This is the March 2020 update for Muse, a tool for thought on iPad.

The newsletter covers ways of working, knowledge tools, inspiring books, and other topics of interest to thoughtful and curious professionals like you.

life and work during a crisis · portrait and split view · iPad Pro trackpad · 80,000 Hours · video call truancy

Muse icon

Hello gentle people,

For many of us, it‘s hard to think about anything other than the global health crisis right now.

Lives are at stake and we face medium-term uncertainty for our economy and social well-being. The Muse team has experienced a small part of this: Mark is located in Seattle, ground zero in the US; and Julia is making her way back to Germany from travel abroad and facing difficult travel conditions. My worry for them and my other friends and family can be all-consuming—especially combined with fixation on pandemic news.

painting Paris Stret; Rainy Day

Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877) by Gustave Caillebotte, courtesy The Art Institute of Chicago

But our society tries to continue on the midst of this. And causes that were important before are still important now.

My pursuit in life is to make computers into tools that can help us sort through the deluge of information and the complex problems facing us in an ever-more-interconnected world. This crisis reminds me of what‘s important, and why I cared about that purpose to begin with. I hope you‘re similarly able to find greater meaning in your work during this time as well.

Stay safe and take care of one another,

New in Muse

using Safari and Muse together in Split View

As our beta period nears its close, we want to thank everyone for the ongoing feedback, bug reports, screenshots of your boards, questions, critique, and praise. It’s been invaluable for helping shape Muse into a real and useful product.

New in iPad: trackpad and iPadOS 13.4

A refreshed iPad Pro, a keyboard with trackpad, and cursor support in iPadOS 13.4 offer promise for pro uses of the iPad. I connected a Bluetooth mouse to my iPad and was surprised to see how naturally a pointer fits in with Muse and other apps.

iPad with trackpad

Is this an admission that becoming like a laptop is necessary to make the iPad suitable for professional work? Maybe—and we‘re seeing already that tools like Figma and VS Code now work better on the iPad. But I like Steven Sinofsky‘s take: that new platforms absorb and recombine the best parts of older platforms. Apple‘s take on cursor support feels like it might be just such a recombination to make something truly new and better.

What we're thinking about: 80,000 Hours

Thinking about work impact is a good reason to mention one of my favorite advocacy nonprofits: 80,000 Hours.

If you‘re someone lucky enough to have many career options, how should you best decide what to do? 80,000 Hours provides guidance from an effective altruism perspective. Many of these are surprising or counterintuitive, like that doctors can often save more lives going into public health than becoming a practicing clinician. Or that sometimes the best way to help is earning to give.

Looking to the stars

Their key ideas and podcast are worth in-depth study. I liked this episode on how nations can be prepared for pandemics—not just the one we currently face, but others likely to come in the future.

Just for fun: video call truancy

New remote work routine got you stuck in boring video calls? David Zhou shows you how to play truant and no one‘s the wiser.