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Learning how to think (dcurt.is)
176 points by nedwin on Aug 30, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 124 comments

Why does the fucking kudos dot auto-kudo on mouseover!?

Dustin seems like a smart guy, and the article makes sense and everything, but then my mouse casually tracks across that dot and it starts-a-throbbing, and I'm like "oh crap oh crap, what is this? do i want it?, omigod, I don't know, oh no, move fast before something happens!" and then I don't remember what the number was before and I'm not sure if I kudo'd or not, and my heart is racing, and I've lost a few hours off my lifespan...

And this is all before I realize it's a fucking counter on a webpage, and it doesn't matter whether I increment it or not.

I hate you auto-kudo, I hate you so much.

So it's clever and quirky. Yeah, it's not a scientific poll. I used to get pretty annoyed with that because your gut reaction is, "hey! I didn't know that would happen! I didn't give your consent to count my vote!". But really, when you take a step back, you realize that internet karma means absolutely, positively, nothing.

It's really all meaningless Internet points. The auto-voting karma button reminds me of that, and I now appreciate the digital "up yours!" every once in a while ;)

I think we're trained to feel anxious about it because of services like Facebook where clicking an upvote button not only delivers a point but puts your name behind it and potentially broadcasts that to your friends and followers.

Nah. Humans have been susceptible to meaningless points since the dawn of time.

I'm not addressing proclivity, only the anxiety expressed by the OP.

I think calling it meaningless, while helpfully putting it in context (first world problems, etc.) is still a bit inaccurate. Sure, the kudos number on a Svbtle blog is basically meaningless, but more generally, karma points on a post can serve two important purposes:

1) Social signaling. Others approve of the post, which factors into your own judgment heuristics when encountering it.

2) Upvotes and downvotes are the basis of vote-ranked message board systems like HN and Reddit, and they result in very interesting dynamics (whether or not these dynamics are optimal is another question altogether).

So no, I'd say internet karma points aren't exactly meaningless in certain contexts.

Sorry, bro.

Life is so hard right now.

I will try to carry on somehow.

This is deliberate: http://dcurt.is/unkudo

If you as a designer, ignore how your system makes user feels, you're doing UX wrong. System should bring joy to user, not cause annoyance.

That post is just a rationalization.

"People feel like part of their soul by a CSS animation.. I think it’s kind of funny.", is no different than

"People feel like a part of their soul is extracted by a single eval statement... I think it's kind of funny"

Granted there are some requests that might be ignored with ease, like someone hating on something because of your opinion, but feelings of users should be appealed to.

The Kudo is either:

A) deliberate ploy to seem more interesting than it is

B) a badly designed +1 button

seems like it, why not just invent a big number?

But inventing a big number is exactly what this "functionality" is doing. Think of it as a crowdsourced RNG.

It is a very clever feature that allows lazy people to appreciate the content with no effort (zero clicks). We got used to seeing upvote links everywhere and tend to ignore it over time, and thus become lazy to click it. Plus there are even websites that ask you for a new "user account" just for the upvote which, further decreases the chances of clicking. With all that, dcurtis increases the chances by actually "making" you upvote, not even with any "clicks". practical.

UI trolling.

I've also noticed that you can't undo it now.

> I hate you auto-kudo, I hate you so much.

The fact that you hate it makes me love it, and I even can't explain why.

it's part of the svbtle platform, the autokudos if you stay over it for 5 seconds. move your pointer away and it won't give any kudos. just don't fall asleep on it.

This reminds me of "the designer's curse." I often find myself getting pissed when something is designed poorly. It used to be poorly designed software and websites, but now it's anything.

Like, for example, when I buy something, pull the sticker off, and it leaves a thick residue that won't come off. Or, when I'm in a car without any indication of which side the gas tank is on.

My significant other makes fun of me for this. "Who thought doing THIS was a good idea? Do they buy their own f*ing products?" I'll say. Meanwhile, he has a non-founder view of life, "Meh, it's like that because it's like that."

He's clearly more zen than I am.

After taking an HCI course and reading The Design of Everyday Things, I also notice poorly designed things quite often.

BTW, there's a free course based off that book starting this fall: https://www.udacity.com/course/design101.

