Kevin Kelly offers 99 pieces of good advice: "Being wise means having more questions than answers."

Originally published at: Kevin Kelly offers 99 pieces of good advice: "Being wise means having more questions than answers." | Boing Boing


Be governed not by the tyranny of the urgent but by the elevation of the important.

I’m not sure what that means. I always told my kids that “urgent” meant “important and can’t wait”.

I had to introduce that distinction because of conversations like this:

Offspring: “Daddy! Daddy!”

Me (doing something messy, potentially dangerous, or both): “I’m really busy just at the moment. Is it important?”

Offspring: “Yes.”

Me (cleans up mess/makes situation safe): “OK, then. What is it?”

Offspring: “I love you.”

I mean, they weren’t wrong.


Sunscreen, that’s is it people, sunscreen is my go to wisdom.


I think the point here is to focus energy on what is strategically important over that which is tactically urgent - eg: long term over short term.

There’s a principle in organizational management whereby issues that are urgent tend to suck up time and energy and detract away from strategically important tasks that actually lead to long term improvement.


Good advice however oddly specific. Must’ve needed something to get to 99


Yeah there’s a few that I find to be platitudes and not advice that’s actionable in the day to day. Obviously focus on the important things for long term stability and don’t just bandage the most apparent problems, but once something hits a certain threshold for urgency focus 100% on only that thing. If you’re arrested, your 401K isn’t the first thing you should focus on.

I do like the phrasing of the foundation of maturity though.

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His past lists also have a tendency to mix general and very specific. I like that. Usually the specific ones exemplify a more general idea that can be applied elsewhere.

Some of these I disagree with if they’re meant as advice for most people in our current society, but I do understand the perspective they’re written from and the sense in which those ones are also good advice.

• This is the best time ever to make something. None of the greatest, coolest creations 20 years from now have been invented yet. You are not late.

I maintain that humanity’s greatest invention is the dog, and I doubt we’ll be making major improvements in the next two decades.

• Even a foolish person can still be right about most things. Most conventional wisdom is true.

This is one of those points that’s technically true, and good advice for most people most of the time, and important for people specifically aiming to build and invent to remember. But, when it fails, it often fails catastrophically, black swan style. In some cases those failures can destroy whole communities and societies.

• The greatest rewards come from working on something that nobody has a name for. If you possibly can, work where there are no words for what you do…
…A multitude of bad ideas is necessary for one good idea.

This is true because most possible ways of working on something nobody has a name for, will be bad ideas, and will fail. Only act on this advice if you can survive the failure. Corollary: most of us can survive more than we think, but it’s still going to cost potentially years of your life. Make sure it’s worth the risk to you, and give it your all when you do.


I have been able to tie a bowline[, with one hand, behind my back, with my eyes closed, in under a minute] since my teens, and have won any number of bar bets and the like accordingly. Taught myself how when challenged to do so by a skipper I worked for, who promised a dinner if anyone could do so. He bought me a bag from McDonalds, the fucker. “Marlinespike seamanship” is the term of art applied to working with line, splicing, and knot work.


i want to print these on little slips of paper to make Fortune Cookies 2.0 - or better yet, Wisdom Cookies?
China Cookie GIF by SWR Kindernetz

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