We can begin today

A transcript from recent Kurzgesagt's video:

Climate change is a global problem and no country alone can fix it. 

Working out who’s responsible is not as simple as it seems and in a way it’s a daft question. But one that has plagued international politics for decades. In the end, it’s pretty simple. Everybody need to do the best they can and right now, we’re all not doing that. 

But we can begin today.


Dot on a circle

Traffic lights are one of the most universal signs on earth. And yet accidents still happen daily from people crossing them illegally (both pedestrian and motorists). This shows how even the most inclusive solution to meaningful problem have room for errors that are derived from people's behaviors alone. It's a human problem as much as a technical problem.

But this does not mean that the traffic light system has to be reinvented as a whole (the circle). An effective solution (the dot) can only be produced by taking in the local context of where those accidents are actually happening. Solving the dots is the equivalent of finding a needle in the haystack every time for each permutation of the incident, which is a difficult but valuable job. It's the equivalent of the think globally, act locally mindset in activism.

People who were fed up with finding this needle will then attempt to:

  1. Swap the whole circle with a reinvention that risks itself against untested variation of the method (acting too globally)
  2. Take a stab at each possible dot they can find and risk some unintended consequences (thinking too locally)

Road to progress is equally paved with both arrogance and ignorance.


Limited horizon

Nearly a decade ago I was trying to learn how to skate on ice. A rather insane friend told me to "don't think and just do it". It was horrible. But it's proven to be a memory I kept going back to till today every time I was overwhelmed. 

I always feared what's on the far end due to my anxiety, which gives room to paranoia and paralysis. I think about the accident instead of focusing how I can steady myself on ice. Similarly, I think about the looming disaster first instead of focusing how I can solve a problem.

This practice of narrowing your scope to only things at hand was always difficult to me, but recently I was able to picture them in form of a conveyor belt with only one thing at a time. It becomes a bit more bearable to think and approach life this way.


Meaningful acquisitions

I like the dopamine rush from getting featured rare units at gacha games, but digital collectibles aren't meaningful on their own. The experience itself felt novel but they hold almost no substances. They don't make you feel something like Nier Automata that lasts for a good while and is thought provoking.

So each time I picked a new gacha game, I will figure out the mechanic within weeks, play them for months and proceed to forget about them in a year. These games are fleeting. The players are fleeting. And that fleetingness is perhaps also what drew people to try them in the first place. It's low on commitment before players are hooked to come back for more. Progression then follow a repetitive and necessary daily grind which really is just some chore on top of work.

The only meaningful thing that I got from it is perhaps the abject understanding of game theory models that enslaved me for years.


5 years

What has changed since 2015?

  • My outlook: no longer chasing prestige of US FAANG
  • My relationship: focusing more on people I find important

    What do you want to change by 2025?

    • My handiwork: convey things in a way I intended them to
    • My involvement: dedicate self in attempts to help people

    Novelty and the mundane

    In the past, my sense of curiosity has led me to chase unending novelty around the world. But looking at it another way, perhaps activities that will stick the most in the long term are those we should keep. Something you don't mind doing a thousand times with little variations. 

    Like running is inherently a super repetitive exercise by form alone, but who you run with, where you run, and the reason you're running make all the differences. This way you can keep placing your foot forward.


    Maximizing momentum

    Newton's law of conservation of momentum (P = m * v) could interestingly be applied to how companies are operating:

    1. Heavy and fast: 1,000 people, CAGR of 100% (a warship)
    2. Heavy and slow: 1,000 people, CAGR of 10% (an ocean liner)
    3. Light and fast: 10 people, CAGR of 100% (a submarine)
    4. Light and slow: 10 people, CAGR of 10% (a yacht)

    There is an undeniable strength in number (of people), but it also breed processes and standardization that causes reduced velocity over time. The baseline impact of companies the equivalent to an ocean liner will still be huge, but it'll mostly come from their mass alone at that point. 

    Some unicorns at Indonesia are pretty much just cruise ships at this point.


    Rocket retrieval

    1. Get the rocket safely back to earth
    2. Transport rockets via a ship
    3. Disassemble and move them on port
    4. Pack, cover and send them back to hangar
    5. Inspect, clean and replace the parts
    6. Reassemble and move them out to different warehouse
    7. Maintain the rocket till its next launch date
    8. Send rocket back to flight hangar

    These processes (and possibly industry) literally did not exist years ago. It's a completely different challenge.


    Uncertain line

    I approached my life in a very deterministic view and yet lived them the non-deterministic way.

    I like it when a plan goes exceedingly well, but I also love novel surprises. This is why watching illustrators or painters draw is always an enjoyable activity to me. They seem to always maintain a vision of the end result in their head and yet are flexible enough to navigate the challenges along the way. Variations are happy accidents. They emerge and are embraced.

    In contrast to those artists I'm a coward who stick to the guideline yet improvise a bit too much for my own good.


    What did you not do?

    The year is 2040.

    Your kids ask you about the origin of a disaster 20 years ago.

    "What happened back then? Where were you?"

    "What did you do? Were you all right?"

    "Did you get to help anybody?"

    It's a scary prospect.