Jul 1, 2024

Cooking Up the Metagame

July 2024 Monthly Digest

Bike and vines at Hokkaido University (Sapporo, Japan — July, 2023)

Hi everyone,

We are back again for this new monthly digest. It is July, oh my god it is humid here in Brooklyn, and I am Max, your friendly neighborhood natural language processing researcher. Also, amateur writer / photographer / you name it. Back at you this month with a tiny behind-the-scenes update because I’m still oiling up the engine of my website.

Soon: The PhD Metagame

Work in progress banner image for a new post series titled, "The PhD Metagame."

My backlog of essays to write is now terrifyingly long. Dozens and dozens. I’m starting with a series I cooked up in 2021. It’s about the stuff that’s going on in academia one layer beneath the obvious mechanics. For example, an obvious mechanic is: you write research papers about new progress you make in your field. But one layer beneath: what’s the actual purpose of such a research paper? Who is it targeting? And how do the research topics get chosen in the first place?

I came to realize around year four or five of my PhD that there’s a whole lot going on behind the scenes that nobody explicitly tells you. It’s a bit tricky to describe, it’s awkward to state out loud, and most people figure it out organically. Plus, everybody’s too busy. So nobody writes about it.

Well, I thought I’d actually write about it. I’m calling it The PhD Metagame. I’ve been laboring over the first entry, Your Paper Is an Ad, which I hope to post this week.

Press for Talk to Me Human

Talk to Me Human's writeup in ReadWrite!

Paul McNally wrote a delightful piece on Talk to Me Human in the web publication ReadWrite! It was great chatting with him and I’m thrilled about the coverage.

It feels weird to talk about, but reaching out to influencers and the press has been extraordinarily challenging. My process has been:

So, enormous thanks to Paul and ReadWrite for being in the delightful 1%.

I’m grateful to folks for advice, like Brian Moore (btw, his work on GOODY-2 is hilarious), who warned me how low response rates will be, even for people with previous press coverage. But I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the grueling effort to ignore ratio.

This month I’m going to continue marketing work at a slow trickle, but shift my focus to (1) improving the game based on early access feedback, then (2) beginning work on a Steam release, targeting Steam Next Fest in October of this year.

The other thing I’ve been spending a lot of headspace on is: designing how to structure my days and balance my time. This is a perennial pursuit that doesn’t seem to get any easier. I just accumulate more tricks and have to remember to use them. If you work independently, I’d love to hear your favorite strategies.

Ta Ta for Now

See you in August. Stay cool. Hopefully I’ll have a dehumidifier by then.