What is Bionic Reading?
Senses help us navigate a complicated world. They shape our worldview - how we hear, smell, feel, and taste. People claim a sixth sense, an intuitive capacity that extends perception.
Our brain is a half-pool of grey and white matter that stores data from our senses. Brains provide us context, so zombies' obsession makes sense.
Bionic reading uses the brain's visual information and context to simplify text comprehension.
Stay with me.
What is Bionic Reading?
Bionic reading is a software application established by Swiss typographic designer Renato Casutt. The term honors the brain (bio) and technology's collaboration to better text comprehension.
The image above shows two similar paragraphs with bionic reading.
Notice anything yet?
This Twitter user did.
I did too...
Image text describes bionic reading-
New method to aid reading by using artificial fixation points. The reader focuses on the highlighted starting letters, and the brain completes the word.
How is Bionic Reading possible?
Do you remember seeing social media posts asking you to stare at a black dot for 30 seconds (or more)? You blink and see an after-image on your wall.
Our brains are skilled at identifying patterns and'seeing' familiar objects, therefore optical illusions are conceivable.
Brain and sight collaborate well. Text comprehension proves it.
Considering evolutionary patterns, humans' understanding skills may be cosmic luck.
Scientists don't know why people can read and write, but they do know what reading does to the brain.
One portion of your brain recognizes words, while another analyzes their meaning. Fixation, saccade, and linguistic transparency/opacity aid.
Let's explain some terms.
Fixation is how the eyes move when reading. It's where you look. If the eyes fixate less, a reader can read quicker. [Eye fixation is a physiological process](Eye fixation is a naturally occurring physiological process) impacted by the reader's vocabulary, vision span, and text familiarity.
Saccade - Pause and look around. That's a saccade. Rapid eye movements that alter the place of fixation, as reading text or looking around a room. They can happen willingly (when you choose) or instinctively, even when your eyes are fixed.
Linguistic transparency and opacity analyze how well a composite word or phrase may be deduced from its constituents.
The Bionic reading website compares these tools.
Text highlights lead the eye. Fixation, saccade, and opacity can transfer visual stimuli to text, changing typeface.
## Final Thoughts on Bionic Reading
I'm excited about how this could influence my long-term assimilation and productivity.
This technology is still in development, with prototypes working on only a few apps. Like any new tech, it will be criticized.
I'll be watching Bionic Reading closely. Comment on it!
More on Productivity
10 months ago
How to Use Obsidian to Boost Research Productivity
Tools for managing your PhD projects, reading lists, notes, and inspiration.
As a researcher, you have to know everything. But knowledge is useless if it cannot be accessed quickly. An easy-to-use method of archiving information makes taking notes effortless and enjoyable.
As a PhD student in Artificial Intelligence, I use Obsidian (https://obsidian.md) to manage my knowledge.
The article has three parts:
- What is a note, how to organize notes, tags, folders, and links? This section is tool-agnostic, so you can use most of these ideas with any note-taking app.
- Instructions for using Obsidian, managing notes, reading lists, and useful plugins. This section demonstrates how I use Obsidian, my preferred knowledge management tool.
- Workflows: How to use Zotero to take notes from papers, manage multiple projects' notes, create MOCs with Dataview, and more. This section explains how to use Obsidian to solve common scientific problems and manage/maintain your knowledge effectively.
This list is not perfect or complete, but it is my current solution to problems I've encountered during my PhD. Please leave additional comments or contact me if you have any feedback. I'll try to update this article.
Throughout the article, I'll refer to your digital library as your "Obsidian Vault" or "Zettelkasten".
Other useful resources are listed at the end of the article.
1. Philosophy: Taking and organizing notes
Carl Sagan: “To make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”
Before diving into Obsidian, let's establish a Personal Knowledge Management System and a Zettelkasten. You can skip to Section 2 if you already know these terms.
Niklas Luhmann, a prolific sociologist who wrote 400 papers and 70 books, inspired this section and much of Zettelkasten. Zettelkasten means “slip box” (or library in this article). His Zettlekasten had around 90000 physical notes, which can be found here.
There are now many tools available to help with this process. Obsidian's website has a good introduction section: https://publish.obsidian.md/hub/
We'll start with "What is a note?" Although it may seem trivial, the answer depends on the topic or your note-taking style. The idea is that a note is as “atomic” (i.e. You should read the note and get the idea right away.