This might not be the best place to mention this, but here goes anyway: I started reading The Design of Everyday Things, but I've been disappointed so far. To be fair, I'm only 50 pages in, but I haven't read anything mind blowing in any way yet. The book so far has been a compendium of author's anecdotes regarding poorly designed things/systems/manuals/etc. I certainly agree with what he says, absolutely. At the same time though, it doesn't keep my attention because it just seems like story after story, no logical foundation that he's building for creating a well-designed product.

Here's to hoping it gets better!

Remember this was written in the eighties, Norman's discourse on mental models was transformative not just within the field of IT, but the entire field of psychology. Before psychologists thought people used logic to make inferences about the world, but after Normans work it became apparent that people developed detailed mental models on how the world works.

Have you gotten to affordances yet? I recall that being the major "foundational" takeaway for me (i.e., affordances, via their physical form, communicate to a user what actions can, cannot, must, or must not be taken).

That and the Mythical Man Month were duds for me. I never understood why they were so highly regarded amongst engineers.

They aren't duds. The problem is that they are so influential that every newcomer already knows whats they say, just by virtue of learning their trade after the books were written.

TV Tropes (!) of all places has a great explanation, applied to comedy: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SeinfeldIsUnfunny

I feel the same way about Code Complete. I tried to read it but just couldn't force myself to as much of it seemed obvious. Maybe back in the day it was as amazing as people say.

I went through a period of pretty unproductive time when I was so mad at how crappy things were designed that I couldn't use them to make progress against my projects. That is a bad place to be.

I don't recall being in a car w no indication of which side the gas tank was on. Usually a little arrow indicates it next to the gauge.

What are you talking about? I have never been in a car that did have this little arrow. I just thought it was something you had to know.

(Now I'll have to check my car tomorrow morning to be sure I haven't just been ignoring it all this time.)

Wow. So that's what the little arrow is all about????

It became more common in the late 90s, 2000s. But it used to be a guessing game.

I'd rather all the manufacturers would just agree to a standard and put it one side.

I think the variance on sides is intentional, to balance traffic flow at gas stations.

(Imagine a gas station where most cars use the same entrance and have the tank on the same side. Half of the cars would need to do a U-Turn to use half of the tanks).

It doesn't matter which side the filler opening is on because the pump nozzles reach.

I have never seen anybody reach the hose over their car. Not sure why but I'd feel silly trying it. Like 'look at me I don't know which side I should have put the gas in'.

Yes, that's what I'm referring to.

I use a service called Car2Go quite often which rents Smart cars exclusively. For some reason they decided not to include the little arrow.


Not that it's your fault they didn't include the arrow, but when you rent a car, you want to walk completely around it anyway before driving away. Otherwise they may try to stick you with pre-existing damage that wasn't noticed the last time the car was turned in.

(I've heard it's a good idea to shoot a video of the walkaround with your phone, but that seems OTT.)

I have never rented a car where the rental person didn't do this with me. Nobody is going to remember what side the gas tank is on though a week later when you fill it up.

I've never rented a car where the rental person was even near the car when I walked it. And I rent cars every few days...maybe the lack of personal attention is an airport thing.

I usually take a few pictures, but video should work, too.

I thought you were supposed to take the pictures after you scratch the car, so that you can "prove" that the damage was there before you picked it up.

My point being, what are photos or videos supposed to prove. If the car is damaged before you pick it up, and there's some reason that you are still taking it, then you should get the agency to sign something attesting to it.

Oh, that's only if there's a borderline case. I.e. if there's something you didn't really see when checking yourself (nor remember), but can find in the pictures later, if necessary.

Even without an arrow, the tank is always on the same side where the filling pistol is on the picture next to the fuel gauge. It's on the right in yours.

Not in my car :) I think that was an urban legend that went viral over email in the early 2000s and is still kicking around.

The nozzle of the gas pump is on the right side. That's your indicator that the tank filler is on that side of the car.

Or maybe it's an indicator that the car should pull up to a pump that has the nozzle on the right, meaning the car has its tank on the left.

No, I don't think that is true in general. I think the nozzle is almost always on the right side. Unless there is an arrow, the designer probably neglected to explicitly indicate anything.

what if it's not on the left or right. something to think about

It's funny, I've been telling people about the arrow as an indicator and how it was on every car... until I realized that it wasn't on my own car... Which is actually the only car I have noticed it missing on.

