Art of Thumbnails, Food Timeline, Medieval Jobs and 4-Minute Millionaire
#26 of 10+1 Things
⚡ Welcome to #26 of 10+1 Things!
It's been a long time since I've written you a letter. Initially, I planned for a two-week break from writing as I was on vacation celebrating my birthday with my partner. Fast-forward two weeks and, as I was drafting this, I came to know that my close friend passed away due to an unfortunate road accident. This came as a shock to me and I thought of taking a break to reflect on life and how fragile we are.
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Without further ado, here are 11 things that I thought were worth sharing this week:
🎫 Bus Ticket Theory
It is often said that to do great work you need natural ability and determination. But there is one missing third ingredient from the mix: an obsessive interest in a particular topic. Paul Graham in an interesting article has used the example of bus ticket collectors to explain his theory. These are people who collect old bus tickets. But what's the point of spending so much time on old bus tickets? There is no point, as they're not doing it to impress us or to make themselves rich, but for their own sake. When you look at the lives of the greats like Darwin or Ramanujan, you see a consistent pattern. They all had the bus ticket collector's obsessive interest in something that would have seemed pointless to most of their contemporaries.
📱 How to Break Phone Addiction
In the past, I've talked a lot about the declining attention of people and the importance of attention diet in the present era. As a part of their How to Build a Life series, the Atlantic has written a great DIY guide on how to break your phone addiction. The first step towards breaking phone addiction is to stop mindless scrolling and allot time for mindful scrolling on your smartphone. Turning off notifications and physically restricting smartphones from some areas of the house like the bedroom or dinner table can also help in combating smartphone addiction.
“While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes.”
~ The Miracle of Mindfulness
🏠 Everyday Habits
Our climate is changing at a catastrophic rate. We need to cut down our carbon footprint in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to save our planet from the drastic effects of climate change. Even though individual habits looks quite small in the overall picture, routine actions by individuals over time can make a big difference. From taking short hot showers to prepping your meals, small micro-adjustments in your every habit can result in a more eco-conscious life.
👨🌾 Medieval Jobs
Ever wondered what would be the common jobs in a late medieval city? Medievalists in an interesting piece have come up with the most common jobs during the 15th century in Montpellier, a city located in the South of France. From ancient tax recordings, it is evident that Montpellier had close to 6500 urban workers. The five most common jobs were farming, carpentry, butchery, shoemaking and Church-related work. But bear in mind that due to the fragmentation of production chains, these numbers do not indicate the importance of the industry. For example, the textile industry was one of the most common sources of income in Montpellier, but it was split into weavers, shearers, dyers, drapers, even tailors, cotton makers, embroiderers and needle makers.
🍲 Food Timeline
Ever wonder how the ancient Romans fed their armies? Food Timeline is the internet's most comprehensive archive of food history in a timeline format, a passion project created and maintained by a librarian(Lynne Olver, 1958-2015) with a passion for food history. We started cooking oysters, scallops, mushrooms, insects, frogs, horse meat in chronological order and then started eating wheat around 8000 BC. The timeline starts with water in pre-17,000 B.C. and ends with “test-tube burgers” in 2013. All data is sourced from “old cookbooks, newspapers, magazines, National Historic Parks, government agencies, universities, cultural organizations, culinary historians, and company/restaurant websites.” I was astonished by the amount of information present in a personal project!
🗑 Lost in the Dump
In 2013, James Howell a British IT worker accidentally threw away a hard drive with a wallet containing 7500 bitcoins which was worthless and less known at that time. As I'm writing this, Bitcoin is trading around $47,000 and that makes the worth of bitcoins he owns around $345 million! The hard disk is buried in a dump and is even offering the City council 25% of his bitcoins to grant permission to search the landfill.
🧵 Art of Thumbnails
In an interesting thread, Trung Phan has explained the psychology behind the artwork of thumbnails on Netflix. According to Netflix consumer research, thumbnails are the biggest influencer for watching content and users look at one only for 1.8s. Each frame in a movie or a show is analyzed by Netflix and is tagged with variables like skin tones, nudity, etc. An algorithm ranks these frames by considering various winning traits like expressive faces, main characters etc and chooses one that is suitable for your geographical location!
Do you know that Netflix discovered that thumbnails with more than 3 people vastly underperform? That's why there is only one character in the season 2 thumbnail of 'Orange Is the New Black' show!
🎬 The Tragedy of Good Luck
I've enjoyed a short fictional story titled The Nova Effect: Tragedy of Good Luck this week. The video is about the unexpected events that follow in Eric's life when his dog Nova, chases a rabbit in the park. The story is fictional but conveys the Nova effect that is similar to the Butterfly Effect in psychology. The Nova Effect illustrates that every perception of bad luck can be a good one and vice versa. As emotional animals, we often regret or feel bad about not pursuing a particular choice or decision thinking that the outcome would have been as we thought. But we are blinded by our blind spot and fail to see the other side of the story. Whether you agree or disagree, this short animation is a delight to watch!
It is impossible to determine if the outcome of an event is good or bad until the future is fully realized.
~ Alan Watts
📷 Selfie Culture
This week I'm exploring art called 'Chosen Ones' by Jelena Jankovic, which surrounds our obsession with screens and our simultaneous presence in both the real and the virtual world. While we are waiting to capture the perfect moment to share with others on social media, we miss the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful world around us. All images in the series were shot before the pandemic started and showcase a world where being a part of a large group of people is a carefree, normal thing.
📚 4-Minute Millionaire
I'm currently reading a book titled 'The 4 Minute Millionaire: 44 Lessons to Rethink Money, Invest Wisely, and Grow Wealthy in 4 Minutes a Day' by Niklas Goke. I've been following Niklas for a while through his blog 4-minute books, where he shares summaries of great books into 3 steps that can be read in 4 minutes. 4-minute millionaire is a collection of 44 lessons he has summarised from various investors, financial books and his financial independence journey. There is nothing groundbreaking in the book, but I loved the idea of an actionable item at the end of each chapter and it added more value to me than many famous books.
❓A Question and a Photo📸
This is a section where I ask you a thought-provoking question and an interesting photo I clicked.
This week's question is:
❓: What was a simple yet beautiful moment in your life?
Comment your answer by replying to this email. Like being anonymous? Use this form to submit your response anonymously.
Curious enough to know my answer? Read it here.
📷 This was shot at Jabel Jais, UAE's highest peak during sunset. I loved how different elements at that moment are captured in the picture: the sun, the mountain and us!
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That’s 10+1 Things for the week.
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See you next week!
“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.”
~ Leonardo Da Vinci