I realized this very late in life, but I have a test for when it's time to pay attention to a new technology. It's when technical people look at what seems like a groundbreaking idea, seem unimpressed, and say "couldn't you just _____", were the blank is filled with something a nontechnical person doesn't understand or considers very cumbersome.
The web: couldn't you just transfer a file to an open port and use a rendering tool to view it?
Blogs: couldn't you just update a web page?
Wikis: couldn't you just update a web page?
social media: couldn't you just set up group view preferences and use RSS?
youtube: couldn't you just upload a video and use tags for search?
twitter: couldn't you just not? Isn't that just a worse version of what we can already do??
Honestly, I've overlooked almost every one of these things, because I failed to understand how removing small bits of friction can cause a technology to explode.
Sure, some ideas are crazy new, but some sound too underwhelming to be revolutionary. but they are, there's no question about it, all those things I listed above changed the world, in ways both good and pretty damn awful.
I don't understand why the Kardashians are famous or wealthy. I mean I get the mechanics of it - famous legal case -> sex tape -> reality TV show. But I don't understand how this works, or why it works.
This isn't their problem. They are very wealthy, famous, and they obviously totally grok how their market works.
This is my problem. I should not attempt to produce a mass-market product until I understand it as well as the Kardashians understand their market. They are experts in their domain. I am not, and I doubt I ever will be. I don't even understand how their market works. Why does anyone spend any time watching these people? Until I understand that, I should stay away from mass-market ideas.
The Kardashians took up the ball that Paris Hilton dropped.
And with parasocialicer I mean the type of people who's main effect is to be someone who'se existence people can enjoy, without delivering anything actually skillfull outside of social interaction. Similar to cat- or dog-content.
How about these examples? Amiga had customers, and was profitable, yet Amiga is no longer a force in the computing, nor is Commodore.
Both had more (arguably) capable operating systems than Windows (until at least Windows 95), yet, no sustaining power.
Look at the sustaining power of iOS and Android, despite other more capable competitors that tried to win market share (Windows Phone, WebOS, and I really wanted WebOS to win, mind you)
Isnt that just survivorship bias?
Its understanding how they managed that that you can work your back to 0, I think. There is value in that
There are millions of beautiful people out there trying to get rich and famous. The Kardashians have managed to do that very successfully, and consistently, for years. I don't think that's luck. That doesn't look like luck. I think they knew exactly what they were doing, had a good plan, and executed it perfectly. And a major component of that was understanding their market perfectly.
People literally throw money at girls talking to a camera, taking photos of themselves and their lives and/or playing games.
I still don't quite understand why :D
IMHO the reality and social media aspects of it get all the attention and people focus on those and think it's something entirely new and unprecedented, but really they're just force multipliers. Soap + reality and social media. That's it. The things that actual make it engaging are exactly the same as those in any soap, but even soaps are powerful enough that they can bend some people's reality.
I once saw an interview with the star of a popular soap here in the UK. He played a despicable character that manipulated and betrayed the people about him, especially women. He said that at a certain point when his character was particularly nefarious he had to avoid going out in public. Quite frequently he would be walking down the street and a woman (it was always a woman) would start screaming and shouting at him, telling him how horrible he was, and he should be ashamed of himself. Some of them even threw things at him. An actor in a TV show, it wasn't even a reality show, this was long before they even started. (Dirty Den in East Enders).
A lot of people consuming this stuff, even the explicitly fictional dramas, have a lot of problems distinguishing between reality and fantasy. They will sometimes even acknowledge they know it's just a show, while also directing abuse at the actors. Deliberately blur the boundary between fiction and real life, as reality shows do, and the brew becomes even more viscerally engaging.
Given this, things like qAnon become a lot more understandable. There are a _lot_ of people who are just out and out fantasists. If there are enough to make actors hide at home, that means there are some on almost every street in every city or town in the world all the time.
But your conclusion about mass-market is too broad, this is not a single thing and can really depend on your definition and perspective.
Apple devices can be considered mass-market or niche.
I would like to add luck to the theatrical world too.
I look at movie stars, and it seems like a very exclusive club.
If you can read lines, have a bit of charisma, and get that ever so lucky break--it almost seems like you have to work at getting kicked out, and even if you gain a bunch of weight, and fry your liver, and kidneys with drugs; in many cases the actor just gets more opportunities.
It seems like a couple hundred actors get most of the jobs.
As to the Kardiasians I believe it was luck, and a good product. I can't believe I wrote that last sentence. I never thought I would put "good", and "Kardasians" in the same sentence.
I kinda get the success of the Kardasians though. The ladies look multiracial. They are of all ages. For so long the fair skinned starlet was the desirable one.
Now--it's changing, and I like the change.
I'm still baffled by the younger one's financial success in makeup, and what not. She is worth over a billion dollars. MBA programs should be studying her business moves.
Selling to women is an art. If you can crack the mystery you can be a billionaire too? I remember hearing someone say selling to men is easy. Give them a product they like, and they will come back. She said selling to women is more nuanced. I always have that advice in the back of my mind.
I have a very pretty sister who moved to Los Angeles. She skipped college. She felt it was a waste of time, and she was probally right? She used networking to get jobs. She then decided to make, and sell shoes. In a few years, she had multiple stores, and is very successful. (Sadly we are not close. I will always love her, but the greed got mixed in family stuff. I guess that happens a lot?)
I remember looking at her first prototypes, and didn't get it at all. I wished her well though. She got a tiny bit of financial help.
She didn't need any advice from me though. She knew what would sell. She literally started off making the shoes in her garage, with minimal materials, and tools. I was always encouraging. I knew fashion was way out of my wheel house though.
(I really don't have a point? I rambled all over the place? Looking at my writing I hope nothing is considered sexist.)
This is not what luck looks like. This is what a good plan being executed perfectly looks like.
Your sister sounds like someone who understood her market well, worked out a plan to tackle it, and executed it perfectly.
I wish I understood a market well enough to create that kind of plan. I don't feel like I understand myself well enough to market to me, let alone anyone else.
To some degree, problems of luck are also problems of volume: if you are president #45 and you have a 5% chance at creating a viral tweet, tweet 50 times and you will get one.
Yet the behavior of lang maintainers seems to have an outpaced influence over that luck: individual programmers actively chose Guido over Larry or Matz. In turn, Armin's framework looks about in line popularity-wise with DHH's at present, but the trend seems clear. We trust Node because Ryan rage quit. Oracle has cast a shadow over Java, and their TIOBE descent is finally manifesting. K&R may never be unseated, e.g. A Deepness in the Sky. Anyone who's seen Anders in person has witnessed his presence.
I wouldn't discount the effects of actual human characteristics and behavior, even if choices end up mostly based on fashion and a fascination with infamy. One can influence their own luck.
Just because they understand how to play the game in their current situation, it does not mean they could replicate the process of getting to their current situation.
The same is also true in business (this is one root cause for the "hard-to-place smell" that surrounds the HBS case study approach).
You need lots of empathy for sociopaths if your aim is to understand the why and the how of their successes. The fact you don't understand them makes me think you're a good person. The world would be a much better place if people weren't trying to copy them.
I don't want to copy them, per se. I respect them for their business acumen, and I would like to be that good at marketing. But as you say, sociopaths. I would do different things with the power that that kind of money brings.
These shows tend to be about groups of characters engaging in what you might call social or political struggles. Tensions, drama, conflict, emotions, and so on. Reality shows like the Kardashians are a distillation of these aspects and create something that is sweet like sugar to people who are disposed to enjoy that flavor.
I think a lot of people judge reality TV shows without watching them and kind of look down on them. If you don't have the taste for something it's easy to look down on it. For example, lots of people look down on Star Trek, which I loved when I was younger and still do. If I had to answer why I liked Star Trek, it's because I like to imagine myself as Captain Picard and figure out what I would do if I were faced with the given moral dilemma of the week. If my fantasy preferences tended towards "How would I handle the handsome jerk my sister is dating while I myself am a beautiful billionaire?" then I would watch different shows.
Madonna knew it in the 1980s. Britney or Jessica Simpson knew it in the 1990s. Paris Hilton knew it in the 2000s. The Kardashians have known it the past 15 years. Hugh Hefner knew it 70 years ago. Every model of consequence knows it.
The Kardashians are extraordinarily talented at selling sexuality. They know how to package it. They know how to market it. They intentionally replicated the system that worked so well for Kim, on to Kylie Jenner as she came of age.
Once you gain an initial position via your sexuality, leverage it into further gains. Sex rarely fails to sell.
