May 7, 2019

Amy parker on their design process

I avoid saving images or making detailed sketches of things I’m seeing. Instead, I try to study what’s working, understand the formula behind the solution, and apply that to the problem I’m working on. This way, I (hopefully) avoid making an exact copy and come up with something that’s both appropriate and unique.

Nice approach the inspiration’ phase of a design project. I’ve always struggled with what feels like a mindless collecting of pretty things to draw inspiration from for a project. This feels much more analytical and less derivative. I’ll be giving it a try.

May 7, 2019

Alan Kay, from Technomanifestos

The first time I visited a Zen monastery, the monks would always clasp their hands. After two days I asked one why. They said, We believe the world of appearances is an illusion, but for reasons of efficiency, most of the time we have to pretend that it is real. Many times a day, such as before we eat and work, we clasp our hands to pause for a moment to realise that the world is much more complex than our tiny minds can deal with at any one time.

—Alan Kay (2001), found in Adam Brate’s Technomanifestos

April 30, 2019

Mama Flora — 9:43pm

The last of the other diners has just cleared out. I’m tapping away in the corner, on a wobbly plastic table (supplied by the local beer company) in a sort of restaurant/grocery store/front-room mashup. The last group to leave were a rag-tag bunch of surfers of varying ages and nationalities. All hunched around a laptop reviewing the days photos. Next, next, next-ing through photos of others then pausing for long periods when one of them appeared on screen. Flicking to and fro in the photo sequences. Picking apart technique, trading friendly digs, swapping stories of that one wave they got that….

Just an hour ago the place was packed out. They’ve got their product offering nailed. 10 soles ($3.30) for a plate piled high with fried rice, beef stir fry, or a burger. Big, cheap, filling food for the dirtbag surfer crowd comprising 90% of the town’s tourist income.

April 5, 2019

Startup = Growth notes

Startup = Growth Innovation usually comes from the founders having a unique set of experiences, or being different enough to most other people that they see ideas that others wouldn’t. They find something in everyone else’s blind spot, and they choose to stay there.

Usually successful startups happen because the founders are sufficiently different from other people that ideas few others can see seem obvious to them. Perhaps later they step back and notice they’ve found an idea in everyone else’s blind spot, and from that point make a deliberate effort to stay there. [3] But at the moment when successful startups get started, much of the innovation is unconscious. [3] That sort of stepping back is one of the things we focus on at Y Combinator. It’s common for founders to have discovered something intuitively without understanding all its implications. That’s probably true of the biggest discoveries in any field.

Don’t be so afraid of local maxima. Trust your intuitions on what to build and keep building.

In theory this sort of hill-climbing could get a startup into trouble. They could end up on a local maximum. But in practice that never happens. Having to hit a growth number every week forces founders to act, and acting versus not acting is the high bit of succeeding. Nine times out of ten, sitting around strategizing is just a form of procrastination. Whereas founders’ intuitions about which hill to climb are usually better than they realize. Plus the maxima in the space of startup ideas are not spiky and isolated. Most fairly good ideas are adjacent to even better ones.

April 2, 2019

While walking across India

From Alastair Humphreys’ blog

When I was away from towns I slept out in the open. I strung my mosquito net between two trees and lit a tiny fire of twigs to cook my rice. I pull off my sweat-wet shirt and sit with my back to the tree. My legs and feet are sore. My head thumps with dehydration. I listen to the sounds of the night and smile. Nobody in the world knows where I am. I could walk to anywhere on Earth from here, if only I choose to make the time. The road is free and open and waiting. This adventure is so simple (pick a river; follow it), so cheap (£500, including the flight), so pure (no sponsors; no convoluted world-first claims). Adventure is out there, anywhere, everywhere. You just have to go and find it. All your life you were only waiting for this moment to arise.

March 30, 2019

We don’t really see black when we close our eyes

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Who knew?