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.

June 20, 2021

A Lifetime of Systems Thinking

When one reaches 80, one is considered to be ripe and ready for picking. Picking usually consists of the pickers asking the pickee to reflect back on the wisdom he has gained over his lifetime. This request is based on the false assumption that wisdom increases with age.

2,491 words • 11 minute read

June 17, 2021

The perfect number of hours to work every day? Five

When Liverpool marketing agency Agent was asked by the BBC to test a Nordic-style, six-hour working day for a TV programme it jumped at the chance. Inspired by reports of six-hour days in Swedish care homes in 2016, the hope was reduced working hours would lead to new ways of looking after staff wellbeing.

WIRED UK • 1,710 words • 6 minute read

June 14, 2021

Building a More Honest Internet

Over the course of a few short years, a technological revolution shook the world. New businesses rose and fell, fortunes were made and lost, the practice of reporting the news was reinvented, and the relationship between leaders and the public was thoroughly transformed, for better and for worse.

Columbia Journalism Review • 2,729 words • 12 minute read

June 12, 2021

The Most Irrational Number

One of the great charms of number theory is the existence of irrational numbers—numbers like the square root of 2 or π that can’t be expressed as the ratio of any two whole numbers, no matter how large. The legend goes—probably false, but hey, it makes a point—that the discovery of the irrationality of √2 was so disconcerting to the Pythagoreans, who wanted all numbers to be rational, that they threw the discoverer into the ocean.

Slate • 1,933 words • 9 minute read

June 11, 2021

A mystery cube, a secret identity, and a puzzle solved after 15 years

On Sunday February 4, 2007, as the Sun rose over Wakerley Great Wood in Northamptonshire, Andy Darley trudged into the ancient forest with a map and a spade, and began to dig. The clock was ticking – others were closing in. Darley, a web designer from Middlesex, near London, had made three trips here in as many days. The previous night he had caught a glimpse of a torch in the darkness – if he didn’t find what he was looking for soon, someone else would.

WIRED UK • 5,952 words • 27 minute read

June 7, 2021

Why user-centred design struggles with ethics

For decades we’ve been taught that user-centricity is the key to good design. But now the philosophy is showing vulnerabilities. We need approaches that are less narrow, less transactional, and more able to cope with the diverse, systemic challenges the 21st century has in store.

Readymag • 1,280 words • 6 minute read

June 3, 2021

The greatest achievements in Dumb Internet Video

The genre of “Dumb Internet Video” has evolved considerably since connection speeds became fast enough for file-sharing. For a long time, online videos were something special — uploaded to archaic file-sharing sites or hosted as Flash animations or passed around message boards as very early-stage YouTube links.

Polygon • 2,008 words • 9 minute read

June 1, 2021

Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

One of my clients, Ben, a research and development director at a pharmaceutical company, arrived at our coaching session feeling distraught. “A situation happened at work today that I can’t get out of my head,” he said. It turned out that Ben had spent hours preparing for an all-hands meeting with colleagues across the globe. He reviewed the agenda, drafted his talking points, and logged on to the conference software ready to contribute.

Harvard Business Review • 1,132 words • 5 minute read

June 1, 2021

I’m a Physicist Who Searches for Aliens. U.F.O.s Don’t Impress Me.

This month the TV news program “60 Minutes” ran a segment on recent sightings by Navy pilots of unidentified flying objects. The pilots’ accounts were bolstered by videos recorded by cameras onboard their planes that captured what the government now calls “unidentified aerial phenomena.”

The New York Times • 957 words • 4 minute read

May 24, 2021

What if Remote Work Didn’t Mean Working from Home?

In the late nineteen-sixties, the writer Peter Benchley and his wife, Wendy, were looking for a quiet place to live near New York City. They considered Princeton, New Jersey, but couldn’t afford it, so they settled for Pennington, a small community eight miles to the west.

The New Yorker • 1,718 words • 8 minute read

May 23, 2021

The Art of Negativity

The American ironist James Branch Cabell wrote that: “An optimist believes we live in the best possible of worlds. A pessimist fears that this is true.” Far from the sunny entitlement of life’s Panglossian amblers, to practice the art of negativity is to see the world with darkly artful perception. While a valorization of the negative may be hideously alien to some, its paradox holds cast-iron worth.

Przekrój Magazine • 2,689 words • 12 minute read

May 18, 2021

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Chance to Start Over

Many years ago, I met a woman who had had the kind of experience you ordinarily only find in fiction. As a young adult, she was in a serious car accident, resulting in a head injury. She suffered a period of total amnesia, followed by months of convalescence. When she recovered, she was never the same.

The Atlantic • 1,264 words • 6 minute read

May 3, 2021

The Grim Secret of Nordic Happiness

Is hygge still a thing? The Danish concept of comfortable conviviality and all things cozy is supposed to capture the essence of Danish culture and has been marketed as the secret for happy living. A few years back, there was a surge of hygge-related books, articles, and household products.

Slate • 1,231 words • 6 minute read

April 29, 2021

How to motivate yourself to change

Change is hard, but it’s possible. Use motivational interviewing techniques to build your confidence, and take the plunge Struggling to change in the ways we want to is a common human experience. Many of the practical steps required aren’t easy or fun. This makes motivation a challenge.

Psyche • 4,803 words • 22 minute read

April 21, 2021

There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing

The neglected middle child of mental health can dull your motivation and focus — and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021. At first, I didn’t recognize the symptoms that we all had in common. Friends mentioned that they were having trouble concentrating.

The New York Times • 1,513 words • 7 minute read

April 18, 2021

Our Brain Typically Overlooks This Brilliant Problem-Solving Strategy

For generations, the standard way to learn how to ride a bicycle was with training wheels or a tricycle. But in recent years, many parents have opted to train their kids with balance bikes, pedalless two-wheelers that enable children to develop the coordination needed for bicycling—a skill that is not as easily acquired with an extra set of wheels.

Scientific American • 955 words • 4 minute read

April 18, 2021

Adding is favoured over subtracting in problem solving

Consider the Lego structure depicted in Figure 1, in which a figurine is placed under a roof supported by a single pillar at one corner. How would you change this structure so that you could put a masonry brick on top of it without crushing the figurine, bearing in mind that each block added costs 10 cents? If you are like most participants in a study reported by Adams et al. in Nature, you would add pillars to better support the roof. But a simpler (and cheaper) solution would be to remove the existing pillar, and let the roof simply rest on the base.

Nature • 1,120 words • 5 minute read

April 16, 2021

How Do Astronauts Spend Their Weekends in Space?

For many on Earth, this is a typical day—a nine to five job, some downtime in the evening ready for the day ahead, and two days off at the weekend. It might come as a surprise to learn that astronauts in space keep a very similar schedule.

Smithsonian Magazine • 1,108 words • 5 minute read

April 3, 2021

Avoiding Bad Decisions

Sometimes success is just about avoiding failure. At FS, we help people make better decisions without needing to rely on getting lucky. One aspect of decision-making that’s rarely talked about is how to avoid making bad decisions.

Shane Parrish • 661 words • 3 minute read

March 27, 2021

Be More Realistic About the Time You Have

We are master storytellers. We tell ourselves fanciful stories to motivate ourselves to get vast amounts of work done in small amounts of time. We jot down task after task after task, sure that we can complete them all within a standard workday. And yet, at the end of the day, we’re stunned to find that work remains unfinished and we have to dash to the finish line.

Harvard Business Review • 1,286 words • 6 minute read