The Slow Hunch Redux

Why we write

I've written a lot over the years about this idea of "the slow hunch" -- my favorite idea from Steven Johnson's Where Good Ideas Come From. The idea is basically that big ideas don't come in a single "aha" moment, but rather, accrete over time. And many of the great thinkers / doers of the world have kept various forms of notebooks that they continuously re-read to piece together insights that gradually emerge.

The practice of doing this in a digital age has actually gotten harder, not easier, as one's digital thought process tends to be fragmented across many sources (email, google docs, social media, text files, blogs, etc). Speaking personally, it's a hot mess -- I have not been at all consistent about keeping these things in any kind of manageable place, such that the goal -- the ability to go back and reference prior ideas easily -- has been manageable. Things get lost, platforms change, links break, etc.

There are two innovations today that I think have the ability to help with that:

1/ the permaweb. This post will be forever stored on arweave, which means that no matter what happens (for instance losing control of my domain name, ugh) this content will be archived and accessible.

2/ AI language tools including LLMs -- the ability that these give us to synthesize text from disparate sources is incredible. I can imagine a point in the near future where I have an AI bot of some kind that has read all of my email, notes from various platforms, archives, etc etc etc and drawn it into one queryable place that can really help de-frag and synthesize my own thinking.

I am excited about a world where new digital technologies make it easier to turn fragments of thought into more coherent and durable ideas. Sadly, the last 15 years or so has perhaps made this worse. But I'm hopeful that the tools in front of us now have some potential to make it better.

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