As you will have noticed, the essays on this site are all titled “how to X”, but are not guides as much as blog entries. “How to” is just a rhetorical device, an invitation to approach a subject. I got the idea, mainly, from the HBO show “How to with John Wilson”. Episodes like “How to make small talk” are not really guides but a series of confessional musings from John Wilson and his impromptu guests. However, unlike the show, my writings here are genuinely interested in how to do things. Specifically, I will write about things that interest me: books, writing, programming, psychology, relationships, and so on.

Another inspiration is Derek Sivers’ book How to Live, a sequence of conflicting worldviews presented together. As he describes it, “Not quite non-fiction, not quite self-help. It’s a work of art.” This might sound lofty, but he means his book is for provoking readers to think rather than telling them what to think. Writing meant to stir the reader, but not to lead them to a particular conclusion. I intend to do something similar here. My answers to questions of “how to” will not be answers but responses, responses meant to be in conversation with one another, regardless of whether they agree.

A third inspiration is Andy Matuschak’s Evergreen Notes and the underlying Zettelkasten method. Instead of burying old posts beneath a mound of new ones, I want to extend a body of ideas continuously. That’s why each post has clickable #tags at the top. They form links that, over the years, will extend into networks of ideas I’ve developed or encountered. Later, when I want to revisit my thoughts on a particular #topic, I can just click on it.