The resolution of your notes depends on their detail. Deep Learning, for example, could be a general description of Neural Networks, with a few notes on the various architectures (eg. Recurrent Neural Networks, Convolutional Neural Networks etc..).
Limiting length and detail is a good rule of thumb. If you need more detail in a specific section of this note, break it up into smaller notes. Deep Learning now has three notes:
- Deep Learning
- Recurrent Neural Networks
- Convolutional Neural Networks
Repeat this step as needed until you achieve the desired granularity. You might want to put these notes in a “Neural Networks” folder because they are all about the same thing. But there's a better way:
#Tags and [[Links]] over /Folders/
The main issue with folders is that they are not flexible and assume that all notes in the folder belong to a single category. This makes it difficult to make connections between topics.
Deep Learning has been used to predict protein structure (AlphaFold) and classify images (ImageNet). Imagine a folder structure like this:
- /Proteins/ - Protein Folding - /Deep Learning/ - /Proteins/
Your notes about Protein Folding and Convolutional Neural Networks will be separate, and you won't be able to find them in the same folder.
This can be solved in several ways. The most common one is to use tags rather than folders. A note can be grouped with multiple topics this way. Obsidian tags can also be nested (have subtags).
You can also link two notes together. You can build your “Knowledge Graph” in Obsidian and other note-taking apps like Obsidian.
My Knowledge Graph. Green: Biology, Red: Machine Learning, Yellow: Autoencoders, Blue: Graphs, Brown: Tags.
My Knowledge Graph and the note “Backrpropagation” and its links.
Backpropagation note and all its links
Why use Folders?
Folders help organize your vault as it grows. The main suggestion is to have few folders that "weakly" collect groups of notes or better yet, notes from different sources.
Among my Zettelkasten folders are:
My Zettelkasten's 5 folders
They usually gather data from various sources:
MOC: Map of Contents for the Zettelkasten.
Projects: Contains one note for each side-project of my PhD where I log my progress and ideas. Notes are linked to these.
Bio and ML: These two are the main content of my Zettelkasten and could theoretically be combined.
Papers: All my scientific paper notes go here. A bibliography links the notes. Zotero .bib file
Books: I make a note for each book I read, which I then split into multiple notes.
Keeping images separate from other files can help keep your main folders clean.
I will elaborate on these in the Workflow Section.
My general recommendation is to use tags and links instead of folders.
Maps of Content (MOC)
Making Tables of Contents is a good solution (MOCs).
These are notes that "signposts" your Zettelkasten library, directing you to the right type of notes. It can link to other notes based on common tags. This is usually done with a title, then your notes related to that title. As an example:
An example of a Machine Learning MOC generated with Dataview.
As shown above, my Machine Learning MOC begins with the basics. Then it's on to Variational Auto-Encoders. Not only does this save time, but it also saves scrolling through the tag search section.
So I keep MOCs at the top of my library so I can quickly find information and see my library. These MOCs are generated automatically using an Obsidian Plugin called Dataview (https://github.com/blacksmithgu/obsidian-dataview).
Ideally, MOCs could be expanded to include more information about the notes, their status, and what's left to do. In the absence of this, Dataview does a fantastic job at creating a good structure for your notes.
In the absence of this, Dataview does a fantastic job at creating a good structure for your notes.
2. Tools: Knowing Obsidian
Obsidian is my preferred tool because it is free, all notes are stored in Markdown format, and each panel can be dragged and dropped. You can get it here: https://obsidian.md/
Obsidian is highly customizable, so here is my preferred interface:
The theme is customized from https://github.com/colineckert/obsidian-things
Alternatively, each panel can be collapsed, moved, or removed as desired. To open a panel later, click on the vertical "..." (bottom left of the note panel).
My interface is organized as follows:
How my Obsidian Interface is organized.
This is where I keep all relevant folders. I usually use the MOC note to navigate, but sometimes I use the search button to find a note.
I use nested tags and look into each one to find specific notes to link.
Easy-to-use menu plugin cMenu (https://github.com/chetachiezikeuzor/cMenu-Plugin)
The global graph shows all your notes (linked and unlinked). Linked notes will appear closer together. Zoom in to read each note's title. It's a bit overwhelming at first, but as your library grows, you get used to the positions and start thinking of new connections between notes.
Your current note will be shown in relation to other linked notes in your library. When needed, you can quickly jump to another link and back to the current note.
Finally, an outline panel and the plugin Obsidian Power Search (https://github.com/aviral-batra/obsidian-power-search) allow me to search my vault by highlighting text.
