6: General Purpose Problem


00:00:00   How was your 4th of July?

00:00:02   It was a totally normal day because I live in London.

00:00:06   I don't live in America.

00:00:08   Do you not do anything?

00:00:10   I haven't done anything special for 4th of July.

00:00:12   I tried to do American things.

00:00:14   Oh yeah? Did you have a barbecue?

00:00:17   I had a hot dog.

00:00:19   You had a hot dog? Okay. That's halfway there.

00:00:21   But you didn't barbecue it?

00:00:23   Well no, me and Adina were away. We were in Bath, which is one of my favorite British cities.

00:00:29   and odd towns, I can never remember which one it is,

00:00:32   and we went to this bar which was serving American food

00:00:37   for Independence Day.

00:00:39   They had like an American flag up and stuff,

00:00:41   and we had beer and hot dogs.

00:00:44   - Did you recklessly endanger your hands with explosives?

00:00:51   This is also part of the Fourth of July tradition.

00:00:53   - No, I don't think they were doing any fireworks.

00:00:55   - Actually, can you buy fireworks in England?

00:00:57   I don't know if you can.

00:00:58   Well, you can. You definitely can for fireworks night.

00:01:03   Remember, remember the 5th of November.

00:01:07   - Yeah.

00:01:08   - Is it the 5th of November?

00:01:08   (laughing)

00:01:09   - Yes, it's the 5th of November.

00:01:12   - I was, well, because my nephew was born on the 4th.

00:01:15   So now I get those confused now in my brain.

00:01:18   - Your nephew is not Guy Fawkes though.

00:01:20   - No.

00:01:20   So is the 4th of July just something

00:01:22   that you're not too fussed about?

00:01:24   Or is it just because you're here,

00:01:26   and when you're here there's just not the same level of excitement.

00:01:30   Yeah I just forget about it. I would have forgotten entirely about it were it not for Twitter

00:01:35   and seeing people doing America-y things on Twitter.

00:01:38   4th of July, it's fun if you're in America and there are barbecues and fireworks and celebrations and things but

00:01:45   here in London it's just a normal day. It's just a normal day.

00:01:47   The 4th of July is always a tough day for me

00:01:50   because people on social media like to remind me that I'm British.

00:01:53   Right.

00:01:54   That's just what I get for the entire day.

00:01:57   - Yeah.

00:01:58   (laughing)

00:01:58   It's Americans bashing British people on the internet day.

00:02:02   - Yeah.

00:02:03   - That's what it can be.

00:02:04   - Yep.

00:02:05   - As though you had anything to do

00:02:07   with anything that happened 200 years ago.

00:02:10   And also as though the Americans alive today

00:02:14   can claim any credit for the glorious victory that they had.

00:02:19   - Yep.

00:02:19   - That's stuff I always find funny.

00:02:20   - People like to remind me that they won.

00:02:23   Like, we won.

00:02:24   like "what did you win exactly? Can you explain that bit to me?"

00:02:28   This is just like the sports thing. "We won. What did you do?"

00:02:34   You did nothing but sit in the stands. But with the with patriotism stuff it's even worse.

00:02:39   "We won the Revolutionary War." Really? You weren't even alive when it was

00:02:46   occurring. I don't know.

00:02:50   We need to address the heat from last week.

00:02:52   Oh yeah?

00:02:53   Because basically, I don't know how much of this you've seen.

00:02:56   The Heat Olympics, is this what you mean?

00:02:58   People telling you where they are and how much hotter it is wherever they are?

00:03:02   Yeah.

00:03:02   Like, I care when I'm physically uncomfortable where I am.

00:03:06   Yeah, I saw a bunch of the Heat Olympics.

00:03:08   I just wanted to basically state that it's not a competition.

00:03:12   Like, we weren't looking to compete.

00:03:15   And there are hotter places in the world which we totally accept.

00:03:18   But I think the problem that me and Grey were having last week is

00:03:21   Neither of our homes are equipped to deal with heat.

00:03:24   Yeah.

00:03:25   That's the difference. And places where it's like 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit every single day,

00:03:32   like, they're probably better equipped.

00:03:34   Oh, yeah. I will be visiting my

00:03:37   parents in North Carolina soon.

00:03:39   And the North Carolina summers are

00:03:43   awful. They're very hot. They're very humid.

00:03:49   But luckily you never have to be outside for more than 10 seconds in a row ever in North Carolina

00:03:56   You're in your air-conditioned house

00:03:58   You step into the garage which is hopefully air-conditioned as well you get into your air-conditioned car

00:04:03   And you drive to the supermarket

00:04:05   So the only time you have to be outside is however long it takes you to walk from your car to the supermarket

00:04:10   So North Carolina is

00:04:12   functionally

00:04:13   Entirely indoors you just don't go outside

00:04:17   and it is prepared to handle those temperatures.

00:04:20   But London, as we discussed, is not prepared to handle these temperatures.

00:04:23   English people just believe in their minds

00:04:28   that their summers are always fine despite the annual evidence

00:04:32   that they are not fine, that they would benefit from air conditioning

00:04:35   that they refuse to install.

00:04:37   I think one of the things in that is like, I bet that newer homes now have some

00:04:42   kind of central air system

00:04:44   But many homes here were built before that was even a consideration, which is maybe not

00:04:50   the same so much in America.

00:04:52   So like, the houses were built differently, they were built more recently and therefore

00:04:56   could help be equipped for that stuff.

00:04:58   Like if somebody said to me, "Myke, you can build yourself a house."

00:05:02   I would put air conditioning in that house.

00:05:05   Because I'm doing it now.

00:05:07   But you know, many houses are older and then I guess we become used to not having it so

00:05:12   we just don't have it.

00:05:14   Because it's like today, I don't know, it's like 20 degrees Celsius or something today, maybe 22, something like that.

00:05:22   And I would still like to have some air conditioning right now because the temperature is not exactly as I would like in the room that I'm in today.

00:05:29   The other problem with talking about the temperature is, we didn't mention it on the day, but the humidity on the day we were recording was 100%.

00:05:40   which vastly, vastly increases the discomfort.

00:05:45   And I always get frustrated when people from Arizona then tell you, "Oh, is 105 degrees out today?"

00:05:51   I'm like, "Yes, but Arizona, your 105 degrees is lovely."

00:05:56   I have gone briefly hiking in Arizona in 100+ degree weather

00:06:02   and it's totally fine if you bring enough water because the humidity is zero.

00:06:07   So the water just flows through you and you have a natural air conditioning system

00:06:12   But yeah, if the if the if the humidity is a hundred percent your body has no recourse to cool down and you're just like a sad

00:06:21   Shaggy dog lying on the floor with its tongue out desperately trying to cool off

00:06:26   Parquet on the reddit has discovered that Dayton, Ohio does indeed have a fashion week.

00:06:34   Oh yeah?

00:06:35   Yep.

00:06:36   And there's datonfashionweek.com.

00:06:39   Because there were many people that were noticing, the way that I did it, that you actually just

00:06:43   didn't seem to believe that Fashion Week exists.

00:06:46   Well I still don't have any idea what it is.

00:06:49   Is this a week where people are extra fashionable?

00:06:52   I mean is it a holiday?

00:06:54   No!

00:06:55   What is it?

00:06:56   It's when like there are designers, you know like the big fancy designers, not like grey

00:07:02   industries, the big fancy fashion houses. They have fashion shows where they show off

00:07:08   their new collections and they do them in different parts of the world.

00:07:13   Okay, that doesn't make any sense why Dayton, Ohio has a fashion week then.

00:07:17   No. How many fashion designers in the world can

00:07:20   there possibly be? Well, I mean I assume that this is local

00:07:24   designers. If you look at the Dayton... So it's like a craft clothing week, is that

00:07:29   what you're saying? In Dayton, Ohio it is.

00:07:31   Not in London. In London it's a big thing. The Dayton, Ohio Fashion Week, oh it actually

00:07:38   looks like the last one was in 2012 so I don't think it did very well. But it existed. There

00:07:44   were people in Dayton that were showing off their fashions. But I'm not sure if it went

00:07:50   much further than that.

00:07:52   Obviously it didn't.

00:07:53   No. Unfortunately. Maybe all of this additional promotion for Dayton, Ohio may help them bring

00:08:01   back to Fashion Week. We can only hope.

00:08:05   We can only hope? We can only hope. We could start a campaign.

00:08:11   This can be like our campaign. I didn't realize we're invested in this now.

00:08:15   I'm not invested in this. I am.

00:08:17   I don't even understand what this is. I am. Bring back Dayton, Ohio Fashion Week.

00:08:22   Maybe we could do our first live cortex from Dayton, Ohio for Fashion Week. What do you

00:08:26   think? No, I disagree. This is not a good idea.

00:08:30   So Fashion Week, it's like the designers and models walking down runways.

00:08:36   That's what Fashion Week is.

00:08:37   It's like WWDC for the fashion world?

00:08:40   Yeah.

00:08:41   Except in multiple cities?

00:08:42   It's like an industry event, right?

00:08:44   It's where they show off what they're doing.

00:08:46   But yeah, comparing it to WWDC is actually a really good comparison.

00:08:49   People come for the event, they go to the shows, and business is done.

00:08:54   This is the same thing then as Dayton, Ohio having their own local Apple party during

00:09:00   the week of WWDC.

00:09:01   That's what this is.

00:09:02   It's basically the Mac user group equivalent of a fashion week.

00:09:07   Okay.

00:09:08   Alright.

00:09:09   I understand now, I think.

00:09:12   Many people are very interested in both the Reddit and Twitter in the idea of you streaming

00:09:19   the games that you play.

00:09:21   Oh, yeah.

00:09:22   We had our unexpected video game podcast last week, which was frustrating to listen to because

00:09:28   I was not even remotely prepared for it, and I kept thinking "Oh, I didn't mention this

00:09:32   game or that game or all these other things."

00:09:34   And so we've gotten a lot of feedback about that.

00:09:37   I get this request a lot, where people want to see what are called "Let's Play" videos,

00:09:43   or just streaming stuff.

00:09:45   So for the members of the audience who might not be aware, let's plays are a huge, huge

00:09:53   part of the online video world that you either are deep into or don't know anything about

00:10:01   and it is when someone is recording themselves playing a video game, usually with some kind

00:10:06   of running commentary over the top.

00:10:10   And I do not watch Let's Plays except with extremely rare exception because I don't get

00:10:19   very much out of them.

00:10:20   This is where I feel like there's a bit of a cultural divide.

00:10:23   If I was younger I might appreciate this form of media, but I don't really get Let's Plays.

00:10:30   Most of them.

00:10:31   I find them just uninteresting.

00:10:34   And so when people say "Why don't you do Let's Play videos?"

00:10:37   The problem here is that I...

00:10:40   The only Let's Play videos that I have ever seen are obviously requiring an enormous amount

00:10:46   of work to do.

00:10:48   The ones that I like.

00:10:50   And the ones that I don't like, I don't appreciate the form at all.

00:10:54   I don't understand why people watch them or what makes them good.

