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The legendary "Putnam" one, of course: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35079



Okay, so, what do we think about TarSnap? Dude was obviously a genius, and spent his time on backups instead of solving millennium problems. I say that with the greatest respect. Is this entrepreneurship thing a trap?


I decided to make my reply a blog post: http://www.daemonology.net/blog/2020-09-20-On-the-use-of-a-l...


Wow. Amazing. Thank you.

The parent to my comment pointed to a most remarkable piece of internet lore, but it was really about your argument against taking VC. A very quick look showed that you did exactly what you said you were going to do, with probably the exact result you indicated. I pointed to TarSnap because that was the result, and it seemed important to the story. Success? Sure, exactly as planned, but what about the audience of your original argument, those that said to go for big venture investment? Surely they still exist here. What do they think? However, if the story is to be a guidepost for others, it's really about what you think about your story, and so I think anybody following can be grateful that you've closed the loop on this. I realize that you could have interpreted this as some kind of personal slight, and a few did on your behalf, but it's obvious that you think differently, and your lack of offense is very telling of your satisfaction. So really you've answered in two ways. For my part, I don't think that gifted people necessarily owe 'us' their highest altruistic purpose. Maybe that is between them and whatever higher power they believe in, or not. But we at least hope that others also respond to aspirational attention with some kind of honesty, even if we can't possibly understand. Thank you.


The most useful idea I've found so far for thinking about work and career comes from Dawkins. He points out that money is just an abstract mechanism for managing reciprocal altruism. As a knock on to that idea, we're programmed to crave those relationships and to build a deep and rich network of friends through them.

I think a huge part of our problem in the current historical moment is our lack of awareness of this fact, and it's a big part of why so many people are dissatisfied with their work and the state of social projects, including their view of the ways in which genius is employed.

To your point, I think the problem is not so much with entrepreneurship itself, but with the fact that it's filled in for all of the other decaying forms of altruism in modern society. The rewards for doing some deep scientific work (in the form of respect and prestige) have slowly decreased along with the rise of anti-intellectualism, while the rewards of entrepreneurship have skyrocketed (or at least appear to have from the vantage point of the average person). The new pop image of the "genius" is Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, not some guy plugging away at equations in Cambridge. Those people still exist, obviously, but the cultural respect and the other forms of value they're compensated with have decreased dramatically.


I appreciate your comments, but could you please stop creating accounts for every few comments you post? This is in the site guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

You needn't use your real name, of course, but for HN to be a community, users need some identity for other users to relate to. Otherwise we may as well have no usernames and no community, and that would be a different kind of forum. https://hn.algolia.com/?sort=byDate&dateRange=all&type=comme...


It's a trap if it's not for you, not what you want to do, not your interests. Whose business is it to solve millennium problems? Certainly not yours to decide for others. I think he does with his life what he chooses, and you do with yours what you choose. What are you doing with your life? I don't think you intended to be arrogant here, but the premise is that someone who has talent is required or expected to solve the world's problems. Not so. I think it's none of your business what someone else does with their life, anymore than it's mine to judge what you've done with yours or expect you to fulfill society's or the world's expectations. And the dude is still a genius, not was.


> And the dude is still a genius, not was.

Semantic error. Like using past tense to describe someone you met once long ago and otherwise know nothing about.


I've used it, it works. I trust cperciva to know what he's doing and he's been extremely awesome on customer service.

> Is this entrepreneurship thing a trap?

Depends on your goals, eh?

"If all you wanted was money you could just rob a bank."


Yes, you could view it as a trap VC lays for bright young minds since success is likely for the VC with a hundred investments and unlikely for the individual. But then, not everyone is wired to work for others. And sometimes you personally need to scratch that entrepreneur itch before you can fathom joining staff meetings. Glad we live in a world where cperciva could decide their own path.


I'm pretty sure he also made a ton of money on it, since lots of YC startups like Stripe were early customers. I don't think any of them had time to migrate off tarsnap (not to mention they don't need to). They probably just accumulated a bunch of data and tarsnap grew as Stripe did, which I imagine was very lucrative.




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