And the parent is also correct in that it mostly (not exclusively) works for women, regardless of the downvotes attempting to change human nature and reality. A few male celebrities have benefitted tremendously from the effect, including Brad Pitt and Matthew McConaughey (how many famous male models can you name from the past 20-30 years though?).
And the target market for the Kardashians (I think, as far as I understand it) is not the people who find them sexually attractive. This is different from Marilyn Monroe, who mostly appealed to straight men, and for whom "sex sells" would be a perfect description. The Kardashian's market don't want to have sex with the Kardashians. They want to be the Kardashians (I think).
the web: I was a teen when people started using local "freenets" to connect to a text-only web and I think most people who tried it were amazed that you could instantly view content somebody on the other side of the world put up
blogs: I suppose "blogging platforms" were things you could say "couldn't you update a web page" but I think it was clear that what they provided was network effects you couldn't get from just your own web page and easy styling
wikis: I remember the idea being amazing because you could edit the page without having to sign in or create an account. That's not something you could just do with "updating a web page"
youtube: it was amazing that you could easily stream videos for free and search them. There was also a ton of copyright stuff in the early days.
Really, a better way to look at whether a technology is worth paying attention to is to ask "what can this allow us to do more easily that we couldn't before?"
> The web: couldn't you just transfer a file to an open port and use a rendering tool to view it?
Did anyone actually ever say this? The web was clearly a technological advancement that most tech people realized out of the gate.
> Wikis: couldn't you just update a web page?
It was pretty obviously apparent with wikis that letting anyone update the page, from the browser, was a cool technological achievement. I was well into my tech career at this point and don't remember anyone reacting to wikis this way.
> youtube: couldn't you just upload a video and use tags for search?
I mean, these are getting ridiculous. When YouTube came out video sharing was a major PITA, a pain that hit most technical people, too.
I just don't buy GP's premise because all of the examples seem like something only "Tech Support Guy" from those old SNL skits would say.
> Did anyone actually ever say this? The web was clearly a technological advancement that most tech people realized out of the gate.
I don't get why we're even talking about it. The original example is nonsense. The web literally does what that example says - pushes byte streams to computers that use a rendering tool to view them.
Arguably, what made the web popular wasn't HTTP per se. The two core ingredients were, in my opinion, DNS infrastructure and that "rendering tool", AKA. web browser. Together, they made it easy to publish files and let random people access them. Arguably, the third leg would be the <A> tag in early HTML, which kept everything glued together while it expanded exponentially.
Not all though, for all I know this was an unusual perspective even among technically savvy people. I suppose the people who saw the possibility and could act in it were both technical but capable of seeing things outside that narrow lense.
Also remember I wrote these as examples of things I reasoned incorrectly about!
EDIT - re-reading my comment above, I see I did write "technical people" rather than "me". I'm sure I'm not at all alone in having this tendency, but I'm definitely not ready to defend the idea that this is a universal or even common tendency among technical people. Perhaps I should have written "when I find myself thinking "couldn't you just""...
Hosting videos back then required plugins on the part of the viewer, which was something we were all cautioned not to download because of security.... Youtube was the first site that broke through the ice and had enough content to start taking advantage of network effects, and didn't blow that lead.
That is, at least, if my knowledge of the series of events is off. Livejournal existing is about when I got into the web but that predated blogs (and particularly bloggers in the context of investigative journalism) becoming a term by quite a fair bit.
I remember getting into a few people's web-based online diaries in the late '90s and definitely some folks used geocities to host their journals. I remember using it myself to post whatever nonsense I was doing to share with friends.
Not to mention the greater point: Im not even that convinced tech is ever really revolutionary (at least at the same time it gets mainstream adoption). Usually the big improvement it made existed years earlier or in competitors but the timing was right for it to appear.
Youtube was doing the same thing as daily motion and another (I think Vimeo?). Facebook was just “cool MySpace”, blogs were personal webpages that got suddenly popular: a lot of these just popped up and executed at the right time and in the right way.
My point is: without looking at the technology at all or knowing anything about it, you could perfectly tell what “revolutionary product” would suddenly become the next big thing simply with perfect information about the market and how it will shift at each step.
You could invent the fastest most efficient and cheapest way in the universe to launch spaghetti, but the “revolutionary” nature of your invention doesn’t matter at all because there’s no market for it, even if the very technical spaghetti enthusiasts suggest “why don’t you just build your own spaghetti railgun?”.
Markets matter, products derive their value entirely from those markets and are worth nothing alone.
Consequently, knowing which products WILL BE revolutionary (here I deliberately define revolutionary after the fact, because amazing product with no market isn’t revolutionary) is very hard because even if you know the initial market, you won’t know how things change.
I suspect the best you can do to make or identify revolutionary products is to really know the initial customer and early market, rely on some long term perceived trend that aligns broad markets closer to your early market, then iterate quickly keeping the pulse on the market onwards towards the mass market - which means we’ve just re-derived the lean startup process.
We didn't need a social media platform. We needed a social media platform where most of the interesting people (including our friends) are on.
Let the platforms compete on UX and data handling policies.
That way, the interesting people on one platform aren't gated away from the interesting people on others.
This is basically putting the cart before the horse and pretty much the definition of hindsight bias. We all know the BrandonM/Dropbox quip, but that's just a fun anecdote, not some universal axiom.
I don't really have any dog in this race (I won't use Mighty because my PC/Laptop is more than capable of hundreds of tabs and Electron apps), but if it succeeds, good on Suhail!
This. The antidote is to revisit examples of "couldn't you just X" where X indeed prevailed. There are even instances where superseding technology was actually better, but it was too late to replace X.
My favorite example is Iridium (and the whole satellite internet industry so far, let's see what will happen with Starlink). It's one thing to remove friction, but only if the new cost structure is still favorable.
Disruption doesn't happen because new tech is better/cooler, it happens when it introduces competitive advantage.
I realize it's internet fun to point neon arrows at people seeming outrageously wrong in the past, but the truth is that people aren't reading that comment accurately and there's a huge dose of hindsight fallacy here.
When he wrote "I have a few qualms with this app", he didn't mean the software. He meant their YC application. (Note the title of Drew's post: "My YC App"). He wasn't being a petty nitpicker—he was earnestly trying to help, and you can see in how sweetly he replied to Drew there that he genuinely wanted them to succeed. We should be so lucky for all responses to "crazy new ideas" to be that decent. This community would be healthier, and actually the current thread is a standout example of how far from true it is.
The criticisms he was raising turned out not to be problems in hindsight, but were on point in 2007, when the idea of file synchronization was widely derided as a solution-in-search-of-a-problem which only technical users would ever care about, users who (as the comment pointed out) could already roll their own solutions. The idea had recently been publicly mocked in a famous blog post—singled out as the prime example of an idea only technical users would ever care about—and even YC funded Dropbox because they believed in Drew, not the idea.
I appreciate your defense of that comment as it made me re-read it as charitably as possible.
That said, I think you're still overlooking some of the reasons that cause the eyerolling of it that's separate from hindsight bias.
First was the "quite trivially" phrase in the comment. That type of verbiage automatically triggers the perception of haughtiness. Imagine if someone did a Show HN of a new webcam security doorbell and a commenter said, ", you can already build such a system yourself _quite trivially_ by getting some components from DigiKey and soldering them yourself". Can you see how that sounds really dismissive?
Second, it was overlooking the idea that the YC app(lication)s are not intended to create products for Linux power users like BrandonM who can string together curlftpfs with CVS/SVN.
So for him to avoid that comment required stepping outside himself to see the perspective of non-techies. He could still dismiss Dropbox... but for different reasons related to not meeting needs of the end user mass market rather than purely base an opinion off his personal skillset.
> it was overlooking the idea that the YC app(lication)s are not intended to create products for Linux power users
I don't think that's an accurate reading. His Linux point was only one of three, and the other two were about the mass market. Given that he had implemented the Linux solution himself, I think the fact that he led with that point was probably more out of geeky exuberance than overlooking non-technical users.
It seems to me that in the context of 2007 all three of those points could easily have popped up in Dropbox's YC interview. Don't forget that back then, YC would sometimes fund a startup even though they didn't much believe in the idea (Airbnb famously so), because of the personal impression made by the founders. That's still the case today, and it was the case back then as well :)
I meant to focus on the text's tone sounding haughty rather than accuse the person being haughty.
