Post Apathy: A Public Research Workshop

Prototyping a new model for open source research and writing with the Public Research Workshop model.

From Fra Burmeister og Wain's Iron Foundry
From Fra Burmeister og Wain's Iron Foundry, by Peder Severin Krøyer, 1885.

Over the course of October, I've been busy building some new infrastructure for Post Apathy. I want to improve on the traditional blog-newsletter model with something that I call a Public Research Workshop ('PRW'). You can visit my newly designed website here. Not much has changed except in design, though what little that has changed I hope will provide a greater benefit than before.

As a PRW, Post Apathy will continue with the monthly newsletters and original essays, but with the addition of book reviews and everything else you can find in these archives.

As I host my site on Super, certain database functions such as search and filter aren't available yet, but the team are working on making it available soon.

The archives currently contain six databases:

  • Article Archive - Every link ever sent out in a Post Apathy newsletter has now been organised in an accessible database. You can find links and the full text in the database, too, so you never have to leave Post Apathy.
  • Books & Notes - I am systematically organising my book notes for your perusal. Like the newsletter archive, you can view what I'm reading and the notes I'm taking in real time.
  • The China Box - A collection of the most interesting articles on China, with a bit of structure for those seeking to learn more about economics, geopolitics, and culture & society in East Asia.
  • The Post Value Index - A collection of reads on business and investment, containing everything from private equity analysis to cash conversion cycles to crypto speculation to the nuts and bolts of x company. Additionally, a growing body of personal notes on companies, industries, and miscellenea. articles on
  • Twitter Archive - Coming soon, I will be actively archiving my favourite Twitter threads with links, images, and the full text, in a permanent archive. From Wrath of Gnon's architecture threads to Nemets' history threads to interesting miscellanea, you'll have access to a wide range of knowledge that you'll struggle to find anywhere else in the 'mainstream'.
  • Great Founder Theory Archive - One of the benefits of 'writing in public' is seeing the process of a thinker's intellectual development. The GFT archive will be an ongoing library of Samo Burja's tweets, articles, and talks. Over time, I will create archives for other public intellectuals and draw the threads that tie their work together.
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Motivations

My end game is quite simple. I want to demonstrate how you can conduct research and write in compelling prose without relying on academia, which has gridlocked the production of knowledge and been captured by ideological groups and rent seekers. We have to create an alternative model of research and publishing if we want to kickstart knowledge production and innovation.

I started Post Apathy in February 2020 as a hobby. I read a lot and I wanted to share the most interesting things I found with my friends and followers. After newsletters came original essays which were mostly spontaneous notes I'd take after having read enough to produce some thoughts on a matter. I've been putting out a lot of information through my newsletters in a relatively unstructured manner and there needed to be a good system of reference for my thoughts. But the citation model for articles is too archaic and academic. If we want to circumvent academic gatekeeping of the production of knowledge, we need novel ways in which to demonstrate not just the output (an essay), but the entire research process leading up to that output.

One of the great things about the internet is that you can painstakingly create (and ensure to back-up!) your own body of knowledge, which you can then verify in a peer-to-peer manner with other like-minded people. Far from having to seek people or legitimacy within the confines of academic hallways and theatres, one can now form their own communities of knowledge where legitimacy is based not on credentials but through the clarity and power of one's argument. I strongly believe that these communities can and will outcompete our sclerotic institutions of higher education and in the near future be responsible for the incubation of radical new ideas and technologies. As these communities are primarily being formed through the internet, they need powerful digital tools to share knowledge and communicate effectively.

The PRW model aims to accomplish this. A PRW looks just like a blog does, with a newsletter function and a blog page containing my writing, but with some key differences. I use a complex group of web tools involving website clippers, APIs, and so on to create an ecosystem of information that ensures efficient recording of information from across the web. You get the front end: neatly organised databases of information which you can comb through with powerful databases tools.

Essay citations restrict references of knowledge to that particular piece. The PRW model gives you the entire ecosystem of knowledge in which my thoughts and writings are embedded in. My information diet is no longer restricted to the inner sanctum of my twitter account or gmail inbox, but is now open to the public. From tweets to books to articles, you can observe what I'm reading and what notes I'm taking before you see any final essay.

Thereotically, one of the incentives of the PRW is greater epistemic humility. The PRW model permits a commitment to the pursuit of knowledge without commitment to any particular piece of knowledge itself. On a PRW, everything is a work in process. There is no 'final essay'; only working papers. With my research process exposed for critical eyes, my readers and friends can engage in discussion with me not just on the essay but the bits and pieces of information across the research process. I am also forced to suspend absolute judgment on an issue until my learning journey is over. And it is never over.

This ecosystem of knoweldge can now be found in the Archives. It's here that I collect and organise information, developing my thoughts as I read, and bring it all together in an essay. The archives represent the various threads of interest I've cultivated through my information diet on the internet. I'm pulling them together in one easily accessible location; the work of various bloggers, public intellectuals, twitter accounts, etc, and attempting to synthesise it into something consistent. I've repeatedly stated - and believe - that one could acquire a superior education to most formal institutions through following the best online thinkers. This will be my ongoing attempt to weave together these various threads into something coherent.

Support Post Apathy

If you'd like to support this project, Post Apathy now has a subscription model which you can find here.

This support goes towards ongoing maintenance technical costs, such as hosting, APIs, and investing in better tools to build my archives (give it 5 seconds to load!).

Becoming a supporter or patron gives you exclusive access to:

  • The Post Value investment archive
  • Early access to new databases (like the Twitter archive)
  • Having my Notion databased synced to your own private Notion account (Patron-only)

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