00:10:58   They just seem pointlessly dumb to me.

00:11:01   And so this is why it's at an unhappy intersection for a project of mine.

00:11:07   To do it, it seems like it's an easy project, but I don't understand what makes the ones

00:11:12   that look like they're easy to do good, or I don't appreciate what makes those good.

00:11:17   And the ones that I think are good are obviously hugely labor-intensive, and would just be

00:11:23   a whole other job to do.

00:11:25   That's why I don't think I'll ever do let's plays.

00:11:28   Where is--actually, I just want to pull it up. Is it, um...

00:11:31   Ah, okay, yeah. So there--I will--I will name drop here

00:11:35   what I think of as a great example of a Let's Play done well,

00:11:39   which is a guy called BeagleRush on YouTube,

00:11:43   and he has a series called Iron Man Impossible, which is for XCOM.

00:11:47   And that is perhaps the only Let's Play series I have ever watched

00:11:52   for any great length, because he's walking through the game,

00:11:56   the game but he's talking about the strategy used to win on each level and

00:12:02   most importantly he's doing all the voiceover after he's played through and

00:12:08   so he's cutting all of the uninteresting parts and making it go much faster than

00:12:13   a normal game actually would and so that's a lot that's a lot of work to do

00:12:17   but I think that they are very good because of it. So this has turned into

00:12:21   listening to you say this now it's kind of turned into a very unexpected

00:12:24   cortexy-like topic. Which I wasn't expecting this but so it's raised a

00:12:30   question for me. It is undeniable that the type of let's play that people have

00:12:35   asked for which is basically just watching you play the game and even in

00:12:39   silence you could be in silence and just have the audio of the game going on and

00:12:43   people can just observe the way that you play or you could just talk about what

00:12:47   you're doing as you're doing it. You know it doesn't need to be a running

00:12:49   commentary but you're like oh I did this because of this. There is a market for

00:12:54   this type of stuff because there are people that have these channels, there

00:12:57   are people that make lots of money doing this kind of thing where it's very

00:12:59   simple let's play stuff. Even Twitch streaming, right? It's just a thing, people

00:13:03   just streaming the video games that they play. So there is a market for it. There

00:13:08   are people that would like to see it, that you do it, and you're gonna be

00:13:14   playing the games anyway. So what's stopping you from just doing the very

00:13:20   bare minimum and just doing it. You're playing the games, it's not going to take a lot of

00:13:25   effort for you to stream them, especially with YouTube gaming on the horizon. You have

00:13:32   done stuff like this before. There are videos on your CGP Grade 2 channel where you've shown

00:13:38   yourself playing video games. Every once in a while I do a screen recording of when I'm

00:13:43   playing a game, and I will put it up on my YouTube channel as a time-lapse video.

00:13:50   So I'll take a game that I've played over many hours and compress it down into 15 minutes

00:13:54   or so.

00:13:55   And I think I've done this with OpenTTD, which is a train building game, and I've done this

00:14:00   with I think something else?

00:14:01   I can't remember what else I have.

00:14:03   Rimworld.

00:14:04   Ah, okay, that's right, I did do a Rimworld one, I couldn't remember.

00:14:07   And I was just debating doing one with Factorio, actually, because I'm coming to the end of

00:14:14   my life cycle with that game, I think.

00:14:16   Was this where you were wondering if you wanted to do a tutorial video again?

00:14:20   Yeah, I was already finding myself thinking about, "What was the bootstrap process for

00:14:25   Factorio?"

00:14:26   But um...

00:14:28   Your brain is so interesting.

00:14:30   We were just talking about you recognizing that you do it every time, and yeah, you did

00:14:35   it again.

00:14:36   And I will continue to do it every time. The thing was I was I was I caught myself thinking

00:14:41   You know, I just talked about this on cortex. I really should do it this time. I

00:14:47   Really should this is actually a really good idea

00:14:53   Yeah, but it's just another level of my brain trying to trick itself. That's all that's all that's happening here. But

00:15:01   So yeah, I have done this thing where I record the screen and put it up as a time-lapse video

00:15:07   and I mean, considering the amount of effort required and the number of views, it's kind of crazy.

00:15:12   Like the "just a time-lapse video of me playing openTTD" has gotten almost...

00:15:17   One of them's up to like 90,000 views, which is ridiculous.

00:15:22   90,000 people watching me silently play a train game.

00:15:26   That in and of itself is more evidence to say that you could do a very bare minimum thing and people will watch it.

00:15:34   So you're like, then

00:15:37   with very little work

00:15:39   generating income

00:15:42   during the time when you're not making any money. This feels like something that the gray spreadsheets would love!

00:15:48   Yeah, doesn't it though? Doesn't it though of

00:15:50   marginal additional effort for

00:15:54   exponential value. But the thing is, Myke,

00:15:58   I find that...

00:16:02   I don't really have hobbies, because

00:16:06   everything in my life that might start out as a hobby or an interest

00:16:10   it eventually either turns into work

00:16:14   or it gets dropped. I have a very hard

00:16:18   time maintaining any kind of interest that doesn't

00:16:22   have multiple purposes in my life. Yeah. Because this is the problem with having

00:16:31   one - I'm in the same boat - having one thing that was your hobby that then

00:16:35   becomes the way you make your living. Every time you get a new hobby you

00:16:40   wonder if you can make money from it. Right. And I've always I've always wanted to be

00:16:47   the kind of person who had a hobby, or I've wanted to develop skills that are useless in and of themselves.

00:16:56   It would be really great if I could be... if I could learn how to do wood carving.

00:17:03   Right? But I know from experience that any time I have attempted to do these kinds of intentionally purposeless hobbies,

00:17:11   it just falls apart immediately.

00:17:14   Or things that I get interested in

00:17:17   become work.

00:17:20   And so I was interested in time management a while ago

00:17:23   and that became work and I was interested in

00:17:26   presentations and how to explain things well

00:17:29   and that became work and there's a few other things that I've

00:17:32   picked up that have become work in some way or another.

00:17:35   And so I'm not even sure

00:17:38   would be a good idea just psychologically for me to have

00:17:44   nothing in my life that doesn't become work. And that's why I'm resistant to

00:17:50   even doing the bare minimum that people want of

00:17:55   talking over a game and putting it up on the internet.

00:17:58   There's also for me, I find... I don't know how to explain this but I

00:18:04   I find that there's a real activation energy in my mind to speaking out loud.

00:18:13   I'm aware that I don't like a lot of voice interactions with the computers or the phones like Siri.

00:18:20   I use it way less than I probably should because there's something in my brain that's hard to get the ball rolling on talking.

00:18:30   And so if I was playing a game I would that I was recording a commentary for I

00:18:36   would have to be constantly reminding myself that I'm supposed to be

00:18:41   talking to an audience who is listening and then it becomes this whole meta thing about oh right and it needs to be

00:18:48   Entertaining and now you're playing a game not just to mess around with whatever

00:18:53   But you're playing a game in front of an audience of people

00:18:57   And that's also why when people even ask us for the Twitch streaming, which I barely understand, Twitch seems just

00:19:02   monstrously complicated. I've tried to figure out a few times how the heck Twitch works where they broadcast games and

00:19:08   it's a whole other ecosystem over there. But even just live streaming the games

00:19:14   I wouldn't want to do that because it would just change the nature of

00:19:17   "Am I actually really relaxing or am I still doing work and then never relaxing?"

00:19:22   So that's partly why I don't do it. Even if I could theoretically earn money for very little additional effort.

00:19:30   Okay, I get it. I get what you're saying.

00:19:33   Because that idea of them never having a hobby is damaging, I guess.

00:19:39   But there is just that interesting conundrum of, for minimum effort, there could be.

00:19:46   Oh yeah, on paper it seems like a great idea.

00:19:49   But I'm even aware that when I do record the games for the time-lapse, I feel a little bit different when I'm playing them

00:19:54   It's not much. It's a tiny bit, but I just have to be more aware of things when I'm doing that

00:20:00   Well, that's very normal

00:20:01   like me and you always chat before we start this recording and I am

00:20:05   Completely aware of how I feel as soon as I press the red button to record. Yes, then it's different

00:20:11   It's suddenly different because there are people listening right now, Myke

00:20:15   Talking about this. Are you familiar with PewDiePie?

00:20:19   Nobody who works in the world of YouTube can be unfamiliar with PewDiePie. I have watched a few of his videos

00:20:26   He is the number one, or I think he probably is still the number one youtuber that sometimes they change but

00:20:31   He has been the number one youtuber for quite a while anyway, and he

00:20:36   Does let's plays not exclusively but a lot

00:20:40   in his videos. So that he's been in the news this week because

00:20:44   People found these paperwork that he had to submit to the government about his earnings

00:20:50   Mm-hmm, and he made in 2014. He made seven million dollars. Mm-hmm

00:20:55   So he's naturally he's been in the news because that's a ton of money

00:20:59   And I think in 2013 he made four million. Yeah, he has been

00:21:06   Relatively open about that. I remember he did an AMA

00:21:10   Before on Reddit where people asked how much he made and pretty much confirmed that at that time he was making four million dollars a year

00:21:17   But let's see what are what are his

00:21:22   Numbers on YouTube now. I'm just curious to see

00:21:26   37.7 million subscribers for comparison. I have one point something. Yeah, and

00:21:32   he has

00:21:34   9.3 billion views on YouTube

00:21:39   And let's see, what do I have on YouTube at the moment?

00:21:42   A quadrillion.

00:21:44   No.

00:21:45   Okay.

00:21:46   Yeah, I have 163 million views on my channel.

00:21:52   So that's the relative scale there.

00:21:53   Not to be sneezed at, but it's just to compare.

00:21:55   Yeah, but this is the nature of any kind of attention-driven field.

00:22:01   Like anything in entertainment or the arts in general is that it's a power law distribution.

00:22:08   the number one person is going to have vastly more than the number two person

00:22:13   who has vastly more than the number three person and then you get an

00:22:16   exponential drop-off as you go as you go further out the line so you should

00:22:20   expect that the number one person just seems ridiculous compared even to the

00:22:25   number two person yeah so he created a video talking about all of this and he

00:22:31   spoke it was very from the heart and it was just him just talking about where he

00:22:35   came from and how you know he just is a guy who makes the videos and he says you

00:22:40   know people think these videos are crazy they are kind of like really madcap and

00:22:44   you know so like people think I just sit down here and just talk and just go

00:22:48   crazy we suppose a lot of work that goes into them which I'm sure you can

00:22:51   appreciate and he talks about why the videos make him happy and stuff like

00:22:56   that and but there seems to be people that want to attack him for the money

00:23:00   that he makes mm-hmm and I just wondered like you know this is I'm telling you

00:23:04   about this for the first time now but I just wonder how you feel about this like

00:23:07   do you have sympathy in this scenario like that now all of his information is

00:23:12   public and he has to deal with people criticizing it and analyzing it and that

00:23:18   kind of thing I just I have sympathy because the internet allows people to

00:23:24   to become just crazy famous in a short period of time.

00:23:33   And you have no frame of reference for that.