Let me try to explain another way to emphasize the text aspect: that particular sentence in isolation is what is quoted on the internet outside of HN:
The "quite trivially" may only be scoped to one bullet point and may be unfairly weighted when looking at his followup thoughtful conversation -- but it also elevated it legendary HN lore.
I take your point about lore, and on that level it's just good fun.
p.s. Also, nice use of the word 'haughty'. We need those good English words.
As much as I appreciate your thoughtfulness, I really don’t mind the commentary. I’m long past being frustrated about being misinterpreted, and I learned a lot from it, anyway.
As I’ve stated since, I was an undergrad when I made those comments. I know how much I’ve grown since then. It feels like someone else said them, and everyone is talking about “not me” when they remark about it today.
I definitely appreciate the love, though. Thanks!
Thanks for adding to the discussion. While dang was trying to defend your character, I was emphasizing the peculiar wordsmithing of your text being an enduring magnet for memes. Are you aware of snowclones? Here's a recent snowclone example from HN: For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by installing an x11vnc server on your host, setting up a SSH tunnel to a remote server which forwards the host's VNC port, [...]
Here's my theory on the phenomenon and why your old comment keeps getting cited...
Your 1st bullet point's text about ftp was so poetic that it hijaacks the mind and it overshadows the rest of your comment(s). It's like people think Bruce Springsteen's song "Born in the USA" is a celebration of patriotism when actually, the total lyrics are about disposable veterans from the Vietnam War. It's the "born in the USA" chorus that more people remember and not the nuanced verses of sadness.
If you had written about ftp in a more hesitating way with more qualifiers...e.g. "Maybe I'm reading the Dropbox application incorrectly but it seems like it duplicates what ftp already does [...] blah blah blah" -- your skepticism would have been forgotten because the text would have been boring and safe.
But your text of, "For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account," -- combined with obscure tools unknown to the masses like "curlftpfs/SVN/CVS" -- was irresistibly quotable. That unintentionally became your "born in the USA" chorus.
Even before your 2007 comment, there was already a "too many techies are out-of-touch about the needs of non-techies" criticism in the air and the internet punching bag to express it was the famous 2001 Slashdot comment about the iPod: "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."
So the HN collective found a new example of "out of touch techies" in the "famous Dropbox comment". But only the 1st bullet point and it doesn't care about the rest of your thoughtful nuanced conversation and replies. It's unfair but I'm glad to hear you've made peace with it.
I appreciate your theorizing on its staying power. It’s interesting to think about why a particular phrase sticks with people.
>I have a few qualms with this app:
>1. For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account...
Few seem to consider that contextual difference. Poor word choice aside for a moment, "quite trivially" meant something very different in 2007 than it has come to mean today.
I agree there’s still a conundrum here, why is something obviously one way to some very smart people like BrandonM while the exact opposite seems just as obvious to other people. I suspect it’s more about what people value than what they know technically.
Well, not exactly. There's plenty of people who have been successful at, frankly horrible things.
I count this kind of "not your computer, ours" rent seeking change as "bad if successful".
Most of my life already doesn't happen on my personal locked-down device.
Let me be clear: we plan to charge a subscription. That's our only business model.
I think we can improve privacy and security for most users who have trouble managing it. For instance, we can patch Chrome zero-days (many have occurred this year) a lot faster for everyone.
What we offer today is a faster way to use applications that do own your data so you can be much more productive and hopefully enable a new set of applications never before possible.
We help improve decentralization of the web over duopolies like Apple/Windows. We make the browser more powerful, not less.
We improve the market share of Linux as a consumer computing OS as it underlies our tech.
In time, we might be open to people owning their own hardware and running Mighty on it but I think a lot of people will prefer we make it "just work" for now. I don't view either world as mutually exclusive.
If there's an opportunity to research making things trustless, we'll work on that.
Also, history tells us when companies say they wont be evil... they mean "not yet". It is a middle man power play pure and simple.
The rest feels like classic SV/startup window dressing to get the job done.
I think that's just called "switching to a subscription model". "Rent seeking" has a different meaning.
That's factually incorrect that, that always happens and I am not sure why you think we're grouped into that without any evidence or a basis of reasoning.
I wonder if the pitch deck had the same value proposition we are getting or if it said "lets own consumer virtual desktop starting with Chrome". Both are valid.
Feels like a bait and switch.
Second Law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
For years, I never understood the point of Twitter. It felt like nano-blogging -- Why not just use a regular blog platform?. Later, I realised it is a single global open forum of "random" chats that are interlinked via @person and #idea links. So if a bunch of random people who don't know each other are nano-blogging about #idea, it's like they are part of a chat room called #idea. And, of course, you can cross-post to multiple @people and #ideas in same Tweet. And there is no gate-keeping: You don't need to ask to join an #idea and I don't think it is possible to block other people referencing your @name. Other social media platforms seem to integrate with the @people and #idea thing -- no sure if that actually came from Twitter.
Technology and concept aside, I still think most of Twitter is garbage content. /Once in a while/, I see a Twitter thread from an economist or hedge fund manager that is referenced by FT Alphaville (https://ftalphaville.ft.com/). And to be fair: A lot of interesting discussion about racial injustice in last five years originated as complaints or short stories on Twitter... then blew-up in more traditional media. Else... it seems like noise.
Related to your list: One thing I have never understood: Brand names create social media precense, like Coca Cola on Facebook. And people subscribe. Why? That is so weird. Coca Cola... really? I dunno... maybe they have fun photos on their Instagram. I assumed social media was for human-to-human contact, not business-to-human contact. I was wrong! Some of those brand names have massive social media following. Campbell's Soup! Tide Detergent!
I didn't pay attention to early Twitter, but I'd wager it probably leaned pretty heavily to the software dev demographic.
There is a bit of a disconnect that a lot of people are casting technical users as if it's the group that you shouldn't listen to. As if you can find single cases and say "See!" and that proves the point . Yet an overwhelming percentage of products in the technology space first saw success among the most technical of all. If you don't get that group, it often is doomed to failure.
 - just as an aside, there is a tendency of many to point out some "top" comment on some site like HN as if it therefore is the majority opinion. It doesn't work that way. We all don't have mandatory votes on every comment, and even a tiny amount of clustering can send a minority opinion to the top.
This may or may not work but there seems to be obvious potential and In don’t know why people are so dismissive. If it improves worker productivity or saves on hardware upgrade costs, every business will want this.
But it's not worth anything. Sometimes you just can't clean up garbage. Graham has too many dishonest people in YC. They're like gollum and want their precious but think they're Gandalf.
We all know HN mods fuck around with rankings, but you know how I know they fuck around with rankings?
This post has 30 upvotes, it got those 30 upvotes in 30 minutes. It's now at the very, very, very bottom of this thread just above all the dead guys because it is critical of Graham.
This post has over 60 upvotes and is critical but is also completely relevant. It has been "detached" by dang.
dang detaching off-topic subthreads is the opposite of mods opaquely fucking around with rankings. He explicitly detached the thread, and posted that he had done so. That's a judgement call which you're welcome to disagree with and I'm not going to affirm or second-guess because I don't care much.
As to the other: we don't know how HN sorts comments, but I would be surprised if it was as simple as the highest-valued comments floating to the top. It is far more likely given what we know about moderation goals, that controversial comments are penalized.
So maybe your comment got 50 upvotes and 20 downvotes? The mods don't want us making huge subthreads about stuff which people disagree about, for the most part: they want some of that, but anything which is drawing a lot of karma from both sides is that much more likely to draw low-quality replies.
Again, this isn't a comment about your comment: pretend I didn't read it, I barely did in fact.
But it certainly doesn't prove that dang put his thumb on the scale. The mods here seem to be pretty transparent about how everything works, without leaking actual formulas which are subject to change and could provide ammunition with which to game the system.
Yeah, you don't care about it much, it wasn't you that it happened to. I don't care that much either. I do care about this easily abused behavior, though.
> As to the other: we don't know how HN sorts comments, but I would be surprised if it was as simple as the highest-valued comments floating to the top. It is far more likely given what we know about moderation goals, that controversial comments are penalized.
I know, as do anyone that has experienced it, that they are penalized. If you say sane but controversial things around here you get downvoted, hidden, silenced. This sounds melodramatic, but think about what you are saying - HN is looking for boring, safe, everyone agrees commentary.
> So maybe your comment got 50 upvotes and 20 downvotes? The mods don't want us making huge subthreads about stuff which people disagree about, for the most part: they want some of that, but anything which is drawing a lot of karma from both sides is that much more likely to draw low-quality replies.
> Again, this isn't a comment about your comment: pretend I didn't read it, I barely did in fact.
