SEPTEMBER 23, 2020

Linters analyze code to catch errors and suggest best practices (using the abstract syntax tree, or AST). (Function complexity, syntax improvements, etc.)

Formatters fix style. (Spacing, line jumps, comments, etc.)

SEPTEMBER 22, 2020

The Myth of Sisyphus

In 1942, Albert Camus published a philosophical essay titled The Myth of Sisyphus and his novel The Stranger. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, Camus' essay "contains a sympathetic analysis of contemporary nihilism and touches on the nature of the absurd." These two works, often seen as thematically complementary, are believed to have established his reputation.1

"Camus argues that life is essentially meaningless, although humans continue to try to impose order on existence and to look for answers to unanswerable questions. Camus uses the Greek legend of Sisyphus, who is condemned by the gods for eternity to repeatedly roll a boulder up a hill only to have it roll down again once he got it to the top, as a metaphor for the individual’s persistent struggle against the essential absurdity of life."

In 2020, it's easy to fall into the trap of mindlessly repeating the same routine over and over again. Every once in a while, we need to stop and reflect; To meditate on whether what we’re doing makes sense and find out how to get out of the loop to spend time doing what gives us joy. I believe there’s no need to constantly measure productivity—some of what we do should just be play. That's exactly what, as I understand, happens in the Greek myth of Sisyphus, in which a man is condemned to repeat a useless task day after day. How far is our daily loop of work from this punishment? There's more work after today's tasks. The ball repeatedly rolls down as we near the top.

"According to Camus, the first step an individual must take is to accept the fact of this absurdity. If, as for Sisyphus, suicide is not a possible response, the only alternative is to rebel by rejoicing in the act of rolling the boulder up the hill. Camus further argues that with the joyful acceptance of the struggle against defeat, the individual gains definition and identity."1

In Cal Newport's words, "the key to thriving in our high-tech world […] is to spend much less time using technology." But regardless of how much technology is available to us, we struggle to spend less time in front of our screens, constantly exploring new life hacks in search of the elusive perfect life.

Last year, Daniel Natoli and yours truly worked together on Sisyphus, a short film produced by Getting Simple and Peripheria Films based on the Greek myth and Albert Camus' essay that attempts to portray our repetitive days running around, hunted by a sense of urgency.

It's been a pleasure to work with Daniel Natoli, Marina Diaz Garcia, and Pablo de la Ossa and I hope we'll bring you other works in the near future. I invite you to keep an eye on the work of Peripheria Films.

You can now watch the short film online and listen to a podcast interview with its director—Daniel Natoli—on his experience making the film.

Watch Sisyphus

Listen to: Daniel Natoli — The Making of Sisyphus

  1. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020). The Myth of Sisyphus. Encyclopedia Britannica. Online version. Retrieved September 21, 2020.  

SEPTEMBER 16, 2020

Daniel Natoli — The Making of Sisyphus

For the latest episode of Getting Simple, I had a great conversation with director Daniel Natoli on his experience making Sisyphus, Getting Simple's first short film, which we are releasing online today.

It's easy to fall into the trap of mindlessly repeating the same routine over and over again. Every once in a while, we need to be reminded to stop and reflect; To meditate on whether what you’re doing makes sense; To find out how to get out of the loop and do what gives you joy. There’s no need to measure how productive each of your actions is—some of it should just be play.

That's exactly what, as I understand, happens in the Greek myth of Sisyphus, in which a man is condemned to repeat a useless task day after day.

Watch Sisyphus

Listen to: "Daniel Natoli — The Making of Sisyphus"

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Four laws to create good habits

In his book—Atomic Habits—James Clear presents a four-step pattern as the backbone of every habit. The four stages of habit are: cue, craving, response, and reward.

In his own words, "The cue is what triggers your brain to initiate a behavior. […] Cravings are the motivational force behind every habit. […] The response is the actual habit you perform. […] Rewards are the end goal of every habit."1

Clear mentions that we chase rewards because they satisfy us and they teach us. His framework involves four laws to create a good habit that go hand in hand with the four stages of a habit I just mentioned: make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, and make it satisfying.

