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robertogreco : paulgraham   36

Metafoundry 16: Fission-Fusion Society
"FEARLESS ASYMMETRY: Earlier this week, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Paul Graham wrote a short piece on about how successful people aren't mean, which—well, that’s surely a question of perspective. My daily commute to work takes me through a four-way stop in the affluent Boston suburb of Wellesley, so this is probably my favourite piece of research contradicting Graham's assertion. He also talked about how famous thinkers weren't ruthless, which I find an especially interesting example. Historically, one of the best things about academia, when it works well, is that it allows people to be intrinsically motivated [vid]: it provides them with sufficient income, security, and autonomy, as well as meaningful work—basically, it’s an environment where there is relatively little incentive to be mean. But it’s also worth noting that the idea of what constitutes ‘mean’ has changed appreciably over time, particularly in terms of how you treat people who are not like you: I recently re-read parts of Richard Feynman’s autobiography and some of his behaviour towards women, largely unremarkable at the time, is appalling by current standards.

But Graham and I do agree on the disutility of competition, which I cordially despise. I hate how it’s considered to be a motivating force, especially in education. I once asked ten STEM educators, from four continents, if they were motivated by competition themselves. Only two people said they were, both men. It’s possible that women are socialized to dislike competition, but it’s probably more an awareness of implicit bias, that most competitions they were likely to participate in were effectively rigged.

Apart from being an ineffective motivator for all but a few, my significant issue with competition is that it’s inefficient. By definition, in a competition, you are doing the same thing as other people. An enormous amount of effort is poured into leveling that playing field to absolutely ensure that everyone is doing the same thing. My issue with competitive spectator sports isn't that it’s pointless (it’s play; play is, by definition, pointless). It’s that it normalizes the idea that this ‘doing the same thing, only better’, should be valorized. By contrast, art is not fungible or directly comparable. This is why “It’s an honour to be nominated” is a cliché—being recognized for one’s work is lovely, but the concept of ‘winning’ at art is bolted on. Every comparison between works of art (painting, novels, and so on) is an apples-to-oranges comparison, not a level playing field. In casual conversation at a conference, a faculty member at another institution described himself to me as 'competitive', and I told him that I wasn't—that I was more interested in using the resources available to me to do new things, rather than doing the same thing as everyone else, only better (it's why I joined the faculty of a new college, where this is explicitly part of its mission). But that means I mostly do things that I am uniquely positioned or qualified to do, and—aside from that being a much more efficient use of my personal resources—it turns out that if you’re creating new playing fields, you are in a good position to convince other people (like funding agencies) that you know how to play on them. While Graham highlights how successful people like to create entirely new domains (hello, Apple), the impetus for doing so, at least in business, is usually to monopolize them (why hello again, Apple) rather than to open them up for other people to use. If your goal is to protect that new turf, having sharp elbows and sharper lawyers is certainly an advantage. By contrast, thinkers are often considered successful when they are influential—that is, precisely because they open up new spaces for others to explore.

Finally, I dislike competition because life is too short for zero-sum games. I've been thinking recently about the often-asymmetric nature of asking for favours. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I got my driver's license and a car, which means I’m aware of the frequently quite significant difference in cost (in time more than money, but often both) between getting a ride somewhere and not. Offering someone a ride is often a positive-sum exchange: the cost to me of driving them is far less than the cost to them of making their own way. But it’s more than that: asking for and granting favours, even positive-sum favours, is an act of trust, and it helps to cement social bonds, in part because it’s not a one-to-one exchange of goods. Graham writes that, "For most of history, success meant control of scarce resources...That is changing." as if it were a natural progression with time, like stars leaving the main sequence. But to the extent that resources are non-scarce, and that positive-sum games are possible (and these characteristics are by no means uniformly distributed, even within the United States), it's a result of people--'successful' and otherwise--choosing to create a society where that's the case. The ability to be successful without being mean follows directly from this."
debchachra  2014  competition  paulgraham  motivation  economics  society  trust  winning  success  behavior  money  wealth  stem  gender  autonomy  income  security  academia  favors 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Maciej Ceglowski - Barely succeed! It's easier! - YouTube
"We live in a remarkable time when small teams (or even lone programmers) can successfully compete against internet giants. But while the last few years have seen an explosion of product ideas, there has been far less innovation in how to actually build a business. Silicon Valley is stuck in an outdated 'grow or die' mentality that overvalues risk, while investors dismiss sustainable, interesting projects for being too practical. So who needs investors anyway?

I'll talk about some alternative definitions of success that are more achievable (and more fun!) than the Silicon Valley casino. It turns out that staying small offers some surprising advantages, not just in the day-to-day experience of work, but in marketing and getting customers to love your project. Best of all, there's plenty more room at the bottom.

