Shreeda Segan

On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers

Ever wonder what your therapist is thinking about during your sessions? A rare, honest take from the shrink’s point of view. Roger advocates for an approach to therapy that rivals the more popular psychoanalytic and cognitive behavioral frameworks. I’ve not read anything else on empathy that is more accurate, incisive, or challenging.

Pandemic Time: A Distributed Doomsday Clock by Venkatesh Rao

Don’t let the title fool you. This article did not trigger my pandemic PTSD and instead helped me sense-make how the pandemic triggered broader cultural shifts. “Pandemic time can be understood as a liminal passage between the end of the industrial era and the beginning of the digital era.” 

Why do new cars look like this? by Blackbird Spyplane

What’s up with the matte-yet-glossy, putty-like, almost-pastel-but-not-quite colors of new cars? Just scroll to the photos in this article and you’ll immediately recognize what I mean. The power couple that writes this fashion newsletter takes on all sorts of aesthetic trends. (They also covered the revival of the Adidas Sambas, which I happen to be wearing right now).

The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander

Relevant for anyone who dares to build anything that is inhabited by those who are alive. If you’re like me, you’ll read this book and pray that someday you build something, someday, that Christopher Alexander would be proud of.

Alexander’s A Pattern Language gets most of the credit but I think most of the theory is better outlined in this book. Don’t let the size of the book intimidate you. It can and should be read in a single sitting.

Good Cogs and Their Tools by Brie Wolfson

“Good cogs get their performance reviews in on time. They never complain about company policy. They keep their trackers up to date and are always on time for meetings.” 

A cautionary tale for scaling orgs and a normie-friendly version of something like The Gervais Principle — one you might even be able to reference in a company Slack message when advocating for a good culture.

Maps of Meaning (2017) by Jordan B. Peterson

If you give anything by Peterson a chance, let it be Maps of Meaning. Not his culture war podcasts. Not his tweets. It’s basically Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, and The Other Greats™️ synthesized into a single lecture series.

Good Old Neon by David Foster Wallace

Probably the only story I’ve read that I felt genuinely might merit a trigger warning. Genuinely shocking, painfully genius. You don’t have to read Infinite Jest to appreciate the magic (read: madness) of DFW. You just have to read one of his short stories. Maybe this one. (TW: mental health, suicide).

Protocols Don’t Build Pyramids by Drew Austin

Traffic jams and other urban problems are not only systemic. They are protocol problems. “To claim that the built environment is full of infrastructurally constrained coordination problems is another way of saying that cities have protocol problems. If protocols are coordination mechanisms supported by infrastructure, then cities are dense clusters of overlapping protocols.”One of the most fresh takes on cities I’ve read since A City is Not a Tree

Ise Jingu and the Pyramid of Enabling Technologies by Brian Potter

Inspired by Ise Jingu, a Japanese shrine that is torn down and rebuilt every 20 years, Potter contends with the importance of preserving process knowledge. “The internet and software is only accelerating this trend: as coordination costs get lower, it becomes easier and easier for companies to use outside services instead of building capabilities internally, concentrating knowledge in fewer and fewer organizations.” Warning: you might get inspired to take up esoteric carpentry and/or other niche craft practices.

Computer Scientist Explains One Concept in 5 Levels of Difficulty (Zero-knowledge Proofs)

Zkps blow my mind. They’re some of the closest technology I’ve seen to magic. For the uninitiated, a zero-knowledge proof “is a method by which one party (the prover) can prove to another party (the verifier) that a given statement is true, while avoiding conveying to the verifier any information beyond the mere fact of the statement's truth.” I think we’ll see interesting applications for these in the next few years.

Ignorance, a skilled practice by Sarah Perry 

The essay that gave me permission to ignore things. Ignorance is not only bliss; it’s sometimes a virtue.

Sarah Perry should also probably get the credit as the writer who has most influenced me to want to become a writer myself. You’ll find more of her on Ribbonfarm.