00:23:37   Where PewDiePie was just a few years ago a normal dude and now he's a dude with close

00:23:44   to 10 billion views of his material.

00:23:49   And that's just a weird thing to deal with.

00:23:52   Or to have almost 40 million subscribers.

00:23:57   So yeah, that's a hard thing to handle in a short period of time.

00:24:04   And from the couple of interviews I've heard with him, and the very few things I've read,

00:24:08   he seems pretty well adjusted. He seems like he handles it as reasonably well as you can expect anybody to handle this.

00:24:16   But there's a reason why it seems like some celebrities just lose their mind as their fame increases.

00:24:23   Because it's surprisingly difficult to deal with some of the changes that occur in your life.

00:24:30   You're just a normal guy and then suddenly you're earning 7 million dollars a year.

00:24:34   It's not like, "Oh, I'm crying in my cereal for how sad it is for PewDiePie to have all this money."

00:24:42   I mean to say but it's just it's a different scenario that people have to have to adjust to

00:24:47   but I'm seeing this I haven't watched the video myself but I'm presuming it's the let's talk

00:24:52   about money video of his yeah should I watch this now do you think that would be a thing to do yeah

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00:25:21   Now, Audible likes us to recommend something to you.

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00:25:28   because I have been listening over the past day and a half to a

00:25:32   terrifying book called Super Intelligence Paths Designs Strategies by Nick Bostrom

00:25:41   This is one of those books where enough people whose judgment

00:25:44   I trust have recommended it in a short enough period of time that I decided to move it to the top of my queue and

00:25:49   it has certainly caught my attention with its

00:25:55   existential horror. In short, the book is about thinking through the inevitability and

00:26:00   consequences of developing artificial intelligence.

00:26:04   It's one of those books that feels like it's half crazy and half genius, and I've only half finished it.

00:26:10   But the reason I can recommend you at least try it is because on

00:26:13   Audible, if you don't like a book, you can just return it for a full refund.

00:26:20   So even if you already have an Audible account, you can give it a shot, and if you don't like it,

00:26:24   you can just return it and get your money back, and if you don't have an audible account,

00:26:27   and this is the first time that you're ever signing up, you can try this one for free.

00:26:31   So that's Super Intelligence by Nick Bostrom. Pro tip here, if you find the beginning a

00:26:37   little slow going and a little dense because the author is setting up why it is inevitable that we're going to have some kind of

00:26:45   artificial intelligence systems in the future, skip to the delightfully named Chapter 8. Is the default outcome

00:26:53   Doom. That's where you can start with this book if you really want to just jump right into the heart of the argument.

00:26:59   Is the default outcome Doom? Spoiler alert, yes, it is.

00:27:02   So if you want to listen to it, Audible has it. With more than a hundred and eighty thousand things to listen to,

00:27:08   there is definitely something for you here.

00:27:12   So if you want to show your support for Cortex and get a free audiobook and 30-day trial,

00:27:18   sign up today at audible.com/cortex.

00:27:22   Okay, I'm back.

00:27:23   Okay, so what did you think of it?

00:27:25   Yeah, so I just watched, we just took a break, I just watched the video just to see what

00:27:29   he was saying.

00:27:30   Said I wasn't just talking out of my butt about things that I don't know what he's talking

00:27:33   about but, uh, he talks about two things.

00:27:37   One of which is that money doesn't make you happy and there's definitely something to

00:27:44   that.

00:27:45   There's some actual interesting psychological studies that say once you have fulfilled your

00:27:49   needs in life, additional money doesn't make you extra happy. So that, given that he's earning

00:27:55   seven million dollars versus four million dollars a couple years ago, he's not twice as happy as he

00:28:01   used to be. It's like money doesn't work that way. But the one thing he talks about, which I think

00:28:08   is just sometimes something that people focus on in the economy and particularly the internet

00:28:16   and how attention works is

00:28:18   people saying that his job is really easy

00:28:22   I don't doubt that his videos are

00:28:24   more work than they look like

00:28:26   because part of the skill is making stuff

00:28:28   look like it's easy, look like it's simple and fun

00:28:31   but the truth is, the way the economy works is

00:28:34   it doesn't actually matter

00:28:36   if his job is really easy

00:28:38   that's not how compensation works on the internet

00:28:42   and that's not how money works on the internet

00:28:45   Even if he just has the easiest job in the whole world, he has been able to generate a huge audience of people.

00:28:53   And it is that huge audience that is valuable to advertisers and is thus related to the amount of money that he makes.

00:29:02   But there's like a moral argument that people whose jobs are harder should be paid more.

00:29:07   And that's just, maybe the universe should work that way,

00:29:11   but that's not really the way economies actually work.

00:29:16   And people just get mad at people making lots of money

00:29:20   for jobs that they perceive as being very easy.

00:29:23   But it doesn't even matter if they are very easy.

00:29:26   Like that's just not how the economy works.

00:29:28   Anyway, congratulations to PewDiePie.

00:29:31   - Yeah, so today we're gonna talk about

00:29:34   potential minefield of a topic which is email. I think anybody that's

00:29:41   listened to Hello Internet will have an idea of how you and you and email and

00:29:47   what your relationship with email is and I want to talk about that a little bit

00:29:51   but before we go into kind of how email is for you today as CGP Grey the YouTube

00:29:59   superstar. I want to talk about your relationship with email going back a bit

00:30:05   further so we can try and frame how you are with it now and why and how that's

00:30:10   changed. What do you mean like when did I first get email? Well it's you know

00:30:16   people's relationships with email changes. You didn't always receive

00:30:20   hundreds of emails a day. Yeah I'm pretty sure my first email account ever was on

00:30:25   Prodigy and I don't think I've received very many emails on that account.

00:30:28   No, so I actually do think that it's important to take a look at how you have

00:30:36   how your email habits have changed because it helps frame and helps explain

00:30:41   to people I think why you deal with it the way that you do of it now.

00:30:46   So when you I guess when you first started out with email when you had your

00:30:51   Prodigy email account. What were you using it for?

00:30:55   Who knows what I used that Prodigy account for?

00:30:59   That was back in the middle school days. I may have had

00:31:03   that email account and never actually sent a message to anybody.

00:31:07   Because then I was just a dumb kid in the world.

00:31:11   Eventually I graduated onto a CompuServe

00:31:15   email address and then an AOL email address

00:31:19   And then I think after AOL I was on Hotmail for a while and then I went to my university email address.

00:31:25   This is the history of my email.

00:31:29   So I guess that like most people, email wasn't an important thing in your life until you started working.

00:31:37   Yeah, even at the university level I feel that email...

00:31:43   I used it, but it was not central to my life.

00:31:48   And it was not even remotely as important.

00:31:51   I think just professors would send out notifications about homework or cancel classes or stuff over email.

00:31:56   But I don't even remember really emailing friends a lot.

00:32:00   So yeah, I think email didn't come into its full horrible shape until the working world.

00:32:07   This is when email comes into full force.

00:32:11   - So explain to me what it was like,

00:32:12   email was like when you were working in the school.

00:32:15   Because my big email time came when I was part

00:32:20   of a massive multi-billion dollar,

00:32:25   like multinational corporation.

00:32:29   So for me, I expect that that is maybe

00:32:32   as bad as email can get.

00:32:34   - It doesn't sound good.

00:32:37   Doesn't sound good the way you describe it.

00:32:38   No, I'll talk about what email was like for me at work in a minute.

00:32:42   And actually part of my job towards the end was sending emails to millions of people,

00:32:47   which is another really weird thing to do when you receive lots of email.

00:32:52   I was one of the people that everybody hates.

00:32:55   But what was email like at school? Did you get lots and lots every day?

00:32:59   Like I just can't imagine, like when I was at school, why teachers would get email.

00:33:06   Doesn't make sense to me. Who's emailing you?

00:33:09   Okay, the thing is, different places have very different email cultures.

00:33:17   So at the various schools I was at, things were quite different.

00:33:21   But one of the most common things that you get a lot of emails about at school

00:33:27   is some problem with some kid about something.

00:33:31   And because of a lack of technical competence at all of the schools that I worked at, these emails would just be sent out to every single teacher.

00:33:45   So there would be some email like, "Oh, little Susie is sad today because her hamster cuddlekins died. So please be extra sensitive to Susie today in classes."

00:33:58   It's like, "Okay, that's great. I don't teach Susie. I don't even know who she is. Why am I getting this email?"

00:34:03   [laughter]

00:34:04   - Okay, yeah.

00:34:05   - "Oh, I'm getting this email because you have just sent this to the list of every single teacher at this school."

00:34:13   It's extra helpful when the email would be phrased in this exact way, where it's "Susie".

00:34:17   "Susie", "no last name Susie". Like, "Okay, well, there are several Susies."

00:34:21   - Or description, even.

00:34:23   Yeah. So you would get a lot of emails like that because you think if you're at a school with a couple hundred kids, I was

00:34:32   Actually, I'm trying to think of my...

00:34:35   That's a small school.

00:34:36   Yeah, well at my smaller schools, let me just

00:34:39   We had what was it five years, three forms, about 20 kids per form. So that's about 300 kids. Is that right?

00:34:47   Did I do that math right?

00:34:48   My school had over 2,000 students.

00:34:51   Mm-hmm. So I taught at a school that was like that

00:34:54   but

00:34:56   Three out of the four schools that I taught were in the hundreds of students range

00:35:02   but so even when you're talking about hundreds of kids, there's always something that's going on and

00:35:07   So you get a bunch of emails just about all kinds of stuff that's happening with all of the students and that's really frustrating because you're

00:35:14   Trying to filter through the stuff that is relevant to

00:35:18   You you don't care about the stuff that's not relevant to you

00:35:21   So that's one of the kinds of things that you can email about

00:35:23   There's also always stuff about policy updates or when meetings have been changed now all the normal kind of corporate stuff when you have a bunch

00:35:30   of humans together trying to

00:35:32   arrange things

00:35:34   But what I say that email cultures can be different is that at the school I did teach at that had

00:35:40   Thousands of kids no longer hundreds of kids and thus also hundreds of teachers

00:35:46   This one school allowed a thing that I will never understand why wasn't crushed.

00:35:53   They had an email all staff button that every staff member had access to.

00:36:02   Now, what people use this for was as a tiny Craigslist in the school.

00:36:13   Oh my god.

00:36:20   If I had been the headmaster of that school, this is one of the very first things I would

00:36:25   have put a stop to.

00:36:26   But I would log into my email address and every day there would be several, "I'm selling

00:36:33   my 10 speed gear bike.

00:36:36   It's from 2005, I've hardly used it, it's blue, here's a picture.

00:36:40   message me back if you want and I'll bring it into school on the next day.

00:36:43   Or, "Oh, I have a surfboard that I haven't used in a while. If anybody wants to buy it,

00:36:49   let me know."

00:36:50   And there was just no etiquette about this? Like it wasn't an issue?