If your goal is to do meaningful work you love, you may be much closer to realizing your dreams than you think."
via:lukeneff  maciejceglowski  2013  startups  pinboard  culture  atalhualpa  larrywall  perl  coding  slow  small  success  community  communities  diversity  growth  sustainability  venturecapital  technology  tonyrobbins  timferris  raykurzweil  singularity  humanism  laziness  idleness  wealth  motivation  siliconvalley  money  imperialism  corneliusvanderbilt  meaning  incubators  stevejobs  stevewozniak  empirebuilders  makers  fundraising  closedloops  viscouscircles  labor  paulgraham  ycombinator  gender  publishing  hits  recordingindustry  business  lavabit  mistakes  duckduckgo  zootool  instapaper  newsblur  metafilter  minecraft  ravelry  4chan  backblaze  prgmr.com  conscience  growstuff  parentmeetings  lifestylebusinesses  authenticity  googlereader  yahoopipes  voice  longtail  fanfiction  internet  web  online  powerofculture  counterculture  transcontextualism  maciejcegłowski  transcontextualization 
march 2014 by robertogreco
What I've Learned About Learning - raganwald's posterous
It turns out, there really is no substitute for experience with an idea.
It's something more than just extending your conscious knowledge of facts. It's a change in you, a change in the way your subconscious mind operates, a change in what Paul Graham might call your "taste."
thinking  programming  via:litherland  learning  paulgraham 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Great Ephemeralization | Bottom-up
"Paul Graham & Reihan Salam have been popularizing term “ephemeralization”, originally coined by Bucky Fuller, to describe process whereby special-purpose products are replaced by software running on general-purpose computing devices. As list above suggests, ephemeralization is affecting a growing fraction of the economy. & w/ technologies like self-driving cars on the horizon, its importance will only grow in the coming decades.

Ephemeralization offers an alternative explanation for the puzzling growth slowdown of the last decade. Every time the software industry displaces a special purpose device, our standard of living improves but measured GDP falls. If what you care about is government revenue, this point might not matter much—it’s hard to tax something if no one’s paying for it. But the real lesson here may not be that the US economy is stagnating, but rather that the government is bad at measuring improvements in our standard of living that come from software industry."
technology  internet  politics  history  economics  gdp  productivity  growth  2011  ephemeralization  buckminsterfuller  paulgraham  tylercowen  reihansalam  books  timothylee  taxation  taxes  govenment  metrics  measurement  via:jeeves 
june 2011 by robertogreco
The Simple Software That Could -- but Probably Won't -- Change the Face of Writing - James Somers - Technology - The Atlantic
"Writing is different. A writer explores, & as he explores, he purposely forgets the way he came.

…word "essay" derives from French "essayer," a verb meaning "to try."…coined in late 16th century by Michel de Montaigne, in many ways the father of the form. Montaigne wrote as a kind of maieutic exercise, a way of drawing his thoughts into the light of day, of discovering what he wanted to say as he said it.

No need, then, to drop so many breadcrumbs along the way. Especially when such a trail could do more harm than good. Readers could use it to find places where you massaged the facts; they'd be able to see you struggle w/ simple structural problems; they'd watch, horrified, as you replaced an audacious idea, or character, or construction, w/ a commonplace.

This is not to mention the legal ramifications (teasing out someone's "intention" just got a whole lot easier…) nor the mere fact that working under this kind of surveillance could drive you crazy w/ self-consciousness."
writing  etherpad  technology  software  paulgraham  jamessomers  classideas  thinking  learning  essays 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Good and Bad Procrastination
"If you want to work on big things, you seem to have to trick yourself into doing it. You have to work on small things that could grow into big things, or work on successively larger things, or split the moral load with collaborators. It's not a sign of weakness to depend on such tricks. The very best work has been done this way.

When I talk to people who've managed to make themselves work on big things, I find that all blow off errands, and all feel guilty about it. I don't think they should feel guilty. There's more to do than anyone could. So someone doing the best work they can is inevitably going to leave a lot of errands undone. It seems a mistake to feel bad about that."
procrastination  gtd  paulgraham  productivity  2005  distraction  attention  interruptions  focus  creativity  innovation  work  cv  efficiency  errands  priorities  lifehacks 
december 2010 by robertogreco
What Happened to Yahoo
"Why would great programmers want to work for a company that didn't have a hacker-centric culture, as long as there were others that did? I can imagine two reasons: if they were paid a huge amount, or if the domain was interesting and none of the companies in it were hacker-centric. Otherwise you can't attract good programmers to work in a suit-centric culture. And without good programmers you won't get good software, no matter how many people you put on a task, or how many procedures you establish to ensure "quality."