I have a 1994 Toyota Corolla. It doesn't have an indicator.

Most people never notice it. I rent a lot of cars and it is ALWAYS there. When I point it out to people I'm riding with, they always seem surprised.

One of the most zen states is when you can just say "it's like that because it's like that" for most things in you life, while celebrating the tiny examples of loving design that are less frequent, but equally as all around us. It's the other side of that coin, and it's pretty darn peaceful : )

I don't understand. You want an indication of which side the gas tank is on ?! Wouldn't it be the side where there's a flap/cover thing that you pop open prior to unscrewing the cap and pouring the gas ?

Edit: I had to leave the office, go downstairs, get in my car and check. Whatddya know, a little arrow next to the gauge, you learn something every day.

This is most useful when you are renting or borrowing a car. If you don't check before you hop into the car, you need to physically exit the car and move it if you guessed incorrectly.

There's no real reason why you can't fill up a reasonably large car (I (in the UK) have a Ford Galaxy) on the 'wrong' side of the pumps. Sometimes you have to be a bit more careful about positioning, but most hoses are long enough.

Yes, and it's helpful to know that before you park the car next to the pump on the wrong side.

Actually, one of my related pet peeves are all cars where the fuel fill cap is NOT on the driver side of the vehicle. It is always just a little bit easier to not scratch the side of your car on the giant concrete barriers that way.

Weird, my pet peeve is cars where the fuel fill cap is ON the driver side of the car, Since I'm used to driving the right side of the car closer to things on the side of the road I feel like I can position that side better.

Do manufacturers try to even out the number of cars with fill caps on either side? Imagine the chaos at gas stations if everyone had the cap on the same side of the car.

I'm pretty sure it would be a lot more orderly, actually. Everyone on the right side would move one way, everyone on the left side would move the other way, it would be perfect.

On all the cars that I have had, the fuel cap is on the drivers side of the country in which the car is designed. So depending on which side of the road they drive on in that country things move. Just a personal data point..

There's a little arrow which points left or right on the fuel gauge.

But not every car has that. I've been in a ~6-8 year old Honda Civic that lacked any indication as far as I could see.

"Or, when I'm in a car without any indication of which side the gas tank is on."

Very easy: most American cars have the gas tank on the left, most Asian/European cars have it on the right.

In the UK, the balance is roughly 50/50, from a sample size of 100 (me going into streets and counting the cars). I did a simulation of petrol stations when I was at university, trying to work out optimal arrangements of pumps, so I needed to know if there was a bias towards the fuel cap being on a particular side of the car (there wasn't). This could be because in the UK our cars come from a wide-variety of places.

I'm shocked my Tesla Model S is lacking in this feature. Elon must have been asleep at the wheel.

Wait what? Since when does a tesla car have a gas tank or am I missing something?

I think that's the joke

Wait, whats the definition of an Asian/European car. The manufacturer or the geographic location?

Cause I'm pretty sure Hondas and Toyotas have gas on the left.

Suzukis have them on the left too.

the "designer's curse" sounds like what I've heard it's like to have perfect (absolute) pitch: it can become difficult to enjoy music ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_pitch#Possible_problem... )

Oh those damn stickers. And every time I get a pair of scissors in that indestructible plastic...

Well, if it makes you feel any better, the iPhone will feel forever ruined for the post's author, since it's doesn't hit that "perfect" 3.5" screen size for one-handed use anymore.

It's one thing to notice things like this, it's another to get upset. It's not like whomever poorly designed or implemented whatever had a personal grudge against you.

> I'm in a car without any indication of which side the gas tank is on.

I absolutely hate it when they don't indicate which door on the fridge is a freezer. So annoying.

Seriously though, gas tank indicators make sense only in rental cars and most of them have aftermarket stickers that do just that.

The implications of this have always fascinated me. It's hard to go back to being a worker when you've spent time as a boss, but we also know that 75% of venture-backed startups fail.

What happens to the failures? Can they go back to work and fall back in line? Or are we going to have "Professional Founders" or "Business Engineers" down the line that have a decade or two of experience starting and running companies, none of which survived past infancy.

It's hard to imagine in the very positive atmosphere that most young entrepreneurs live in. What are you supposed to do when you want to keep building companies, but they just keep failing? Are you prepared to say "I can't do this very well" and move on? Where will you go?