00:36:55   Oh, it was an issue? I feel like I was one of the few people who was pleading for this

00:37:01   to stop, but everybody else was like, "Oh, this is useful. If I have something, I'll

00:37:07   just try to try to sell it but it's like guys there's too many humans here

00:37:12   there's too many point-to-point things that people want to talk about you

00:37:16   shouldn't let any member of staff be able to email another member of staff

00:37:21   and that was one of the worst email cultures I had ever seen but just in

00:37:28   general when you have large groups of people together you have the the thing

00:37:32   that I always call it like death by carbon copy where because of the way

00:37:38   humans are there is a combination of people wanting to feel important stroke

00:37:45   people covering their own ass which results to if there's any doubt at all

00:37:52   carbon copy everybody that this thing might potentially be related to and so

00:37:58   that's that's what email is like in schools and I'm sure just like in

00:38:01   companies of just so much stuff that ranges from like the absurd "this shouldn't be here"

00:38:08   like the Craigslist system to the just simply frustrating like Susie who I don't teach but

00:38:14   I'm still getting emails about her to everyone I work with feeling the need to carbon copy

00:38:21   everybody about everything so that their butts are all covered or that these people feel

00:38:25   important.

00:38:28   That's what email is like.

00:38:29   this doesn't sound wildly unfamiliar to you in your corporate setting.

00:38:35   This is a very interesting thing because that is incredibly similar to what it was like

00:38:43   for me. Which just surprises me that a school is kind of like a big soulless corporation

00:38:50   in that regard. We didn't have the craigslist thing that you had. That would not be allowed.

00:38:57   There were department newsletters where people might be able to throw something in there

00:39:02   that was sent out on a Friday, which was fine.

00:39:06   There was one that included a really off-color joke, which was incredible that it went out.

00:39:12   And then there was like, this was this one time, and then there was an email sent like

00:39:15   an hour later, which was in attempt to retract the joke.

00:39:20   Very weird, but that was one of my favorite things that ever happened in our company.

00:39:24   We rescind this joke.

00:39:27   It was never there in the first place!

00:39:29   That's not how these things work.

00:39:31   There's no memory hole, guys.

00:39:33   But we had the death by carbon copy thing because it was the idea of everybody always

00:39:40   was just trying to make sure that they weren't going to get fired.

00:39:44   That was the biggest problem of corporate culture.

00:39:48   And so it was basically just people would send out emails and they would copy in everyone

00:39:51   that they thought was important or that thought that they should know on it.

00:39:55   Or like say there was a project, there was some kind of project which had multiple layers

00:39:59   of task forces and teams that ended up with like 100 people on them and you would get

00:40:05   copied in and there would be a conversation between two people and 25 emails later you're

00:40:09   still in this chain.

00:40:11   Well I got lots of this.

00:40:12   Like you know I would go away, I remember one time I was away for one afternoon and

00:40:19   one day and I had 750 emails in my inbox.

00:40:23   There's just no way to work.

00:40:24   It's just the worst.

00:40:25   There are so many emails that could have just been in-person conversations, but people want

00:40:30   to have these...

00:40:31   The paper trail.

00:40:33   Yeah.

00:40:34   They just want to have them because why not?

00:40:35   Why not put it in there because then maybe somebody else will pick it up at some point.

00:40:39   So I actually think that this conversation is important because I can see now where some

00:40:44   of your problem with email comes from.

00:40:46   in a scenario where you are bombarded all day with pointless email really does

00:40:53   change the way that you think about it because then I started to apply some of

00:40:59   my anger towards email to even the nicer email that I get which is email about

00:41:04   this kind of stuff. So I have always been of the inclination like you to be very

00:41:12   very strict about the way that I let email work in my life. However I have

00:41:17   some things that I'll tell you about in a bit that I'm sure will really horrify

00:41:22   you with the way that I work with email. You might be surprised. I am

00:41:27   vastly regretting suggesting email as a topic. It's just I brought it up because

00:41:32   it's been on my mind but it's been on my mind because email has become more of a

00:41:37   problem for me lately than it has been when I recorded that episode of Hello

00:41:41   Internet like a year ago. Interesting. I was hoping that was the case. Oh, you were hoping

00:41:46   I was having problems with my email? Great, thanks Myke. You know what I mean. When you

00:41:51   started out with YouTube and the fan mail began, how did you originally treat it and

00:41:57   how did it make you feel? Just as on that episode of Hello Internet, I need to have

00:42:01   the disclaimer that I'm going to sound like a total jerk here. We're both going to. It's

00:42:06   totally fine, Gray. We're in a safe environment right now. We're going to sound terrible.

00:42:10   a safe environment. It is for the next couple of days.

00:42:17   When you first receive this kind of stuff it's very nice but it's also just a validation

00:42:25   that what you are doing is appreciated by people. So if you make something and you put

00:42:31   it out in the world and people respond in a positive way, that is an indication that

00:42:37   have made something that people like

00:42:40   Because you can't ask people in your life

00:42:43   "Oh, what do you think of this thing that I've made?"

00:42:45   because they can't possibly be objective

00:42:48   The best thing that you can get is positive feedback from someone on the internet who is totally

00:42:53   uninvested in your situation

00:42:56   So the fan mail is nice at the beginning

00:43:00   Because it is part of this positive

00:43:03   feedback system

00:43:05   But I don't know I have always been doing stuff on the internet for a long time and and so

00:43:11   I've always just been aware of the email as a

00:43:15   It's very hard even just to deal with emails as though they are from people when they're from

00:43:22   Strangers, so that's what I mean. It's like the the bulk of it is a good signal

00:43:27   But the particulars of any individual email it's it can be hard to

00:43:33   evaluate what that means.

00:43:35   But

00:43:37   when you start getting those emails, if you are then making something that becomes increasingly popular, the number of those emails

00:43:45   increases, and so the value of any one

00:43:48   individually decreases.

00:43:51   And as a friend of mine, Derek Veritasium, has said that the value of positive feedback

00:43:59   trends towards zero. That the initial positive feedback is very valuable,

00:44:03   but much later on each additional piece of positive feedback, its marginal utility is almost zero.

00:44:12   And that's just a strange position to be in.

00:44:16   To be on the receiving end of.

00:44:19   So I'm gonna try and dig us out of

00:44:22   the problem that can be perceived when talking about this type of feedback.

00:44:28   It is not that I don't want to receive feedback and/or hear nice things

00:44:37   from people about the fact that they enjoy the work that we do. Because I love

00:44:43   that. I love to receive it. The problem is, again, it's not the amount.

00:44:50   It is the inbuilt problems with email as a system and email etiquette as a

00:44:57   horribly broken thing which make this type of communication more difficult to

00:45:03   deal with. Because one of the problems with email is that there is not a "this

00:45:13   is where the nice stuff goes" box. Because all email goes to the same place. All

00:45:21   goes into that one email account. Or that one app which houses the many email

00:45:26   accounts that you have. So the problem is I can't go in there very easily and be

00:45:32   like just show me the nice stuff and ignore the fact that there's other stuff

00:45:36   in there as well. Like it's very possible for me to set up a filter or to do a

00:45:40   search and just to deal with it that way but it doesn't detract from the fact

00:45:43   that there is still all the other stuff and it's like this mental block where

00:45:46   it's like well this thing is full irrespective of what's in there. Because

00:45:51   there are mechanisms of feedback that I love and I know that you love which can

00:45:57   even in some instances house as much text as an email can can house like

00:46:03   Reddit for example which you champion as a feedback method but it has a very very

00:46:09   different set of inbuilt social rules that make it a more welcoming place to

00:46:16   receive feedback for me and you.

00:46:18   And I feel the same about this way with Twitter as

00:46:21   well. Because email has a social responsibility to

00:46:27   it of replying.

00:46:28   Because people draw from email or that the ideas

00:46:33   of email came from letters, physical letters.

00:46:36   And when someone wrote you a letter, you would

00:46:39   write them a letter back.

00:46:40   Because when this correspondence kind of thing

00:46:45   began it was like well that's the main amount of letters that you get is those

00:46:48   types of things that you would respond back to. But the problem is brands live

00:46:52   in email and you know they send you stuff and business happens through email

00:46:58   and stuff comes through that way. So the idea of like Reddit and other social

00:47:03   methods of feedback are much more welcoming because I think that people

00:47:09   generally don't expect replies in the same way. So when you throw something out

00:47:14   into the Reddit, for example, even more so because I think Reddit is more closer to

00:47:20   email because Twitter is very limited in what you can say but Reddit you can just

00:47:24   chat and chat and chat and keep talking. People know that you're there and

00:47:28   reading it and other people can respond to it and converse about it so it

00:47:33   becomes a very different thing. It's a more public thing but from the comments

00:47:37   that I've seen in the Reddit for this show people don't seem to don't really

00:47:42   change the types of stuff that they say that they would say via email. Like they

00:47:46   say the same kinds of things. Maybe even more so in the Reddit people are more

00:47:50   honest than they would be in email because they're addressing everyone as

00:47:55   well as just you. So they speak a bit more freely, I have found anyway. So that

00:48:01   kind of those methods and the inbuilt social kind of feelings about that type

00:48:06   of type of feedback works a lot better for me and I know that I feel like it

00:48:11   works a lot better for you as well.

00:48:13   Yeah, things like Twitter and Reddit

00:48:17   do not carry the same

00:48:20   burden of reply that emails do.

00:48:24   So I feel no obligation to reply to everything on my Twitter stream.

00:48:28   I don't even--I am not a Twitter completionist.

00:48:31   So when I log onto Twitter, I often just, you know, right to the top,

00:48:34   past hundreds of messages.

00:48:36   Because it's just--that social obligation is not there.

00:48:39   And then the same thing on Reddit where I'm there, I've read the comments

00:48:44   but I feel that there is no obligation to reply to every single one

00:48:48   and people on Reddit also have that understanding of you're not going to reply to every single comment that's here

00:48:55   You're going to pick and choose what you're going to reply to

00:48:58   So, but email is different because it's point to point

00:49:01   and yes, everything about email, even the app icons reinforces the letter relationship that email has

00:49:09   That this is much more like a letter and someone has written this thing to you.

00:49:14   And email services, systems, and tools, including the way that badges work and stuff like that,

00:49:19   reinforce the idea that everything that's in here needs to be worked on.

00:49:23   Okay, so we post a podcast online and I put it up on Reddit

00:49:28   and then people are discussing it on the Reddit and we can go through and we can look at the feedback and that's great.

00:49:32   It's great because it's also constrained.

00:49:37   Do you know what's not on the Reddit? My tax accountant also telling me about stuff that needs to happen with my taxes

00:49:43   Right, it's it's not a wide-ranging discussion that includes everybody in my life

00:49:50   who's even tangentially connected to me attempting to get my attention and

00:49:56   this is this is one of the problems with email is it is

00:50:01   unbound in

00:50:04   who is reaching out to you.

00:50:07   So when I open my email,

00:50:09   I can have messages from, you know,

00:50:14   business partners, from banks,

00:50:18   from family, from friends.

