Recently, I’ve taken to introducing myself as a writer. Occasionally, I receive a response along the line of: “But aren’t you the person teaching the TensorFlow class?” or “But didn’t I see you in that CS class?” and I was always a bit confused: “Why should being a writer stop me from being interested in CS?”
This morning, I went for brunch with a bunch of people I didn’t know. A man in his fifties, after hearing that I’m a writer, asked: “So how are you supporting yourself financially?” Continue reading “[Day 803] How do writers make money?”
I’m not even going to pretend to be modest or less vain. A post that I wrote a few weeks back suddenly went viral. It reached 1.2 million Vietnamese, has been read by 175k people. It’s probably been read by more people since a considerable number of newspapers and magazines in Vietnam reprinted it, both with and without my permission. A couple of publications had the authenticity to copy about 90% of my post, edited the other 10%, and innocuously put someone else down as the author. Oh well. Copyright in Vietnam. What can the farmer do? Continue reading “[Day 678] My post went viral”
For a long time, I’ve been struggling with the idea of getting old. I know that I’d one day die. I know that every living, breathing moment is a step closer to death. The weight of an inevitable demise occasionally throws me into an existential crisis. If everything will become meaningless in the end, why should I even try? Will I ever be able to make a dent in the universe, or will I just pass away like a drop of dew in the morning sun? Continue reading “[Day 628] When breath becomes air”
I was enjoying a hot spring in Utah when a red-haired lady came to join me. Small talks ensued. I told her I was a creative writing student and I wanted to become a writer. She seemed confused.
“Do they teach Vietnamese writing here?”
“No, I’m studying English writing.”
“You want to write in English?”
Now she was really confused. I had an accent, I still do, and she was probably wondering how a person who didn’t even speak English could even dream of making a living out of it. Continue reading “[Day 473] Being a non-native English speaker writing in English”
Over the years, I’ve noticed three things about books about Vietnamese culture:
- They are all written by foreigners. A guidebook to a country written by a foreigner is like a cookbook written by someone who has only had experience in looking at the food. There needs to be a book about Vietnamese culture written by a real Vietnamese.
- They all start with the war. Come on, the war ended 4 decades ago! There are so many more cool things in Vietnam.
- They all read like textbooks at best and phonebooks at worst. I believe that books should be not only informative but also entertaining.
I’ve spent the last two years interviewing many people: foreigners who have traveled in Vietnam, foreigners who have lived in Vietnam, foreigners who have never been to Vietnam, Vietnamese who have lived overseas, Vietnamese who have never been outside the country, etc. I’ve combined their opinion into a book called “How to not get your ass kicked in Vietnam: The native’s guide”. But I still need more input to make the book as comprehensive as possible. So please help me through this short survey:
Survey for non-Vietnamese
Survey for Vietnamese
Thank you very much! The prologue to this book can be find below.
Continue reading “[Day 235] I need your input to write a bad-ass book about Vietnamese culture”
A couple of weeks ago, a Boston-based startup called Knowmail approached me, asking me to write about Artificial Intelligence for them. Somebody wants to pay me to write about AI? Man, I would pay people to listen to me rant about AI. The company pretty much gives me free range to write about whatever I want. For the first post, I wrote about what I would want to see in the next generation of dating. I know that if this app was available, I would use it. The original article can be found here.
Imagine you are on the subway and your phone tells you: “At 2 o’clock is a girl you’d find very attractive — a 9, in fact, and she may consider you above average. According to your expressed interests, she has 90% chance of being the one.”
You turn towards 2 o’clock. At the same time, the girl’s phone notifies her with a similar message. She looks up. Your eyes meet. You both smile. Sparks flow like electricity through the sweat-dampened air. Your phone asks whether you would like to share your contact information with her, and you say yes. It’s a match! You have just met the love of your life on the subway with the help of artificial intelligence.
Continue reading “[Day 78] Love in the time of Artificial Intelligence”
I have just finished reading Dan Ariel’s book “Predictably Irrational” and it haunts me. The ideas he presented in the book are not new, but it was fascinating in a way that he found a way to measure things so abstract such as distrust, honesty, and the effect of horniness on our decision making. One of the things that made me think about a lot in this book is the IKEA effect.
Continue reading “[Day 70] The IKEA effect and the writer’s disillusion”