With all due respect, I know. I can tell.
> But it certainly doesn't prove that dang put his thumb on the scale. The mods here seem to be pretty transparent about how everything works, without leaking actual formulas which are subject to change and could provide ammunition with which to game the system.
Yeah that's how abuse works, that's how loopholes work. Rules for me and not for you. Rules that are arbitrarily applied.
That's what I've never gotten about HN. You guys are so smart, but it's like you skipped politics 101.
While there is some truth to that statement, the real "innovation" is getting millions of people to share and collaborate using the framework. How do make it easy to share and collaborate? Making the technology as frictionless as possible.
I don't see Dockers rise to prominence as a result of some spectacular technical innovation. It's a group of technologies which already existed but now with a great UX around it.
This is, actually, still true :)
Edit: It might also be an example of the curse of knowledge: what seems trivial to an expert may be a showstopper for a layperson. An expert suffering the curse would implicitly assume that everyone else has the same knowledge sufficient to make convoluted method seem trivial.
In some ways, all of social media consist of apps tailored to specific use-cases that haven't been new for decades, but they "invite" normal people to use them.
1. ideas which improve the current broken system (blogs, wiki, youtube, dropbox, etc.)
2. ideas which admits that the current system is broken and just to try to ride on that wave (mighty app, random "fix you wet iPhone", and numerous other failed ones)
The second type of ideas are just are "bad" regardless of how crazy they are. But they will make some money.
Indeed, anyone with the knowledge would overlook a lot of these. They're not revolutionary on a technical or individual level, but they are on a social level.
Note the date of course - this is well before Dropbox was a household name.
I guess Clayton Christensen explains the difference best in his youtube videos. Also Peter Thiel talks a lot about the difference of ideas in his talks on youtube!!
Sounds like HN's reaction to cryptocurrencies
I think the transition point is when incremental improvements amplify themselves to the point where they are both way more popular and way more efficient than what came before.
This is correct though. Twitter is not a good idea, or a good product (if your metric for good is being useful and improving lives, rather than simply profit). Twitter succeeded because it became a "meme": everyone was caught up in what it could be. By the time it became clear that all the things it could be were bad, it was too late: too many people were on the platform, and their gravitational pull could keep things going indefinitely. Twitter, like a lot of recent "ideas" in tech, is a cake that's all frosting. It runs almost entirely on FOMO.
There are a lot of bad things about it but it genuinely surfaces information you could not have got otherwise or previously.
MAU metrics highly depend on retention, and the retention highly depends on PMF. If Twitter didn't have PMF, it wouldn't have retained such a huge global userbase.
In my short startup life, I have had the opportunity of meet many founders, VCs and also get solicited and unsolicited opinions from friends and family. Most of the VCs, friends and family members were critical of my ideas or simply didn't spend the effort to really listen. I see the same thing happening to other founders and startups. Specially fun is meeting VCs who have never built a startup themselves or coming from a non technical background be overly critical and share their strongly held opinions on how my startup could fail. I ran out of fingers counting how many ways.
Ofcourse a startup can fail. Thats why it's not a company yet. There is a saying that it takes many miracles to make a startup a success. Most founders know that already. We are already scared.
Paul is suggesting a different approach. A more positive one. And given the statistics around Paul's and YC's success versus other VCs, you would think that the HN crowd of all people would at-least pay attention.
P.S: My startup was rejected multiple times by YC. So not a fan exactly.
Say what you will about the guy, and there's an argument to be made that Tesla at least is incremental and not a crazy new idea, but Musk co-founded Paypal and is now pushing limits in spaceflight.
I don't think that's correct: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elon_Musk#X.com_and_PayPal
There are just way more people that I know and trust personally that I think could give positive, but constructive advice. I would believe absolutely nothing coming out of Paul's mouth because he hasn't shown that he's an honest person. He's not disinterested about any of this, but feigns like he is above it.
I think some of us are very sick of the absolutely fake and fraudulent way he and others like him and Musk operate. They do not care about the truth or other people, they care about their own egos and people for whatever reason buy that.
You crossed badly into bannable territory in this thread. I've responded in more detail here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27066921.
You posted surprisingly vicious smears in this thread, even blaming one person for the death of another. Some of that you edited in an extremely misleading way, so that the community's original response seemed unreasonable, when in fact it had been appropriate. Even in the above comment, which is still up, you've accused someone of being fake, fraudulent, and dishonest, with zero basis. When asked not to do any of this, you haven't even acknowledged what you did—instead you're changing the subject dramatically. Isn't that a little distasteful?
> I'm sure you've seen where people have accused you
Since you saw the thread where people were bringing it up, I'm surprised you didn't see the explanations:
> is HN not the place to discuss that
People discuss companies, including YC-funded companies, at great length on HN all the time. That's not the issue here. The issue is that you've been breaking the site guidelines very badly, and we need you to stop.
> Do you not have a conflict of interest
I've written extensively about that over the years. If you or anyone is interested, some of those past explanations can be found at the following links:
The short version is that we don't moderate HN to suppress criticism of YC or YC startups, because that would be (a) wrong, (b) futile, and (c) dumb. We moderate HN to try to keep it interesting and in line with the site guidelines (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html) — that's all. I'd never claim to be immune from bias (who could?) but I can tell you what principles we try to apply and can at least claim to have years' worth of practice at them.
There's nothing secret here, by the way, in the sense that anyone can get an answer to any question about how HN works (other than technical details about anti-abuse software, and that only because they would stop working if they weren't secret). Trying to run an online community any other way would be inefficient and self-defeating. We try to never do anything that isn't defensible to the community, because the community's good will is the only asset HN has.
I completely understand how easy it is for unexplained details to compound into weird and sinister pictures. That's a fact of human life that we all have to deal with, especially online. But really the cleanest and freshest way to deal with it is to check what's actually happening, when that option is available. HN, even though it has millions of users, is still small enough that that option is actually available. Why not take advantage of that?
I don't want to keep doing this, though, so would you please use your main account? I removed the restriction from it, so it should work.
A few responses: if you say you didn't intend to mislead by editing your comment, I believe you; nothing factual that you've said about pg remotely justifies the abusive language you used; Elon Musk has nothing to do with any of this; if someone was bullying toward you on HN, or you felt they were, that sucks, and I'm sorry we didn't stand up for you. I try to stand up for someone who's being unfairly criticized when I know about it—don't forget that we don't see the overwhelming majority of what gets posted; I consider it a smear when people say awful things about others without justification; it doesn't depend on payment.
However, the main problem I have with with this article is that it divides people into domain experts and the rest. This kind of black and white thinking is pervasive in PG essays, and always lead to a cute conclusion. You can have two domain experts that disagree. You can have an idea that spans multiple domains, and there are no (or few) experts in all of them. Maybe the Crazy New Idea seems brilliant to experts in one domain, but only because they don't grasp the others.
It depends upon the level of attack. Outright dismissal without consideration compared to critique. Is the intent to destroy the idea so it goes away or to test it for flaws? That's done by the suggestion given to ask questions. Instead of saying "this is stupid", figure out why your think it is stupid and turn it into a question. Such a question is a soft attack, one that may be met with an explanation without needing for direct conflict, or which may be met with a 'I haven't considered that, let me think on it' or a 'That's one of the flaws I'm still working on'.
>However, the main problem I have with with this article is that it divides people into domain experts and the rest.
While the presentation did present this as an overly binary classification, I don't think the intention (that I perceived) is wrong. Some people have more experience in certain things, and given we are all mortals with limited time, we need to have some way to decide how much attention we give ideas and using relative expertise in domains seems a decent filter. This does not have to be perfect, because the result is not accepting the idea but instead not outright rejecting the idea. In cases where the idea still is mistaken it will still be revealed under critique. It is a test to determine what should be given the chance to be critiqued given limited time and resources.
It would lead to experts overlooking ideas from sources who don't have expertise, but I think that is acceptable for two reasons. First, there are already a flood of ideas so applying a filter that lets more through will still lead to ideas not being considered, but this time due to a lack of time and resources. Second, this is all relative so a good idea from a non-expert would still pass the filter for someone who is slightly more of an expert. If they find it passes their critique it now is able to pass filters of people who are more of experts in their fields. Good ideas can still bubble up (we just need to take care that they are correctly attributed).
This happens all the time. And the most interesting ideas are rejected by almost everyone, except the tiny minority that happens to be positioned to understand the change. So you can’t make predictions by tallying up expert votes either.
Criticism is the crucible in which crazy new ideas are forged into crazy viable ideas.
