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Ask HN: What are the most inspirational blog posts you've ever read?
148 points by fromdoon on Jan 19, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments
I was going through my bookmarks and found this:


Mostly not blog posts, but for the last years I tend to revisit the same resources over and over again for inspiration:

- "You and your research" by Hamming, and his video lectures which expand on topics in the original talk:



- "On teaching mathematics" by V. I. Arnold:


- "Undergraduation" by Paul Graham


- "Learn and relearn your field", and many others in the same category, by Terrence Tao


- Steve Jobs Stanford commencement address:


- All articles on programming by Peter Norvig:


I just wanted to say "You and your research" by Hamming. Awesome!


I second this choice. Magnificent and deep article

It's not a blog post, but I think Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" is perhaps the most inspirational "thing" I've found on the Internet:


About ten years beore he was famous for the his Last Lecture, he gave a fantastic talk on time management: https://archive.org/details/GabrielRobins_TimeManagement_byR....

He also gave a revised version of his time management lecture during his brief post-Last-Lecture fame, but I prefer the original.

Mr. Money Mustache's account of how he retired at age 30: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from-...

I'm a big fan of that blog, but I actually found the most inspirational post on it to be the one that crunched the critical numbers: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-sim...

The key realization from that post: spending less and saving more helps you retire early not just because you're saving faster, but because you need less to retire: your retirement savings only has to support your expenses, not replace your full income.

Ahh yes! I go back and re-read that post about once a month for inspiration.

"I won't be able to answer all your questions. Rather, I can show you how to be lost productively, and how to become comfortable not knowing things and teaching yourself." -- David Humphrey, Mozilla developer, http://vocamus.net/dave/?p=60

It's one of the most valuable skills you'll need to excel in a technical field, and when mentoring others its one of the most critical skills to impart.

Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years by Peter Norvig: http://norvig.com/21-days.html

Kejia Zhu (http://kzhu.net/does-life-end-at-35.html) helped me to get through the delusional obsession for quick success. I gave it to read to all my friends and it's definitely a must for all HN folks.

The good ol' Raymond's How to Become a Hacker (http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html) will teach you the Hacker attitude, which you can apply to anything. It doesn't matter whether you're a programmer or not, either way you'll benefit from it.

"1. The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved.

2. No problem should ever have to be solved twice.

3. Boredom and drudgery are evil.

4. Freedom is good.

5. Attitude is no substitute for competence."

A Handyman’s Toolbox (http://ninjasandrobots.com/a-handymans-toolbox) taught me not to always chase the hot new tech and be confident in my skills. It may be common sense, but it's also well written and straight to the point.

Lastly, the following posts are all about traveling and/or alternative lifestyles. They show different POVs, but are all equally inspirational.

- http://alexwarren.co.uk/2013/06/27/how-i-live-and-how-i-work...

- http://jake-jorgovan.com/blog/remote

- https://medium.com/better-humans/6620882dde89

- http://blog.alexmaccaw.com/how-to-travel-around-the-world-fo...

I Assume I am Below Average

Derek Sivers: http://sivers.org/below-average

There's no speed limit.


How to be more Productive, by Aaron Swartz - http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/productivity

Don't Call Yourself A Programmer, And Other Career Advice


Nice article. I liked the Eat The Donuts part. Very well written and really inspiring.

"POOR, POOR CHILD. YOU HAVE NO IDEA. Programming is Hard" http://writing.bryanwoods4e.com/1-poor-poor-child

A brilliant article which lets you know that coding is hard cause it's hard not cause you are stupid and that something can be hard and fun at the same time.

I share this with every new coder I help out.

Microcosmographia Academica http://www.cs.kent.ac.uk/people/staff/iau/cornford/cornford....

It's not quite a blog post, but it's as close as one might have come in 1908.

