Ned Block, a 76-year-old famous professor, gave me an unexpected app recommendation (Beeminder)

in steemstem •  5 months ago

As a young researcher, I recently had the chance to meet with Professor Ned Block. For those of you that don't know him, he working in philosophy of mind at New York University. He is most famous for his thoughts about consciousness and an introduction could be his talk at Google:

Ned is very respected in his field and has received several prestigious prizes including from Oxford and Harvard and has written quite a few books. So when he gave out advise, I was all ears - though I hadn't expected an app recommendation.

Answering what he could recommend young researchers, he mentioned Beeminder. He used this app in which he had said that he should be writing at least 10 mins daily on average.

On one axis you have the date and on the other, there are the accumulated minutes put into writing. If his line ever crossed below the yellow diagonal he had given the app his credit card info and it would spend some of his money on things he didn't like.
He currently used this for a book, he was writing on. He said that 10 minutes each day is so little that you can do it even before you go to bed if you haven't done it during the day, but enough that it will keep writing in your head consistently.

I think that this approach is also applicable outside of research, for instance, for working out or practicing an instrument so no matter what you are currently trying to achieve, you may benefit from taking this professor's advice.

You can check out the app for yourself at

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Integration is something that people can't intuitively understand. Small progress on daily basis can make miracles.


Yes it is easy overlook how strong consistency can be in the long run.

So the money goes to a pledge/charity, not beeminder itself, right?

I think I'll stick with habitica, I don't need one more source of stress in my life :D


Yes. I think that you can even select something that you REALLY don't want to contribute to. For instance you could donate to Trump's campaign if you're an American Democrat for extra motivation not to miss the target.

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