> However, the main problem I have with with this article is that it divides people into domain experts and the rest.
Let's be honest: in this day and age "the rest" are far too vocal and need to STFU on things which they have no knowledge. Sure, domain experts can disagree - let them be heard, but the know-nothings should be given zero attention.
But stating opinion as fact or "just asking questions" is not conducive to understanding.
 - https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Just_asking_questions
PG isn't defending Mighty, Dropbox or Coinbase because he has skin in the game, but because he knows what the teams have achieved and what they could potentially achieve.
I don't understand, it seems so obvious to me. Dropbox started as a better FTP, Coinbase is a better Bitcoin wallet, Gmail is a better SMTP, Mighty is a better Chrome. All of these products are meant for the masses because the core technologies/protocols are too complicated or restrictive to directly interact with.
Does anyone remember Color Labs? Go read this thread and marvel at the similarities: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2364463. A stellar team backed by top VCs who invested (extraordinary at the time) $41M sets out to build a location enabled photo-sharing app. VCs tout it as "the next Google". Most of HN is pretty critical with some voices advocating caution and saying "let's not be so dismissive, maybe there is something more to it". Well, it turned out there was nothing more to it.
So no, being dismissed by HN does not automatically mean that your idea is good and you will be successful.
As we pick a few datapoints (Dropbox, Coinbase, Airbnb) and we average it out, we are pushed towards the left.
More data we pick (colorlabs for example, and I'm sure many others) we are pushed more towards the right.
Most popular article dealing with VC news, startup promotion, funding news, valuation bragging, acquisition gossip, startup failure reports picks data that push the narrative towards the extremes.
My instinct says we are squarely around the center where we can't predict shit.
Completely agree. There are a lot of people in this post trying to rationalize their own biased opinion on what predicts success or failure though.
I predict that HN is no better at predicting success than average. It might be better than average at predicting failure but given the distribution that might not be that hard: if you dismiss every idea AND most ideas fail, then you always look like you are getting it right with a few occasional wrongs. Think about it in the inverse: if most startups succeeded spectacularly but a few failed miserably and you always were bullish on all startups, people would just say that you are almost always right.
The only real difference between predicting success and the result being failure and the opposite is that in this world success is unbounded (your valuation isn’t constrained since you can create a whole new market segment), but failure is always bounded. Therefore getting a success wrong sucks more than getting a failure wrong: you could have made a lot of money by correctly predicting a unicorn.
I can't fully agree on this. In a fair game (coin toss) your chances are just that, average. In a game where your experience, network and wealth can influence the outcome, things can be different. This is common in the enterprise market.
In the consumer market (which isn't more fair, but just works differently), that model fails miserably, that's where we start seeing the failures of the predictions and bets made.
What I see happening, is the vested parties (VC, Founders, investors) trying to cherry pick data points (from both markets), and then bragging about how they are good at predicting in both markets, but when you add in more data you see, that is not the case.
What would have been more insightful is a conversation around relative benchmarks. For example, "do YC companies fail at a higher rate than the cohort of equally funded companies?" (hint: no).
Or perhaps, if you're trying to criticize the VC industry, perhaps ask, "if a VC put in money in every YC company since the beginning of YC, what would their IRR be today?" (hint: massive).
Since it's soooo obvious that we should all hide our failures and glorify our successes without questioning this practice (I did say 'of course'), I understand how you missed the point.
I take all articles and comments here with a huge grain of salt. Especially Paul Graham.
Way back in 2005. Back when lemonodor was a thing.
People often forget that even Apple (or might not know if young) was not wildly successful and almost went bankrupt (or close to that) and had to be bailed out by Microsoft.
Also forgotten is that the quality of the execution matters a great deal. Dropbox or Coinbase w/o good execution and attention to details would not be where they are today. Ditto Color Labs with great execution would not work necessarily.
I mean, that’s just me, but my understanding was that it didn’t take off on mobile until after it had established a secure foothold on the desktop.
It's not. This is survivorship bias from the infamous stories about Dropbox, Coinbase, etc. There's plenty of "Show HNs" of HNr's criticizing companies that go nowhere. Including one of my own!
What you're referring to is effectively called "non consensus and right". The problem with this concept is that it can only be verified after the idea is deemed right or wrong.
I do put a lot of stock into Paul's essay, though. If someone credible and highly intelligent has some non-consensus opinion, it's a good idea to suspend judgement and really listen to their reasoning.
The only path is the browser and most desktop apps are web apps.
Feel free to read my post that goes deeper about our thinking: https://blog.mightyapp.com/mightys-secret-plan-to-invent-the...
I read your article, and the technology sounds interesting. I also understand you pivoted from offering a simple VDI service, presumably because of licensing (and of course, everything I just said goes out the window if Microsoft decides to alter the deal). But for the worker who doesn't 100% live in web apps (I'm thinking of the legions of accountants who have 8GB of RAM tied up in Excel all day long) and needs more than their garbage corporate machine can handle, I don't see this being enough.
Maybe I'm wrong, and they'll hold me up as the next "Dropbox is just FTP with extra steps!" person. I would be fine with that. But maybe, just maybe, once the streaming tech is proven (it looks like it is, honestly), reconsider?
Ahem, that ship has long since sailed. We have an entire generation of developers now where all they know is the Web, and industry investments, tooling, etc has all shifted in that direction
That would make this comment thread look more hilarious than «less space than a Nomad, no wireless».
I have no idea if Mighty will succeed or not. But I suspect it will not succeed as a a $30/mo consumer product. Indeed, I'd bet money on it. The companies everyone keeps referencing were free products. I got excited about Dropbox. So did my friends. No friend has excitedly sent me a link to Mighty.
I'm sure some professionals will pay though. How many and how many they need to hit their numbers is another question. They can still probably ride the hype machine to an exit.
"No one went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."
HN just hasn't internalized it quite yet, so we have the counter-indicator.
yes, it's better in the sense that the privacy issues are even better; well, worse in the viewpoint of the user, but since when VCs cared about it?
The success of a startup depends on many factors and pessimism on HN is definitely not one of them. HN is a forum where people intellectualize things from their limited point of view. It is usually not the primary forum where the founders seek feedback. I think HN is a remix of the old slashdot forums with a healthy mix of digg + reddit.
Those are not needing defense. Those are quite mundane business.
Dropbox for one, everyone thinks it's useful. The controversial part is whether or not it's a good business. Turns out Dropbox is not so great a business. I mean, if Dropbox is in China, it will be crushed by copycats and die very quickly.
Similarly for coinbase. It's useful. The question was whether or not btc and crypto currency will be big enough for coinbase to be a great business. Of course, given the success in crypto currency, coinbase is a great business.
But neither of these are “crazy new ideas”. They are not even new ideas...
It took the work of Kepler (elliptical orbits) and Newton (a physical basis for elliptical orbits) to elevate the heliocentric model to the status that it enjoys today.
There are two reasons why I bring this up: one is the validity of many of Paul Graham's assertions and conclusions. The other is to point out that things aren't so simple. Copernicus did not reap the rewards of his ideas since it took the work of others to prove those ideas. In fields outside of science, there is little reason to expect people to arrive upon similar conclusions. (Even within the sciences, there is no reason to believe we would converge on similar conclusions in the same time frame via different paths.)
Similarly the Copernican model was "more correct" depending on how you look at it (currently we model everything relative to everything else, the earth and sun "orbit" around a midpoint that is inside the surface of the sun but not the exact center, for example) but it provided WORSE predictions than the Ptolemaic model of the time.
And this had real practical implications in the technology of the day - navigation charts, etc, analogous to trying to use new tooling and finding it doesn't support aspects the old tooling did.
He lists two reasons why people want to dismiss "crazy new ideas": envy, and the desire to seem sophisticated. Using Copernicus as an example simply does not fit these claims.
Reasons to dismiss Copernicus's ideas:
1. They were worse predictions, so for all 'practical' purposes of the day (essentially, only knowing where the wandering stars would be), adopting his ideas would be poor.
2. Most crazy new ideas like this proposed by people on the fringe of a field are flat out wrong. The Copernican Model is a good example of a common mistake, really: Someone saw a complex but accurate system and tried replacing it with a simple system that is easier to understand but rejects the actual data. Turns out the world is complex and doesn't care about being intuitive. See all of quantum mechanics for an example.