I also like a whole host of articles from Matt Might's blog. I think my favorites are

12 resolutions for grad students


and Responding to peer review


One last essay that I have enjoyed, also too old to be a blog post, is W.M. Turski's "I was a computer". It's here on Elsevier but fortunately it looks to be open access.


pg's How Not To Die essay:


pmarca's The Only Thing That Matters post:


Pretty much everything Steve Blank has written on Customer Development:


Mark Cuban on How To Get Rich:


Mark Cuban on Success & Motivation:


Jamie Zawinski's Groupware Bad post:


A few of them:

- Blueberry pancakes and battleships → http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/05/blueberry-pa...

- This Is All Your App Is: a Collection of Tiny Details → http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/05/this-is-all-your-ap...

- The Personality Layer → http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2012/07/18/the-personal...

- Asking Questions beats Giving Advice → http://insideintercom.io/asking-questions-versus-giving-advi...

A Tale of Two Bridges: http://hintjens.com/blog:16

Thanks for sharing this.

Almost all of Paul Graham's essays. Especially

How to Make Wealth - http://paulgraham.com/wealth.html How to Do What You Love - http://paulgraham.com/love.html Inequality and Risk - http://paulgraham.com/inequality.html

and Paul Buchheit's

My startup path - http://paulbuchheit.blogspot.in/2007/03/my-startup-path.html (I have actually printed a hard copy of this and have it my wallet. This is what finally convinced me to join a startup.)

Paul Graham's How to make wealth: very very nice article. A must read for everyone. The part where he writes about leverage as a characteristic of technology jobs and it being the only way of multiplying your productivity (or diminishing it) is very illustrative.

But Y would I want to do a thing like this? http://weblog.raganwald.com/2007/02/but-y-would-i-want-to-do...

McKenna said a lot of kooky stuff but this one really speaks to me.


And check out Zen Pencil's top 10 of 2013 list.

http://www.chrissiewellington.org/blog/taking-the-plunge/ Because i didn't know what was to come next and whether she would be successful. A snippet from the first blogpost:

"Could I be as good as them, if not better? Had I fulfilled my potential, or did I have more to give? Had I pushed my mind and body to the limit? If not, what were those limits? What stars was I capable of grabbing? Without giving it a shot I would never know. I never want to look back and say ‘what if’."

A transcript of the brilliant speech by Heinz von Foerster titled "Ethics and Second Order Cybernetics". When I read this I found it truly amazing, because it effortlessly connected the existential questions I was facing with the formalism of mathematics and the insight of the humanities, all tied into a beautiful circle.


"Lessons from Habitat" [1], by Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer.

Not inspirational in the strict sense, but it's amazing to see a paper written more than 20 years ago and still with so many applicable insights in terms of psychology in gaming and virtual worlds. I keep going back and re-reading every couple of years.

[1] http://www.crockford.com/ec/lessons.html

Its about story of YC incubated startup Zerocater founder, everytime I read this it makes me more stronger to work more hard. http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/06/how-i-started-zerocater/

Every time I read something Paul Graham wrote before he became The Godfather I get sad. It may not show in the quality of moderation we see on HN, but he's clearly an extremely talented man.

Yep, and I think the quality of his essays dropped recently. Before he became "The Godfather" his writing was really some out of the box thinking, while the recent ones seem to me almost like an ad to go to SV and get funded by YC to try to build the next Facebook.

It seems like PG always had such ambitions, while the brilliant technical insights came from Rtm.

"Don't half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing", i.e. "Kill early and often, keeping it alive is not good enough":


I'm not sure about "most inspiring", but this was the first time something on the internet blew my mind: http://www.arachnoid.com/lutusp/symbols.html

How to be the luckiest guy in the planet, in 4 easy steps


"how to blog about code and give zero fucks" by Garann Means


Gustavo Duarte : Lucky to be a Programmer http://duartes.org/gustavo/blog/post/lucky-to-be-a-programme...

How to Deal With Crappy People


Made my life easier

His definition of not giving a fuck is wearing vibram fivefingers. weak.

Why you will fail to have a great career by Larry Smith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKHTawgyKWQ

I always like to re-read these: http://worrydream.com/

The bits about creating and shipping products by Nathan Barry and Amy Hoy

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