R. W. Blickhan
I’m a writer and programmer.
At a high level, I’m interested in five intersecting topics:
Consciousness, identity, & neurodiversity
I am bipolar, specifically cyclothymic, and consider myself neurodivergent.
This has inspired a lifelong interest in consciousness; my experience of neurodivergence has given me a slightly skew perspective on the topic.
In particular, I am roughly an illusionist about consciousness.
- What is consciousness? Are there other conscious creatures out there?
- What is the basis for our personal identity? How does the perception of others impact our identity?
- How does neurodivergence and mental illness affect my life and others’ lives, in history and across cultures?
I keep a reading list of some of my favorite works related to consciousness and neurodiversity.
Cultural evolution, technology, and the cultural niche
The Secret of Our Success took my head off and screwed it on slightly differently.
As a result, I’ve been deeply influenced by cultural and biological anthropology.
When I say “technology”, I always mean the broad anthropological definition, as memorably described in Ursula K. Le Guin’s “A Rant About ‘Technology’”.
- How does culture and technology broadly impact our day-to-day life? How does it impact our tool use, our relationships, our thought?
- How do cultures differ across space and time? How does culture change over time and why?
- How can we make use of our knowledge of cultural evolution and socialization day-to-day?
I keep a reading list of some of my favorite works related to culture.
Tools for thought
I consider this site a digital garden where I can work with the garage door up.
I am also a heavy user of Obsidian for notetaking and Mochi for spaced-repetition flashcards.
I created the Tag Search plugin for Obsidian and I publish some of my Mochi cards.
- How do we build more “bicycles for the mind” in a broad sense?
- What are novel ways of interacting with our computers and other “tools for thought”?
- How do we make clear thinking easier? How do make clean, correct code easier to write?
I keep a reading list of my favorite writers working in this space.
Social organization & community
- How are societies organized:
- at a broad level, like subsistence strategies and political systems?
- at an intermediate level, like firm structure and community organization?
- at a very specific level, like family structure & marriage?
- How do we generate conviviality and “scenius”?
- How can we make use of our knowledge of Dunbar’s number day-to-day?
- Why do we tell stories?
- How do good stories work?
- How do we intentionally practice storytelling?
Broadly, I consider myself an Epicurean humanist.
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rwblog, released (roughly) once a month:
Professionally, I am a product engineer at Asana (see my resume). I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science & mathematics from the University of British Columbia. I live in San Francisco with my fiancée Sherry and our small canine companion Rooibos.
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