We had zero business plan or experience, but it’s amazing what desperation will do for you.

Ryan Peake, lead guitarist for Nickelback.

The Blue Collar Coder – Anil Dash

Part of our challenge is that the tech sector has to acknowledge and accept that a broad swath of jobs in the middle of our industry require skills but need not be predicated on a full liberal arts education at a high-end university. The Stanford CS grads are always going to be fine; It’s the people who can’t go into the same trade as their dad, or who are smart but not interested in the eating-ramen-and-working-100-hours-a-week startup orthodoxy who we need to bring along with us into tech.

The Blue Collar Coder – Anil Dash


Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

Started reading this last year, finished it a few weeks ago. My favorite sentence from the book which maybe summarizes it best: “The internet is an opportunity machine.”

My other favorite passage, which I’ve already posted, but I’ll repost here anyways:

The stupidest creative act is still a creative act… On the spectrum of creative work, the difference between the mediocre and the good is vast. Mediocrity is, however, still on the spectrum; you can move from mediocre to good in increments. The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.

Oh, by the way: it’s fun to pay attention to subtitles, especially when a book comes in a hardback/paperback edition — the paperback edition usually shows the evolution (or devolution) of the publisher’s marketing of the book. The hardcover subtitle of Cognitive Surplus is “Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age” vs. the paperback subtitle, “How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators.” When Lewis Hyde’s The Gift came out, the subtitle was “Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property”—later, much later, it was “Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World.”

That favorite passage reminds me of Peter Thiel talking about horizontal business vs. vertical business. Going from 1 to N, copying things that work, incrementally spreading and improving, is hard, yes. But going from 0 to 1 is really, really hard in a very different way.

AUSTIN KLEON: Bob Ross’s rivalry with his mentor, Bill Alexander: “He betrayed me!”

This is so awesome.


So here’s something you don’t hear about a lot — Bob Ross, the famous afro-ed host of The Joy Of Painting, was taught his famous “wet on wet” fast painting technique by a German expatriate painter named Bill Alexander, who, believe it or not, had his own PBS painting show calledThe Magic of Oil Painting, that ran from 1974-1982.

AUSTIN KLEON: Bob Ross’s rivalry with his mentor, Bill Alexander: “He betrayed me!”

Online fraud: Blatancy and latency | The Economist

Blatancy is a means of weeding out all but the most credulous respondents. (…) A big cost for [spammers] is the time they spend coaxing fully into their net those who show initial interest. So they need to select the most promising targets, rather than timewasters or the wary. “By sending an e-mail that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks [victims] to self-select.”

Online fraud: Blatancy and latency | The Economist

The Believer – Beat Boutique

On library music and the idea of “selling out”.

“Are you OK with making compromises with your art, or is it just better off for you to have your big compromise be walking into an office every day and getting to do whatever you want?” she says, without a fleck of judgment in her voice. “I think there’s arguments to be made for both.”

The Believer – Beat Boutique

Whatever it is you have never done before in your life and have no interest in doing, that’s probably what you’ll need to learn in order to keep your business running. Accounting, sales, inventory management. These are all things I’ve had to take on. These are also things that I would rather not do for the rest of my life. And while I’ll never be a crack accountant or a star salesman, it’s better to be mediocre than incompetent.

Lessons from a craft beer startup. My buddy Jonathan and his two co-founders Jeff and Joel make the best beer in Atlanta.

A good rule of thumb is that diversity of opinion is essential anytime you don’t know anything about something important.

People who are smart and energetic are often angry. Not at each other, usually. Rather, they’re angry that we’re “not there yet,” i.e. that they have to solve X when they should be working on some greater problem Y.

The Top Idea in Your Mind

I’ve found there are two types of thoughts especially worth avoiding—thoughts like the Nile Perch in the way they push out more interesting ideas. One I’ve already mentioned: thoughts about money. Getting money is almost by definition an attention sink. The other is disputes. These too are engaging in the wrong way: they have the same velcro-like shape as genuinely interesting ideas, but without the substance. So avoid disputes if you want to get real work done. Corollary: Avoid becoming an administrator, or your job will consist of dealing with money and disputes.

The Top Idea in Your Mind

Envisioning a Post-Campus America – Megan McArdle – The Atlantic

Tenured academics has worked a great scam. They’ve managed to monetize peoples’ affection for regional football teams, and their desire for a work credential, and then somehow diverted that money into paying academics to work on whatever they want, for the rest of their lives, without any oversight by the football fans or the employers.

In addition to enjoying this nice little zinger, definitely read her 12 hypotheses about the college system in the wake of distance-learning disruption. Good stuff.

Envisioning a Post-Campus America – Megan McArdle – The Atlantic