Start using the tool and worry about panel positioning later. I encourage you to find the best use-case for your library.
An additional benefit of using Obsidian is the large plugin library. I use several (Calendar, Citations, Dataview, Templater, Admonition):
Obsidian Calendar Plugin: https://github.com/liamcain
It organizes your notes on a calendar. This is ideal for meeting notes or keeping a journal.
Calendar addon from hans/obsidian-citation-plugin
Obsidian Citation Plugin: https://github.com/hans/
Allows you to cite papers from a.bib file. You can also customize your notes (eg. Title, Authors, Abstract etc..)
Plugin citation from hans/obsidian-citation-plugin
Obsidian Dataview: https://github.com/blacksmithgu/
A powerful plugin that allows you to query your library as a database and generate content automatically. See the MOC section for an example.
Allows you to create notes with specific templates like dates, tags, and headings.
Templater. Obsidian Admonition: https://github.com/valentine195/obsidian-admonition
Blocks allow you to organize your notes.
Plugin warning. Obsidian Admonition (valentine195)
There are many more, but this list should get you started.
3. Workflows: Cool stuff
Here are a few of my workflows for using obsidian for scientific research. This is a list of resources I've found useful for my use-cases. I'll outline and describe them briefly so you can skim them quickly.
3.1 Using Templates to Structure Notes
3.2 Free Note Syncing (Laptop, Phone, Tablet)
3.3 Zotero/Mendeley/JabRef -> Obsidian — Managing Reading Lists
3.4 Projects and Lab Books
3.5 Private Encrypted Diary
3.1 Using Templates to Structure Notes
Plugins: Templater and Dataview (optional).
To take effective notes, you must first make adding new notes as easy as possible. Templates can save you time and give your notes a consistent structure. As an example:
An example of a note using a template.
### [[YOUR MOC]] # Note Title of your note **Tags**:: **Links**::
The top line links to your knowledge base's Map of Content (MOC) (see previous sections). After the title, I add tags (and a link between the note and the tag) and links to related notes.
To quickly identify all notes that need to be expanded, I add the tag “#todo”. In the “TODO:” section, I list the tasks within the note.
The rest are notes on the topic.
Templater can help you create these templates. For new books, I use the following template:
### [[Books MOC]] # Title **Author**:: **Date:: **Tags:: **Links::
A book template example.
Using a simple query, I can hook Dataview to it.
dataview table author as Author, date as “Date Finished”, tags as “Tags”, grade as “Grade” from “4. Books” SORT grade DESCENDING
using Dataview to query templates.
3.2 Free Note Syncing (Laptop, Phone, Tablet)
No plugins used.
One of my favorite features of Obsidian is the library's self-contained and portable format. Your folder contains everything (plugins included).
Ordinary folders and documents are available as well. There is also a “.obsidian” folder. This contains all your plugins and settings, so you can use it on other devices.
So you can use Google Drive, iCloud, or Dropbox for free as long as you sync your folder (note: your folder should be in your Cloud Folder).
For my iOS and macOS work, I prefer iCloud. You can also use the paid service Obsidian Sync.
3.3 Obsidian — Managing Reading Lists and Notes in Zotero/Mendeley/JabRef
Plugins: Quotes (required).
3.3 Zotero/Mendeley/JabRef -> Obsidian — Taking Notes and Managing Reading Lists of Scientific Papers
My preferred reference manager is Zotero, but this workflow should work with any reference manager that produces a .bib file. This file is exported to my cloud folder so I can access it from any platform.
My Zotero library is tagged as follows:
My reference manager's tags
For readings, I usually search for the tags “!!!” and “To-Read” and select a paper. Annotate the paper next (either on PDF using GoodNotes or on physical paper).
Then I make a paper page using a template in the Citations plugin settings:
An example of my citations template.
Create a new note, open the command list with CMD/CTRL + P, and find the Citations “Insert literature note content in the current pane” to see this lovely view.
Citation generated by the article https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.01.24.22269144
You can then convert your notes to digital. I found that transcribing helped me retain information better.
3.4 Projects and Lab Books
Plugins: Tweaker (required).
PhD students offering advice on thesis writing are common (read as regret). I started asking them what they would have done differently or earlier.
“Deep stuff Leo,” one person said. So my main issue is basic organization, losing track of my tasks and the reasons for them.