I personally don't think startups are the tech equivalent of starting a band or going Hollywood, but I can understand why some would employ the analogy.

I'm sorry but this vision of a "thinker" who is always imagining the future so he can "out-innovate" his competition is a little ridiculous. PG's point is a psychological one: many of the founders he encounters are lack the self esteem to thrive when they have control.

The startups that win do so only very rarely because a visionary founder innovatively guessed the future trajectory of culture. In my opinion being good at running a company mostly requires the usual mix of soft skills plus a strong, unconflicted motive to succeed.

Agreed. It's all too easy, in hindsight, to claim that a happenstance was because of some great vision of "Privacy is a relic of the past" but more often than not, serendipity wins.

I can personally relate to the part about no going back to just being a worker bee once you've tasted blood.

For me I did my "startup" at a pretty early age (I didn't call it a startup then - it was just me building software and selling it online) and it has forever changed my perception of the workplace. I've tried slotting back in to some regular jobs since then and it hasn't really worked out all that well - I get anxious, frustrated with the slow pace, second guess too many decisions, wonder why everyone around me doesn't have that same passion/enthusiasm, etc.

Short of doing another startup, I've found contracting to be a good middle ground for me (for the time being).

> I get anxious, frustrated with the slow pace, second guess too many decisions, wonder why everyone around me doesn't have that same passion/enthusiasm, etc.

Same here, and the frustration is compounded when you get slogans like "take ownership" thrown at you, but then find out you're not allowed to own the project, just the problems.

I think a lot of things like "take ownership" are working ideas lost in translation, applied by people that don't properly understand how to apply them.

For example, it works well where employees are given the responsibility to take ownership of things. Some guy who runs a business that runs well on that premise writes a blog post about, or an article that's printed on page 23 of Inc. Magazine. Some middle manager reads that article and thinks "yeah, that could help me get to this quarters target" and tries to implement it in a company that isn't structured that way. Since he doesn't want to restructure, he simply tells his employees "yeah, you should take ownership now, that's an order", and the inevitable happens.

As someone who worked at startups, started my own, and had a great time and good outcome, I'm considering going back into a large company for some time just to see what it's like.

I think this article is true in the sense that startups cause you to lose any sense of being satisfied as a mindless "worker bee", but I'm not willing to rule out the idea that in some larger companies non-"worker bee" types who are driven individuals who want to make a dent can actually get a lot done with the resources of a large organization at their disposal. If you're in a good position mentally and financially, you have the luxury to just walk if the place is a dysfunctional mess or isn't letting you accomplish your larger goals quickly enough.

I think there's a certain point where you do need to step into the pool of ideas again: startup culture is pretty insular and at the end of the day if you are always working with a small team of like-minded people you are likely to not make the connections necessary to produce real innovation. Startups are certainly challenging in many ways. But there's a certain type of challenge you get when given a specific task by a mentor in a large company that seems impossible at first that really levels-up your skills. I've found that a lot of the type of learning in startups I've had has been rising to challenges that materialize out of the need to ensure the survivability of the product and business. These challenges are of a completely different flavor than those crafted by older and wiser mentors who have an interest in passing on their skills and throw you curve balls intentionally to make progress towards a larger goal while pushing the limits of your technical skill.

> mindless worker bee

A little bit respect could be nice

I was using the words used by the article, not my own. i'll put quotes around it (since I generally disagree with this analogy anyway)

>>> it’s knowing how to think. Most people don’t know how to strategize. Most people don’t know how to take what they see in the world and use it to invent something new.

I learned how to think critically in college. I had a few exceptional professors I gravitated towards and they really pushed me to learn this on my own. Through a few very involved research papers, I learned some of the key tenets of doing this.

I kept waiting for that grain of knowledge he was about to bestow on his readers on what exactly critical thinking is - but it never came.

Just in case you needed it. . .


"...for yourself.' would be a great subtitle to this article.

Of those who do survive 18 years of public education and still mentally check-in on a daily basis, many they aren't capable of creating something outside of what they are given. That's the most troubling aspect of what he (and PG) are discussing.

These people can understand and execute complex instructions, but can't come up with their own instruction manual that actually fits their situation. Lots of successful people could be 100x more successful if they would stop trying to figure our how to make 200-page management fads work in their situation. Instead, if they would look at that situation, and engage their own brain and gut instinct to come up with solutions, they would be so much more efficient and effective.

