Cam Pegg Pocket Articles

While I don’t read as many books of the physical, dead-tree variety as I probably should, I do have a fairly well-stocked RSS reader, so I tend to read quite a lot of stuff online, and have a correspondingly long list of things to read that (mostly) get saved in Pocket. The articles below are ones that I a) have actually found the time to read, and b) think are worth sharing.

November 22, 2020

We’re Optimizing Ourselves to Death

There’s a famous thought experiment in economics known as the “prisoner’s dilemma.” In it, two men have been caught committing a crime. Each of them is placed in a separate interrogation room and effectively has two options: confess or lie.

2,582 words • 12 minute read

November 20, 2020

Nine Nonobvious Ways to Have Deeper Conversations

After all we’ve been through this year, wouldn’t it be nice, even during a distanced holiday season, to be able to talk about this whole experience with others, in a deep, satisfying way? To help, I’ve put together a list of nonobvious lessons for how to have better conversations, which I’ve

The New York Times • 909 words • 4 minute read

November 18, 2020

The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done

In the early two-thousands, Merlin Mann, a Web designer and avowed Macintosh enthusiast, was working as a freelance project manager for software companies. He had held similar roles for years, so he knew the ins and outs of the job; he was surprised, therefore, to find that he was overwhelmed—not by the intellectual aspects of his work but by the many small administrative tasks, such as scheduling conference calls, that bubbled up from a turbulent stream of e-mail messages.

The New Yorker • 4,182 words • 19 minute read

November 17, 2020

Killing time with Agatha Christie

Under virtual house arrest in Paris during the covid-19 epidemic, it occurred to me to write an essay on the transcendent meaning and value of crime novels. I happened to have three with me, and one of them was The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie, published in 1943, the year of Stalingrad and the apogee of the Final Solution.

The New Criterion • 2,500 words • 11 minute read

November 10, 2020

The Mathematics of Mind-Time

I have a confession. As a physicist and psychiatrist, I find it difficult to engage with conversations about consciousness. My biggest gripe is that the philosophers and cognitive scientists who tend to pose the questions often assume that the mind is a thing, whose existence can be identified by the attributes it has or the purposes it fulfils.

Aeon • 3,857 words • 18 minute read

November 6, 2020

An Oral History of 'Marge vs The Monorail', the Episode That Changed 'The Simpsons'

Transforming the nature of comedy and animation to create perhaps the most successful TV show of all time isn’t quite as glamorous or exciting as you might imagine. The Simpsons’ writers spent long days in the same room, sweating over jokes and storylines. The animators worked overtime to bring bigger and more ambitious episodes to life. Being funny was sometimes a chore, but those involved had a sense that they were working on something special.

VICE • 4,546 words • 21 minute read

November 5, 2020

Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet

Sara Garner had a nagging feeling something wasn’t quite right. A software engineer, she was revamping her personal site, but it just didn’t feel like her. Sure, it had the requisite links to her social media and her professional work, but it didn’t really reflect her personality.

MIT Technology Review • 1,125 words • 5 minute read

November 4, 2020

How to (seriously) read a scientific paper

Adam Ruben’s tongue-in-cheek column about the common difficulties and frustrations of reading a scientific paper broadly resonated among Science Careers readers. Many of you have come to us asking for more (and more serious) advice on how to make sense of the scientific literature, so we’ve asked a dozen scientists at different career stages and in a broad range of fields to tell us how they do it.

Science • 3,324 words • 15 minute read

November 3, 2020

A Nameless Hiker and the Case the Internet Can’t Crack

In April 2017, a man started hiking in a state park just north of New York City. He wanted to get away, maybe from something and maybe from everything. He didn’t bring a phone; he didn’t bring a credit card. He didn’t even really bring a name.

