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.

October 21, 2021

The Art of Not Taking Things Personally

When we encounter emotions and behaviours that don’t make sense to us, it’s often because we don’t have all the information. And in the absence of information, we tend to assume the worst.

1,361 words • 6 minute read

October 21, 2021

Trader Joe Wrote a Memoir

In the sixties, a thirty-two-year-old entrepreneur named Joe Coulombe presided over a midsize chain of California convenience stores called Pronto Markets. The company, which lived in the shadows of 7-Eleven, was nearly bankrupt. One afternoon, a desperate egg supplier paid Coulombe a visit. He had a major problem: he had far too many extra-large eggs.

The New Yorker • 1,426 words • 6 minute read

October 18, 2021

The Great Resignation Is Accelerating

In April, the number of workers who quit their job in a single month broke an all-time U.S. record. Economists called it the “Great Resignation.” But America’s quittin’ spirit was just getting started. In July, even more people left their job. In August, quitters set yet another record.

The Atlantic • 1,199 words • 5 minute read

October 17, 2021

The errors of efficiency

We live in the era of efficiency. The advertising industry is infatuated with it. Intoxicated by it. Enamoured and enthralled by it. We want our teams to be lean. Our processes to be agile. And our output to be optimised. Instead of focussing on making our work bigger, we focus on making it work harder. Instead of aiming to maximise our impact, we aim to minimise our waste.

Alex Murrell • 4,407 words • 20 minute read

October 11, 2021

You’re a different person when you travel. Here’s why, and how to transform yourself at home.

Every so often, I pack a bag for a solo trip that lasts as long as I can manage. The lifelong habit has weathered career changes, a pandemic and marriage. “Where is your husband?” people ask. “Why are you here alone?” “He’s at home,” I say, perhaps while splashing through leech-filled mudholes in Borneo. “Because I like traveling by myself.”

The Washington Post • 1,420 words • 6 minute read

October 10, 2021

The Four Dirty C-Words of the Internet

There are four c-words that have become very problematic: content, culture, community, and creator. Building “a community that provides content to creators to champion the culture” is nice alliteration, but it’s not an idea. It’s word salad.

Paul Jun • 2,216 words • 10 minute read

October 6, 2021

How to do philosophy for – and with – children

When I tell someone that I run a centre that brings philosophy into children’s lives, much of the time I’m greeted with puzzlement, and sometimes open scepticism. How can children do philosophy? Isn’t it too hard for them? What are you trying to do, teach Kant to kindergarteners?

Aeon • 3,388 words • 15 minute read

October 6, 2021

Employers Have Been Offering the Wrong Office Amenities

Workplaces need fresh air, not foosball tables and coffee bars. About the author: Joseph Allen is an associate professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the director of its university’s Healthy Buildings program.

The Atlantic • 1,323 words • 6 minute read

October 4, 2021

The Stability Fantasy

Last year, I watched Orange Sky Day play out on Instagram from a lake on the other side of the country. In a deck chair I scrolled through countless images of the uncanny wildfire sky, with caption after caption reminding me that this dusky light was from the middle of the afternoon.

1,543 words • 7 minute read

October 4, 2021

An Inconvenient Truth About AI

We are well into the third wave of major investment in artificial intelligence. So it's a fine time to take a historical perspective on the current success of AI. In the 1960s, the early AI researchers often breathlessly predicted that human-level intelligent machines were only 10 years away.

IEEE • 2,494 words • 11 minute read

October 1, 2021

With So Many People Quitting, Don’t Overlook Those Who Stay

For anyone who doubted, the data is in. The “Great Resignation” is real and it’s happening. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that during the months of April, May, and June 2021 a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs. And it’s not over.

Harvard Business Review • 1,593 words • 7 minute read

September 22, 2021

How to Get Things Done When You Don’t Want to Do Anything

This April, I was feeling good. I’d figured out the public pool’s lane-reservation system and swam several times a week. I couldn’t wait to write new stories once my kids went back to school. With vaccines on their way, I even made travel plans. Three months later, I’m in a slump.

The New York Times • 1,411 words • 6 minute read

September 22, 2021

File not found

Catherine Garland, an astrophysicist, started seeing the problem in 2017. She was teaching an engineering course, and her students were using simulation software to model turbines for jet engines. She’d laid out the assignment clearly, but student after student was calling her over for help. They were all getting the same error message: The program couldn’t find their files.

The Verge • 2,312 words • 11 minute read

September 20, 2021

The Frustration with Productivity Culture

Early in the pandemic, I received an e-mail from a reader who embraced my writing about the importance of deep work and the need to minimize distractions, but was thrown by my use of the term “productivity” to describe these efforts: “The productivity language is an impediment for me.” Intrigued, I posted a short essay on my Web site that reacted to her message, proposing that the term “productive” could be salvaged if we define it more carefully.

The New Yorker • 2,218 words • 10 minute read

September 19, 2021

Machine Learning’s Crumbling Foundations

Technological debt is insidious, a kind of socio-infrastructural subprime crisis that’s unfolding around us in slow motion. Our digital infrastructure is built atop layers and layers and layers of code that’s insecure due to a combination of bad practices and bad frameworks.

OneZero • 1,572 words • 7 minute read

September 15, 2021

Ads, privacy and confusion

The consumer internet industry spent two decades building a huge, complex, chaotic pile of tools and systems to track and analyse what people do on the internet, and we’ve spent the last half-decade arguing about that, sometimes for very good reasons, and sometimes with strong doses of panic and opportunism. Now that’s mostly going to change, between unilateral decisions by some big tech platforms and waves of regulation from all around the world.

Benedict Evans • 1,235 words • 6 minute read

September 7, 2021

Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Type

Every once in a while, an idea comes along that changes the way we all look at ourselves forever. Before Descartes, nobody knew they were thinking. They all believed they were just mulling. Until Karl Marx, everyone totally hated one another but nobody knew quite why.

Slate • 929 words • 4 minute read

August 30, 2021

Why Is It So Hard to Be Rational?

I met the most rational person I know during my freshman year of college. Greg (not his real name) had a tech-support job in the same computer lab where I worked, and we became friends. I planned to be a creative-writing major; Greg told me that he was deciding between physics and economics. He’d choose physics if he was smart enough, and economics if he wasn’t—he thought he’d know within a few months, based on his grades. He chose economics.

The New Yorker • 5,155 words • 23 minute read

August 29, 2021

“Rewilding Your Attention”

Recently I read a terrific blog post by CJ Eller where he talks about the value of paying attention to offbeat things. Eller was joining an online conversation about how people get caught up in the “status and celebrity game” when they’re trying to grow their audience. They become overly obsessed with following — and emulating, and envying — the content of people with massive audiences.

Clive Thompson • 1,221 words • 6 minute read