If "so-so said to do it," or "I read it in a book," is your TOP reason for doing something--to me that's a 99% accurate sign that's its not the most effective thing you could be doing right now. Engage your brain.

I find the part about Facebook ominous:

> There is an insanely huge difference between, “We’re making a site for connecting to your friends” and, “Privacy is a relic of the past, so we’re going to push people to open up their lives and share, connecting them together.”

This is "learning how to think"? If so, then I'm afraid the NSA, Google, and Facebook are far ahead of those of us who just want to connect privately with friends. I would say that Facebook has learned how to think about ways to exploit the human impulse to connect. Hopefully there is a business opportunity in platforms for private connections as well. It may take years for public awareness of privacy issues to reach that level, but I hope someday people will look back at Facebook as a relic of the past when personal privacy was exploited for corporate gain.

In most of the world, and in most of the United States, your thoughts are owned by your employer. If you want to eat, have a roof over your head, raise a family, you almost always sign away the rights to your thoughts.

The exception is California. And that's why Silicon Valley is in Silicon Valley.

Amen! For the last few years I've bleated about this to any one who will listen. A few years ago I moved from academia to industry and I was shocked by how restrictive the employment contracts are (I'm in the UK). I reckon it's also a major contributor to wages being so much lower over here. How can we change it though? I'd love it if we could get legislation introduced similar to that in California. What practical steps could we take?

I wonder whether this article by Dustin is the same one referenced in this tweet: https://twitter.com/dcurtis/status/373243436331069440

I find it ironic that he feels he's subverting HN when HN has become absolutely fixated on divisive opinions and exploring all subtrees of viewpoints to completion. Polarizing articles give everyone an outlet here.

LOL, true. Pedantic haters gonna hate pedantically.



Reminds me a lot of the PhD-student experience; for years you sit in courses in a relatively strict environment to finally get your BSc (or your MSc or whatever), and you start your PhD - and suddenly you're on your own, you have to plan your own time, outline your own research, you have to make sure that your program stays on track, deliver results on time etc.

Not many people can handle this sudden shift which is why a PhD is not something for everyone.

Yes, exactly. I think PhDs are actually an undertapped pool for startup founders. There are major overlaps in the skill set, IMO.

This post articulates a problem that is an order of magnitude worse in East Asia. We are working in Cambodia and Laos (we gave up on Thailand, they're a basket case) to encourage tech startups and develop talent that can think on their own in the workplace.

People here are not just willing to learn but enthusiastic. But they are like Paul Graham's baby birds, they don't even know what to learn or how to begin.

The Chinese education model is based on the idea that a student is an open vessel that the teacher pours their wisdom into. More often than not, that pouring consists of little more than route memorization of lists and facts. Computer education is little more than teaching how to operate GUI applications without any understanding of what they are doing.

Save a document? I asked my staff last year why you save documents and what happened when you clicked on "save" (no one had heard of C-c). No one had a clue. Digging deeper I found that half of them didn't have a clear idea what a file or file system was. And these were people who had graduated from technical schools! This wasn't the case even five years ago before Android and the iPhone became ubiquitous.

And that is part of the problem, mobile devices are little more than consumer electronics rather than general purpose computers. Everything is abstracted away from the user so there is less chance for people to learn how things work.

Last night my partner who is on a business trip in Tokyo, asked me to check his girlfriend's android phone because he hadn't been able to get through to her on Viber for a couple of days. When I checked her phone, it turned out that she had tried to install a new game, did a factory reset to free up memory, installed the game and then wondered why she had no email, facebook or viber on the phone...

When I get new staff, the most difficult thing to teach them is that if they have completed a task that had been given to them, that they have to hand in the work and ask for a new task. But it gets even worse. Many times, if they run into a problem in the task they just give up and don't tell anyone. When you ask them what happened, they give you a blank look and say something like, I couldn't open the file. So instead of asking someone for help they spent the next three hours on facebook until a manager noticed. Very frustrating.

The problem is that they have never been allowed to take responsibility for trying to solve a problem on their own. Traditional management and education systems here reward blind, literal obedience which is coupled with an abject fear of failure.