00:50:22   It's the whole spectrum of life is there in email,

00:50:25   which is why I think it ends up for many people

00:50:27   becoming such a focus of problems,

00:50:30   because your email icon, when you press it,

00:50:33   When you press it, this is the button that says, "I am now going to look at all of the requests that everybody in the world has of me."

00:50:42   That's what email functionally is, and that's why it can be quite difficult to deal with, because it's also filled with many different kinds of requests.

00:50:52   Things that can take two seconds, or things that can take hours and hours.

00:50:57   And that also makes it much more difficult.

00:50:59   Whereas on Twitter, if I wanted to be a Twitter completionist, I could go through that timeline really quickly

00:51:04   because the domain of the problem of responding to anybody on Twitter is limited.

00:51:09   You know, I'm never going to respond to anybody with more than a sentence or two.

00:51:13   But if I get an email from someone, it can represent a whole afternoon's worth of work, of digging through papers in my house,

00:51:20   for example. That's the kind of thing that can come through email.

00:51:23   Or, it's just someone sending me a funny picture, and then I can respond just with, "Oh, that was great."

00:51:28   It's just so varied and so expansive in its nature.

00:51:35   It makes it difficult to deal with in a consistent manner.

00:51:40   Let's talk about the types of emails that we get.

00:51:43   Because I'm interested in painting a picture of the variation and how that stuff works.

00:51:51   So primarily my emails are split into two camps,

00:51:55   which is information about sponsors and feedback.

00:51:59   They are my two main camps.

00:52:01   Although very interestingly, I am shocked at how little

00:52:05   email I have received about this show.

00:52:08   I'm talking like a handful of feedback emails.

00:52:10   People really understand, which is great.

00:52:13   They go to the Reddit and they put it there,

00:52:14   which is fantastic, and I love that people are doing that

00:52:17   'cause I really like it.

00:52:18   So email is incredibly important for my business

00:52:23   because of the sponsor stuff.

00:52:25   A lot of it goes through there.

00:52:26   So people contacting me for sponsorship,

00:52:28   me contacting sponsors for information,

00:52:31   and we exchange a lot that way.

00:52:33   It's how I arranged this show to make money

00:52:35   and all of our other shows to make money.

00:52:37   And it's also how, in some instances,

00:52:40   for a bunch of our shows, how I hear from listeners.

00:52:44   So those two things are very important.

00:52:47   But then you couple that with email newsletters,

00:52:51   mailing lists, companies contacting me

00:52:54   that I'm not interested in.

00:52:55   I get solicitations for business

00:52:57   that I just don't care about.

00:52:59   Like all of this other stuff

00:53:00   that when you put all of that on top,

00:53:02   it makes it even harder to get to those two camps of emails

00:53:05   that are important, right?

00:53:07   I don't really have a lot of filters in place

00:53:11   for dealing with this kind of stuff.

00:53:13   Do you?

00:53:15   So I looked up some things about my email before we started the show just so I could have some answers for you.

00:53:21   And I get... when I open up my email client, I averaged it over the past month, I usually get about 150 emails a day.

00:53:33   Now, that is after several dozen filters that I have set up that automatically delete all kinds of stuff.

00:53:44   Can you give me examples of the types of things that are automatically deleted or archived?

00:53:49   Just tons of notifications from various websites that I can't figure out how to stop them sending me the notifications.

00:53:58   LinkedIn, I'm looking at you.

00:54:00   Just can't. It's impossible. Don't even try.

00:54:02   Yeah. Facebook is the same way. Facebook...

00:54:05   I know I've told you many times, Facebook, never to email me about this stuff.

00:54:09   So I have a bunch of bulk filters for that. That's the easiest kind of stuff.

00:54:13   I have some more complicated ones. The ones I have joked about is I do have a filter

00:54:17   I forget the exact phrase but it is something like I am a reporter from just automatically delete that I'm not interested interesting

00:54:24   That could be a whole other thing

00:54:28   So I have a bunch of filters like that just usually it's this kind of

00:54:33   Notification stuff that's hard to figure out how to make it go away

00:54:38   That's the bulk of it. I'm trying to pre-delete non-actionable stuff that I don't need to see.

00:54:45   But yeah, so after that level there's still about 150 emails a day, and those are

00:54:52   messages that are sent

00:54:56   almost exclusively

00:54:58   directly to me, and they're largely from people. They're from people who have watched the videos, or they're from people who are

00:55:05   are reaching out for business reasons or they're people that I know in my life who are emailing me

00:55:10   those messages in a perfect world, I would say 80% of them would have some kind of

00:55:19   action attached to them in just that there would be some kind of reply even if it was just to say thanks, right?

00:55:25   In an ideal world where I have infinite time

00:55:27   there would be something to be done with maybe 80% of those messages

00:55:32   So that's that's what I'm looking at on a on a daily basis and it was interesting to

00:55:38   To check against I listened to that episode of hello internet on email

00:55:42   Before we started recording because I was just curious I go what was it at the time?

00:55:46   And so when we were recording then I was estimating that I was getting about 50 to a hundred messages a day

00:55:52   So in the space of a year, it's you know, it's increased by 50

00:55:55   75 percent something like that. So that episode of hello internet hello internet episode number six

00:56:01   it will be in the show notes for today, recommended listening but not required

00:56:05   for this discussion because I think enough has changed but I also did listen to it

00:56:09   again today because I wanted to just make sure that I was completely confident in

00:56:14   what I wanted to talk to you about. So of the email that breaks through those

00:56:19   filters, what is it broken down into? What are the categories of email

00:56:24   that then lands in your inbox? I will just state for the record as well, at the

00:56:28   moment, I probably get in the region of like 30 to 50 emails a day. I reckon.

00:56:35   It's probably around that kind of limit. What do you ask me? What kind of

00:56:39   messages? Yeah, because you know like I kind of said that my type of email

00:56:43   breaks down into mainly contact from sponsors and feedback from listeners.

00:56:47   They're like the biggest campsite email that I receive. It's like what I assume

00:56:51   that feedback is obviously a large portion, but what else is there that

00:56:57   breaks through that limit.

00:56:59   Yes. Feedback,

00:57:01   a huge portion

00:57:03   of which is people telling me how I'm wrong about

00:57:05   something. That's a

00:57:07   lot of emails. People

00:57:09   love to point out stuff

00:57:11   in the videos. Do you want to get that?

00:57:13   [sigh]

00:57:15   Here's the thing.

00:57:17   I have

00:57:19   rarely found that to be

00:57:21   useful. Because we've

00:57:23   spoken already about there's little

00:57:25   you can do. Once it's up, like, there's little you can do about it anyway.

00:57:31   The other thing, when I say places that I am wrong, largely what I get are emails from

00:57:37   people telling me about how I've simplified a situation. And it's always, yeah, this was

00:57:44   a four minute video on the internet covering a hundred years of history. I didn't touch

00:57:51   on everything. But so people want to point out things that I have left out of the video.

00:57:56   And those emails I just almost always delete immediately. I can get a good sense of what

00:58:01   they are from just skimming them very briefly, like first sentence, first sentence, okay,

00:58:05   delete. You're just a person who wants to, you know, you want to demonstrate to me that

00:58:09   you know a lot about this topic and like that's great if I got one of these a week. But I

00:58:15   get 10 of these a day. And so I can't read these, I'm not going to respond to these.

00:58:21   It's just not going to happen.

00:58:23   Other times people send me ideas for videos in the future.

00:58:27   Like topics that they want me to cover.

00:58:30   So yeah, it's feedback from people.

00:58:33   But then there's a lot of stuff that just falls into the category of

00:58:37   business email.

00:58:40   Things that are related to the running of my business.

00:58:43   And those are the emails that are

00:58:46   harder to deal with because they take up

00:58:50   more time. My current system, which is not working great but it's better than nothing

00:58:57   right now, is that I have on my Mac some smart folders which are trying to filter out the

00:59:05   email that's coming in into, broadly speaking, three groups. So the first group are people

00:59:12   that I have explicitly labeled as VIPs.

00:59:17   The second group which is useful is the ones that are people who are in my address book

00:59:25   but not necessarily labeled explicitly as VIPs.

00:59:30   And then the third group is everybody not in those two groups.

00:59:34   So someone who has sent me an email and they are not in my personal address book.

00:59:41   That's how I'm trying to triage the email as it comes in.

00:59:45   So if you listen to that Hello Internet podcast from a year ago, I was much better at email

00:59:50   than I am now.

00:59:53   I have gotten worse at email in the past year.

00:59:57   What does "worse" mean?

01:00:00   Worse means it's taking longer to reply to messages than is ideal.

01:00:07   That's what I mean by worse.

01:00:09   So there's an enormous number of emails that I am just not going to reply to.

01:00:13   It's just not going to happen.

01:00:14   And so I archive them or I delete them.

01:00:16   They're just passing through the system.

01:00:21   Here's the thing is that now that I've triaged email into these three groups, the problem

01:00:27   is that messages from people I've explicitly marked as VIPs, generally speaking, these

01:00:33   are not simple emails to reply to.

01:00:38   These are emails, if they are business related, that take a long time to do or that require

01:00:43   thinking about.

01:00:45   They're usually not just quick responses.

01:00:50   And so when I'm going through my email, what I'm trying to do is working from the top down

01:00:55   in the VIPs.

01:00:56   But because these emails are longer emails and they take more time, I'm finding that

01:01:03   I have a hard enough time just getting through the VIP section of my email list.

01:01:07   I haven't cleared that folder out in a while, which then doesn't mean good things for the next level down,

01:01:14   which are just the people who are in my address book, but not necessarily explicitly marked as VIPs, and then

01:01:20   it's very... this is very strange to me,

01:01:24   but I have now also become one of these people who has a large number of unread messages,

01:01:29   because

01:01:30   that third level of triage, the people who are not in my address book at all,

01:01:36   I haven't gotten to the bottom of that in a long time.

01:01:40   So this is something that is different for me. And when, like a year ago, me used to be much better at clearing out my email.

01:01:49   But current me is not. And it's partly because the volume of emails have gone up.

01:01:57   But it's also partly because the number of projects that I'm working on has gone up

01:02:01   and so actually I am dedicating much less time in my schedule to getting through email and

01:02:08   So that's why there's like a backlog building up, but it's very hard to

01:02:14   it's very hard to say at any any moment in time is

01:02:19   Grinding through my email does that is that a more valuable task to work on right now than getting the next video out

01:02:27   or working on the next podcast?

01:02:29   And the answer to that is...

01:02:31   is no.

01:02:33   Email is usually filled with

01:02:35   problems.

01:02:37   It's not so much

01:02:39   projects that I can move to

01:02:41   completion and then share with the world.

01:02:43   So that's one of the things that I'm having

01:02:45   a bit of difficulty with email.

01:02:47   There's more of it, and

01:02:49   because I'm doing many more projects now,

01:02:51   I'm also dedicating less time

01:02:53   to it. And so that's why there's

01:02:55   there's a backflow building up in my system.

01:02:58   So you mentioned that there's typically a lot of work-related stuff going into there

01:03:04   to help you run your business, but how is that not being affected by the fact that you're

01:03:09   now spending less time in email?