Hacker culture often seems kind of irresponsible. That's why people proposing to destroy it use phrases like "adult supervision." That was the phrase they used at Yahoo. But there are worse things than seeming irresponsible. Losing, for example."
paulgraham  hackers  entrepreneurship  yahoo  technology  startups  startup  management  media  programming  culture  business  google  history  software  hackerculture  facebook  markzuckerberg  tcsnmy  hiring  leadership  values  business-iness  lcproject  hierarchy 
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Top Idea in Your Mind
"I realized recently that what one thinks about in the shower in the morning is more important than I'd thought. I knew it was a good time to have ideas. Now I'd go further: now I'd say it's hard to do a really good job on anything you don't think about in the shower.

Everyone who's worked on difficult problems is probably familiar with the phenomenon of working hard to figure something out, failing, and then suddenly seeing the answer a bit later while doing something else. There's a kind of thinking you do without trying to. I'm increasingly convinced this type of thinking is not merely helpful in solving hard problems, but necessary. The tricky part is, you can only control it indirectly..."
business  creativity  distraction  mind  lifehacks  productivity  psychology  thinking  startups  paulgraham  entrepreneurship  motivation  innovation  philosophy  politics  ideas  cv  attention  focus  tcsnmy  showers 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Organic Startup Ideas
"So if you want to come up with organic startup ideas, I'd encourage you to focus more on the idea part and less on the startup part. Just fix things that seem broken, regardless of whether it seems like the problem is important enough to build a company on. If you keep pursuing such threads it would be hard not to end up making something of value to a lot of people, and when you do, surprise, you've got a company. [3]

Don't be discouraged if what you produce initially is something other people dismiss as a toy. In fact, that's a good sign. That's probably why everyone else has been overlooking the idea. The first microcomputers were dismissed as toys. And the first planes, and the first cars. At this point, when someone comes to us with something that users like but that we could envision forum trolls dismissing as a toy, it makes us especially likely to invest."
paulgraham  entrepreneurship  startups  ideas  strategy  business  creativity  advice  design  problemsolving  lcproject  tcsnmy 
april 2010 by robertogreco
What Startups Are Really Like [eery]
"I've been surprised again and again by just how much more important persistence is than raw intelligence." "1. Be Careful with Cofounders 2. Startups Take Over Your Life 3. It's an Emotional Roller-coaster 4. It Can Be Fun 5. Persistence Is the Key [see above] 6. Think Long-Term 7. Lots of Little Things 8. Start with Something Minimal 9. Engage Users 10. Change Your Idea 11. Don't Worry about Competitors 12. It's Hard to Get Users 13. Expect the Worst with Deals 14. Investors Are Clueless 15. You May Have to Play Games 16. Luck Is a Big Factor 17. The Value of Community 18. You Get No Respect 19. Things Change as You Grow"

You probably can't overcome anything so pervasive as the model of work you grew up with. So the best solution is to be consciously aware of that."
tcsnmy  startups  entrepreneurship  business  management  administration  advice  paulgraham  culture  change 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Keep Your Identity Small
"I think what religion and politics have in common is that they become part of people's identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that's part of their identity. By definition they're partisan. ... Most people reading this will already be fairly tolerant. But there is a step beyond thinking of yourself as x but tolerating y: not even to consider yourself an x. The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you."

[Related: http://docs.freebsd.org/cgi/getmsg.cgi?fetch=506636+0+/usr/local/www/db/text/1999/freebsd-hackers/19991003.freebsd-hackers ]
culture  science  politics  religion  paulgraham  identity  psychology  conversation  communication  personality  argument  discussion  thinking  online  bias  conflict  debate 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Persuade xor Discover
"It's hard enough to overcome one's own misconceptions without having to think about how to get the resulting ideas past other people's. I worry that if I wrote to persuade, I'd start to shy away unconsciously from ideas I knew would be hard to sell. When I notice something surprising, it's usually very faint at first. There's nothing more than a slight stirring of discomfort. I don't want anything to get in the way of noticing it consciously.

