"You never see our kids saying, ‘I’ll never use this so I don’t need to learn it,’ ” says school administrator Maryann Wolowiec. “Instead, kids ask, ‘Do we have to leave school now?’ ” Two weeks ago, when the school received its results on the state’s achievement test, principal Traci Buckner was moved to tears. The raw scores indicate that, in its first year, the school has already become one of the top three schools in Akron, despite having open enrollment by lottery and 42 percent of its students living in poverty."
"The crucial thing about a postcard from afar, after all, is the fact of it, not some anecdote about haggling over souvenirs in a bazaar. By studiously ignoring the convention that postcards should contain news, he ensures they actually get sent. The difference between a detailed message and “Best wishes” is far smaller than between a postcard and no postcard at all."
I like Medium, but Tumblr’s better for stuff like this
Stuff where I have a thought and want to write about it, but not really at length. Like where I want to make exactly one point and then not talk again about it for quite a while. Like this. I have made my one point. Peace.
Edit: Also, y’know what’s really great about Tumblr? There is nowhere else that has the same combination of high and low art, intellectualism and bad jokes, lofty ideas and porn. It’s a masterpiece of a community.
You actually probably should learn to code
because even though it’s really difficult (especially if you decide to learn something silly like Objective-C), there are many benefits to the person who wants to build a startup.
This post inspired by my running into an old coworker who asked: “You’re still coding? I thought you said it was a bad idea and that you should hire a CTO?”
First benefit: I am the factors of production. I don’t know my Marx very well, but that’s gotta count for something: for the first time in human history, we can be the thing that generates the returns that capitalism is built on. No factories required.
Also, I can now build whatever I want that involves a computer. It might take forever because knowing how to code doesn’t equate to knowing how to solve a problem using code, but now I know what’s possible, and I know about what projects I can tackle in a reasonable amount of time. This sorta translates into knowing what other people can tackle and how quickly they can do it - it will at least give you more empathy for what they’re facing.
Second benefit: people like building things with other people who build things. You can, of course, get someone to build things for you by giving them equity and money and whatever else, but that’s an employee, not really a co-founder. A co-founder jumps on when she’s excited about working with you on cool shit.
Third benefit: you can spend most of your disposable income on things like Arduinos and Bluetooth shields and then turn your dining table into a giant glowing red blob that gets brighter as you approach.
Move slow and make things.
In school, unless you’re in the late stages of a research-based grad degree, you probably write/program/learn for a deadline, and then forget it all. How many essays have you written, and how many of them have you revisited? Did you continue to work on your final project after you got the grade? The same sort of thing happens at hackathons - few people check back in on their project after the Sunday night presentations are up.
This is actually pretty common startup advice: break things and move fast. Don’t revisit them until you have to. It helps drive an agenda forward: by doing things constantly, you’re constantly asking yourself what you should do next, and that’s way cooler and funner and more purposeful than not doing things. Like this parable that’s going around Hacker News.
You’d think that’s how you build big things. But it isn’t. It gets harder and harder to get really good just by doing stuff aimlessly. You have to deliberately practice your trade in order to get incredibly good at it, and deliberate practice is nowhere near as simple as just doing the next thing that pops into your mind, because chances are it’s something you’ve already done.
Really, this is just a corollary of the Pareto principle: you can hack your way to 80% proficiency pretty quick, but getting that remaining chunk of knowledge will take 80% of your time. For some things, that’s ok, but if your job is really to change the world, you will probably need to do something novel.
A passing familiarity with many things can be gotten with an undergrad degree, but expertise requires exertion. And most of the time, that exertion isn’t in executing. It’s in finding the opportunity to learn what’s next. You are now foraging for a rare and beautiful apple on a tree where no more low-hanging fruit can be found. Sure, it will test you to do something that has never been done before - but by the time you find such an opportunity, you’ve done the hardest thing: finding such an opportunity in the first place.
You can follow this move-fast-move-slow approach with yet more things than just startups. For instance: Art. Writing. Oh god I will never write the same way again. To begin, I now write out the least shitty version of what I think is a good story or article, and I do it as quickly as possible. Sure, I won’t start until I have some decent idea about what I should be accomplishing, but once I have it, I’ll just take the quickest path there. I’ll see some of the costs and the opportunities along the way, and in the next draft, I’ll write in the ones I want to follow.
As hinted above, the hard part is in taking that bunch of promising or even well-executed ideas and turning them into something masterful. It takes really great artists a long time to do this (Jonathan Franzen, who I really like, spent 10 years writing The Corrections), and there’s really no shortcut. Making beautiful things takes time.
The classic startup advice encourages you to not waste time optimizing the luck you’ve already had, but to instead put most of your energy in finding better, more plentiful sources of goodness. Do that with everything, but know that climbing a mountain gets harder towards the summit. Make sure you’re on a hike that you care about getting to the top of, and the unbelievable energy it takes to complete the remaining 20% won’t seem so painful.
"Philosophical progress doesn’t come from approaching closer to the final answers to the eternal questions of life, the universe, and everything. It comes from profound engagement with the contemporary world to figure out what life, the universe, and everything all means now."
Mon rêve familier, par Paul Verlaine
Je fais souvent ce rêve étrange et pénétrant
D’une femme inconnue, et que j’aime, et qui m’aime,
Et qui n’est, chaque fois, ni tout à fait la même
Ni tout à fait une autre, et m’aime et me comprend.
Car elle me comprend, et mon coeur transparent
Pour elle seule, hélas! cesse d’être un problème
Pour elle seule, et les moiteurs de mon front blême,
Elle seule les sait rafraîchir, en pleurant.
Est-elle brune, blonde ou rousse? Je l’ignore.
Son nom? Je me souviens qu’il est doux et sonore,
Comme ceux des aimés que la vie exila.
Son regard est pareil au regard des statues,
Et, pour sa voix, lointaine, et calme, et grave, elle a
L’inflexion des voix chères qui se sont tues.
Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos meet the Segway prototype
Steve Jobs:I think it sucks!
Steve Jobs:It just does.
Tim Adams:In what sense? Give me a clue.
Steve Jobs:Its shape is not innovative, it's not elegant, it doesn't feel anthropomorphic. You have this incredibly innovative machine but it looks very traditional. There are design firms out there that could come up with things we've never thought of, things that would make you shit in your pants.
Tim Adams:Well, let's keep going, because we don't have much time today to-
John Doerr:We do have time. We want to get Steve's and Jeff's ideas.
Tim Adams:The problem at this point is lead time in our schedule –
Steve Jobs:Screw the lead times. You don't have a great product yet! I know burn rates are important, but you'll only get one shot at this, and if you blow it, it's over.