3. Classical relativity was only established later by Newton. The moon, sun, and other planets were poorly understood at the time. It wasn't until Galileo's observations that evidence was gained for a rocky moon. The idea that the whole Earth could be moving and spinning without violating everyday observation, and therefor the other bodies in the sky follow the same rules as those on Earth, is simply a large and unnecessary leap in intuition. Sure, it's a correct leap, but the path of reasoning there is backwards. It is only with Newton's laws of motion that heliocentrism begins to make any sense.
4. Further, much better evidence (as discussed above) came to light far before Copernicus's ideas had any effect on non-academic matters. Other than finding things interesting, and generally liking to know how the universe works, heliocentrism has no practical affect on life even today. Sure if you work at NASA it's super important, but most people don't. Trying to force an idea before it's time, when it won't effect things anyways has little practical value.
The crux of this is that this article is not a response to people dismissing a new idea. It's people dismissing a new business. He seems to be arguing that new ideas by domain experts shouldn't be criticized because they might be right, while ignoring that people can have strong financial motivation to promote incorrect ideas. Fighting such ideas is good because:
- If the ideas prove correct, internet criticism of it really won't matter. Only a few key investors need to be convinced, and yeah they'll make a lot of money.
- If the ideas are wrong, healthy skepticism is the strongest force against snake oil salesmen.
90% of starts fail, so the criticism will usually be on the correct side, even if the exact criticisms don't point to the true cause of failure.
I disagree. These discoveries (showing that we aren't "special" or at the "center") had huge religious/philosophical implications and through some intermediate steps ultimately led to the kinds of secular states we (most of us) spend our every day in practice.
Humans are dogmatic about politics, the backfire effect is a thing, etc. Why should things be magically different for scientists?
There’s a reason “science advances one funeral at a time “
The Ethereum people do it, too. They use the example of old massively successful tech to prove that Eth too can catch on, but they don't cite all the failures.
The odds are high that the internet converges to suckage. We're spending a lot of energy trying to stave that off. Since you're such an active community participant, wouldn't it be in your interests to help that effort, rather than hurt it?
I hear a implausible sounding ideas all the time. I think one of the main points of academia is to give people the chance to explore those ideas. But they don't turn out good "on average", not even close.
But if you never bet on any implausible-sounding ideas, you exclude the chance of being an early participant in any big paradigm shift.
A good exercise is to back-test your rule against big ideas through their history. Would you have invested time in solving Schrodinger’s weird equation in 1925? 1927? 1940? Would you have invested time in public key cryptography in 1975? 1976? 1980? 1990?
People who got in early, got to make the big discoveries in those fields.
Everyone assumes they would always have been on the right side of history. It's basically impossible to know what you would have been like had you been born in those times. Better is to back-test your rule against paradigm shifts that have occurred in your own lifetime. What are some ideas you dismissed that turned out to work? What are some products or projects you have a revulsion against that are still succeeding years later? What caused you to reject them? What did you miss?
A lot of people, once they take a position on something, dig in and don't change that position for a lifetime, then miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime because they dismissed it to begin with. But truly world-changing ideas usually have a lot of room to grow. If you're wrong for 2-3 years and then change your mind, you'll feel really stupid, like you totally missed the boat, but that's nothing compared to the 20-30 years left of growth that the idea might have.
Looking backwards definitely biases you to seeing things you didn't see at the time. Even memories get tinged. But memories are probably the most accurate you can do.
I missed bitcoin entirely despite knowing many people who bought as I still don't understand what the appeal is. It doesn't seem efficient to me as a payments technology or from a privacy perspective. I kind of wish I bought early even though I probably would have cashed out way too soon, as the money would have been nice.
I liked Stripe due to my revulsion to PayPal but wasn't exactly going to be on them winning. I was pleasantly surprised. Ditto Shopify because of my dislike of Amazon stores. I think I underestimate the chances of good ideas and good products winning because I know it's very hard.
I took a few bets early in my career on start-ups. I think I underestimated the difficulty of selling into retail on one company that I still think had a good idea. The others ended up being acquisitions, although the products weren't continued. I still believe social notetaking is an interesting hard problem in need of a good solution but I don't think we had found it.
I think the big lesson for me is to not get taken in by the cult of personality around strong founders and focus more on the merits of the ideas. That can be tricky as you're not getting the full picture when you interview making it even harder to see a crazy idea as good for the right reasons but it's the right approach.
Ordering pet food over the internet in 1995: crazy moonshot weirdo stuff.
Ordering pet food over the internet in 2021: just another day.
But then they’d have to own up to the nauseating idea of callously dismissing some truly spectacular sea changes, such as failing to buy 1000 Bitcoins for a few dollars in 2009. I think most people are too full of envy to do that.
How many can honestly say they kept an open mind to the handful of such paradigm shifts we’ve experienced in the last 20 years?
So regretting past mistakes is a big waste of time. Learn from them, but don't let it get to you emotionally. (All easy advice to give, and hard to follow.)
In other words, a successful business requires not only producing an innovative product, it also requires knowing if people actually demand this innovative product. One half is the core idea, the other half is how this idea interfaces with the world.
> Most implausible-sounding ideas are in fact bad and could be safely dismissed. But not when they're proposed by reasonable domain experts.
Is later contradicted by a discussion on the quality of criticism
> The lowest form [of criticism] of all is to dismiss an idea because of who proposed it.
So which is it? Judge an idea by who proposes it or not? I think the essay stands without the tangent on ranking criticism, and it could perhaps be discarded entirely.
But that's too easy, and I think the discussion of criticism is a strong (unintentional) counterpoint to the essay. You have gated the hard work of weighing an idea behind the reputation of the person who proposed it. History all too often labels a genius only in retrospect and in their own time were more likely to be considered fringe or even crackpots.
In short, I think the essay is boiled down to "find the right people to trust/engage/pursue, and especially don't discard their implausible ideas". The tack on of trying to localize to a "smart domain expert" in whatever you're interested in seems.... uninspired. The tack on of being more open to implausible ideas is more interesting. But the fundamental work is unchanged from basically all of human history- "find (or become) the people who are going to be successful/transformative"
The first statement isn't a suggestion that implausible sounding ideas can be dismissed on the basis of a lack of credibility of the person communicating the idea.
But I share in the dislike of an appeal to authority. The idea should stand on its own merits.
That's different to saying that the idea should be dismissed merely due to lack of credibility of the person, which is what the second statement is talking about. The primary reason for dismissal in his first statement is the idea's implausibility, not the credibility of the person.
If his first statement said "all ideas should be dismissed, but for ones proposed by credible people", then that would be inconsistent with his second statement.
What would follow from his first statement: "Your idea sounds really implausible, and so I'm going to dismiss it on that basis. And since you're not a domain expert I'm not going to put special effort into suspending judgement, I'm just going to go with my initial implausibility determination."
What would follow from his second statement: "I'm going to dismiss your idea because you're not a domain expert. The idea's plausibility didn't really factor into my decision."
I would agree though that his use of very simple language has left some ambiguity here.
My theory is that many domain experts haven’t needed to communicate with a lay audience in decades (if ever) and thus aren’t aware of their own baseline assumptions. Seems like a startup idea, maybe? Convert academic papers into comprehensible English. Two Minute Papers does this but it’s only for technology.
This probably applies to early Apple. Wozniak, while clearly a technical genius, needed Jobs’ communication and design skills to sell “personal computing” and make Apple a mass-market company.
Feynman loved explaining things, so he had to keep trying to explain them in a manner that the ordinary folk could understand, but he also loved physics, which kept him diving deeper, and playing with it.
Having charisma and knowing what people want, and how to sell was Steve Jobs portion of the game, once the initial technical hurdles were solved. Woz likes to minimize circuits and do clever things, that was his part of the game.
Here on HN, the balance seems to be keeping it focused enough on hacking technology, while still appealing to those who want to make money off of it in yacht loads.
It's all about balance between at least 2 domains.
every 5 seconds.
Anyone have any idea what it is?
Note : The address keeps changing for every request.
Edit2 : Is it only on my PC, or are others also able to see it?
A quick search for "lexity.com" shows that it's an analytics company.
> Lexity - Apps to help grow your ecommerce business
> Commerce Central is the easiest way to grow your small and medium ecommerce businesses. We provide the best real time analytics and insights for ecommerce for free, and apps to advertize your store through Google, Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
Lexity.com looks like a Yahoo service and maybe this is the analytics being collected. AFAIK pg's site is still hosted on Yahoo.
To me Mighty sounds like a similar category of product. They are betting that PC/Laptop/Mobile hardware will stagnate from this point on. Exactly when Apple has launched M1, which blows the previous version out of the water, at a non crazy price. From this point it’s a matter of time other hardware also catches up in terms of performance and price.
