On reading The Diff

Yesterday Byrne asked for testimonials. In a happy coincidence, I was already planning to write something about consuming newsletters.

I've argued elsewhere for "T-shaped" reading plans: it's an underrated skill, maximizing how much and well you consume what you're best at consuming. But now you need to figure out: what should it be that you consume a lot of?

For me, it's largely newsletter writers. The economics of this aren't fully clear to me (or anyone else, I think), but the people I'm most willing to bet chunks of my cognitive life on are, disproportionately, writing newsletters or newsletter-adjacent things.

Why?

  1. It makes them prolific, which fuels componding returns for a good reader (see above).
  2. There are massive intellectual benefits to writing on the cadence a newsletter encourages, so the writers are improving most rapidly.
  3. Various selection effects.
  4. There are intellectual benefits to reading on the cadence a newsletter encourages, too.
  5. It's important to have a lot of upside in your intellectual choices, and the best newsletters can improve in a basically unbounded way. (This is an aspect of (2).)
  6. They're good influences: having newsletters in your environment surrounds you with models of hard, diligent work.
  7. They're fairly likely to develop intellectual perspectives that aren't redundant with the rest of what's out there. (Related to (2), (3), and (5).)
  8. They're in your email archives already, so they improve your email search results. (Less important than the others, but a nice bonus.)

And right now, The Diff is--for me, at least--the best newsletter going and the single most indispensable part of my information diet. I'm not really a finance guy--I just think of it as a student of the world sending me frequent dispatches from everywhere and about everything.

So, that's my testimonial. It's mostly a testimonial for newsletters, but also one for Byrne as a reliably useful (and fun!) read and a trustworthy investment decision for your intellectual effort.

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