I haven't done a Google search in months. Perplexity is more powerful, more pleasant and more effective. Instead of being corrupted by invasive ads, surveillance and sneaky dark patterns, it presents you with a simple, footnoted explanation of exactly ...
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Better than Google

I haven’t done a Google search in months.

Perplexity is more powerful, more pleasant and more effective.

Instead of being corrupted by invasive ads, surveillance and sneaky dark patterns, it presents you with a simple, footnoted explanation of exactly what you’re looking for. Asked and answered.

And I like that there’s a pro version that we can pay for. This makes us the customer, not the product.

Most of all, the limited scope of the promise gives AI a chance to shine. ChatGPT often comes across as both arrogant and bumbling, because it promises that it can do everything, all at once. Perplexity is simply a smart search partner without the corrosion that racing for more ad dollars will cause. At least for now.

So far, I’d give it five stars. It’s worth checking out.

      

Boundaries and limits

They serve different purposes.

The fence near the train tracks is a boundary. You can go near it without risk. The electrified third rail, on the other hand, is a limit. If you touch it, you’re done.

Boundaries can give us room to innovate and thrive. Budgets, schedules and specifications all exist to show us where the safe areas are. Sure, go to the edges and challenge the boundaries, that’s why they’re there.

But limits aren’t boundaries. Limits are the end, the danger zone, the thing to avoid.

Some people bristle at boundaries. They’d like to have a project with no budget and no deadline. The problem with living without boundaries is that the limits sneak up on you, and then, boom, it’s over.

We shouldn’t always color inside the lines, but creative work is better when there are lines.

      

The seduction of false promises

Why do we buy the pitch of the snake oil salesman, the flim-flam man, the con artist, the demagogue or the trickster?

As our modern world becomes more informed and more rational, we see an increase (not the expected decrease) in scams, hustles, and chaos. There are Jokers and Riddlers on every corner, and our email box and mailbox are filled with schemes and manipulations. None of them would succeed if we didn’t support them.

What’s the attraction of these shortcuts?

Human culture is fueled and remade by insurgents. Successful art, innovation, and technology make promises that at first, are hard to distinguish from selfish cons like perpetual motion and pyramid schemes. The emperor has no clothes, but wouldn’t it be nice to believe that he did?

Contradicting forces of complacency, greed, and despair are some of the conditions that can lead us to getting tricked.

Complacency is a cousin of boredom. When things feel safe, our ennui might give us an itch for adventure.

Greed is the engine of capitalism and a component of status, and it tends to scale–people with more want even more, and they want it right away and without a lot of effort.

And despair is a lack of hope, a feeling that the existing paths can’t possibly offer what we need.

The good news is that we don’t fall for every scam, and we’ve gotten better at being resilient in the face of broken promises. It’s culture that pushes us to find a shortcut, but it’s also culture that can save us from the next one.

Being surrounded by a community that sees and tells the truth, that establishes a standard for keeping promises and that applauds long-term generative thinking is a resilient way forward. Connection helps us find traction, and forward motion toward better.

We get to choose which community narrative we want to absorb. And we get to choose whether we want to share those ideas with those we lead and connect with. We pick a neighborhood to live in, and we can pick a culture to be part of.

No whining, no shortcuts, no hustles. The long-run matters. Honor the rules that protect people who aren’t in your shoes, because you might be them one day.

If that’s the circle you’d like to be part of, join one, start one, talk about it, and don’t stop.

Corrosion is inevitable, but so is possibility.

      

Did we give up before AI arrived?

Plenty of creative pundits are decrying the speed and cost of creating pretty good work with an AI. It can often draw, write and compose as well as a mediocre freelancer, sometimes better.

But why were there mediocre freelancers?

The system that pushed us to turn our writing into oatmeal and our art into paint by numbers was here long before OpenAi showed up.

When the bar is raised, it challenges each of us to do what we already had the power to do–exceed the minimum.

      

What spoiled wrecks

There’s nothing wrong with abundance and joy.

But being spoiled causes two real problems:

  1. it makes it difficult to appreciate what you have. If perfect is the standard, it’s rarely met and never exceeded.
  2. it leads to tantrums. Tantrums about sharing, about the lack of ‘more’ and about the endless poverty of comparison.

As a community increases in wealth, the number of spoiled citizens increases as well.

It’s often the acid that corrodes the magic that created the wealth in the first place.

Whining is a symptom, it’s rarely a cure for anything.

      

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