Besides, yet another company to handover my entire browsing history and data for purported improvement in latency? I don’t know.
No, they are betting that no matter the processing power of computing devices of the day, developers will always push things to the limit and ship products that can end up being slow on devices used by a large share of the population.
This has always happened, because software product makers always want their products to have as many features/capabilities as possible, and release them to market as quickly/cheaply as possible, which means there are lesser incentives to limit functionality or to invest in performance optimisation.
There's no reason to believe this trend will cease, so Mighty is offering a service that allows people to get much higher performance of their webapps without always needing to have the highest-power computing device in their possession.
Agree, it's an arms race at this point between end consumers and app developers. However, it also means once Mighty becomes popular they have to contend with developers overwhelming their computing resources as well.
Mighty can succeed yes, but it's success would be bad for the ecosystem.
Centralized processing of all computing, would just make current issues like censorship, security issues worse.
No, they can't. Only the right-tail power users will ever pay for this. Unless almost all of a product's users are in that group, the developers still need to offer satisfactory performance to the rest of their users, or be vulnerable to a new competitor.
> Centralized processing of all computing, would just make current issues like censorship, security issues worse.
People keep saying this. I doubt even Mighty believes they or their paradigm will take over "all computing" - just the niche that really needs it. Even a small market share can make them a big/successful company, but without making the whole internet significantly more centralised than it already is. I don't get the panic.
That should easily support twice the peak CPU power for me when I need it.
Another thing is that the Mighty CPUs will (presumably) be upgraded continuously, while my laptop CPU gets no faster after purchase. If that makes me only buy a new laptop every 4 years instead of 2, I've saved a lot of money and hassle.
I'm not saying this means Mighty will conquer the world. But there are reasonable arguments behind the model. Especially if you assume bandwidth will keep improving.
So the idea is you can get your laptop utilization down to 1% by pushing your load to their cloud? Fascinating.
Yeah, but I think it's better to think about it like virtual/remote desktops, where the granularity is a browser tab.
At least, that's the only way it makes sense to me. I might understand that to do 4k high res 3d on my phone - my phone will need help. And once that "help" is available - my TV, and my tablet and my smart watch can make use of it.
But I'm not generally willing to trade latency for cpu time sharing. What is interesting is an always on, always working desktop session. It's why I like screen/tmux and ssh, rdp - and would consider running a Linux terminal server, so my laptop(s) and desktop(s) could be a disk less, stateless thin client.
Make the observation that the browser tab is the new process/application granuality - and it makes sense to host tabs in the cloud.
Personally I'd want to self host it - but the idea doesn't sound quite so inane.
It's not. It's literally spinning up a VM in the cloud to run Chrome and stream a video to you
> At least 80% of the time my computer isn't even used.
Yes, but Mighty isn't running (and will never run) on your computer.
Well, it most likely shares the CPU with other VMs, but that depends on the cloud, and the instance. And since the browser is always open, Mighty will always run that VM, with no sharing: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27063554
Me playing the devils advocate...
Perhaps not //forever//, but perhaps for the next few years (enough for them to make some good money).
Why? Chip shortage, GPU shortage.
Anecdotally, I just bought a computer for $7500, that, two years ago would have cost about $2500 (granted, it is the new tech, but even so, new tech of this tier two years ago would have been approx. $2500). On top of that, have to wait two months for it to be assembled. (ouch)
I agree with you that speed will probably not stop increasing, but if prices continue to go up, or even just level off, few people will be able to afford the new tech.
That being said, would I invest in Mighty? No since I agree with you in general....and agree with you about the zero privacy issue...very regressive position for someone like PG imo.
What if, when you purchase your machine, it includes a host of features including a could suite of things like; VPN, Cloud Browser, An actual amount of decent cloud storage, portable applications, hosted in your cloud bucket, but accessible from any device (If I have Illustrator, I can just run it from any machine - not just my own. I can allow guest access to my paid licenses - like Say i want my brother to be able to draw stuff on my Illustrator license while I am not using it.
Imagine if instead of that $7,500 "computer" you bought a $7,500 'stack' and the access terminal you happen to be using most is the physical laptop that youre used to.
I tried to build something similar to this more than a decade ago (2007 or so - but wrote about it in 2004).
My biggest issue is better information/knowledge management.
I have TBs of files and data strewn all over. We should be focusing on "my information" and let me manage and secure that - and access it from any device easily, and securely.
However I think we gonna do have RTX in our mobile devices - AR glasses, whatever modern mobile tech - because of decentralization (security/ethics purpose)
All that said, it's worth noting that the first set of customers seem super impressed. So maybe Mighty are on to something.
My issue is that it’s not a product I could feel good recommending to anyone, at least at the high pricing that was proposed in the last discussion. In an era of $999 M1 Macs (and even cheaper AMD laptops) and readily available financing options, it doesn’t make sense for anyone to throw their money away at a SaaS service that simply cannot perform as well as local Chrome on a modern machine.
I could see the narrow use case for limited situations where someone has
1. Weird IT department restrictions that require them to use old, slow computers but also
2. Budget rules that allow them to spend monthly money on a SaaS but not on financing the hardware they need to get their job done and
3. Guaranteed high speed internet all of the time and
4. An IT/corporate security department that is okay with them sending all of their keystrokes, login info, and browser data to a 3rd party service
Surely this situation exists, but it still feels like Mighty is targeting a broader audience by providing untrue claims about remote thin client technology somehow being faster than a halfway decent local machine. I’d feel equally uncomfortable if Stadia was charging $50/month while claiming to be lower latency than local gaming.
The counter arguments about disrespecting hard working startup founders or doubting visionaries feel like a strawman response to legitimate questions about the value of their service. The technology and execution look to be good, AFAICT. It’s the product, pricing, messaging, and value that I can’t recommend.
How on earth would that work for their product? They need to access the data so they can render it.
Sure, it's the ultimate sandbox for the code itself, it probably protects me perfectly from Meltdown attacks against other programs on my main system, but I don't think that's enough to call it 'endpoint security'.
So they need to figure it out otherwise it's only valid for personal use, which is not exactly the money is, imho.
Maybe some self hosted solution for corporate departments? Or waiting for an acquision from Citrix or VMWare...
Or just an IT/security department that is blissfully unaware of the shenanigans that some of its users are up to. Especially if people are accessing this from outside of the corporate network to start with.
My company uses webmarshal which fronts requests and blocks pages deemed not good for productivity/data security. In that type of situation you already have an intermediary so mighty could make sense - make everyone use mighty and give it a custom blocklist. Obviously not a situation that employees would be a fan of, but it’s something that corporate is already doing, and mighty could improve the experience.
I think Mighty has unfairly taken the brunt of a lot of growing discontent with bloat on the web. I'm not ready to fork over $30+ for faster browsing, but I'm glad someone is working in this space, because I genuinely would like to rent a fast virtual computer for the occasional video editing task and think Mighty is a step in that direction.
Can't you already do that pretty easily on AWS or Azure?
What I’d like to see is a service that let me add my credit card, click a button, and launch a video editor on a high-RAM machine that I pay for the hour (including the software license fee).
At our startup we have a small org of customer service reps. They basically live in four tools: Notion, Slack, Chrome, and Front.
These four tools have one thing in common: they are all Electron apps. They SUCK. On any windows computer slower than a $1.5K lenovo, our reps can't have more than ~10 tabs open before their computer starts to stutter.
One answer would be to buy everyone an M1 mac. However, most of these reps are not familiar with apple (they use PCs at home) + they are still a bit too expensive (we're in Mexico where they cost 1.5 - 2x).
I would love to be able to buy our customer service reps a setup (monitor + mouse + computer) for ~$500 USD and have them use Mighty to run our customer service suite for $10-$15 bucks a month. That would scale to a customer service org of hundreds.
At $50 bucks a month I should just buy them a mac.
IMHO Suhail's pitch about "running figma" is wrong. I'm happy to buy a designer any computer they want. But outfitting a CSR team of 50+ people? Mighty + a thin client would be amazing.
I don't buy the argument that performance will always get tapped out by developers. There is an upper limit to what even a horribly architected 2D web app needs to consume.
Edit: Although, I'm not sure it supports multiple separate logins.
They didn't reveal their true business model or pricing yet.
The $50 subscription is a way to simply not flood their servers while beta-testing them, and also getting a bit of money from rich/dumb early adopters.
Fake it until you make it is still a thing in Silicon Valley.