WIRED • 3,399 words • 15 minute read

November 1, 2020

Building an antilibrary: the power of unread books

Tsundoku (積ん読) is a beautiful Japanese word describing the habit of acquiring books but letting them pile up without reading them. I used to feel guilty about this tendency, and would strive to only buy new books once I had finished the ones I owned. However, the concept of the antilibrary has completely changed my mindset when it comes to unread books.

Ness Labs • 1,122 words • 5 minute read

November 1, 2020

Data as Property?

Since the proliferation of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, critics of widely used internet communications services have warned of the misuse of personal data. Alongside familiar concerns regarding user privacy and state surveillance, a now-decades-long thread connects a group of theorists who view data—and in particular data about people—as central to what they have termed informational capitalism.

Phenomenal World • 2,829 words • 13 minute read

October 30, 2020

I Have A Few Questions

Who has the right answers but I ignore because they’re not articulate? What haven’t I experienced firsthand that leaves me naive to how something works? Which of my current views would I disagree with if I were born in a different country or generation? What do I desperately want to be true, so much that I think it’s true when it’s clearly not?

Collaborative Fund • 291 words • 2 minute read

October 22, 2020

How to read

Five years ago I realized that I remembered almost nothing about most books that I read. I was reading all kinds of non-fiction - pop-psychology, pop-economics, pop-sociology, you name it - and felt like quite the polymath auto-didact. But one day, after I had finished blathering at a friend about how much I had enjoyed Thinking, Fast and Slow, they asked for a quick summary of the book’s overall thesis.

Robert Heaton • 1,742 words • 8 minute read

October 21, 2020

Blockchain, the amazing solution for almost nothing

Blockchain technology is going to change everything: the shipping industry, the financial system, government … in fact, what won’t it change? But enthusiasm for it mainly stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding. The blockchain is a solution in search of a problem.

The Correspondent • 3,945 words • 17 minute read

October 19, 2020

Taking Back Our Privacy

Walking down Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the retail strip in Venice, California, can feel like scrolling through Instagram. One afternoon this July, people sat at outdoor tables beneath drooping strings of fairy lights, sipping cocktails and spearing colorful, modestly dressed salads.

The New Yorker • 8,563 words • 39 minute read

October 18, 2020

Kim Stanley Robinson on inventing plausible utopias

Global pandemic. Raging wildfires. Political upheaval. Never-ending Zooms. Twenty-twenty is the dystopia Hollywood has always dreamed of, sans a satisfying narrative arc. In times like these, nihilism beckons. Just give up, history seems to be saying. There’s nothing you can do.

Eliot Peper • 3,329 words • 15 minute read

October 15, 2020

Why Are the Noses Broken on Egyptian Statues?

“Why are the noses broken?” This exhibition and essay grew out of my search for an answer to this simple question, which is one of the most common inquiries I receive from museum visitors about the Brooklyn Museum’s extensive Egyptian collection.

Hyperallergic • 6,036 words • 27 minute read

October 15, 2020

CEOs Want To Ditch Sterile Zoom Calls: From The Folks Who Brought You Boring Meetings

Lately, Zoom meetings have been hitting a nerve with CEOs. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says there's no vital "creative combustion" happening in virtual settings. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker finds Zoom meetings awful. And Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calls them transactional, where "30 minutes into your first video meeting in the morning … you're fatigued."

NPR • 957 words • 4 minute read

October 14, 2020

Do We Live in a Simulation? Chances Are about 50–50

It is not often that a comedian gives an astrophysicist goose bumps when discussing the laws of physics. But comic Chuck Nice managed to do just that in a recent episode of the podcast StarTalk. The show’s host Neil deGrasse Tyson had just explained the simulation argument—the idea that we could be virtual beings living in a computer simulation.

Scientific American • 2,023 words • 9 minute read

October 11, 2020

Magic and the Machine

A hallmark of the puzzling era we’re now living through is a remarkable juxtaposition of two apparently contrary trends. In many social circles, there exists a buoyant sense of possibility, an upbeat and expectant optimism with regard to the near and long-term future.

Emergence Magazine • 6,325 words • 29 minute read