It's not enough to teach people how to think for themselves. They must have the freedom to fail, and be given the responsibility that goes along with it. We have our work cut out for us....

> When I get new staff, the most difficult thing to teach them is that if they have completed a task that had been given to them, that they have to hand in the work and ask for a new task. But it gets even worse. Many times, if they run into a problem in the task they just give up and don't tell anyone. When you ask them what happened, they give you a blank look and say something like, I couldn't open the file. So instead of asking someone for help they spent the next three hours on facebook until a manager noticed. Very frustrating.

I'm sure that's completely down to a lack of thinking for oneself, and not, say, a stronger desire to be on Facebook than to do one's job ;)

I'm currently living in Chiang Mai and curious what made you give up Thailand?

I lived in Thailand for 16 years. We had a successful 3D animation studio in Osaka that had lot's of business but our expenses were so high that we weren't making a profit. We thought that moving to Thailand would save us money, and we wouldn't have to live in a damp shoebox smelling of stale cigarettes (actually I loved Japan, but it's just too damn expensive).

At that time (in the 90's) it was still a pain in the ass to get a work visa and run your own business, but it could be done with a bit of money paid in the right places.

But as the years passed by, the government kept changing immigration rules almost every other month. The amount of paperwork needed to renew visas increased dramatically. You have to have a map showing where you live. You have to show photos of you working in your office, photos of you and all of your staff outside your office. We had an application turned down one time because I wasn't wearing the same color shirt as the staff in the photo.

Then they came down hard and changed ownership laws so that foreigners can't own 51% of a Thai company and closed the common loophole of using proxy shareholders.

Meanwhile we had been having a terrible time with Thai staff. Cambodian and Laos workers don't know how to learn but they try very hard to learn, and put real effort into learning english (which we need in order to deal with our customers around Asia). We are primarily a Unix and Linux shop (back then we were using SGI workstations for animation, modeling and rendering). But we had a difficult time finding staff who could even be bothered to learn different systems.

So it finally got to the point where we closed up shop, and I continued to live in Thailand, but ran my business out of Hong Kong (where I lived for 10 years before Osaka).

But in the end, the cost of living in Thailand had grown so high, and immigration had become such a pain in the ass that I finally gave up even living there.

We've now consolidated all of our business and are headquartered in Phnom Penh and it's been, all in all a very good experience. In thailand, expats spend 15-20% of all conversations talking about visas (even if you have a work/marriage/retirement visa). In the past year in Cambodia I don't think the subject has come up more than a couple of times).

I love Thailand in many ways, but the governments xenophobia, and the tendency for girls there to treat you as an ATM card with no pin number just wore me down.

> the tendency for girls there to treat you as an ATM card with no pin number just wore me down.

Here's some advice: Choose your girlfriends more wisely.

I've lived in Thailand for 14 years. I don't have the issues you mention with visas. When I ran a company here I hired a lawyer to take care of it. No issues. I no longer run a company here but still hire a specialist to take care of my visa. It costs me a little bit of money and maybe a couple of hours of my time per year.

I didn't have the same issues with Thai staff either. I found them to be (mostly) hard working and good at what they did. The language barrier was sometimes an issue but that's because I wasn't fluent in Thai at the time.

I know a lot of (tech and other) entrepreneurs here. Apart from the normal difficulties I wouldn't say any of us have problems running companies here or maintaining relationships. I've had maybe three or four conversations about visas.

Foreign ownership laws are problematic, which is why I would't recommend starting a company here as a foreigner. The other issues you're talking about are pretty foreign to me and I wouldn't say your experience is representative of expats here.

Cost of living has certainly gone up. That has pros and cons.

Since you don't have any contact details in your profile.. I play a lot in Unity3D these days and am Phnom Penh-based (well returning from a break on Wednesday). If you wanna grab coffee one fine day and chat about "digital biz in SEA", then just holler!

Email sent. If anyone is interested in what we're doing in Cambodia, (which is relevant to helping people to think on their own) please check out our web site http://chenla.la/studyhall.html and our longer term vision http://chenla.la/plancddr.html

I think this is an important point, however it can be applied to many more roles than just founding a startup.

When an engineer (of any type) can consider the how and why they are building, they learn to question some of the tasks they have been assigned, potentially resulting in a more efficient execution.