By inverting these four laws to create good habits, Clear establishes four laws to break bad ones: make it invisible, make it unattractive, make it difficult, and make it unsatisfying.

This text is an excerpt of my Getting Simple podcast episode on Atomic Habits, where you can learn more on how I try to apply this method to strengthen my habits.

  1. Clear, James. How To Start New Habits That Actually Stick. Accessed on Monday, September 14, 2020. 

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Present your works of art in a virtual gallery. Visit Kunstmatrix.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

"Less than 50 days after the release YOLOv4, YOLOv5 improves accessibility for realtime object detection." Read the Roboflow post.


Here are resources that are helping me get started with machine learning, and a few that I would have loved to have known about earlier. I'll probably be updating this page with new resources from time to time.

Stanford Cheat Sheets

A summary of terms, algorithms, and equations. (I barely understand the equations.=) These sheets, developed by Afshine and Shervine Amidi, differentiate between artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and deep learning (DL) but many concepts overlap with each other. See this Venn diagram.

Hands-On Machine Learning with Scikit-Learn, Keras, and TensorFlow: Concepts, Tools, and Techniques to Build Intelligent Systems

I highly recommend this book I'm going through at the moment, written by an ex-Googler who worked in YouTube's video-classification algorithm. It's dense but it introduces you to all relevant artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning concepts, and guides you through preparing custom datasets to train algorithms, a bit of data science I guess. At the same time, it introduces you to three of the most-used machine learning frameworks—Sci-Kit Learn, Keras, and TensorFlow, being this last one the one I use on my day-to-day job developing and releasing machine learning models for production. Similar frameworks are Caffe or PyTorch, this one being used by Facebook developers. (Thanks for Keith Alfaro for the recommendation.)

Open-source code and tutorials

I got started with machine learning by trying open-source algorithms. It's common to visit the GitHub repository corresponding to a paper and give it a try. Two examples are Pix2Pix (2016) and EfficientDet (2020). You try to use their code as is, then try to use a custom dataset for training and see how the model performs for your needs.

TensorFlow re-writes many of these models and makes easy-to-follow tutorials.

  • Pix2Pix in TensorFlow Core - Made by the Google TensorFlow team, this tutorial offers you to View the code on GitHubDownload the Jupyter Notebook (written in Python) or Run the Notebook in Google Colab (where you can press a button in the cloud and see how each piece of Python code runs to understand the different parts of setting up and training an algorithm. Reading the dataset, peparing the training and validation set, creating the model, training it, and more).
  • TensorFlow tutorials - This is a good place to get your hands dirty. While machine learning has a strong theoretical component you can leave that aside and start by training and testing models for image classification, object detection, semantic image segmentation, and a lot more tasks.

Friendly user interfaces

  • Runway - A friend of mine, Cristóbal Valenzuela, is building his own machine learning platform for creatives. It's the place for people who don't know how to code (or don't want to) to be able to use complex machine learning models, training them with custom data and deploying them to the cloud. Here's an interview where he told me about the beginnings of Runway.
  • Machine Learning for Designers Talk - A talk I gave talking about these types of interfaces, a few projects, and the role they play for designers and people who don't know how to code.


Other resources

  • TensorFlow: Tensor and Image Basics - A video with basic tensor and image operations in TensorFlow. How to use tensors to encode images and matrices and visualize them.
  • TensorFlow: Visualizing Convolutions - A video to visualize the filters of an image convolution, an operation known for its ability to extract image features in an unsupervised way to perform classification tasks used in convolutional neural networks.
  • Awesome Machine Learning - A big and frequently-updated list of machine learning resources.
  • Suggestive Drawing - This is my Harvard's masters thesis, in which I explore how the collaboration between human and artificial intelligences can enhance the design process.

Found this post useful?