01:03:11   Yeah, so this is what I was talking about last time a little bit, is what kind of problems

01:03:18   do you let into your system?

01:03:20   And there are definitely things that have come up because I have not replied to emails

01:03:25   fast enough.

01:03:26   But in the system of my business, getting out videos and getting out podcasts like fixes

01:03:32   that problem.

01:03:33   I'll give you an example of just a silly problem that happened recently.

01:03:37   Okay.

01:03:38   Which is, so I have these three levels, VIPs, contacts, and then grind, everybody else.

01:03:44   Is that what it's called?

01:03:45   Yeah, I call it grind.

01:03:46   Love it.

01:03:47   Great, that's such a great name.

01:03:50   The reason I call it grind is because...

01:03:53   That's what it takes to get rid of it.

01:03:55   Yeah, these are two different kinds of groups of email.

01:03:59   VIPs and contacts are emails that require me to be thinking about.

01:04:05   They're things that can't be done easily.

01:04:09   Whereas the grind emails are emails that I can do in the delete flag, delete reply mode

01:04:16   of "I'm just trying to burn through these as fast as possible to get this number down lower."

01:04:22   So I want to just clarify that that is the process of going through the inbox and just

01:04:27   triaging it en masse. Like that goes, that goes, need to come back to that, that goes,

01:04:32   that goes, need to come back to that. Yeah, yeah that's more or less what I'm doing there with

01:04:37   those messages because they're usually messages from people that I don't know or they're automated

01:04:44   messages from banks or whatever, they can be gone through in a very fast mode.

01:04:52   But the reason I separate them out is because I was finding that I was having a problem

01:04:57   where I was trying to go through email and as I was going through it very quickly, I'm

01:05:04   in that mode of like, right, delete, delete, delete, delete, reply, delete, delete.

01:05:08   If I hit an email that was a big deal, so like say something from my accountant where

01:05:14   where I now need to gather a whole bunch of papers together.

01:05:18   That changes the flow of how this thing goes.

01:05:23   And so I've found it helpful

01:05:26   to try to filter out these two groups.

01:05:29   - Yep, that's one of the big changes in your system,

01:05:31   is this on mass filtering.

01:05:34   - Yeah, that's different now from a year ago.

01:05:37   But the silly problem that I was gonna mention,

01:05:39   it's not really silly, but I recently,

01:05:43   I recently moved my parents from one email system to another,

01:05:47   but this meant that their email address changed.

01:05:52   - Oh, mm-hmm.

01:05:53   - And so, because their email address changed,

01:05:56   I forgot to update this in my system.

01:05:58   - Yeah.

01:05:59   - And so, I basically, I've been missing out

01:06:03   on two weeks worth of increasingly sad messages

01:06:06   about like, oh, I haven't heard from you.

01:06:08   And so, like, oh no!

01:06:11   I talked to my parents the other day and realized,

01:06:13   right I need to I need to go back into the system and pull them out of the

01:06:18   grind folder by updating the smart filters about their email addresses like

01:06:22   no it shouldn't go in there and now now I'm looking at if I look at my VIP

01:06:26   section there's four emails from my parents about flights so it's

01:06:33   interesting to me that you communicate with family members via email I feel

01:06:42   - Yeah. - So like though,

01:06:42   that you would prefer a different method of communication

01:06:45   in this scenario.

01:06:46   - Yeah, the thing with email with flights

01:06:50   is just that there's a lot to write

01:06:52   and there's information that's going back and forth

01:06:54   and being copied and pasted.

01:06:55   So email kind of does make sense in this scenario to use.

01:07:00   But this falls right back into my problem of email

01:07:03   is just containing a large number of different things.

01:07:07   And that's why it's like, oh, I'm in business mode

01:07:11   And then, "Oh, but now I'm replying to my parents about something."

01:07:14   And this is like an entirely different person writes this email than writes a negotiation

01:07:19   email over ad rates.

01:07:20   He's like, "Your brain just has to switch gears a lot."

01:07:24   This is a good illustration of one of the big problems for me and you, I think, with

01:07:29   email is it is a system of chaos, which I don't deal with very well, typically, and

01:07:37   things are chaotic like that.

01:07:39   and they think that you prefer to have things more organized.

01:07:42   But email is just chaos because you cannot be in one mode

01:07:47   trying to deal with it.

01:07:50   Because like my email is there is business things,

01:07:52   there are emotional things.

01:07:54   Like there are things that you don't care about,

01:07:57   there are things that you really care about.

01:07:59   Like it's impossible for me to get into a mindset

01:08:02   and deal with email.

01:08:04   So I try and just deal with it as soon as possible.

01:08:09   That is my method of email is, okay,

01:08:14   so here's the thing that's gonna terrify you.

01:08:16   I have notifications on for all email.

01:08:20   So every email that I get, I get a notification on my Mac

01:08:24   or on my watch or on my phone,

01:08:27   depending on what device I'm using.

01:08:29   - Yeah, I know this.

01:08:29   I've seen this in action in person.

01:08:31   - Oh yeah, of course you have.

01:08:32   So the thing is for me is that then I don't need to get into time to do email

01:08:37   mode because the stuff that is important gets picked up or I'm at least aware of

01:08:43   it. So then I just go and do it.

01:08:46   But I'm incredibly good at ignoring emails that I don't want to deal with right

01:08:51   now. Like if there is an email that comes in, I don't want to deal with it right

01:08:54   now, I don't go to my email inbox. And then for me personally,

01:08:58   what that does is it allows me to not have to get into email mode and then

01:09:04   have to deal with all of the craziness that could could come from it. So I can

01:09:08   just kind of deal with it as and when I need to and also mailbox that I have on the

01:09:13   notifications I have just an archive button so stuff I never want to see I

01:09:17   just I never even see it when I then open my email because it's gone already.

01:09:21   See a subject line not interested or see a sender not interested, archived, I'm

01:09:26   I'm not even in the email app and I'm archiving it.

01:09:29   So that works for me because then I'm

01:09:33   effectively triaging constantly.

01:09:35   And plus, with the type of work that I do,

01:09:37   sometimes there are emails

01:09:38   that I want to work on immediately.

01:09:40   There is something that comes in,

01:09:43   a request that comes in or something like that,

01:09:45   and I wanna do it straight away.

01:09:47   So it works.

01:09:48   Even though, like I know that it kind of contradicts

01:09:51   the chaos idea a little bit,

01:09:54   That works a lot better for me than opening an email inbox

01:09:58   and there'd be 50 things in there,

01:09:59   'cause that freaks me out more than anything else.

01:10:02   Seeing that really long list, I don't like that.

01:10:05   So dealing with it more frequently

01:10:08   makes me feel more comfortable.

01:10:10   - Yeah, I can totally see that

01:10:14   because I hate the long list as well.

01:10:18   And one of the things I have found surprising

01:10:20   is I actually like doing email on my phone,

01:10:25   partly because there's no way to see

01:10:27   the long list of emails on the phone.

01:10:30   There's just one email that takes up the whole screen

01:10:32   and I reply to it and then I archive it

01:10:34   and then the next message just comes up.

01:10:36   There's no selection, there's no choice,

01:10:39   there's no list of everything.

01:10:41   It's just try to make these go away one at a time.

01:10:46   - Well, there is the inbox list.

01:10:47   - But I mean, once you click on an email--

01:10:50   It's full screen.

01:10:51   It's full screen and now you're not looking at it.

01:10:53   Whereas the thing that I hate about mail on the Mac,

01:10:57   even though I do like it generally,

01:10:59   is there's no real way to hide the long list

01:11:02   of emails on the side.

01:11:04   And just like in the way I use OmniFocus

01:11:07   and getting things done, I find it extremely helpful

01:11:10   to limit the number of things that you can see

01:11:14   that you need to work on.

01:11:16   So even when I have a long list of stuff in OmniFocus,

01:11:20   I've tried to set it up so that OmniFocus is only showing me three things that can be done right now

01:11:25   Even if I have a hundred things to do in the day, only three of them ever show up at a time

01:11:30   And email, I wish I could have email on my Mac work more like that

01:11:35   I don't want to see the long list, I just want to see the one email that I'm replying to now

01:11:41   I don't want to see all of the emails that I need to reply to all at once

01:11:45   I just don't find it helpful.

01:11:48   But I think you are right about the mode of email is a tricky thing.

01:11:55   The lesson I have learned about myself about working is it's very helpful to maintain modes.

01:12:03   And email just does not have a consistent state.

01:12:06   It's very, very variable over time.

01:12:11   So I have a question for you. That big box of email, the grind list, that's getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and there's just processing that needs to occur.

01:12:22   Why don't you pay someone to do it for you? What about the elusive personal assistant?

01:12:29   Well, it's funny you mention that. Because just a couple of days ago I actually had my personal assistant agree to filter off a certain amount of email.

01:12:40   So, I have been trying to figure out ways to make this problem go away.

01:12:47   Because I'm... again, you're talking to me at a kind of funny time.

01:12:51   I suggested the email topic because it's been on my mind.

01:12:54   Because precisely now I find myself again in a situation of, "Mmm, this is not working well, your current system."

01:13:02   So something needs to change.

01:13:03   Because I'm a firm believer in when something is not working well in your life, just try

01:13:10   harder is always the wrong answer.

01:13:14   That is never the correct answer to improving stuff.

01:13:18   You need to figure out how to change the system to make things better.

01:13:22   If there is a problem, there's a systemic issue for the problem.

01:13:25   Yes.

01:13:26   And it's like you want to automate the solution in some way or just change what the system

01:13:30   is because I know full well that like, okay, I am going to be spending less and less time

01:13:38   on email going forward, so I need to figure out a way so that stuff still happens.

01:13:43   Or what needs to come to my attention comes to my attention because in the past few months

01:13:48   I've been really aware that email has become this kind of black hole for people who are

01:13:53   trying to contact me about various things and it just isn't working out very well.

01:13:58   But the problem with email is it's so central to everything.

01:14:03   Like I can't just turn over my email account to anybody

01:14:09   because it's the connecting point for everything

01:14:14   in my whole digital life.

01:14:17   So like email is such a,

01:14:19   like the email addresses that control say,

01:14:21   my YouTube account.

01:14:21   Like it's just too valuable no matter how much

01:14:25   you trust anybody to turn that over directly.

01:14:28   So I'm trying to figure out ways to,

01:14:32   with filters and things, divert a certain amount of email

01:14:36   to my personal assistant for just straight up processing.

01:14:40   Or I'm trying to remove myself as the connecting point

01:14:43   from certain kinds of conversations that are occurring,

01:14:48   where I am the bottleneck in a conversation

01:14:50   between three people.

01:14:52   Like is there a way that I can remove myself

01:14:54   as the bottleneck from here, because that is a permanent solution as opposed to,

01:14:58   "Well, I'm just going to buckle down and dedicate two hours every day to email,"

01:15:03   which then has knock-on effects of producing fewer videos and podcasts.

01:15:07   That's not a good solution.

01:15:10   This is how specialization works.

