Robert Cottrell: The Secrets of Reading

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My guest today is Robert Cottrell, the founder of The Browser, which has become my go-to source for articles. Here’s how it works. Every day, he recommends five articles and includes a short summary for each one. They’re wild and random — but that’s what makes his work so exciting. For example, today’s issue has an articles about how bees argue, the battle of ideas in China, how Americans should think about nuclear weapons, the circus arts, and the future of machine-created art. In this episode, we talk about why journalism is one of the most under-valued crafts in the world, what we should know about Latvia, and the cutting edge of language translation software.

Please enjoy my conversation with Robert Cottrell. 


1:50 – Robert Cottrell the “most read man”

6:57 – Journalism as the most undervalued, underpriced form of creative work in the world

9:12 – Paying writer directly for their work

15:29 – Journalism critic

21:32 – How has Robert thought about developing taste?

31:09 – The new writing the internet has allowed to flourish

41:18 – Is there something intrinsically special about reading? Or is consumption of information (video, words, etc.) simply a spectrum?

47:18 – Could lessons from pop music be used to advance the popularity of audio books?

56:17 – An article or book will tell you if it’s good within its first few pages/chapters

1:03:32 – Shifting from website to newsletter

1:09:24 – If a book can be summarized it shouldn’t be a book

1:16:32 – Mid-16th century shift of England from being insignificant to significant

1:21:28 – Machine translation

1:28:37 – If you want to build a serious business nowadays you need to be fluent in English or Chinese

1:32:27 – Marshal McLuhan on audio

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