As obscure public intellectuals go, Rao is fairly well known online, but every day, somebody’s born who’s never seen The Flintstones, and the man does have a knack for packaging phenomena both permanent and ephemeral into digestible mental models which you can use again and again. Sure, you could check out his official New Reader guide — and there is some match between that and the list below — but doesn’t a bespoke list on an even more obscure personal blog make it more adventurous?
- The Gervais Principle, which should have been a book (and is much better than his only actual book). You will never look at office dynamics the same way again.
- The Cactus and the Weasel, the extension of the hedgehog and the fox dichotomy which made me fall in love with 2x2s, and also realize that I was a fox trying to fit in with a crowd of hedgehogs.
- The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial, wherein he coined the syntagm “premium mediocre” which perfectly captured the 2010s esthetics
- A Quick (Battle) Field Guide to the New Culture Wars, which made me want to spend as little time as possible on social networks in general, and one social network in particular, which is a good thing!
- The Internet of Beefs, which finally made sense of the ridiculous back-and-forths which were so common on
- Against Waldenponding, which earned him an invite to the best podcast out there, and which is also the reason I am writing this, having recently been reminded of Rao’s work.
Enjoy the multiple branching rabbit holes!