The start of something new

Here we go!

Hello friends,

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving.

Thank you for subscribing to Thoughts, a newsletter on technology, philosophy, the future, and everything in between. In other words, this is my way of sharing what I personally have found interesting over the past week. I hope you enjoy it.

Before we get into it, I'd like to let you know that that all replies go straight into my personal inbox. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts as well! :)

Thinking for yourself

When you hear someone say something, stop and ask yourself "Is that true?"

How To Think For Yourself by Paul Graham

It's a little ironic that I'm recommending a PG article to learn more about thinking for oneself, but it's worth a read. As students, we're told to memorize facts, but we’re never told to think for ourselves. This results in conventional-thinking. In other words, a lack of originality and conviction.

Far too often I find myself blindly agreeing with the ideas shared by someone of higher authority. Writing, to me, is a way of working against this habit and developing the skill of independent-thinking, even if my ideas currently originate from a few niche sources.

Turning expenses into revenue

Amazon has standard expenses for an e-commerce business: cost of goods, shipping & fulfillment, marketing, technology, payments, and more. I was blown away when I saw this tweet on how Amazon, over the course of a decade, converted almost every expense into a source of revenue.

  • Product costs → AmazonBasics, Kindle, Echo, Fire

  • Shipping & fulfillment → Amazon Logistics, Amazon Fulfillment

  • Technology → Amazon Web Services

  • Marketing → Amazon Prime, Amazon Ads

  • Payment Processing → Amazon Payments

This is something that’s only possible at scale and I’m not sure if it was intentional, but interesting nevertheless.

Cohort-based learning

Cohort-based courses typically have completion rates 10x that of traditional online courses and foster a sense of community through shared milestones and achievements. It’s also a fundamentally better way to learn online — with others. Through working on Enlight Cohorts, I’m able witness the benefits of the cohort-based structure of learning and get a glimpse into the future of online education.

The cofounder of Udemy recently raised $4M+ to create a platform for cohort-based learning. I’m interested to see what it would look like, especially since current solutions just don’t cut it. I’m also curious about the scalability of cohort-based courses. Is it possible to replace MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) with a large cohort of individuals split into smaller sub-communities? I’d like to believe so, but I don’t think it’s been done before.

Question: Have you taken an online course (non-university) before? What was it like? Was it an enjoyable experience?

Personal update:

  • Wrapping up first-semester classes at Michigan

  • Getting ready for Cohort #5

  • Playing around with GPT-3

  • Reading Atomic Habits

Till next time,

Samay