If a programmer is told to build a search function into a website, and he builds that, great.

If a programmer is told to build this, and he considers why, and realizes that certain things on the website aren't as clear as they could be, and decides to not only build a search function but also suggests certain usability and discoverability improvements to the website, then much better results will be had.

About pg's observation that founders don’t realize how independent they can be:

It may be a selection bias: Probably a founder wants to participate in the YC program partly because they want advices, feedback and maybe just psychological 'confirmation' (social confirmation) more than people with the same talent/knowledge who do not apply to YC.

I do not say that it is bad. Overconfidence in one's capabilities can be also dangerous. And needing social confirmation is a very natural thing. I just say that there is probably a small selection bias in play here.

This post has an interesting url: http://dcurt.is/startups-ruin-you

I wonder if the distinction between working for a startup and founding one should be emphasized more clearly when such an article pops up?

This guy acts like he knows exactly why Facebook succeeded and MySpace failed. And sure, it all seems so predictable in retrospect. But nobody could have predicted the rise of Facebook.

Furthermore, attributing the rise to one cause (Facebook is about sharing) is simplistic and naive. Early Facebook wasn't too different from MySpace. Could have just been luck.

> discovering (...) that you have wings and can fly. And once you discover it, there is no going back. It’s addictive and powerful. It ruins your ability to be a worker bee, because you’ve tasted blood... (etc.)

And then:

> You should follow me on twitter

Isn't the whole point, to not follow but rather, lead?

I have a questions that is irrelevant to the article per se, but rather the design of the web page. Is blog organized by a CMS or the design is entirely of Dustin's creation (I'm pretty sure I've seen it before?) I'm specially interested in the blog design, I like it.

(English student here)

The title should be "Startups ruins you" because it can be rewritten as "it ruins you", or I'm missing something here?


"Startups" is a plural noun. The appropriate replacement pronoun as the subject is "they," giving "they ruin you," which is a proper English clause to the best of my knowledge.

The word Startups is plural, and plural subjects have verbs with out the 's'.

So while "it ruins you" is correct for singular, the title comes from "They ruin you".

Do you know what my name means? Also, as others have pointed out, the particular anaphor you'd use here is "they" which is (generally) plural.

Edit: sidenote, this is why linguists dislike many people in the humanities who blindly follow "rules" and end up writing badly as a result because they make hypercorrections all over the place.

>Do you know what my name means?

Well, I do. In simple terms, a word refering to another one in the same sentense/text (e.g. "My Xbox arrived and it was great" -- it being an anaphor for the Xbox).

It's a shortened version of the greek word "anaphora", which means "reference" / relation etc. It comes from the words ana (which roughly means "again" or "anew") and phora (pherein) which means "carries" (connotes, etc).

In the example case, "it" "carries again" the banana (in the sense that it refers to it again from another place).

"Startups ruin you" can't be rewritten as "It ruin you," though, yeah? It could be rewritten as "They ruin you," however. "Startups" is plural. "A startup" or "that startup" and so on is singular.

"A startup ruins you" would be a fine English sentence.

"Startups" is plural, so "ruin" is correct. The sentence can be rewritten as "They ruin you", not "It ruins you".

"Startups" is plural, so "Startups ruin you" is correct. If it were singular it would be "[A] startup ruins you."

I think the most profound thought I had from reading that article was "Animal Farm"

Care to elaborate?

this evening's hagiography


tldr: we are special snowflakes

> Privacy is a relic of the past, so we’re going to push people to open up their lives and share, connecting them together.

Privacy is not a relic of the past, but a lot more that you intend to be private is and/or could be made public.

Information is like an infectious agent. Even if you want to keep it to yourself, if you are around others, it will likely spread, though you can control it to some extent. Even when you think it is eradicated, it may still be lurking, like smallpox and polio, to come back with force later. If you live in a cave in a large forest alone, the chance of it spreading is much lower. If you live close to others in a village, there is still a chance of infection. Few really want to live totally alone, so infection is almost impossible to avoid. But, no one can stop you from moving to the forest, or at least wearing a surgical mask.

Information is like an infectious agent. Even if you want to keep it to yourself, if you are around others, it will likely spread

digital gossip.

Information is like an infectious agent. Even if you want to keep it to yourself, if you are around others, it will likely spread

digital gossip.

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