Terminal E, Logan Airport

As I was waiting to depart to Spain, I met Lei and his son, Eric, at Boston Logan's Terminal E, right before boarding their plane to Beijing—back when there was no need to wear face masks or to stay two-meters away from strangers.

Eric watched over my shoulder to see what I was drawing. As far as my notes say, he spoke in broken English. But we managed to communicate with the help of his dad. They were both impressed of the Pentel water brush, which they hadn't seen before.

Eric pointed out his nickname—Dodo—when I said my name was Nono.

With a Croquetilla sticker stuck to his chest, Eric recorded a time-lapse of myself sketching an Air France plane.

In his own sketchbook, he was drawing a face in what I believe was an attempt to portray Lei—his dada—who showed me Eric's sketches on his phone (among which was an Iron-Man-looking character and a gun of his own design).

Lei an a few of his friends are architects, and he was sad to hear I'm not an architect anymore.


Quantity or Quality Podcast

Hi Friends,

Here's a new episode on how generating lots of ideas might help you achieve originality from the Sketches series, a combination of two of my previous sketches post turned into audio.

"Many people fail to achieve originality because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection." —Adam Grant, Originals

Listen to "Sketches — Quantity or Quality"


Color or not

My drawing process is (nearly) always the same; I grab a pen, stroke the main lines of something I see, add detail, and shade. Afterwards, I make a decision based on how much I like the drawing and how much time is available to finish it—whether to add color or not.

I might get in love with the plain, black-and-white drawing and feel scared of spoiling the piece with watercolor even when I know color adds another dimension to the story told by my sketch. But I've been practicing.

The stress of coloring fades away the more I practice, and the positive feedback loop makes me color more of my sketches, improving my skill at the same time.

I've scanned certain drawings before and after coloring. This, apart from letting me keep a copy of the uncolored version of the drawing, might serve to train a machine learning algorithm which might learn how I color my sketches.

That fear of ruining what's half-done prevents us from improving.

Let's beat the resistance.

AUGUST 25, 2020

Hit a wall

An easy way to avoid distractions while working on your device is to logout from email, social media, and any other accounts that often steal your time.

Next time you try to check out one of those sites you'll hit a wall—the login page.

You'll get a second chance to decide whether to give into the distraction or to continue working and come back to the site later.

If that's not enough, tools such as Freedom or SelfControl let you block websites and apps for set periods of time, forcing you to stick to whatever you need to work on.

AUGUST 24, 2020

Apache Groovy (Groovy Lang) "is a powerful, optionally typed and dynamic language, with static-typing and static compilation capabilities, for the Java platform aimed at improving developer productivity thanks to a concise, familiar and easy to learn syntax. It integrates smoothly with any Java program, and immediately delivers to your application powerful features, including scripting capabilities, Domain-Specific Language authoring, runtime and compile-time meta-programming and functional programming."

AUGUST 18, 2020

The lemon tree

The fact that you will go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow makes you feel immortal. A seventy-year-old person has gone through this loop more than 25,000 times. There's still plenty of time to live—you think.

But despite science's lengthy efforts to vanquish death itself: we all die eventually. A feeling of permanence fools us into thinking that what surrounds us today will be there forever.

Around twenty five years ago, I moved with my family into a new house. Among other greenery, two lemon trees were planted by the porch.

Last year, I sat in the garden and sketched one of them.

Under the right conditions, certain tree species live for centuries. For citrus trees, the average life expectancy is fifty years.

Barely a few months after my drawing, the lemon tree dried out and got cut off the ground. Now the grass covers its trunk's remains while his twin brother is still kicking.

Every day is a new opportunity to acknowledge what you have.

Nothing lasts forever.

AUGUST 13, 2020

While macOS ships with Python 2 by default, you can install set Python 3 as the default Python version on your Mac.

First, you install Python 3 with Homebrew.

brew update && brew install python

To make this new version your default add the following line to your ~/.zshrc file.

alias python=/usr/local/bin/python3

Then open a new Terminal and Python 3 should be running.