As a result, I'd go on other experiments that didn't make sense, and have to reverse engineer my logic for thesis writing. - PhD student now wise Postdoc
Time management requires planning. Keeping track of multiple projects and lab books is difficult during a PhD. How I deal with it:
- One folder for all my projects
- One file for each project
I use a template to create each project
### [[Projects MOC]] # <% tp.file.title %> **Tags**:: **Links**:: **URL**:: **Project Description**::## Notes: ### <% tp.file.last_modified_date(“dddd Do MMMM YYYY”) %> #### Done: #### TODO: #### Notes
You can insert a template into a new note with CMD + P and looking for the Templater option.
I then keep adding new days with another template:
### <% tp.file.last_modified_date("dddd Do MMMM YYYY") %> #### Done: #### TODO: #### Notes:
This way you can keep adding days to your project and update with reasonings and things you still have to do and have done. An example below:
Example of project note with timestamped notes.
3.5 Private Encrypted Diary
This is one of my favorite Obsidian uses.
Mini Diary's interface has long frustrated me. After the author archived the project, I looked for a replacement. I had two demands:
- It had to be private, and nobody had to be able to read the entries.
- Cloud syncing was required for editing on multiple devices.
Then I learned about encrypting the Obsidian folder. Then decrypt and open the folder with Obsidian. Sync the folder as usual.
Use CryptoMator (https://cryptomator.org/). Create an encrypted folder in Cryptomator for your Obsidian vault, set a password, and let it do the rest.
If you need a step-by-step video guide, here it is:
So, I hope this was helpful!
In the first section of the article, we discussed notes and note-taking techniques. We discussed when to use tags and links over folders and when to break up larger notes.
Then we learned about Obsidian, its interface, and some useful plugins like Citations for citing papers and Templater for creating note templates.
Finally, we discussed workflows and how to use Zotero to take notes from scientific papers, as well as managing Lab Books and Private Encrypted Diaries.
Thanks for reading and commenting :)
Read original post here
Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi
5 months ago
The Only Paid Resources I Turn to as a Solopreneur
4 Pricey Tools That Are Valuable
I pay based on ROI (return on investment).
If a $20/month tool or $500 online course doubles my return, I'm in.
Investing helps me build wealth.
I initially refused to pay.
My course content needed updating a few months ago. My Google Docs text looked cleaner and more professional in Canva.
I've used it to:
product cover pages
Product page infographics
See my Google Sheets vs. Canva product page graph.
Google Sheets vs Canva
Yesterday, I used it to make a LinkedIn video thumbnail. It took less than 5 minutes and improved my video.
In 30 hours, the video had 39,000 views.
It builds my brand as I sleep. What else?
Because I'm traveling this weekend, I planned tweets for 10 days. It took me 80 minutes.
So while I travel or am absent, my content mill keeps producing.
Also I like:
I can reach hundreds of people thanks to auto-DMs. I utilize it to advertise freebies; for instance, leave an emoji remark to receive my checklist. And they automatically receive a message in their DM.
Scheduled Retweets: By appearing in a different time zone, they give my tweet a second chance.
It helps me save time and expand my following, so that's my favorite part.
It’s also super neat:
My course involves weekly and monthly calls for alumni.
Google Meet isn't great for group calls. The interface isn't great.
Zoom Pro is expensive, and the monthly payments suck, but it's necessary.
It gives my students a smooth experience.
Previously, we'd do 40-minute meetings and then reconvene.
Zoom's free edition limits group calls to 40 minutes.
This wouldn't be a good online course if I paid hundreds of dollars.
So I felt obligated to help.
My laptop has an ad blocker.
I bought an iPad recently.
When you're self-employed and work from home, the line between the two blurs. My bed is only 5 steps away!
When I read or watched videos on my laptop, I'd slide into work mode. Only option was to view on phone, which is awkward.
YouTube premium handles it. No more advertisements and I can listen on the move.
3 Expensive Tools That Aren't Valuable
Marketing strategies are sometimes aimed to make you feel you need 38474 cool features when you don’t.
Certain tools are useless.
I found it useless.
Depending on your needs. As a writer and creator, I get no return.
They could for other jobs.
It tracks LinkedIn stats, like:
trend chart for impressions
Engagement, views, and comment stats for posts
and much more.
Middle-tier creator costs $12/month.
I got a 25% off coupon but canceled my free trial before writing this. It's not worth the discount.
LinkedIn provides free analytics. See:
Not thorough and won't show top posts.
I don't need to see my top posts because I love experimenting with writing.
Slack was my classroom. Slack provided me a premium trial during the prior cohort.
