More Topics

I have several post ideas floating around but it’s always easy to get stuck in drafts. Here are topics that I’ve been interested in recently and might write about.

  • The meaninglessness of most things on the Internet, particularly due to the lack of context. A lot of “arguments” I see these days are made in short Facebook posts, tweets, or viral stock images with a sentence of text on them. This is actually fine in certain cases, precisely because there is context spanning much more than a sentence. If Nate Silver tweets one line about a something about an election, I can say “Hmm that’s interesting.” However, if the same tweet were made by a random person, I would immediately start thinking instead, “What are the credentials of this person? On what evidence is this claim based? Does this person have a political agenda? Do I expect certain biases to exist?” This isn’t to say that Nate Silver is a perfect being, but when I see a tweet from him, I really have much more to consider than just one sentence.
  • The one-upmanship or “Keeping up with the Joneses” effect in competitive or “socially competitive” gaming. This harks back to the early days of Diablo 3, and also applies to Hearthstone and many other games. There is a mathematically vast number of possible “builds” or “decks” that people can play. Of course, we don’t expect all of them to be very good, and there are probably some redundancies in how you count things, but there should probably be hundreds or at least dozens of “viable” styles of play. But with Hearthstone being a zero-sum game, any more viable deck will beat a less viable deck, and most people are competing to win, so everyone ends up using the same 1 to 3 decks. My quote from the last post was: “how optional, bonus things become requirements…. Things that were ‘amazing’ become ‘okay,’ things that were ‘okay’ are now ‘terrible.'” Also, how does this apply to real life?
  • Video game economics and socioeconomics. Namely, how emergent properties of trading and economics form in massively multiplayer games like WOW and Diablo 3 (w/auction house).
  • Social norms and social capital, versus financial capital. This is maybe a more personal topic. When I was in college and younger, despite how I hated certain social norms, I went along with many of them anyway. But now that I have a job and can easily support myself, I no longer feel the need to abide by certain social norms that I don’t particularly care for. Given this, I wonder how much of abiding with social norms before was just to build up social capital to improve expected earnings, whereas now I no longer care as much. One example is that even 5 years ago, I used to not blog about video games, and posting something like this would have been unthinkable.
  • Various economics, Effect Altruism, and rationality topics. In particular, a few below.
  • Cost disease. Regarding the famous Scott Alexander article on the topic earlier this year. This is really fascinating and the results of this really should matter for your political beliefs.
  • The meta confirmation bias – “Everyone who disagrees with me is under confirmation bias.” It seems like these days a lot more people know of the existence of the confirmation bias, but don’t understand it well enough to know that it applies to you even if you are aware of it. I think this occurring more and more. People are generally aware of echo chambers now, but the erroneous conclusion people have reached is now “oh, everyone on the side other than mine is in an echo chamber whereas my side is free speech.”
  • How my interests work, and how I categorically dismiss certain things. It’s my understanding from real-life conversations that I have a weird utility curve/set of preferences, and this could be a really boring or interesting topic. For instance, I despise eating food because I think it is a waste of time, and if there was a way to be just as healthy but not have to spend time eating anything, I would do it. For this reason I also don’t really understand eating meals over $25 (the threshold would be lower elsewhere but I live in Manhattan…). I  don’t like travel because I think the Internet is just better, and I also don’t play board games (besides some chess because I used to play it a lot) because I think video games are just better.
  • Sharing knowledge online. As a meta point, why do people say anything at all on message boards/yahoo answers/stack exchange/reddit/quora/etc.? I used to post a lot on online forums (though most of my posts are gone through let’s say a long story). And why do I blog?

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