Wisereads Vol. 41 — Moonbound by Robin Sloan, Alan Jacobs' attention cottage, and more

Last week, we shared Tyler Cowen's latest work, GOAT, a generative book on the greatest economists. This week, we're thrilled to be sharing a preview of Robin Sloan's (one of our favorite authors) upcoming novel, Moonbound, a far-future adventure expanding the Penumbraverse.

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Most highlighted Articles of the week


50 things I know

Sasha Chapin · sashachapin.substack.com

Writer Sasha Chapin shares insights he's accumulated on everything from peeling ginger: "Use a spoon. The first time you do this, you’ll feel like you’re Neo with a fresh brain full of downloaded kung fu skills," to talent: "I know that talent doesn’t feel like you’re amazing. It feels like the difficulties that trouble others are mysteriously absent in your case. Don’t ask yourself where your true gifts lie. Ask what other people seem weirdly bad at."


the attention cottage

Alan Jacobs · blog.ayjay.org

Reflecting on the decline of shared focus, Baylor University Professor Alan Jacobs encourages individuals to build a private space of attentiveness, away from everyday distractions. "The great artists and thinkers cultivate a systolic/diastolic rhythm, tension and release, an increase and then decrease of pressure. In the latter phase they withdraw, by whatever means available to them, to their attentional cottage for refreshment and clarification — and then they can return to the pressures of the moment more effectively, and in ways non-destructive to them and to others."


Secrets from the Algorithm: Google Search’s Internal Engineering Documentation Has Leaked

Mike King · ipullrank

Following their recent leak, Mike King analyzes Google's internal documentation and history of secrecy, offering insights for SEO experts to improve rankings. "The bottom line here is that you need to drive more successful clicks using a broader set of queries and earn more link diversity if you want to continue to rank… A focus on driving more qualified traffic to a better user experience will send signals to Google that your page deserves to rank."

Most highlighted YouTube Video of the week


I built a GPT model in 10 hours

Looking Glass Universe

Quantum computing PhD Mithuna Yoganathan reflects on building a Shakespearean GPT using Andrej Karpathy's tutorial. "It is so empowering to just feel like there is actually no magic inside of an LLM. It's all fairly straightforward. If you can break down every individual piece and then put them together in the right order, that's all there is to it."

Most highlighted Twitter Thread of the week


I'm 36

Sarah Larsen

Sarah Larsen, neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, offers seven techniques for hacking stress. Among them are Jon Acuff's 3 filters for curating thoughts: "Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind?" and Tim Ferriss's fear-setting method: "Define your fears for clarity. Brainstorm prevention. Plan for damage repair. List the benefits of taking action. Consider the costs of inaction."

Most highlighted PDF of the week

Financial Statement Analysis with Large Language Models

Alex G. Kim, Maximilian Muhn, Valeri V. Nikolaev

Research by University of Chicago students reveals that LLMs excel in financial statement analysis, particularly where human analysts may be biased. "Even without any narrative or industry-specific information, the LLM outperforms financial analysts in its ability to predict earnings changes… our trading strategies based on GPT’s predictions yield a higher Sharpe ratio and alphas than strategies based on other models."

Hand-picked book of the week



Robin Sloan

Robin Sloan's Moonbound explores two futures at once: a near future of human success, and a more distant future — eleven thousand years from now — in which things have gone awry for Earth, thanks in part to mysterious creations called dragons. It's an epic quest with AI, literary storytelling, Robin's signature charm, and an expansive world we can't do justice with this tiny blurb.

"The Anth engineered scintillating emissaries: a new kind of crew for a new kind of voyage. Atop a foundation of computation, they layered intelligences cribbed from nature: the improvisation of the octopus, the sociability of the crow, the spider’s knack for strange geometry. Of course, they also added themselves—their stories, most of all.

Should have been more careful which stories went in there.

These creatures were the whole potential of a planet poured into a new vessel. The Anth called them: dragons."

Mr. Penumbra and Sourdough are two of our most favorite contemporary novels, so we’re particularly tickled to be sharing a preview of Moonbound in our humble Wisereads newsletter. Further, Robin is offering one of the coolest preorder bonuses we’ve ever seen. If you order a copy of Moonbound before June 5th and submit the receipt to preorder@robinsloan.com, he’ll send you a limited edition Risograph zine (more here). Lastly, Robin asked us to mention that he’s doing a book tour kicking off on June 10th at Green Apple Books on the Park in San Francisco, cohosted by Mike Krieger (cofounder of Instagram, now CPO of Anthropic AI).

Handpicked RSS feed of the week


Letters of Note

For more than a decade, Shaun Usher has been collecting history's most interesting letters, which he's turned into a newsletter and several beautiful books. From This I saw, this I experienced, this I know to be the truth: "I venture to predict that after all the huzzas have been uttered and the public acclaim is but a memory, you will derive the greatest satisfaction from the serene knowledge that you have discovered new truths… This experience is a precious thing; it is known to all researchers, in whatever field of endeavour, who have ventured into the unknown and have discovered new truths."