Long Term thinking - decisions

When we decide something, should we choose base on our current values, or should we ask ourselves:

Will I regret doing/not doing this in my deathbed?

Given that no choices are going to kill or cripple us, I think we should ask this question as often as possible.

Shortest Sentences

For me, there is a poetry in succinct writings. It expresses the meaning perfectly with the smallest amount of information possible. Something about its efficiency and simplicity amazes me. Recent authors with this style includes Paul Graham and Ernest Hemingway.

And these kind of words don't come freely, you have to really work at it. And the results showed. When I come across these kind of texts, I savor it. I reread it several times and always find something new. They has a quality of "Zenness" that needs reflection.

As an example, take the world's shortest novel by Hemingway.

For sale: One pair of baby shoes. Never worn.

Isn't that beautiful?

Human communication bandwidth is dismal

I have one personal problem that has been nagging me for all my life. I can't seem to explain complex thoughts to anyone. Almost every time I tried, people will have confused look on their face and after several attempts, they gave up. I also don't know how to tell a story very well.

Now, I could be too hard on myself. (see: Dunning–Kruger effect) But at any rate, any improvement at all would make me a very happy person.

I always like to talk to myself in my head a lot. I argue and agree with myself all the time. I just notice that when I am very excited about something, I want to share it with another person as soon as possible. Then I begin describing it exactly by what is going through in my head, in other words, a "brain dump" or "info dump."

As I have to need to explain to myself all the words and concepts that I already know, the thing that came out of my mouth must have been.... a little bit hard to understand. I view this as a channel problem. I thought I was communicating brain-to-brain. (with also have shared prerequisite knowledge). But the reality is much worse: my brain --> voice --> ear --> another person's brain.

I also notice that when I think or have a talk with myself, I tend to do it very fast -- impossible to physically vocalize, in fact. This is one of the point I should remember. When talking to someone, slow down drastically.

If we think about this in term of communication channel optimization, then there are simple steps that needs to follow. I don't know if I can make this work right away, but I believe it can be trained into a habit.

1. Slow down (until the listeners are comfortable)
2. Speak clearly
3. Plan roughly what to say first, do not think around.
4. Speak in term of things that the listeners understand
5. Relay messages in chronological order
6. "Listen" for feedback

People usually can only remember 4-7 maximum item simultaneously. I already forgot half the list. This needs to be second-nature, automatic. I think starting with 1. and 5. is my best bet.

Unnatural readings

I've burned through a lot of blog posts nowadays. Everyday I read/skimmed about 20-30 through Google rss reader, and another 5-10 through social news sites like reddit. I found that often the most thought-provoking and informative posts has no comment at all, and the opinionated, controversial posts with less substance generate an order magnitude more response.

I think this is due to the reading habit of people on the internet (myself included.)  We prefer sound-bites and clear-cut stories more than logical and fact-based ones with nuanced positions. Our brains digest them easily and yearn for more. That got me to another question: Is this the natural preference of the brain, and can we "train" the brain to like reading denser stuff?'

Recently I began reading scientific/technical papers. They are packed with concepts and information, which makes them very hard to read at the beginning. Later on, I found that the biggest reason is I don't understand a lot of words/jargons that the author used. Words are like compressed ideas. In this case, really compressed clever ideas. These papers are quite efficient at delivering information, given that you know how to decode them (knowing what all the compressed words mean.)

So I began jotting down all the terms I don't know, and google+wiki them. After that, most of the papers read like a complicated short story, though completely understandable. The funny thing is, I relax between reading sessions by browsing those blog posts.