What makes something play as opposed to work?

Hello Uncommoners, 

Here's your random dose of intrigue — a collection of content, ideas, and resources that I've recently found mind tingling.  Consume, skim, or skip at your leisure.  Enjoy. 


“What makes something play as opposed to work is not what you do, but why you do it. Even the most mundane work can be transformed into play if you do it just for itself and for no reasons besides — if the financial rewards you accrue are merely incidental bonuses. The most important and most difficult thing in life is to find something that is play for you — something that you would do anyway, just to do it. And then, if you are lucky, find someone who will pay you to do it.” – Brigid Hains in Aeon 

“If we let cars do the driving, we are outsourcing not only our motor control but also our moral judgment.” 


Would a Work-Free World Be So Bad? Fears of civilization-wide idleness are based too much on the downsides of being unemployed in a society premised on the concept of employment.

How to Turn Google Into the Best To-Do App Ever 


Minority report is not far from real. There is a secret algorithm referred to as “Compas assessment” used in the Wisconsin justice system that calculates the likelihood that someone will commit another crime

+ This Guy Trains Computers to Find Future Criminals 

Fish fraud is distastefully rampant. In other words, there’s a good chance you’re not getting what you think you’re getting. In fact, one in five of samples of seafood tested globally was mislabeled.


I find the science of outer space fascinating, but truth be told, I’ve struggled to identify immediate and applicable value of investing time into reading about and learning about the topic. Ie: “My time is better spent learning about business or psychology related topics.” However, I put that thought aside and recently dove into “Cosmos – A Spacetime Odyssey” on Netflix. Unsurprisingly it was packed with fascinating facts, but surprisingly I did experience two unforeseen benefits of watching this series:

  1. Perspective check: It’s too easy to become dangerously close to our goals, our accomplishments, our shortfalls, and our challenges. Nothing puts it all into perspective quite so well as contemplating the size of the universe. So much of what we obsess about is irrelevant to the bigger picture. This reignited my gratitude and truncated my frustrations. (Sidebar: If you want an excellent Memento Mori, look no further than Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot rif. An absolutely penetrating reminder how special and short our brief time on Earth really is.)
  2. Ambition check: Building on the previous point, sometimes we overemphasize the minor happenings in life and underemphasize the significant opportunities we have before us. The Cosmos was an excellent and visceral reminder of the more tiresome platitudes we’ve all shelved somewhere in the deep recesses of our minds: If our heart beats, let’s ensure it beats for something meaningful, impactful, and long-lasting.

If you have watched or end up watching the Cosmos series on Netflix, I’d love to hear your thoughts about your take-aways in the comments below.


Hope you enjoyed this eclectic collection of brain food. Every UM newsletter is slightly unique and may include intriguing quotes, interesting reads, recommended resources, cool products, and other fun surprises.

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