I’ll admit, my initial reaction to Mighty was “I can’t imagine it ever being faster than my behemoth PC.” But then I stopped for a second and got curious. What is Mighty, really? It is a thin-client. That’s it. And are thin-clients a bad thing? Well, if latency is an issue, sure. But “high-ping” is a somewhat solved issue, whether in multiplayer gaming, in terminal utilities like Mosh, or even in optimistic GraphQL mutation updates. Where’s the use-case where near-zero latency is vital? The only cases I can think of are games like Rocket League: fast-twitch games where even the latency between my controller and my PC is something I happily spend hours optimizing — where latency prevents the necessary feedback loop for learning (akin to trying to learn how to hit a baseball while drunk).
But beyond near-zero latency use-cases, why would a thick client ever be better than a thin client? At the edge of performance, this question is easily answered: I would never attempt to train a PyTorch model on my admittedly powerful GPU. That’s what the cloud is for. So when it comes to my browser, why am I content to eat up memory and cpu-time with hundreds of tabs open that almost always include one or two that are broken, soaking up my resources, and have to be hunted down and killed off so that IntelliJ can return to its normal lightning-fast speed?
Might goes even further and asks why I would want to run IntelliJ on my machine at all. Wouldn’t I rather run IntelliJ like I used to run Vim over Mosh, where I never have to worry about storage space, about download/upload bandwidth, or about my computer becoming sluggish?
And that’s the killer idea here: that thin-clients almost always beat thick-clients. One could even argue that the entire internet is premised upon this reality.
I’d happily pay Mighty to try it out for a bit. Even if it doesn’t work, I’ve dropped more money of less fascinating ideas. At the very least, I’m rooting for their success, because it would change a lot more than how you consume content over the internet.
I haven't found Chrome slow on my mid-range PC (i5-7500). Or my phone (Pixel 3).
I feel like I must be in some parallel universe to everyone else talking about how slow Chrome is.
Just now, I loaded the first 6 links on Hacker News. 1 didn't load at all due to a server error. The other 5 all loaded in under a second (measured by DOMContentLoaded). I have uBlock Origin enabled (only in Firefox on the phone). Maybe that helps.
I can have 100+ tabs open without slow down if I want to. The bigger problem is I'm less productive with 100 tabs open because... there are 100 tabs open. It's just too cluttered.
I'm willing to admit Mighty might be a good product if people have this problem with slow browsers. I just never found this was an issue. Maybe it's a problem on low-end machines, but how many people have a low-end computer but are willing to pay $50/month for Mighty?
I just set up a new computer and I was wondering why Chrome and Firefox was so slow. Then I remembered I hadn't set up AdBlock yet.
I wonder if Mighty has ad blocking? It's an interesting question of which will be better for their business -- blocking or no blocking. (I won't try it because of the obvious privacy problems, because I use a fast computer, and avoid slow web sites. But it probably has an audience.)
I was curious about Mighty and looking forward to their technology. That’s not the problem.
The judgment came largely when they announced that it cost up to $600/year. It costs so much that it’s actually cheaper to buy a whole new computer if you might need it for a year or more. Once you put a price tag on something and ask people to pay for it, judgment is fair game.
This whole dismissal of people saying that they couldn’t justify the product for the price as some sort of anti-curiosity thing feels disingenuous.
PG wants you to think that they're mutually exclusive. They're not, but he has a product to hustle.
The problem (for PG) is that curiosity is not uncritical. Curiosity poses more questions than those in the category "how well does this product work?" Anyone actually curious is going to wonder about the problem space, not just one proposed solution.
Pretty obvious questions include: "how did software get us to the point we're exploring this as a design?" and "could the problem it seeks to solve be addressed in a way that eliminates assumptions about the solution space?", "What are peripheral ramifications of design decisions, and how much do I care?" "Would other approaches solve the same issues, have the same ramifications?" or "Are they synergies to leverage by trying multiple things in concert?"
I would say typing is a pretty big one. It is extraordinarily unpleasant when typing lag is anywhere above maybe 50ms,and even worse when it is variable, like it would inevitably be if going over the Internet. It's even worse with mouse movements, where occasional spikes in lag can ruin your day.
Not to mention, the problem is fundamentally simpler in a terminal, with a very limited range of outputs. The problem of optimistically drawing the result of your input on the screen is much harder when that input could affect any portion of the screen in any way, like it can on a JS-powered web page.
His arguments are too vague to specifically defend Mighty. You can insert any technology and his arguments are neither valid or invalid.
The biggest gain here is security, you won't ever run code natively. The caveat is you also have to trust the host.
The biggest loss is also security: all of your keystrokes, passwords, traffic, etc. are stored on someone else's hardware.
That assumes any malware cannot bust out out of mightyapp's sandbox to the host's host.
And as you note the need for more power goes beyond a browser, IDEs, gaming, rendering, Bitcoin mining. Why just do it for the browser? You can, and some people do, remote into a more powerful machine for all of their work. This was the norm when terminals were true terminals. We could go back to this, but having your own computer historically had much larger benefits for people.
Edit: Managed to find the right string of words to google: mosh = Mobile Shell
Because thick client distribute the load among many computer. With a thin client all that load is way more centralised.
> I would never attempt to train a PyTorch
No one is asking you to do that. We're talking about Mighty, a thin client that:
- runs a beefy VM in the cloud
- runs a single app, Chrome, in that VM
- streams video to the client
If a million people run Chrome on their laptops and keep it open for the entire day (and your browser is usually open throughout the day), that's... just a million people with their laptops.
If a million people run Chrome through Mighty, Mighty needs a million VMs always open, and a million video streams, also always open.
See how a thick client is better than a thin client?
> "50+ tabs without your computer coming to a crawl"
On Macs, people can just switch to Safari for free and solve that problem. Yes, Chrome is a memory hog. Stop using Chrome, don't send all your browsing data to a third party.
Perhaps Windows would be a better choice for Mighty demo shots, since there may not have a better option than Chrome for Windows.
Reading this I thought of CNIs like the Internet of the 1980s, women’s suffrage in the 19th century, Project Mercury, The Eiffel Tower.
The CNIs gaining ground today in tech seem to be crypto, brain-computer-interfaces, quantum computing, and CRISPR gene editing.
Definitely highlights something I've always felt, which is that we're really making life complicated with all those tools and processes that are less than ideal.
I get the feeling business and the need to "ship" stuff is the thing really bringing technology down, even though it looks like it's moving it forward.
Here's a really good talk by him that dives into it, titled dramatically "Preventing the Collapse of Civilization":
Also note he's currently developing a programming language called JAI that's trying (and seems like it might ultimately succeed) in being a faster and smoother alternative to C++ for developing games.
"Essay is french for attempt." There are good and there are bad attempts, of course.
(As we can see here, where a quarter of the comments are debating the business model of Mighty.)
No, I'm upset that Mighty is necessary. That we, as an industry, have failed so hard that multi-gigahertz mult-core machines with gigabytes of ram can no longer consistently and quickly render documents without offloading it to a central server.
Not only that but a great amount of people here live in a literal tech bubble and we believe that everyone has a reasonably fast laptop or can setup a large workstation.
By that same token the average persons browsing habits are also not the same. Optimising for Chrome power users who have eleventy billion tabs open and run hefty web apps isn’t the normal usecase. My families browsing is mostly taken care of on a 2012 MBP and a couple of ancient iPads. Mighty would be functionally useless for us.
Heck my entire day is spent in Chrome working in Drive and writing code in our own development environment in our web app. I am a browser power user in that sense on a three year old gaming laptop and I don’t understand the Mighty usecase. It’s a niche within a niche at the moment although I understand the appeal of the business model.
I'm sure there's a niche, though. Like low-paid workers needing to do a lot on their crappy personal machines.
Maybe even prevent browsers from downloading files onto the local computer. A full recording of each user's sessions. Integrated password manager that uses the Mighty login to tie them all together.
So I view it as valuable to corporations and thus mighty falls into the B2B category of company which makes software end users hate, but corporations love.
Probably a fair bit of money in that.
Not denying your other points but Amazon Workspaces is a product that perfectly fits their needs.
From a top-level exec's stand point I would imagine they would be more willing to buy something like Amazon Workspaces which gives them 100% control and peace of mind Vs piecemeal approach such as browser, conference call client etc.,
Maybe there’s a market for people stuck on old computers but whose companies still spring for super fast internet and $50/month SaaS bills per user instead of just spending that same money (or less) financing the laptops they actually need, but it would be a small market.