I’m starting a newsletter titled Synthesis & Emergence, delivered on Sunday evenings. The focus will be on technology, finance, and philosophy. The first issue is already complete and will be available tomorrow, May 10th.
Why a newsletter?
I was inspired by something Perell wrote about not merely consuming, but also creating:
Don’t fall into the trap of consuming information. You need to build things too. Code apps, make videos, record podcasts, or design a website. Then, publish your work. Ship something new every week, even if it’s just a new feature on your website. If you don’t know exactly what to build, that’s okay. Just start making things. Taking action will teach you more about yourself in a month than years of contemplation ever will.David Perell, “Don’t Go To College This Fall“
I’ve been writing every week on a topic that I enjoy and am knowledgeable about. Since the content is potentially controversial, I’m publishing anonymously. Doing so allows me to be radically honest.
At the same time, I want to write under my own name. My mind – big dreamer that it is – immediately jumped to long form essays. But historically, trying to start big has led to me not starting at all. Thus, I realized that I should start smaller. Walk before running, y’know? A newsletter would be small.
Wait, what do you mean “the cool kids have podcasts” and “no one reads anymore”? Well, I like reading and writing, so it’ll be a newsletter. Do what you enjoy doing, not necessarily what’s in vogue. It’s a big world out there – chances are someone else likes the same thing and you can find each other using the internet.
Why “Synthesis & Emergence”?
Synthesis is the combination of ideas to form a theory or system.
Western education promotes siloed learning, with each subject taught independently from other subjects. But that leads to “frog at bottom of well” thinking. Everything is connected; we just need to figure out how.
I take in a lot of information every week, mostly through reading. I like to read about a plethora of different topics. And I have always had a knack for finding parallels across seemingly unconnected information and domains. Making these connections brings me a lot of joy. Eventually, I fit these patterns into the theories and systems through which I view and interact with the world.
While synthesis can be a solo endeavor, it’s better with friends. When I come across a new idea, I’ll bounce them off others to get their thoughts and opinions. When I do that, emergence occurs. I have thoughts about the information and so do they, but together we arrive at thoughts that neither one of us could have on our own. A freshman year hallmate referred to this as “idea sex”.
Emergence occurs when an entity is observed to have properties its parts do not have on their own.
Thus, Synthesis & Emergence. Maybe “Sex with Ideas” would sell better though. I’m new to copywriting.
Why tech, finance, and philosophy?
Over the past decade, these topics have interested me the most.
My interest in technology started from an early age, typing commands into MS-DOS to load piano instruction software. Look, I can make a computer do what I want with my fingers! It wasn’t long before I was designing web pages in HTML and writing scripts in mIRC. In a way, it was hard for those of us who grew up in the 90’s not to be interested in tech. Marc Andreessen was right: software ate/is eating the world. I think I would’ve become a software developer had I not discovered that I enjoy interfacing with people more.
My interest in finance came after and had very pedestrian origins – making money. The thought process was straightforward: I don’t have a lot of money, I want to have a lot of money, and finance seems like the best way to get a lot of money. Gradually, that desire developed into an appreciation for the types of complex problems that finance tries to solve, like how to best allocate resources within a society. And a realization that studying history is a better road to riches in the financial markets than studying finance itself.
Finally, philosophy. I originally decided to major in philosophy because I had a world-class philosophy teacher in high school and naively thought that studying philosophy was the key to discovering the Truth (the latter not the fault of the aforementioned teacher). Alas, I’m still left with 42 as the answer to life. My critical thinking abilities improved though. Not bad.
Why Sunday evenings?
I had seven options for a weekly newsletter, but Sunday seemed like a logical choice from the beginning. Although calendars tend to put Sunday at the beginning, the Western world thinks of Sunday as the last day. And what better day to deliver an week-in-review newsletter than on the last one?
Sundays are also a day of contemplation for me, particularly the evening. I think about how the past week went and what the following week might look like. I think about what’s going on in the world and what might happen next. I allow myself to think abstract and to think weird.
I know that many other people use Sunday evenings in a similar way. I would love to offer them hors d’oeuvres-for-thought, kick off some synthesis, and maybe even some Monday morning emergence with coworkers.
The items in the newsletter will likely be jumbled at first, but let’s see if we can’t get some synthesis going over time. If something piques your interest, I hope you use it to start a conversation and maybe some emergence. And if you have any feedback or interesting ideas of your own, I would greatly appreciate it if you shared them with me.