Aaron Miller

Aaron Miller

Provo, UT

Librarians Fight for Our Privacy

I have a soft spot in my heart for libraries and librarians. I didn’t realize that privacy rights are one of the battlegrounds where they fight for us.

Sounds extreme, right? Well, companies that got their start as academic publishers have spent the last several decades transforming themselves into hugely profitable data analytics firms. Elsevier, for example, owns ScienceDirect, the premier database of peer-reviewed journals. It is a subsidiary of RELX, a global data broker that also owns LexisNexis and collects massive databases of personal information it then sells to government agencies and businesses to use in algorithms for things like policing, insurance, and banking.

Librarians Are Waging a Quiet War Against International “Data Cartels” | The Markup

Quit More Often

I’m a big fan of Steven Levitt from Freakonomics fame, and one of his hallmarks of advice is that we don’t quit enough. Put another way, we think too dearly of the status quo.

I’ve been thinking about this more in the context of helping, especially when trying to help people with entrenched problems. It’s as easy to get in a helping rut as any other rut. This doesn’t mean you have to quit on the person, but maybe the right idea for now is to try something new.

But even accounting for these limitations, the results of the study still suggest a way to break out of those painful cycles of hesitation and indecision that people often get caught in when contemplating major life decisions. If the choice is between action and inaction, and you’re genuinely unsure about what to do, choose action.

Steven Levitt's advice for making big life decisions | Quartz

Counterfactual Muggings and Repugnant Conclusions

I get that it’s weird to recommend a book review but not the book itself. Yet here we are.

I enjoy reading public philosophy, especially the stuff that relates to altruism and doing good in the world. In 2022, Will MacAskill and his book What We Owe the Future made the rounds on just about every podcast there is. I read most of it before I set it aside.

Instead of telling you what I think about it, though, I recommend reading this fantastic review by Scott Alexander. I learned a great deal and was also entertained, which is my favorite kind of reading.

“I realize this is ‘anti-intellectual’ and ‘defeating the entire point of philosophy’. If you want to complain, you can find me in World A, along with my 4,999,999,999 blissfully happy friends.”

Book Review: What We Owe The Future - by Scott Alexander

Podcast Interview - The Lisa Show

I recently had a chance to sit down with Lisa Valentine Clark and talk about social impact in day-to-day life. This is the first episode in a series on the topic. Lisa and her team have done a fantastic job.

“Have you ever avoided eye contact with someone holding a cardboard sign? Or felt a twinge as you skipped a YouTube ad asking for charitable donations? Help is needed everywhere, and good people want to help. But those good intentions can quickly turn to paralysis, overwhelm, and a lingering sense of shame for not ‘doing more.’ Meanwhile, experts in helping (that's a real thing!) know that making the world a better place isn't compatible with shame. Lisa tours The Other Side Academy to learn how a few individuals regularly beat the odds and make an extraordinary impact in their community. Aaron Miller from the Ballard Center for Social Impact shares how falling in love with a problem holds the key to transforming that old, familiar, paralyzing guilt into hope, and how anyone can empower themselves to make a difference in the world by making a switch: from doomscrolling to doing good better.”

Doing Good Better | The Lisa Show

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