Let's verify this is true.

python --version # e.g. Python 3.8.5

How do I find the python3 path?

Homebrew provides info about any installed "bottle" via the info command.

brew info python
# python@3.8: stable 3.8.5 (bottled)
# Interpreted, interactive, object-oriented programming language
# /usr/local/Cellar/python@3.8/3.8.5 (4,372 files, 67.7MB) *
# ...

And you can find the path we're looking for grep.

brew info python | grep bin
# /usr/local/bin/python3
# /usr/local/opt/python@3.8/libexec/bin

How do I use Python 2 if I need it?

Your system's Python 2.7 is still there.

/usr/bin/python --version # e.g Python 2.7.16

You can also use Homebrew's Python 2.

brew install python@2

Before you go

If you found this useful, you might want to join my mailing lists; or take a look at other posts about code, Python, and macOS.

AUGUST 11, 2020

Imbued with memories

I guard my favorite sketches until I can work on a good story. Yet I acknowledge I won't ever find the time to write stories for all of them. Stories serve to describe how I experienced a given location, person, or object, or to elaborate a concept that lightly relates to a featured drawing.

Always timestamped, illustrations evoke memories of sketched artifacts, places, and people. However, when removed from their surrounding context, drawings act as timeless, platonic abstractions.

The windy road to Korakonisi brings me back to a one-off drive around Zakynthos with Aziz and Mikela. We are out of face masks teleports me to a conversation with Sanjay from Paris to Toronto in times when few people wore face masks around. But floating sketches of my Hatefjäll IKEA office chair make me think of the idea of this chair and not about a particular moment in time in which I was using it. What color is this chair? Is it comfortable? Is it adjustable?

Whereas a contextualized sketch is imbued with memories of the time and place in which it was sketched, a sketch of an item without context sparks thoughts of the item itself, not about the moment in which you sketched it (except when the item itself is representative of a salient event or moment in time).

A similar effect can be achieved documenting memorable events and abstract ideas with other mediums.

I'm repeatedly surprised by the power of drawings, texts, videos, photos, audio notes, and smells for memory reactivation.

AUGUST 4, 2020

Phone. Keys. Mask.

This New Yorker cartoon by Erika Sjule made me laugh.

For years, Phone, Keys, Wallet has been my usual house-leaving check.

Contactless payments recently let me keep my wallet at home and pay with my phone using Apple Pay.

After the lockdown, I repeatedly find myself coming back home right after leaving the house.

Phone. Keys. Mask!

When will we be able to leave the mask at home?

JULY 28, 2020

Jack of all trades, master of none

Back in the Renaissance, having skill in many different areas was seen as a good thing. But things changed. Movements such as the industrial revolution required individuals to specialize in one task to repeat it over and over and over—like cogs.

The phrase, "Jack of all trades, master of none," has been used to negatively refer to people who engaged in eclectic activities. Even in today's culture, doing different activities with less specialization has bad connotations.

I had a conversation with portfolio careerist Carmen Chamorro for a new episode of Getting Simple. We talked about the benefits of working in different fields, managing multiple interests, and how recognizing a potential Renaissance-like profile might positively influence your career.

Trust your nature. Be you. Don't be scared. We are all needed and we are all here. There is a balance in the world. We just need to go to the right place of the puzzle. You are here with a profile, and you are here to use it and to be authentic. Trust yourself, accept yourself, and have fun. —Carmen Chamorro

Listen to "From 9-to-5 to Freedom, A Journey to A Portfolio Career."

JULY 21, 2020

Work or walk?

Last week, I talked about repetition, automation, organization, and disconnection.

Ever since I started the podcast, I've had to prepare, manually, multiple texts in order to release each episode in various podcast providers—Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast—on the Getting Simple website, and on the newsletter.

Each text was slightly different and editing them by hand wasn't pleasing. I've released dozens of episodes this way.

I've completed a round of code edits I've been working on over the past months to automate most of the tedious work required each time I publish a new episode, and released a new podcast page layout and audio player.1

Behind the scenes, I have individual text boxes for each component of the episode notes, including the episode summary, description, links, credits, release date, duration, and more.