I skipped it.
Sure, voice notes are better than a big paragraph. I didn't require pro features.
Marketing methods sometimes make you think you need 38474 amazing features. Don’t fall for it.
This may be worth it if you get many calls.
I avoid calls. During my 9-5, I had too many pointless calls.
I don't need:
ability to schedule calls for 15, 30, or 60 minutes: I just distribute each link separately.
I have a Gumroad consultation page with a payment option.
follow-up emails: I hardly ever make calls, so
I just use one calendar, therefore I link to various calendars.
I'll admit, the integrations are cool. Not for me.
If you're a coach or consultant, the features may be helpful. Or book meetings.
Investing is spending to make money.
Use my technique — put money in tools that help you make money. This separates it from being an investment instead of an expense.
Try free versions of these tools before buying them since everyone else is.
6 months ago
Jack Dorsey's Meeting Best Practice was something I tried. It Performs Exceptionally Well in Consulting Engagements.
Yes, client meetings are difficult. Especially when I'm alone.
Clients must tell us their problems so we can help.
In-meeting challenges contribute nothing to our work. Consider this:
Clients are unprepared.
Clients are distracted.
Clients are confused.
Introducing Jack Dorsey's Google Doc approach
I endorse his approach to meetings.
Not Google Doc-related. Jack uses it for meetings.
This is what his meetings look like.
Prior to the meeting, the Chair creates the agenda, structure, and information using Google Doc.
Participants in the meeting would have 5-10 minutes to read the Google Doc.
They have 5-10 minutes to type their comments on the document.
In-depth discussion begins
There is elegance in simplicity. Here's how Jack's approach is fantastic.
Unprepared clients are given time to read.
During the meeting, they think and work on it.
They can see real-time remarks from others.
Three months ago, I fell for this strategy. After trying it with a client, I got good results.
I conducted social control experiments in a few client workshops.
I am sure Jack Dorsey’s method works well in meetings. What about client workshops?
So, I tested Enterprise of the Future with a consulting client.
I sent multiple emails to client stakeholders describing the new approach.
No PowerPoints that day. I spent the night setting up the Google Doc with conversation topics, critical thinking questions, and a Before and After section.
The client was shocked. First, a Google Doc was projected. Second surprise was a verbal feedback.
“No pre-meeting materials?”
“Don’t worry. I know you are not reading it before our meeting, anyway.”
We laughed. The experiment started.
Observations throughout a 90-minute engagement workshop from beginning to end
For 10 minutes, the workshop was silent.
People read the Google Doc. For some, the silence was unnerving.
“Are you not going to present anything to us?”
I said everything's in Google Doc. I asked them to read, remark, and add relevant paragraphs.
As they unlocked their laptops, they were annoyed.
Ten client stakeholders are typing on the Google Doc. My laptop displays comment bubbles, red lines, new paragraphs, and strikethroughs.
The first 10 minutes were productive. Everyone has seen and contributed to the document.
I was silent.
The move to a classical workshop was smooth. I didn't stimulate dialogue. They did.
Stephanie asked Joe why a blended workforce hinders company productivity. She questioned his comments and additional paragraphs.
That is when a light bulb hit my head. Yes, you want to speak to the right person to resolve issues!
Not only that was discussed. Others discussed their remark bubbles with neighbors. Debate circles sprung up one after the other.
The best part? I asked everyone to add their post-discussion thoughts on a Google Doc.
After the workshop, I have:
An agreement-based working document
A post-discussion minutes that are prepared for publication
A record of the discussion points that were brought up, argued, and evaluated critically
It showed me how stakeholders viewed their Enterprise of the Future. It allowed me to align with them.
Client meetings are a hit-or-miss. I know that.
Jack Dorsey's meeting strategy works for consulting. It promotes session alignment.
It relieves clients of preparation.
I get the necessary information to advance this consulting engagement.
It is brilliant.
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1 month ago
Understanding several Value Proposition kinds will help you create better goods.
Fixing problems isn't enough.
Numerous articles and how-to guides on value propositions focus on fixing consumer concerns.
Contrary to popular opinion, addressing customer pain rarely suffices. Win your market category too.
Core Value Statement
Value proposition usually means a product's main value.
Its how your product solves client problems. The product's core.
Answering these questions creates a relevant core value proposition:
What tasks is your customer trying to complete? (Jobs for clients)
How much discomfort do they feel while they perform this? (pains)
What would they like to see improved or changed? (gains)
After that, you create products and services that alleviate those pains and give value to clients.
