Obsidian Iceberg

My rule of thumb when writing articles is that an article should save me time, not cost it; in the age of LLMs, I have no interest in writing regularly just for the sake of ‘being a writer.’ I write for two primary purposes:

  • because putting ideas into words helps clarify my thoughts for myself, and the results of that process sometimes seem valuable for other people

  • because sometimes I say the same thing over and over, and having a public collection of related thoughts makes it easier to avoid repeating myself when someone different asks me questions about a topic.

Less often, I write to vent my spleen when I am annoyed, which sometimes results in my most popular posts, for example:

My primary interests — and thus the typical focus of my deep dives — tend to be questions about how non-industrial people live, with a particular focus on the Bronze Age. I try not to spend too much time on well-known stuff like Classic civilizations and post-industrial wars, although I do sometimes dig into science that's relevant for near-future sci-fi, like aerogels. My goal is to surprise and delight readers with new information, not to become another expert in well-trod spaces.

Secondarily, I treat this newsletter as a space to insights into efficiency, because it turns out I am somewhat of an outlier in terms of productivity. More importantly, my system is optimized for something other than producing content about how to be productive 😅

Eleanor Konik

I’ve got two great kids, a wonderful husband, and a lovely home with a garden full of herbs. Although I’m pretty open about my personal life as it pertains to articles, it feels weird to say much more than that on an ‘about me’ page.

Professionally, I used to be a lawyer, then pivoted to teaching history, then pivoted again to handling quality assurance for my favorite reading app — but writing has always been my passion. My non-fiction articles have been published by professional outlets like Tor.com &  SFWA. My fiction has been published in outlets like Corvidae Courier and Worldbuilding Magazine. I'm a First Reader for the pro-rate speculative fiction magazine Diabolical Plots. To support all that, I keep meticulous notes using the Obsidian personal knowledge management tool, the community of which awarded me Content Creator of the Year for 2021 thanks to my notetaking tips & tricks. The Konik Method for Making Useful Notes also won Obsidian October 2022.

They say that authors shouldn’t bother readers with all the background research that goes into making a good story. No matter what the “iceberg theory of writing” says, though, my favorite parts of my favorite books have always been the afterwords. They often explain the relationship a story has to a real world historical event… and have themes I can take inspiration from to help live a happy, healthy, and productive life.

My goal with this newsletter is that sharing some pieces of that will help folks like you learn interesting things that help make your life better — even just by giving you something interesting to talk about at your next party ;)

Certainly that’s been a big driver of my nonfiction reading habits over the last few years!

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Insightful lessons from history, science, & real life... aimed at autodidacts, productivity nerds, efficient thinkers & tech junkies.


Professionally, I put software like Obsidian & Readwise through their paces. For fun, I garden and share tips about weird history & obscure science. Two kids, as few parenting hot takes as I can manage.