I love people. I love helping them. I found a really fun way to do that, and it’s this: setting people up. It’s quite nice. For one thing, even if it doesn’t work out, people are so grateful that you made the introduction. For another thing, if it does work out, you get two happy friends, rather than one, out of the effort.

And it’s fun. Oh my it’s fun. Talking to people, thinking about them, that eureka moment when you figure out a way to change their life at little cost to yourself.

Setting people up on dates, however, isn’t the full picture. Why not set people up on jobs? I have friends hiring, and I have friends to hire. Why not housing?

There was a time when I had some time on my hands, and a fair number of friends were looking to hire. So I started matching people up in earnest for jobs. It was wonderful! I started a tinyletter list. I created guides for job finding. I created spreadsheets and so on. It got a little out of control, took up hours a day, and I scrapped it.

Later, I restarted on Facebook. Just a thread every once in a while inviting people to matchmake themselves in the comments for dates, housing, or jobs. It works!

But I still have the same problem I used to have: let’s say I run into an amazing job opportunity, or find a hot single in my area. Let’s say that a month earlier, someone perfect for it told me they were available. Ideally, I should match them. In practice, I often forget who is looking for what.

I think the answer is a few intake forms on Airtable. Just to keep me remembering.

Here they are:

Jobs for Friends intake form

Romance for Friends intake form

But linking to 2 different forms each time I do a monthly facebook post doesn’t like enough.

Update — I’ve launched a newsletter. It can:

  • Link to the monthly Facebook thread.
  • Remind people to fill out the intake form.
  • Highlight extra stuff and be fun.

Here’s the link.


History Time: The Book Club

A little while ago, on Facebook, I asked:

A lot is happening quickly. We are in big bold idea territory. History time.

What if we started a reading group that covered works by great thinkers on topics like: political economy, how power works, authoritarianism, crises, how business works from a sociological perspective, radical politics (pro and con)?

Would you be interested in something like that?

Turns out, a few people were interested. But there were a lot of questions for how one might structure a thing like this online. Would discussions be synchronous or asynchronous? What role would we have to writing? How much time and commitment would work for people?

So, I created a form to sign up. (Feel free to sign up yourself)! The responses, however, were split: there’s definitely a role for synchronous meetings / video, but disagreement on the role of text and async discussion. Some people wanted to use Slack. Others (like me) hate Slack.

So — how might we go deep, but also accommodate people’s desire for this not to turn into a chore? How might we stay off walled gardens (Facebook, Slack)? How could we end up with artifacts coming out of this, instead of just ephemeral conversation?

I had some long talks with some friends, especially Anne Gomez and Danny Spitzberg. Here’s our draft idea of how it will all work.

In short:

  • Meetings are conducted by video. They both kick off discussion of a book / article / work, and also serve as organizational meetings to choose the next work to discuss
  • Someone posts a recap of discussion, summary of the book, or general essay based on the reading.
  • The discussion continues via text, probably in response to that post.

It’s intentionally loose. Each book (or article, video, etc.) will have a different facilitator, who can structure discussion however they like.

Anyway, we are starting up soon. Wanna join?


My Monthly Mixtape Ritual

As you know, I’m dating Sarah. Sarah is very good. When we started dating, however, I noticed that she had a small flaw: not only did she not like the same music as me, she didn’t even know that my favorite bands existed. When she listened to music, which wasn’t often, it was mainly show tunes from her favorite musicals.

Now, musicals are great. I enjoy them, and have been known to go to a few on some occasion. It’s delightful that Sarah likes them — it gives her something with which to bond with my sister Shelly, who works in Broadway. But — what about The Mountain Goats? What about Wilco? What, not to put a fine point about it, about LCD Soundsystem?

So I made her a mixtape. A song each from some of my favorite bands. Bookended by two songs from a particularly good band. The format, and the habit, stuck. That was back in April 2018.

I’ve made a mixtape per month since then. It’s pretty fun! The challenge of making an aesthetically coherent album each month, always with new music, and all but the first and last song by a different artist, is real. I’ve explored arabic, hebrew, persian, afro-punk, chillwave, jug bands, and other forms of music I wasn’t normally listening to normally. I’ve started keeping an ear out for new things I haven’t heard before, and chatting up strangers to learn their tastes. It’s fun! Each month has a pretty different sound.

You can find them all on Spotify. March 2020 just dropped (with a lot of help from Disco). Take a listen.