Value Proposition by Category
Your product belongs to a market category and must follow its regulations, regardless of its value proposition.
Creating a new market category is challenging. Fitting into customers' product perceptions is usually better than trying to change them.
New product users simplify market categories. Products are labeled.
Your product will likely be associated with a collection of products people already use.
Example: IT experts will use your communication and management app.
If your target clients think it's an advanced mail software, they'll compare it to others and expect things like:
adequate storage space
list of contacts
If your target users view your product as a task management app, things change. You can survive without a contact list, but not status management.
Find out what your customers compare your product to and if it fits your value offer. If so, adapt your product plan to dominate this market. If not, try different value propositions and messaging to put the product in the right context.
Finished Value Proposition
A comprehensive value proposition is when your solution addresses user problems and wins its market category.
Addressing simply the primary value proposition may produce a valuable and original product, but it may struggle to cross the chasm into the mainstream market. Meeting expectations is easier than changing views.
Without a unique value proposition, you will drown in the red sea of competition.
Find out who your target consumer is and what their demands and problems are.
To meet these needs, develop and test a primary value proposition.
Speak with your most devoted customers. Recognize the alternatives they use to compare you against and the market segment they place you in.
Recognize the requirements and expectations of the market category.
To meet or surpass category standards, modify your goods.
Great products solve client problems and win their category.
3 months ago
Why Cryptocurrency Is Not Dead Despite the FTX Scam
A fraud, free-market, antifragility tale
Crypto's only rival is public opinion.
In less than a week, mainstream media, bloggers, and TikTokers turned on FTX's founder.
While some were surprised, almost everyone with a keyboard and a Twitter account predicted the FTX collapse. These financial oracles should have warned the 1.2 million people Sam Bankman-Fried duped.
After happening, unexpected events seem obvious to our brains. It's a bug and a feature because it helps us cope with disasters and makes our reasoning suck.
Nobody predicted the FTX debacle. Bloomberg? Politicians. Non-famous. No cryptologists. Who?
When FTX imploded, taking billions of dollars with it, an outrage bomb went off, and the resulting shockwave threatens the crypto market's existence.
As someone who lost more than $78,000 in a crypto scam in 2020, I can only understand people’s reactions. When the dust settles and rationality returns, we'll realize this is a natural occurrence in every free market.
What specifically occurred with FTX? (Skip if you are aware.)
FTX is a cryptocurrency exchange where customers can trade with cash. It reached #3 in less than two years as the fastest-growing platform of its kind.
FTX's performance helped make SBF the crypto poster boy. Other reasons include his altruistic public image, his support for the Democrats, and his company Alameda Research.
Alameda Research made a fortune arbitraging Bitcoin.
Arbitrage trading uses small price differences between two markets to make money. Bitcoin costs $20k in Japan and $21k in the US. Alameda Research did that for months, making $1 million per day.
Later, as its capital grew, Alameda expanded its trading activities and began investing in other companies.
Let's now discuss FTX.
SBF's diabolic master plan began when he used FTX-created FTT coins to inflate his trading company's balance sheets. He used inflated Alameda numbers to secure bank loans.
SBF used money he printed himself as collateral to borrow billions for capital. Coindesk exposed him in a report.
One of FTX's early investors tweeted that he planned to sell his FTT coins over the next few months. This would be a minor event if the investor wasn't Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ).
The crypto space saw a red WARNING sign when CZ cut ties with FTX. Everyone with an FTX account and a brain withdrew money. Two events followed. FTT fell from $20 to $4 in less than 72 hours, and FTX couldn't meet withdrawal requests, spreading panic.
SBF reassured FTX users on Twitter. Good assets.
SBF falsely claimed FTX had a liquidity crunch. At the time of his initial claims, FTX owed about $8 billion to its customers. Liquidity shortages are usually minor. To get cash, sell assets. In the case of FTX, the main asset was printed FTT coins.
Sam wouldn't get out of trouble even if he slashed the discount (from $20 to $4) and sold every FTT. He'd flood the crypto market with his homemade coins, causing the price to crash.
SBF was trapped. He approached Binance about a buyout, which seemed good until Binance looked at FTX's books.
Binance's tweet ended SBF, and he had to apologize, resign as CEO, and file for bankruptcy.
Bloomberg estimated Sam's net worth to be zero by the end of that week. 0!
But that's not all. Twitter investigations exposed fraud at FTX and Alameda Research. SBF used customer funds to trade and invest in other companies.
