2020 was the year of weirdness, a year to forget, or so they say.

2020 was the year where being socially awkward was accepted in many ways e.g. delaying organically speaking to other humans, staying in for 7 days a week, and so on. It's not entirely good as balance is needed everywhere, however it was an interesting experience and watch.

It's not all bad, the global pandemic forced the world to take a pause (at least some of us) and use our time in different ways.

Below are my references for 2020. It's about the knowledge I was exposed to and the things that resonated with me. It's a selfish and personal write. I've been doing this assessment for years, yet it is my first time writing about it. This is a reference for my future self, to not forget what knowledge stuck with me in 2020.

Books

My Goodreads tracker counts 28 books, of which:

  • 11 are non-fiction
  • 17 are fiction (duh!)

Not a fantastic volume, but not too bad considering that some of the books stuck in my mind for more than a couple of minutes.

Three non-fiction books particularly resonated more than I expected. Some highlights below.

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company

by Robert Iger,  Joel Lovell (Goodreads)

I tend to approach bad news as a problem that can be worked through and solved, something I have control over rather than something happening to me.

People sometimes shy away from taking big swings because they assess the odds and build a case against trying something before they even take the first step.

One of the great dramas of our times.

Now more than ever: innovate or die. There can be no innovation if you operate out of fear of the new.

Never been so true...2020 forced many humans and companies to innovate in order to at least stay relevant

Awakening: Conversations with the Masters

by Anthony de Mello (Goodreads)

What’s the earthly use of putting a man on the moon when we cannot live on the earth?

Step back and think about it for a minute. We're not even able to coordinate efforts to face a global disaster. Not saying that I can do better, but being able to unite against a common "foe" should be one of humanity strenghs, but what do I know...

[...] The first reaction is one of fear. It’s not that we fear the unknown. You cannot fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear.

As soon as you look at the world through an ideology you are finished. No reality fits an ideology. Life is beyond that.

That is why people are always searching for a meaning to life. But life has no meaning; it cannot have meaning because meaning is a formula; meaning is something that makes sense to the mind.

Life only makes sense when you perceive it as mystery and it makes no sense to the conceptualizing mind.

Never Split the Difference

by Chris Voss (Goodreads)

Black Swans are leverage multipliers. They give you the upper hand.

This one is in reference to The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Taleb

Contrary to popular opinion, listening is not a passive activity. It is the most active thing you can do. [...] Going too fast is one of the mistakes all negotiators are prone to making. If we’re too much in a hurry, people can feel as if they’re not being heard and we risk undermining the rapport and trust we’ve built.

Great negotiators are able to question the assumptions that the rest of the involved players accept on faith or in arrogance, and thus remain more emotionally open to all possibilities, and more intellectually agile to a fluid situation.

Arrogance is the keyword here

Other

There's always been, for me, two categories of knowledge acquisition: books and others. So what do we have in other this year?

Podcast

in 2020, I discovered the hyped The Joe Rogan Experience. It's fantastic. Some interesting sessions:

  • Graham Hancock on #1284 - A different account of the world history
  • Marianna van Zeller on #1576 - On black markets
  • Jacques Vallée & James Fox on #1574 - The scientific response to UFO and extraterrestrial life. It's so much more than ufology.
  • Edward Snowden on #1536 - The state of surveillance. What Snowden and The Guardian did is still, to this day, under-appreciated

I have quite the backlog to get to, but those are the ones that left me thinking and doing further research.

Hack: listening at 2x speed helps get through it if you take the time to highlight sections that are relevant to you.

Light novels and mangas

2020 was when I re-discovered light novels and mangas. I know what you're thinking: don't go with pre-conceptions without at least spending some time reading or watching some of them.

You cannot forge an unbiased opinion without researching or experiencing it yourself. If you think otherwise, good for you, but you're wrong. You're limited by your belief system.

A couple of them stood out to me:

  • Koe no Katashi - A story about youth, bullying, and the path to redemption. Difficult read on an uncomfortable truth.
  • Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari - For when you need a spirit lift in a fantasy world
  • Goblin Slayer - Can a fantasy story be darker?

Great visual stories, allows the mind (at least mine) to think and expand horizons. I'll keep at it in 2021, the backlog is also quite long.

More

  • An article: The rules that unite human beings (Link)
  • Something to explore: Not everyone has an internal monologue - Link and Link
  • A quote: "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one" — George R.R. Martin
  • Another quote: "There are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality" — Seneca
  • And a final quote: "Don't fear failure and failure will fear you (in return)" Somehow it makes sense to me. Don't ask.

2020

2020 did not stop at the content above: I (re)discovered new and old music, dwelled into coding, and went on to start the development of my application (Coinlog).

2020 helped me understand digital consumption and its impact on our lives. I was never really present on social media, mostly because there's no value I can derive from it (time spent vs value created), it will not change. I however noticed an increase in YouTube consumption. Analyzing my watch history I can say it's mindful watching as the videos brought some knowledge in one way or another and I stayed clear from "compilations" and other silly and funny productions.

In this overview, I don't write about personal goals as I don't set them. As long as I can grow in the areas that are relevant to me, it does not matter if an arbitrary marker is achieved or not.

2020 was a good year for knowledge and exposure to new information.

In 2021, I will explore the topics of slow technology, the framework of work, knowledge repetition, and the independent mind. I'll write on the topic(s) when I  have figured out a plan in 2021.