I can now create new episodes with ease and preview the content that will show up on podcast providers, the website, and the newsletter, with the satisfaction of having made it possible on my own instead of relying on other platforms.

After more than thirty episodes, repetition removed friction from my podcast-releasing workflow. Yet I won't ever be faster than an automatic system that apart from freeing my time reduces potential human error.

The system I have in place makes my entire episode library highly organized, helping me focus on new content and reducing stress.

Altogether, automated systems such as this one can let us disconnect and reclaim time to be humans.

Whether you continue working or go for a walk in the time you get back is on you.

  1. Even though this new layout works on mobile it shines the most on large screens. 

JULY 20, 2020

Carmen Chamorro — From 9-to-5 to Freedom, A Journey to A Portfolio Career

I had a conversation with portfolio careerist Carmen Chamorro for a new episode of Getting Simple. We talked about the benefits of working in different fields, managing multiple interests, and how recognizing a potential Renaissance-like profile might positively influence your career.

Listen to "From 9-to-5 to Freedom, A Journey to A Portfolio Career"

JULY 14, 2020

Repetition, automation, organization, and disconnection

Repetition removes friction.

Automation frees time.

Organization helps focus.

Disconnection breeds life.

JULY 7, 2020

Unitaskers: Introduction

This piece is an introduction to a new series—called Unitaskers—that will feature single-purpose artifacts that let you do one thing.

Think, for instance, of a graphite pencil. It's useful to write or draw. You can sharpen it to get thin lines or tilt it to get thicker, faded strokes. You can write a letter or draw a house. You can trace continuous lines or do pointillism. But there isn't much more you can do with it.

In the opposite spectrum are your computer or your smartphone—they can virtually do anything, from drawing and writing to setting an alarm, sending emails, but they make doing something with focus harder than ever before.

How does your thought process change when you write with pencil and paper instead of typing on your laptop? When you read a book on Kindle instead of reading on your tablet? When you capture audio notes with a hand-recorder instead of using your phone?

Let’s find out.

Each essay of the series will use an object (or family of objects) as a source of inspirations to share stories and facts around finding focus in our age of distraction.

JUNE 30, 2020

You can measure the time elapsed during the execution of TypeScript commands by keeping a reference to the start time and then subtracting the current time at any point on your program from that start time to obtain the time elapsed between two points in time.

const start = new Date().getTime();

// Run some code..

let elapsed = new Date().getTime() - start;

Let's create two helper functions to get the current time (i.e. now) and the elapsed time at any point from that moment.

// Returns current time
// (and, if provided, prints the event's name)
const now = (eventName = null) => {
    if (eventName) {
      console.log(`Started ${eventName}..`);
    return new Date().getTime();

// Store current time as `start`
let start = now();

// Returns time elapsed since `beginning`
// (and, optionally, prints the duration in seconds)
const elapsed = (beginning = start, log = false) => {
    const duration = new Date().getTime() - beginning;
    if (log) {
    return duration;

With those utility functions defined, we can measure the duration of different events.

// A promise that takes X ms to resolve
function sleep(ms) {
    return new Promise(resolve => setTimeout(resolve, ms));

// Measure duration (while waiting for 2 seconds)
(async function demo() {
    const waitInSeconds = 2;
    let beginning = now(`${waitInSeconds}-second wait`);
    // Prints Started 2-second wait..
    await sleep(waitInSeconds * 1000);
    elapsed(beginning, true);
    // Prints 2.004s

Before you go

If you found this useful, you might want to join my mailing lists; or take a look at other posts about code, React, and TypeScript.

JUNE 30, 2020


More than a year ago, I was sitting with my Mom sketching an Eastern Island stone statue. We were, though, thousands of kilometers away from the Chilean island, right by the entrance of the Wellcome Gallery at the British Museum.