Thanks to the Twitter indie reporters who made the mainstream press look amateurish. Some Twitter detectives didn't sleep for 30 hours to find answers. Others added to existing threads. Memes were hilarious.
One question kept repeating in my bald head as I watched the Blue Bird. Sam, WTF?
Then I understood.
SBF wanted that FTX becomes a bank.
Think about this. FTX seems healthy a few weeks ago. You buy 2 bitcoins using FTX. You'd expect the platform to take your dollars and debit your wallet, right?
No. They give I-Owe-Yous.
FTX records owing you 2 bitcoins in its internal ledger but doesn't credit your account. Given SBF's tricks, I'd bet on nothing.
What happens if they don't credit my account with 2 bitcoins? Your money goes into FTX's capital, where SBF and his friends invest in marketing, political endorsements, and buying other companies.
Over its two-year existence, FTX invested in 130 companies. Once they make a profit on their purchases, they'll pay you and keep the rest.
One detail makes their strategy dumb. If all FTX customers withdraw at once, everything collapses.
Financially savvy people think FTX's collapse resembles a bank run, and they're right. SBF designed FTX to operate like a bank.
You expect your bank to open a drawer with your name and put $1,000 in it when you deposit $1,000. They deposit $100 in your drawer and create an I-Owe-You for $900. What happens to $900?
Let's sum it up: It's boring and headache-inducing.
When you deposit money in a bank, they can keep 10% and lend the rest. Fractional Reserve Banking is a popular method. Fractional reserves operate within and across banks.
Fractional reserve banking generates $10,000 for every $1,000 deposited. People will pay off their debt plus interest.
As long as banks work together and the economy grows, their model works well.
SBF tried to replicate the system but forgot two details. First, traditional banks need verifiable collateral like real estate, jewelry, art, stocks, and bonds, not digital coupons. Traditional banks developed a liquidity buffer. The Federal Reserve (or Central Bank) injects massive cash into troubled banks.
Massive cash injections come from taxpayers. You and I pay for bankers' mistakes and annual bonuses. Yes, you may think banking is rigged. It's rigged, but it's the best financial game in 150 years. We accept its flaws, including bailouts for too-big-to-fail companies.
SBF wanted Binance's bailout. Binance said no, which was good for the crypto market.
Free markets are resilient.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the term antifragility.
“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”
The easiest way to understand how antifragile systems behave is to compare them with other types of systems.
Glass is like a fragile system. It snaps when shocked.
Similar to rubber, a resilient system. After a stressful episode, it bounces back.
A system that is antifragile is similar to a muscle. As it is torn in the gym, it gets stronger.
Time-changed things are antifragile. Culture, tech innovation, restaurants, revolutions, book sales, cuisine, economic success, and even muscle shape. These systems benefit from shocks and randomness in different ways, but they all pay a price for antifragility.
Same goes for the free market and financial institutions. Taleb's book uses restaurants as an example and ends with a reference to the 2008 crash.
“Restaurants are fragile. They compete with each other. But the collective of local restaurants is antifragile for that very reason. Had restaurants been individually robust, hence immortal, the overall business would be either stagnant or weak and would deliver nothing better than cafeteria food — and I mean Soviet-style cafeteria food. Further, it [the overall business] would be marred with systemic shortages, with once in a while a complete crisis and government bailout.”
Imagine the same thing with banks.
Independent banks would compete to offer the best services. If one of these banks fails, it will disappear. Customers and investors will suffer, but the market will recover from the dead banks' mistakes.
This idea underpins a free market. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies say this when criticizing traditional banking.
The traditional banking system's components never die. When a bank fails, the Federal Reserve steps in with a big taxpayer-funded check. This hinders bank evolution. If you don't let banking cells die and be replaced, your financial system won't be antifragile.
The interdependence of banks (centralization) means that one bank's mistake can sink the entire fleet, which brings us to SBF's ultimate travesty with FTX.
FTX has left the cryptocurrency gene pool.
FTX should be decentralized and independent. The super-star scammer invested in more than 130 crypto companies and linked them, creating a fragile banking-like structure. FTX seemed to say, "We exist because centralized banks are bad." But we'll be good, unlike the centralized banking system.
FTX saved several companies, including BlockFi and Voyager Digital.
FTX wanted to be a crypto bank conglomerate and Federal Reserve. SBF wanted to monopolize crypto markets. FTX wanted to be in bed with as many powerful people as possible, so SBF seduced politicians and celebrities.
