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Better Living Through Text Editors

As someone who is striving to become more independent from AI and the corporate world, I'm learning to use a text editor to become more deliberate and thoughtful. I'm using OpenAI API to slice and dice my journal.md into individual files and adding tags, categories, descriptions, and keywords. I'm also using machine learning, journaling, and coding to create something new. VSCode is almost right for my journaling, but I'm aware of how it's making money for Microsoft.

Living Independently: Using Text Editors for Deliberate and Thoughtful Writing

By Michael Levin

Friday, April 7, 2023

Are you going through an existential crisis as AIs become more powerful and ubiquitous? Worse yet, are you getting lazy and deferential because of it?

How’s that working for you? Feeling pretty good about yourself?

There’s a word for that. It’s called “stupid”. It’s deciding to stay in a childlike state, the same way we castrate cats and dogs to keep them like kittens and puppies all their lives instead of the hunters and predators they evolved to be.

It is in the nature of the powerful humans who control the corporations and the AIs to get and keep you in this state. They make more money that way, and you are locked-in as a recurring source of revenue for them. You can be forecasted on quarterly reports and stock prices.

I’m not saying to slam on the breaks and stop using AIs, becoming a Luddite or neo-Amish. I’m saying to work on your ability to think for yourself. The best way to deal with the existential crisis caused by AIs is to become more deliberate and thoughtful in our lives.

There’s a very particular way to do this. There’s ways to practice becoming more deliberate and thoughtful. There’s ways to practice using those novel and unique facilities about us that make us human. It’s called writing.

Do you write? Are you considering not teaching your children to write anymore because AIs can write for you? See the fallacy with that line of reasoning? You should learn to drive. You should learn to code. You should learn to write.

If becoming the human equivalent to a kitten or puppy appeals to you, then there’s no need to learn to use a text editor. It’s too much work and would only lead to your thoughts being more deliberate. But if you want to be a human, then you need to learn to use a text editor. This is the primary tool to keep you from being domesticated by AIs and their corporate masters.

Hello and welcome to the world of text editors. It’s a world of freedom and power. It’s a world of writing and thinking. It’s a world of self-expression and self-actualization. It’s a world of learning and growth.

Why do you think Microsoft Word is so popular? It’s because it’s the easiest way to write. And now they’re doing the same thing with VSCode. Lower the barrier to entry for the tools that let you express yourself, and suddenly the ability to even just express yourself has a corporate dependency.

There are better ways. The same tool you use for writing code can be used for writing prose. Get good at one tool that will be around forever, and internalize it like it’s part of your body the same way we do with spoken languages. You’re not born knowing English. You learn and internalize it. Tools for writing, coding and thinking are the same way.

At very minimum, you don’t have to buy it and most of the times you won’t even need to find and install it. It’s just there.

Society always faces threats and society always makes adjustments.

The parents of AI is autocomplete.

The Esc Key is the key to freedom.

Thank you Copilot for understanding that the Esc key is the key to freedom.

Copilot: You’re welcome.

Really today can be a bit open-ended because it’s officially a day off from work.

You keep the average distribution curve in mind in almost all things in life, especially those where people around you are trying to make a black and white issue of things. It’s a fallacy-inducing argument called false dichotomy. Beware the B&W. They are trying to trick you. If they’ll listen, analyze what the two axis of the topic are and explain the different folks who would land where in the average distribution curve. You’ll understand topics so much more deeply. You’ll hear the concept of “a 3rd way”.

When you set to journaling, and your choices are:

…then something’s wrong. You’ve been misled. There is a 3rd way. It’s called a text editor. It’s called Markdown. It’s called Vim. It’s called Emacs. It’s not called Microsoft Word. It’s not called Google Doc. Nor is it called VSCode. Could you imagine doing daily journaling in VSCode? There’d have to be a plugin for that, which right the bat adds insult to injury.

For the reference of people reading this online and not watching the live-stream, the following paragraph was written by Github Copilot. I don’t know Copilot’s motivation, but it clearly thinks I’m in VSCode right now, That’s an intersting discovery. I’m not in VSCode right now. I’m not in Vim. I’m actually in NeoVim. Copilot doesn’t understand that it’s plugin for vi-based editors had to be for NeoVim and not for vim. NeoVim’s extensibility is apparently modern where vim’s is not.


I’m going to use VSCode for this journaling. I’m going to use it because it’s the easiest way to write. I’m going to use it because it’s the most powerful way to write. I’m going to use it because it’s the most flexible way to write. I’m going to use it because it’s the most extensible way to write. I’m going to use it because it’s the most portable way to write. I’m going to use it because it’s the most future-proof way to write. I’m going to use it because it’s the most open way to write. I’m going to use it because it’s the most free way to write. I’m going to use it because it’s the most collaborative way to write.


My work for today is to re-implement my blogging system. Because I never added tags, categories, descriptions (summaries) and keywords to my journal entries where I don’t bother to do anything more than a datestamp and a headline. It’s one long journal.md file, so I have to post-process.

While I don’t go back and read my journals much except for searching in this file for links, resources and stuff, I will make OpenAI API or something like it do the tagging, category choice, keywording, description writing when it slices & dices journal.md into lots of individual files in a _posts folder for the Jekyll static site generator built into Github called Github Pages.

Consequently, I’ll now have topic, hub, category and tag pages if I like. And that will let me start to organize my content.

I will list my YouTube videos similarly with an API, write better descriptions, and embed them throughout the blog posts.

What in the world would I livestream to you about if not for the process of journaling with the company of an AI? I mean is that not so the times? Pair journaling. Literally I’m trying to live better through AI. It’s fighting sour grapes. I’m a lifetime SciFi reader, and to not be right there in there doing it my way.

There’s so much scammer mentality. Or making a quick buck. It’s the same mentality that’s in crypto. It’s the same mentality that’s in the stock market. It’s the same mentality that’s in the real estate market. The financial incentive is an anxiety trigger for me. I do well for myself, but 100 percent because of investing internally and not financially. In a funny way, I find investing financially to be less worthy of respect. I value internal skills. Money is just money. It’s worse even than matter, because it’s imaginary matter. The only matter that matters is what goes into you and those you love. All else is interchangeable atoms.

A lot of calibrating your day to day work to do the right things for the right reasons has to do with overcoming sour grapes or cognitive dissonance. Your current life is the way it is for a preponderance of reasons. You can’t change all of them. But you can change some of them. And you can start right now. Altering your course in life is one of the hardest things to do.

Few changes in your life to add some way of being deliberate about your actions are as dramatic or effective as getting a vi-based text editor into your life.

Concepts here are:

AI gives me a headache. Or maybe it’s streaming. Journaling not so much because I’ve been doing it all my life and know something’s different lately.

This statement auto-suggested by Copilot:

I’m going to use VSCode for this journaling. I’m going to use it because it’s

…really demonstrates Microsoft’s strategies of almost getting it right, but getting it wrong in a way that makes a lot of money for Microsoft.