Back then, I didn't know that that drawing would be both the opener of the first of a series of A4-sized Moleskine sketchbooks and the first illustration to make it into my sketches newsletter in July 2, 2019.

One year later, I find myself with fifty-three published sketches and stories.

I won't lie: it wasn't easy.

Some posts were fast to write, others required an intensive back-and-forth effort of writing and reviewing and writing and reviewing.

Many times, I've talked about my daily routine and habits, and about the process I follow to make this newsletter happen. I've wondered if I was repeating myself too much, but ever since I read John Maeda's advice I don't worry too much about it. "Repetition, repetition, repetition. It works. It works. It works."

In these pieces, I try to share things I learn that might inspire you as much as they inspired me, and tell stories with a personal tone without turning this newsletter into a personal diary. This is not a how-to guide, it's an art experiment and a literary exercise.

Many of my journaling notes are for me to keep. Yet I'll continue revisiting my notes and using the dozens of unpublished drafts as a source of inspiration for future stories.

I'd like to THANK YOU for pushing me to keep going in one way or another.

On top of writing a story and drawing, scanning, and editing a sketch—every Tuesday—I was hesitant to translate every single story to Spanish. "If you don't translate [your stories] to Spanish I probably won't read them," a friend said. As a native Spanish speaker who's been reading in English for the past ten years, I've used the translation of these posts as a way to practice my Spanish writing skills.

Some stories even made it into the Getting Simple podcast. (I produced an augmented audio version of Stories Are The Answer including clips from Patrick Winston's lectures.)

My girlfriend and my Mom have supported me heavily, providing feedback on most posts and helping with things that didn't sound quite right in Spanish.

Friends reviewed drafts; brainstormed; shared ideas on the publication format and the web layout; and spotted typos or simply corrected my English.

Many of you replied to my emails with insightful points of view.


Happy newsletterversary.

JUNE 27, 2020

Thanks to everyone who attended, really.

We've had such a great time and were humbled by seeing 230+ people connected at all times.

Take a look at the links and references with many of the things and people we talked about.

JUNE 27, 2020

Well, this is happening today.

Even though our workshop is listed in the North-South Americas Workshops page, I'm tuning in from Málaga, Spain, where I live and work, remotely.

Jose Luis, Nate, and guest speakers will be joining from the US. Those include Elizabeth Christoforetti & Romy El Sayah, Ao Li, Runjia Tian, Xiaoshi Wang & Yueheng Lu, and Andrew Witt.

The format of our workshop has been widely adopted by numerous organizations as an alternative to the cancelation of on-site conferences, workshops, and other gatherings.

Zoom conference rooms miss many of the nuances present in in-person events, yet I feel they enable a new kind of interaction in which people who wouldn't have been able to cross the Atlantic are now a click away from hopping into a live conference with us. (No need to book plane tickets and accommodation, and seats don't necessarily need to be limited.)

As suggested by Jose Luis, ours are a series of non-technical lectures and demos. We've organized a one-day workshop in which we'll share our views on the role of machine intelligence in architecture, art, and design, commenting on state-of-the-art projects, tools, and machine learning models that are here to stay with us.

While preparing this workshop, I recorded two technical, hands-on coding tutorials as I was building the Pix2Pix & RunwayML drawing app we'll showcase today, using Glitch, Paper.js, RunwayML, and Pix2Pix, among other technologies. (I've published Part 1 and Part 2 so far.)

Visit our workshop page to see the most up-to-date schedule.

I hope you'll join us.

Stay in touch for future events.

JUNE 26, 2020

JR — Insisting Simplicity, Frugal Practices to Achieve Financial Independence, and Permaculture Design

Hi Friends—

In these challenging times, I truly hope you and your loved ones can shelter in place and stay healthy.

Today, I bring you a conversation with JR from Insisting Simplicity—a blog about simple living, minimalism, and adventure travel in which he writes to celebrate life, our planet, and the richness of simple living.

Please enjoy this (remote) episode as much as I did. I learned a lot about financial independence, the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early), and permaculture design.