Worst? People who saw SBF's plan flaws praised him. Experts, newspapers, and crypto fans praised FTX. When billions pour in, it's hard to realize FTX was acting against its nature.
Then, they act shocked when they realize FTX's fall triggered a domino effect. Some say the damage could wipe out the crypto market, but that's wrong.
Cell death is different from body death.
FTX is out of the game despite its size. Unfit, it fell victim to market natural selection.
The challengers keep coming. The crypto economy will improve with each failure.
Free markets are antifragile because their fragile parts compete, fostering evolution. With constructive feedback, evolution benefits customers and investors.
FTX shows that customers don't like being scammed, so the crypto market's health depends on them. Charlatans and con artists are eliminated quickly or slowly.
Crypto isn't immune to collapse. Cryptocurrencies can go extinct like biological species. Antifragility isn't immortality. A few more decades of evolution may be enough for humans to figure out how to best handle money, whether it's bitcoin, traditional banking, gold, or something else.
Keep your BS detector on. Start by being skeptical of this article's finance-related claims. Even if you think you understand finance, join the conversation.
We build a better future through dialogue. So listen, ask, and share. When you think you can't find common ground with the opposing view, remember:
Sam Bankman-Fried lied.
9 months ago
Why I quit a $500K job at Amazon to work for myself
I quit my 8-year Amazon job last week. I wasn't motivated to do another year despite promotions, pay, recognition, and praise.
In AWS, I built developer tools. I could have worked in that field forever.
I became an Amazon developer. Within 3.5 years, I was promoted twice to senior engineer and would have been promoted to principal engineer if I stayed. The company said I had great potential.
Over time, I became a reputed expert and leader within the company. I was respected.
First year I made $75K, last year $511K. If I stayed another two years, I could have made $1M.
Despite Amazon's reputation, my work–life balance was good. I no longer needed to prove myself and could do everything in 40 hours a week. My team worked from home once a week, and I rarely opened my laptop nights or weekends.
My coworkers were great. I had three generous, empathetic managers. I’m very grateful to everyone I worked with.
Everything was going well and getting better. My motivation to go to work each morning was declining despite my career and income growth.
Another promotion, pay raise, or big project wouldn't have boosted my motivation. Motivation was also waning. It was my freedom.
My motivation was high in the beginning. I worked with someone on an internal tool with little scrutiny. I had more freedom to choose how and what to work on than in recent years. Me and another person improved it, talked to users, released updates, and tested it. Whatever we wanted, we did. We did our best and were mostly self-directed.
In recent years, things have changed. My department's most important project had many stakeholders and complex goals. What I could do depended on my ability to convince others it was the best way to achieve our goals.
Amazon was always someone else's terms. The terms started out simple (keep fixing it), but became more complex over time (maximize all goals; satisfy all stakeholders). Working in a large organization imposed restrictions on how to do the work, what to do, what goals to set, and what business to pursue. This situation forced me to do things I didn't want to do.
Finding New Motivation
What would I do forever? Not something I did until I reached a milestone (an exit), but something I'd do until I'm 80. What could I do for the next 45 years that would make me excited to wake up and pay my bills? Is that too unambitious? Nope. Because I'm motivated by two things.
One is an external carrot or stick. I'm not forced to file my taxes every April, but I do because I don't want to go to jail. Or I may not like something but do it anyway because I need to pay the bills or want a nice car. Extrinsic motivation
One is internal. When there's no carrot or stick, this motivates me. This fuels hobbies. I wanted a job that was intrinsically motivated.
Is this too low-key? Extrinsic motivation isn't sustainable. Getting promoted felt good for a week, then it was over. When I hit $100K, I admired my W2 for a few days, but then it wore off. Same thing happened at $200K, $300K, $400K, and $500K. Earning $1M or $10M wouldn't change anything. I feel the same about every material reward or possession. Getting them feels good at first, but quickly fades.
Things I've done since I was a kid, when no one forced me to, don't wear off. Coding, selling my creations, charting my own path, and being honest. Why not always use my strengths and motivation? I'm lucky to live in a time when I can work independently in my field without large investments. So that’s what I’m doing.
I'm going all-in on independence and will make a living from scratch. I won't do only what I like, but on my terms. My goal is to cover my family's expenses before my savings run out while doing something I enjoy. What more could I want from my work?
You can now follow me on Twitter as I continue to document my journey.
This post is a summary. Read full article here