01:15:12   If you are good at something, you should do the thing that you are good at,

01:15:18   and you shouldn't do the things that you're not good at.

01:15:21   and I am increasingly aware that I am at a level of email that it doesn't make sense

01:15:28   for me to be trying to do all of this in the way that a year ago I could still be on top

01:15:35   of it, whereas now I'm no longer on top of it.

01:15:38   It's just too much.

01:15:39   It's just too much.

01:15:40   I am happy to say that this week's episode of Cortex is brought to you by Igloo, the

01:15:45   internet you'll actually like.

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01:17:22   Igloo is a great way for you to work with your team, collaborate with your team, share

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01:17:37   to 10 people for as long as you want.

01:17:40   up right now igloosoftware.com/cortex. Thank you so much to igloo for their

01:17:44   support of this show and Relay FM. What you said on the episode of Hello

01:17:49   Internet is the way that you look at the email that you look at you should kind

01:17:53   of read the first line see and then kind of read the second like at the first

01:17:58   paragraph read this first line the second paragraph and that gives you a

01:18:01   good understanding of what the emails content is. Do you still is this kind of

01:18:08   still the way when you are going through email that you're not necessarily

01:18:12   familiar with, is this kind of a similar system still? You kind of just like

01:18:16   glance at the first line and it gives you a good, or you feel at least, gives you a

01:18:20   good idea of what you need to do.

01:18:22   Yeah that's still what I'm doing when I'm going through the grind section of my

01:18:27   email is site skimming those emails very fast and making very snap judgments

01:18:34   about if anything needs to be done with those. And overwhelmingly the answer is

01:18:39   no. But yes that is that is still something that I do when I'm when I'm

01:18:43   going through emails that are not from people in my address book. So one of the

01:18:47   reasons I mentioned this is because I found the first email I ever sent you.

01:18:51   Oh yeah? Yeah and it's in our show notes. I took a screenshot. Oh yeah? So it's the

01:18:58   first email I ever sent you having listened to Hello Internet previously I

01:19:03   I set it up very differently to the way that I usually write these types of emails and I wanted to interview you.

01:19:09   I have no memory of this.

01:19:12   There you go.

01:19:14   Uh huh. I can see this. Alright. That looks like a response I'd write.

01:19:18   But do you see how it's written? So it starts off, "Hello Mr. Gray.

01:19:23   I'm writing to see if you would be interested in being a guest on my new interview podcast sometime soon."

01:19:28   This is nothing like the way I usually write this email to people.

01:19:32   This is following my advice on that Hello Internet show of open with what you want.

01:19:36   Exactly. So that's very much what I did.

01:19:39   Uh-huh.

01:19:40   Because usually I start these emails explaining who I am, which I know is exactly not what you're looking for.

01:19:47   No, it's not what I'm looking for at all.

01:19:48   But the thing that surprised me the most about this is you replied the very next day.

01:19:53   Which I never understand.

01:19:55   Like, I was like, "What?"

01:19:56   And you said no, and you were very courteous in the way that you said no,

01:20:00   and you were very kind to me and you had proven that you had read the email,

01:20:04   because you said I'll be sure to check out the new show when it launches.

01:20:07   Which I was, that was very, that felt very good to me because you were acknowledging me

01:20:12   and then saying that you would listen to my podcast, which was very nice of you.

01:20:16   But yeah, I just wanted to include that as a thing

01:20:19   because I just thought it was quite entertaining.

01:20:21   >> Yeah, so this is, you sent me an email asking me to be on inquisitive.

01:20:27   >> Yep.

01:20:28   And then I said, "Hi Myke, thanks for the invitation, but I'm afraid I'm not doing other podcasts at this time.

01:20:34   I'll be sure to check out the new show when it launches."

01:20:37   This is now the show that has become your music interview show, which I am not listening to as we discussed last time.

01:20:43   Well, at that time it was just a straight up interview people about what they do.

01:20:47   Oh yeah, no I know, but I just think it's funny that now you are on a podcast with me

01:20:52   and I'm telling you how I don't listen to the very show that you first approached me about.

01:20:57   But yeah, I don't remember this at all. So this is what, a year ago almost exactly?

01:21:06   It is pretty much a year ago exactly.

01:21:08   But no, this is structured well for reaching out to someone.

01:21:13   But yes, I replied the next day and if someone was emailing me now, it is very likely that I wouldn't reply for months, if at all.

01:21:23   So this has gotten increasingly worse in a very quick period of time.

01:21:29   Yeah, what has happened is that I used to look at email every day,

01:21:38   and over time that interval has gotten longer and longer between times that I look at email.

01:21:48   And so now it's much more like a fortnightly email schedule

01:21:52   where I just literally don't open email or look at it for longer and longer periods of time.

01:21:58   And it's this combination of things that I just...

01:22:05   Email is like the physical mail, right, where it is an enormous amount of stuff that you don't need to do anything about.

01:22:13   Like you think of the letters that actually go to your house.

01:22:15   Like a bunch of that is--there's nothing you can do about it.

01:22:19   And then there's just a few things that are really problems that you need to avoid.

01:22:25   And so that is my experience with email now as well, largely.

01:22:31   It's a lot of stuff that there's nothing specifically to be done about.

01:22:38   and then the rest of it is problems that I'm trying to avoid.

01:22:44   It's like a downside avoidance machine is what email is.

01:22:53   Whereas creating things on the internet is much more like an upside creation machine.

01:23:01   And of those two sides of my business, I'm much more interested in focusing on the upside creation than the downside avoidance.

01:23:10   And the problems that have arisen from less and less frequently checking email are...

01:23:20   They haven't been problems that are large enough that make me think, "Oh, I really need to increase the amount of time that I spend in email versus working on videos."

01:23:34   So that's partly why the time that I have just spent has gotten smaller and smaller on email.

01:23:39   Because I just have a hard time seeing what a lot of the positive benefits are of things that are coming across that schedule to me

01:23:48   Or coming across that system to me

01:23:50   Whereas, it's been very interesting for me that we set up this podcast largely using Slack

01:24:00   So I've never used Slack before.

01:24:03   And there is no doubt that we were able to go from

01:24:09   "You convinced me" to "First episode"

01:24:13   a hundred times faster because we were using Slack.

01:24:17   Which is, I mean for people who haven't used Slack, it's kind of an instant messenger program

01:24:22   but it's designed for little teams of people working together on a project.

01:24:29   And the thing about Slack which makes me much more receptive to using it is, like we were talking about before, it's now a constrained domain problem.

01:24:41   When I open Slack, there's stuff that is related to the Cortex project in there.

01:24:48   And that's all it is. I don't also have a message from my dentist saying that it's time to schedule a checkup.

01:24:55   I know what's going to be in there and it's much clearer about what needs to get done.

01:25:01   You're asking a question about something that we're trying to set up or here's an idea for a topic for the show.

01:25:07   We don't even use it as a general chatting app most of the time.

01:25:13   So that's why Slack has been a very interesting experience for me to use.

01:25:17   And I wish that I could use Slack with more people in my life, but it's a problem of like, I don't have a team of people that I'm working with.

01:25:27   I have a bunch of individual people that I'm working with, and so it still makes sense for our contact to go through email.

01:25:34   But I'm just aware that Slack has been a very interesting and vastly improved experience for moving a project forward to completion.

01:25:45   And I would definitely consider it for other things in the future over email.

01:25:50   You could totally set Slack up in a way to do a lot of one-on-one stuff.

01:25:56   Like, it is possible to configure it in that way?

01:25:59   Yeah, it may be possible, but the problem is also just

01:26:03   I'm not going to convince the four or five accountant/tax advisors that I work with

01:26:10   to all, like, "Hey guys, let's all get together on Slack."

01:26:14   They're not going to do that for a single client of theirs.

01:26:18   It's never going to happen, even though I wish to God

01:26:21   that I could convince them to do that.

01:26:23   - This is actually one of the things

01:26:24   that I wanted to talk about was like replacements for email

01:26:27   and Slack for Relay, you know, the company

01:26:31   that the Podcast Network, that Cortex is a part of.

01:26:34   It's all we never email.

01:26:38   Like I never email anybody like that's in that room,

01:26:41   which is the majority of people involved with the company.

01:26:44   And then I also have separate Slack groups

01:26:48   'cause you have different accounts.

01:26:50   So we have separate ones for design

01:26:52   and separate ones for development as well.

01:26:54   So practically everything that we do as a company

01:26:56   goes through Slack.

01:26:58   So there's a couple of different ways that it works.

01:27:00   Obviously we have a general chat room

01:27:02   where people that are part of Relay just chat

01:27:05   to each other in the day.

01:27:06   But then there are specific private groups that are set up

01:27:09   like the one that me and Gray have for this show,

01:27:12   where we talk about the things that are part of the show,

01:27:14   and every single show really has one,

01:27:16   and that's where preparation for the show

01:27:18   and discussion about the show goes.

01:27:19   And one of the great things about it is,

01:27:22   I don't worry about just throwing stuff in there

01:27:26   and just waiting for you to get to it

01:27:27   whenever you can get to it.

01:27:29   But if we were emailing each other,

01:27:31   I would be way more considered about it.

01:27:33   Because there was a time where me and you

01:27:37   were just emailing each other about things,

01:27:40   like before we started working on any projects.

01:27:42   And I was always really anxious about sending stuff to you.

01:27:47   Because I knew that all I was doing

01:27:50   was adding to a problem.

01:27:52   - Yeah, yeah.

01:27:54   Yeah, that's actually a good way to put it,

01:27:55   where email feels like a general purpose problem,

01:28:00   whereas Slack feels much more like a tool to a solution.

01:28:07   they feel very different.

01:28:09   For anyone who's followed Slack, the company,

01:28:12   you can see that they have had just massive, massive growth

01:28:17   since their introduction.

01:28:19   And I think that that is in no small part

01:28:21   because people do feel like they need some solution to email.

01:28:26   There needs to be something different

01:28:31   for certain kinds of tasks,

01:28:33   and Slack seems to fit that very well.

01:28:37   And it's why when you brought up Slack,

01:28:40   I was very happy to give it a try

01:28:41   because I was aware at that time,

01:28:43   like man, if we're gonna email each other,

01:28:44   this is not going to, or this is going to take a long time

01:28:48   for this to actually occur if we're gonna do it on email.

01:28:51   - Which is exactly why I brought up Slack.

01:28:53   - Yes, but this is what I mean about

01:28:56   I'm trying to figure out ways to pull out things from email.

01:29:01   And one of the other things that I've done,

01:29:02   which we mentioned briefly on the previous show, is

01:29:05   I email my personal assistant a lot, but I have been trying to migrate a lot of that to

01:29:11   Wunderlist instead

01:29:13   because our communication is largely

01:29:16   task-based, so I can put stuff in there for her and it synchronizes on her end and she sees it and then I can see

01:29:23   what she's working on or what she's ticked off. Like that's way better for me than trying to

01:29:29   Send out emails and keep track of what emails have been sent

01:29:32   So this is what I've been I've been working on with email is trying to figure out okay

01:29:37   What can go somewhere else or what can I pull out like looking for these?

