinking about them in my spare time, reading books and articles about them and discussing them with friends and family. I have a position on these topics as a result — things I have learned are true, others that are false, things I don’t quite understand yet, and in some cases, an original perspective or two.
But I’ve come to realize that thought and discussion are limited in their ability to allow you to develop a holistic understanding of a topic. They can easily be lead astray because they are prone to distraction and lack structure. People have selective memories and imperfect cognition prone to bias and rationalization. It can be hard to understand how you came to adopt a certain belief or espouse a certain perspective. Was it something someone told you that you just took at face value? Or did it come from a persuasive argument? How long have you held this belief? What are the facts and assumptions underlying it? Under what circumstances should you reconsider it? In my experience, most people seldom ask themselves questions like these. I think the chief reason for this is that thinking and conversation are ill-suited for this type of introspection. To truly understand a topic, and then develop a holistic position on it, you need a way to anchor your reasoning.
In my opinion, there is no better way to do this than writing.
It forces you to structure your thinking and strip away irrelevant or superfluous information to really get at the core of the topic you’re seeking to understand. There’s no hiding from the words you put on a page. They are a mirror to your thoughts, showing you details you may have missed earlier. And if you sit down to write about a certain topic and find yourself struggling to articulate your thoughts, it could be a sign you need to spend some more time learning about it. Writing regularly is the only way to sharpen your critical thinking skills.
So that’s why I’ve decided to write. My goal is to publish one post every month.
What I’m writing about
I read a lot of newsletters from independent blogs, new media, old media etc. If there’s content out there that I care about, my first instinct is to check if it has a newsletter. I like newsletters because they allow me to decide which content I see, instead of some algorithm. For the most part, the newsletters I subscribe to focus on tech and business, with a few on news, sports, and culture thrown in.
They also employ a variety of different formats. Ben Thompson has a combination of news commentary and op-ed type posts. Casey Newton does the same but also curates other content. Axios focuses on keeping up with the news cycle, providing commentary only for context. The content on Ribbonfarm and Breaking Smart skews extremely philosophical. Farnam Street doesn’t talk about current events as much at all, focusing a lot on book reviews, curation and articles by Shane Parish focusing on critical thinking techniques.
I’ve decided to not commit to a specific format yet because I’m just starting out and don’t want to prematurely constrain myself. My hope is that regular writing will allow me to discover a format that works for me and most importantly, one that I enjoy.
With that being said, I have identified the topics I’d like to write about.
Tech platforms and disruption
By day, I work on machine learning products at Twilio, doing a mix of product management and product marketing. I was incredibly fortunate to have joined the company straight out of college in 2015. I started in sales, moved to solutions engineering and transitioned to product marketing almost two years ago. Observing the explosive growth of one of the most successful enterprise startups of this decade from the inside has been a career-defining experience for me so far. I’ve learned a lot in the process, but the most profound thing I’ve learned is that platform business models can be extremely disruptive if you get them right.
Now, ‘platform’ and ‘disruptive’ are the two most overused terms in tech today. They’ve started to lose their meaning in a world where every company, startup or incumbent, claims to be a disruptive platform. That’s why I’m going to attempt to define them in my writing and do my best to stick to those definitions.
This is an area I know very little about. I didn’t have the opportunity to study it in college, (studying engineering at most Indian colleges means that enrolling in liberal arts courses is out of the question) even though I would very much have liked to. My writing will likely cover basic concepts as a result. It took me a while to understand why I was drawn to economics, until I realized that its theories are actually a great framework to understand how the world works. The other reason I want to write about it is to develop a more nuanced view of capitalist systems. They’ve been much maligned recently, and justifiably so in some cases, but I’ve always believed that the nature of human behavior means that there is no better way for us to organize ourselves in the pursuit of freedom, prosperity and individual liberty than with capitalist systems.
My goal is to read at least 16 non-fiction books in 2019. Here’s my list for the year , although it’s quite likely it will change. I’d like to write reviews for some of them, because as I said at the start of this post, there’s no better way to anchor your reasoning.
And I’m not ruling out throwing in some posts on football (soccer, not that other sport).
And if you enjoy what I have to say, please say hello on twitter. I’d love to chat, and meet up if we happen to be in the same place at the same time.