Listen to "JR — Insisting Simplicity, Frugal Practices to Achieve Financial Independence, and Permaculture Design"

JUNE 23, 2020

Achievements of 2020

Wash hands more than twenty times per day.

Wear a face mask.

Elbow-greet people.

Deliver a talk from my living room.

Play social distancing (two-meter mode) with strangers.

Stay at home for 45 days in a row.

Astronaut-grade package reception with elevator delivery.

Those are my achievements. What are yours?

JUNE 16, 2020

Should you aim for quantity instead of quality?

Last week, I asked you whether you were writing enough, stating that it is more likely to get good ideas when you're generating lots of them.

This mindset seems to go against Getting Simple's motto—Do Less, Better—but that's far from true. It's all about paying attention to your daily inputs and outputs.

If, as I do, you like to do many different things, you can carefully choose what you want to spend your time on. What activities you want to engage in, what type of tools you want to use, what it is that you want to create, and what type of information you want to consume.

You don't need to stick with a single project or a single activity. But you need to approach anything you do with focus.

In my case (and as you might already know if you've been reading to previous sketches and listening to the podcast) I've chosen to sketch, write, podcast, code, and record learning videos to share my knowledge and, hopefully, inspire others.

There's room for different types of projects in which you can aim for quantity over quality to obtain more original outcomes.

To provide a tangible example, think of a sketchbook.

The more sketches you draw, the more chances there are that you'll produce good drawings.

An easy rule of thumb for beginners is that one out of each ten ideas you generate will be good. (And this applies to sketches, stories, videos, or anything you make as well.)

For instance, my skill as a writer or sketcher influences my ratio of good-to-bad stories or drawings.

Of course, this ratio might be lower or higher depending on the field you are in and your level of expertise.

Experts manage to bring that ratio down when they reach proficiency at whatever it is they do. Still, they know there will always be bad ideas among the ones they generate.

The good thing is that, apart from lowering the good-to-bad ratio, skill and expertise let you judge your own ideas to better identify the good ones and discard the bad ones.

I believe this mindset helps me produce more original ideas.

Give it a try.

Go for quantity.

Learn to judge what's good and what's not so good.

Then refine your best creations.

JUNE 9, 2020

Are you writing enough?

Picasso's artworks include more than 1,800 paintings, 1,200 sculptures, 2,800 ceramics, and 12,000 drawings, without mentioning prints, rugs, and tapestries, but only a tiny fraction of those are recognized today as great works of art. 1

Reading Adam Grant's latest book, Originals, I learned about the fact that many artists—such as Picasso, Beethoven, Mozart, or even Shakespeare—created hundreds (if not thousands) of artworks that have been forgotten.

I write (at least) two hundred words every day.

(That's my practice to get more fluent and to "show up" day after day.)

The key is in not missing a single day—reinforcing my writing habit with an easy word count I can complete in a matter of minutes.

When the night comes and I haven't written, this exercise inevitably turns into an obligation. I quickly pour ideas that might end up being developed at a later date.

On the contrary, it's a joy to overpass your personal goal early in the morning with ample time to work on your drafts.

Let's do the math.

Two hundred words a day for thirty days makes 6,000 words per month.

Six thousand words a month for twelve months makes 72,000 words per year.

It's easy(er)—no matter what you write—to find something worth publishing among thousands and thousands of words (than it is to start from scratch).

So, when daily writing, I go for quantity instead of quality.

Selectively, I'll review and refine old drafts in an effort to publish something worth your time.

And I truly hope I'm doing a good job.

In Grant's words, "Many people fail to achieve originality because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection."

In short: write, and write a lot.

It's more likely to get good ideas when you're generating lots of them.

  1. Grant, Adam M., and Sheryl Sandberg. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. New York, New York: Viking, 2016. Kindle version. 

JUNE 8, 2020

Just came across this machine learning (and TensorFlow) glossary which "defines general machine learning terms, plus terms specific to TensorFlow."

Want to see older publications? Visit the archive.

Listen to Getting Simple .