01:29:43   systematic

01:29:45   systematic solutions to

01:29:47   The problems that I'm that I've been having recently with just this isn't this isn't a tool that is working for me as well as

01:29:54   It was before and I'm not going to double down on effort on email

01:29:57   I need to figure out a better solution for this.

01:30:01   I still have things that I want to cover, but I don't want to do them today.

01:30:07   Because I expect that once we both come away from the show and think about it and listen

01:30:11   to it and get feedback, there might be other things we want to talk about anyway, so I

01:30:14   expect that there may be some more that we discuss next time.

01:30:18   But there was one thing that I wanted to finish on today, which was trying to think of, for

01:30:23   what a dream replacement of email would look like. So a couple of things that I

01:30:29   would mention that might help spark some thought. How open would it be to the rest

01:30:35   of the world? Would it be character limited in any way? And would there be

01:30:40   more silos that are built in? So like for example how Slack has different groups

01:30:45   that you can communicate in different ways with different people? Or like how

01:30:49   Gmail does a pretty good job of filtering email out itself if you want

01:30:54   it to be set up that way into like promotions and newsletters and important

01:30:59   email and that kind of thing. Do you have a sense for what you would like a

01:31:03   replacement to email to be? No I don't because again it's it's email is trying

01:31:11   to solve a bunch of different problems so I think that it's you have to think

01:31:18   about the nature of the kind of problem that you're trying to solve.

01:31:22   And it's just email is trying to do so many things. I'm not... I wouldn't say

01:31:26   "Oh boy, I wish email had a character limit because sometimes I need to receive

01:31:30   or send extraordinarily long emails." That does happen.

01:31:34   For me, really. A perfect email

01:31:38   replacement would be a 100% trustworthy

01:31:42   robot with strong artificial intelligence that I could just turn the whole thing over to.

01:31:46   Listen, you handle this. I can entirely trust it to go through that for me.

01:31:52   But we don't have that as an option right now.

01:31:55   So the replacement isn't the system, it's the person who receives it.

01:32:00   Right? You want to give it to a robot, i.e. cutting you out.

01:32:04   Yeah, this is what I'm trying to focus on now, is cutting me out of the email loop on a bunch of things.

01:32:11   That's what I'm trying to work toward as an ultimate solution.

01:32:16   Okay, let me do a couple of Ask Gray questions with you and we'll round up today.

01:32:22   Okay. And this one is kind of linked and it's interesting and I know that people will ask it, so I need to say it today.

01:32:30   Rhys asked, "How do you reconcile your email policy with having an email-based newsletter?"

01:32:37   Yeah, everyone asks this. I don't understand this question.

01:32:40   This is why I know I need to ask this because otherwise people will ask it.

01:32:43   Yeah, everyone goes, "You don't like receiving emails. Why do you have an email list?"

01:32:50   because

01:32:53   It seems so obvious to me, I almost have a hard time answering the question, but

01:32:58   the email list is there as an option for people who find it useful.

01:33:05   like people to sign up with the email list the number of people who have signed up is one of the most important numbers that

01:33:11   I keep track of

01:33:13   but I I have it there for people who find it useful and

01:33:17   Currently there are about 75,000 people who are signed up on that that email list

01:33:23   But I'm not going to make assumptions about how other people want to use email or how they run things

01:33:29   It's just it's just there is an option

01:33:33   I'm signed up to other people's email lists and I'm glad to receive them sometimes

01:33:39   But yeah, so it is there for people to take advantage of and I don't know how other people run their own email systems

01:33:47   But obviously people find it useful. I can see from the numbers from

01:33:51   MailChimp, which I'm currently using to run that that lots of people open it and lots of people click on it

01:33:56   So it's there people find it useful. I'm really glad to have a notification system that is

01:34:02   independent from YouTube or other proprietary systems.

01:34:05   So that's why the email list is there. It's for people to take advantage of. But it's not a requirement.

01:34:12   I think that's the thing, right? Because the complaints that you have about,

01:34:16   and I have about the email that we receive is because we don't opt into it. Like this system is completely opt-in.

01:34:23   Yes. Yes. You don't accidentally end up subscribed. And then you also have some really great things

01:34:29   that I don't see in other places where people can specify what they want to see

01:34:34   and you categorize things. Yeah this is... I try very hard with that email list

01:34:40   to think about how would I like an email list to be because I'm very sensitive

01:34:44   about getting too many emails. So yes I do have a system where people can say I

01:34:51   only want emails about videos or I only want emails about podcasts or don't send

01:34:58   send me emails if there's new merchandise or like all the...

01:35:01   I try to set it up so that it is as customizable as possible.

01:35:06   Because there are a couple of email lists that I am signed up to,

01:35:10   but I get a little frustrated because the volume is just a bit too high

01:35:15   and I wish that I could filter out certain kinds of things.

01:35:17   So that's why I set that up,

01:35:19   is to try to make it as easy and convenient for people as possible.

01:35:22   And that's also why I have the gigantic unsubscribe button on the bottom,

01:35:26   because there's nothing I hate more than trying to search through very low contrast, very small text on the bottom of an email list to find the unsubscribe link.

01:35:36   I know that people find it interesting because, people find it useful because for Reasons Unknown, an email didn't go out about last week's episode and people were like, "Where is it? I don't know that the episode went out."

01:35:49   You know?

01:35:49   - It's not reasons unknown.

01:35:51   You don't have to cover up for me, Myke.

01:35:53   The reasons unknown is, just like I said on the show,

01:35:58   this was me thinking I can run through the checklist

01:36:00   in my head without having to actually look at it.

01:36:03   And so when the Cortex went live, I was like,

01:36:05   "Oh great, let me post it everywhere."

01:36:07   Posted on Facebook, posted on Tumblr,

01:36:09   posted on my regular website, posted on Twitter.

01:36:12   Oh, I forgot to send out the email.

01:36:14   And then by the next morning,

01:36:15   I think it's too late to send it out.

01:36:17   It's done. I feel there's too much of a burden to send out 75,000 emails to people about a thing that was supposed to happen yesterday.

01:36:24   So that's why there's no email. Once again, I thought I could do the checklist without looking at it.

01:36:29   I have to relearn this lesson all the time.

01:36:31   I didn't want to drop you in it, you know? Even though I kind of did.

01:36:35   That's what this podcast is turning out to be, is me trying to pierce my own reputation of being some kind of amazing, perfect, productive person.

01:36:48   It's not a reputation that I want.

01:36:51   I don't think of it even in that way, whilst I know some people do, because there are people that would like to hear us talk about productivity practices.

01:36:59   I've got that kind of request and the point is the idea is that of this show

01:37:05   again I don't know if we explained it poorly is that me and Grey are people

01:37:10   that do a lot of stuff but kind of classify ourselves as not traditionally

01:37:14   productive people and that we have our own weird ways of doing things and more

01:37:20   so I just find and the reason I want to do it the first place I find your

01:37:24   methods fascinating. I treat it like a nature documentary, you know? Like I'm

01:37:32   Richard Attenborough in this scenario and you know you're the lesser spotted gray.

01:37:36   Uh-huh that's what I am? That's that's how I kind of treat this. Look at him, look

01:37:41   at him as he tries to navigate his email.

01:37:44   Lewis asked about music. Because we talked about music last week, you were talking

01:37:50   about music as a function, which many people enjoyed as I did.

01:37:53   Mm-hmm.

01:37:54   Oh, something I missed when you first said it, and when I was doing the edit, I was like,

01:37:59   "What?" when you said that you pick a song and just listen to it over and over.

01:38:02   How does that not drive you crazy?

01:38:04   I mean, I don't even know how to...

01:38:08   I don't know if I should even talk to you about this, because we just...

01:38:11   We can't understand it.

01:38:13   Think of music as so, so different.

01:38:15   It is very common for me to have a single song on repeat for an entire afternoon.

01:38:21   Ah!

01:38:21   [laughs]

01:38:22   Okay, I don't- there's no point. Just leave it.

01:38:25   But Lewis asked, "If you listen to Girl Talk, you know, all day, as we mentioned, multiple times a day,

01:38:31   does it get stuck in your head?"

01:38:33   No.

01:38:34   Oh wow.

01:38:35   I just- okay.

01:38:37   And ladies, you see him here, ladies and gentlemen.

01:38:40   Because Grey doesn't understand music.

01:38:43   Sometimes music does get stuck in my head in a frustrating way, but the solution to that is also just to put it on repeat

01:38:50   for an hour, and then I'm done with this.

01:38:54   Gavin wants to know

01:38:59   Gavin wants to know how many hours Smart Speed has saved you in Overcast.

01:39:04   So the app that we both use to listen to podcasts, Overcast, has a function in it called Smart Speed where it like shortens the gaps in conversation.

01:39:12   And it is possible if you are an Overcast user, if you press the little button that

01:39:17   looks like the Overcast icon on the top left and scroll right down to the bottom, if you

01:39:21   use the Smart Speed function, it will tell you how many hours Smart Speed has saved you.

01:39:25   I have 46 hours saved in Smart Speed.

01:39:30   Yeah, you have way more than me.

01:39:32   You have way more than me because I don't use Smart Speed on all podcasts.

01:39:37   I only have, it says, 24 hours right now from me on Overcast.

01:39:41   So it's not an enormous amount, but I don't run smart speed on every single podcast, only

01:39:49   maybe half of the podcasts.

01:39:51   There you go.

01:39:53   So that's that.

01:39:56   If you'd like to send in your feedback for us, please feel free to do it in any method

01:40:00   that you choose.

01:40:01   If you send email, it will come to me and I'm happy to receive it and I will look for

01:40:05   it as I do with everything else.

01:40:07   But as we've mentioned on previous shows and especially on today's show, our preferred

01:40:10   method of feedback now definitely is Reddit where you can voice your

01:40:14   opinions and let them be known but also if you'd like to ask questions one of

01:40:18   the best ways to do that is to use the #AskGray hashtag and they come through.

01:40:22   I just want to point something out about that as well. I go through those every

01:40:25   week. I pull out a couple for the episode but I have a large bank of questions

01:40:30   that are building up which I am doing specifically for a couple of

01:40:34   reasons. Sometimes they meet a topic that I want to talk about so they might even

01:40:40   match that or I feel like I'm already going to talk to Grey about it so it will

01:40:43   be answered via the topic of the show. But also I think at some point I'm gonna

01:40:48   do a question and answer type episode to clear out a bunch of the interesting

01:40:52   stuff but I look through them all. Some are considered for the episodes, some are

01:40:55   asked on the episodes and also some help inform topics as well so I love to

01:41:00   receive those they're really great but also you know people can ask questions

01:41:03   and stuff in the Reddit and I pick those up before the start of every episode and

01:41:06   look through everything to make sure that I'm fully informed about how the

01:41:10   show should progress because it is very important to me to get this type of

01:41:14   feedback because I know what people want to hear about on the show and that's

01:41:17   very useful for me. So please continue to do that and I'll speak to you

01:41:22   again Mr. Gray.