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Here you’ll find an archive of Nathanael’s weekly email. In it, he features an essay and curated reading on technology + marketing + simplicity.

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Disquietude - #348

A few week's ago, Transfiguration Sunday found me at St. Anne's in their oceanside chapel. The day's prayer included this line, juxtaposed with a warm August sun on calm ocean, "...grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold..."


Three interesting stories about technology #347

Sometimes consumer technology seems like a get rich quick scheme that actually works. An engineer comes up with an application that does something nifty, some designers and marketers get involved to make it work intuitively and find its audience, and then they laugh all the way to the VC funding or big company acquisition. It seems like the scheme benefits us app users, too: we put the app on our phone, for free or a token fee, and enjoy its delights.


What's happening to that empty building? - #346

For about a month, off and on, we've had a plumber in our basement. Between his work, with all its noise and debris, and the Tetris-like reshuffling of our basement's stuff, the most notable result of the construction, thus far, has been me taking the train to HubSpot's office in Cambridge most days. We should also emerge with a new furnace.


Why do people talk so much about men? - Issue #345

As a father to three boys, I noted with some interest Richard Reeves's 2022 book about Of Boys and Men. While some people tried to use it as another silly armament in the culture wars, the book wasn't intended that way, nor did the usage really stick. Reeves was far more interested in understanding the problem boys face and straightforwardly solving it than he was in pegging the blame on anyone. (This Guardian review has a bit more on his approach.) Reeves's book was far different from most in along these lines. The people talking about any challenge faced by a group tend to be far more interested in wielding the grievance as a cudgel.


Is the problem the technology or the human? - Issue #344

A few weeks ago, I read two wildly dissimilar books. Irresistible by Adam Alter, was one of those books that said it all in the subtitle, "The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked." Makoto Fujimura's refractions was far more difficult to discern, but a deeper work about the power of human creativity in our technopolistic age.


Traveling isn't an identity - Issue #343

A few weeks ago, the Daily Stoic's email said it all in the subject, "Build a Life You Aren't Trying to Flee." The gist is that if we look to destinations for satisfaction then we'll be perpetually disappointed. External settings don't offer what we're really looking for: happiness, rest, or peace. If we're frustrated with our lives, then a simple a change of scenery will just be a new backdrop for our inner turmoil. The stoic aims for internal peace.


A few longer pieces on AI - Issue #342

For the past few weeks, I've been dabbling with a version of Open AI's GPT-4. My company gave me access to a screen like the old AIM instant messenger: along the left column are a few conversations and in the main area I type in text and wait for a response from the other party. It's just like high school, except the other side of the conversation uses some automation and a large language model to create its replies.


Thinking about work - Issue #341

On Monday, I start a new role at HubSpot: I'll be a solutions architect, having wrapped up five years as a consultant. It's a big change for me: I spent June saying goodbye to clients I'd worked with for years. At the same time, it's a relatively small change: I'll still be advising HubSpot customers on solving their problems with technology.


Those pesky homeschoolers - Issue #340

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! I was homeschooled, as was my wife, as are our kids. We watched the Amazon documentary Shiny Happy People in one sitting. It was about a different kind of homeschooler: hyper-conservative, fundamentalist, afraid. And yet, many parts of the documentary hit far too close to home, especially its final episode, where we saw rooms we’d been in and people we knew. And then the Washington Post published a long profile on one of our college classmates.


Nathanael's Reading

More than a hundred and fifty  people read the weekly email “Nathanael’s Reading,” which he’s sent every Friday since 2016. Nathanael includes original thoughts and curated reading on technology + marketing + simplicity. Subscribe by entering your email here