“A bit of this and a bit of that is how newness enters the world.” – Salman Rushdie
I believe in the power of exposing yourself to as many different positive stimuli as possible – bulk positive randomness.
Here’s what my friend, Ben Casnocha, has to say about this practice:
Expose yourself to bulk, positive randomness and be ready to take advantage of it… Read books, travel, talk to people. Take in information and new experiences. Be in a mindset that allows your deepest assumptions to be challenged.
Bulk: This is the theory behind conferences. It’s more efficient when people and ideas are concentrated in one physical location. Another example of bulk randomness is a web site like Political Theory Daily Review which each day presents interesting (and intellectual) links in high quantity. Finally, any college or university serves up randomness on a silver platter: thousands of smart strangers concentrated in a small physical area for a long period of time.
Positive: There needs to be no significant downside. In other words, wandering around Darfur in the pursuit of random interactions is a bad idea.
Take Advantage of It: You need to seize the moment. If you randomly meet someone interesting, follow up. If you discover a wonderful nook in Barcelona and want to postpone your trek to Madrid, do it, and explore. If someone invites you to attend a speech by a hero but it conflicts with something already on your calendar (but less interesting), skip your existing appointment and go for it.
Recommended Resources for Bulk Positive Randomness
One of the best uses of the web is that you can intentionally use it to supply bulk positive randomness. The key is to subscribe to a few consistently thought-provoking, intelligently curated, semi-random sources of information across many topics. Taken together, the randomness quotient is quote high.
Here are a few sites I read on a daily basis for bulk positive randomness:
- Less Wrong (psychology, philosophy, rationality, cognitive bias, learning)
- Hacker News – Best (business, technology, programming, design)
- Delicious Popular (very random)
- Longreads (society, culture, politics, current events)
- Give Me Something to Read (society, culture, politics, current events)
- Longform.org (society, culture, politics, current events)
- Cool Tools (technology, home, hobbies)
- Survival Blog (preparation, contingency planning, scenario planning, outdoors)
- Science Daily (cutting edge science and research)
- TED Talks (technology, entertainment, design, social causes)
- Arts & Letters Daily (general interest, books, essays)
Do you have a favorite source of bulk positive randomness? Contact me and I’ll add it to the list.