I didn't make a deliberate choice to write to discover, rather than writing to persuade. In fact, I didn't realize how opposed they were till I wrote this. This essay was originally about being ingratiating. It started from the faintest sense that something was amiss: why do so many people take a violent dislike to Michael Arrington? But I'm glad I picked at that anomaly instead of ignoring it. It was only by writing to discover that I learned I don't write to persuade."
writing  essays  michaelarrington  discovery  paulgraham  analysis  persuasion  communication 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The List of N Things
"Because the list of n things is the easiest essay form, it should be a good one for beginning writers. & in fact it is what most beginning writers are taught. The classic 5 paragraph essay is really a list of n things for n = 3. But the students writing them don't realize they're using the same structure as the articles they read in Cosmopolitan. They're not allowed to include the numbers, & they're expected to spackle over the gaps with gratuitous transitions ("Furthermore...") & cap the thing at either end w/ introductory & concluding paragraphs so it will look superficially like a real essay. [2]...Another advantage of admitting to beginning writers that the 5 paragraph essay is really a list of n things is that we can warn them about this. It only lets you experience the defining characteristic of essay writing on a small scale: in thoughts of a sentence or two."
writing  essays  lists  paulgraham  rhetoric  communication  teaching  tcsnmy 
september 2009 by robertogreco
EtherPad Blog: Saving is Obsolete
"ever forgot to hit "save" and lost work? Ever wished you could go back to an earlier version of a document to see how the document evolved? Now you can. EtherPad keeps track of all your typing in realtime. With our new Time-Slider, you can browse the complete history of a document using a familiar user interface...When writing, I often find I have a solid draft, but as I continue to edit I realize that my editing made things worse. Or sometimes a co-worker will edit a document I started, and take it in a different direction, and I will want to go back to my version. I used to deal with this by using "Save As...", but this just creates a mess of different files. Now, instead of saving a separate file, I just create a "bookmark" in the document's timeline using the EtherPad Time-Slider. We've also found the Time-Slider to be interesting for watching how a document got to where it is...captured Paul Graham writing an essay about startups, now viewable in our time-slider UI."
writing  timelines  etherpad  collaboration  tools  onlinetoolkit  software  editing  tcsnmy  examples  paulgraham 
september 2009 by robertogreco
What Kate Saw in Silicon Valley
"1. How many startups fail...2. How much startups' ideas change...3. How little money it can take to start a startup...4. How scrappy founders are...5. How tech-saturated Silicon Valley is...6. That the speakers at YC were so consistent in their advice...7. How casual successful startup founders are...8. How important it is for founders to have people to ask for advice...9. What a solitary task startups are...By inverting this list, we can get a portrait of the "normal" world. It's populated by people who talk a lot with one another as they work slowly but harmoniously on conservative, expensive projects whose destinations are decided in advance, and who carefully adjust their manner to reflect their position in the hierarchy.

That's also a fairly accurate description of the past. So startup culture may not merely be different in the way you'd expect any subculture to be, but a leading indicator.
paulgraham  future  work  innovation  conservatism  management  leadership  risk  entrepreneurship  startups  organization  business  culture  ycombinator  futures  careers  vc  ideas 
september 2009 by robertogreco
See Randomness
"So if you want to discover things that have been overlooked till now, one really good place to look is in our blind spot: in our natural, naive belief that it's all about us. And expect to encounter ferocious opposition if you do.

Conversely, if you have to choose between two theories, prefer the one that doesn't center on you.

This principle isn't only for big ideas. It works in everyday life, too. For example, suppose you're saving a piece of cake in the fridge, and you come home one day to find your housemate has eaten it. Two possible theories:

a) Your housemate did it deliberately to upset you. He knew you were saving that piece of cake.

b) Your housemate was hungry.

I say pick b. No one knows who said "never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence," but it is a powerful idea. Its more general version is our answer to the Greeks:

Don't see purpose where there isn't.

Or better still, the positive version:

See randomness."
randomness  discovery  perspective  paulgraham  plato  philosophy  thinking  random  psychology  reason  chaos  genes  purpose  darwin  tcsnmy  charlesdarwin 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Relevant History: Paul Graham on meeting time
"Pre-industrial work ... was task-oriented: whether you worked in the fields or town, the rhythm of your working day wasn't determined by a clock, but by Nature and the work you needed to get done. With the rise of the factory system, and the growing specialization of labor within factories, the rhythms of work were defined not by organic tasks, but by machines and the factory itself: you worked a certain number of hours a day, and then you stopped. Work was no longer task-oriented, but time-oriented.

Of course, there are types of work that have always remained task-oriented, even when we're measuring or regulating or standardizing them using time. Cooking is one. Parenting is another. Babies are as demanding as any factory-owner, but as any new parent will tell you, they run very much on their own clocks. But today, when the two are at odds, task-orientation loses out to time-orientation: managers set meeting times for subordinates, some of whom are likely to be young mothers."
industrialization  time  work  taskoriented  meetings  paulgraham  alexsoojung-kimpang  specialization  industrialrevolution  parenting  timemanagement  specialists 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule
"When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That's no problem for someone on the manager's schedule. There's always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker's schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it."
scheduling  management  administration  leadership  creativity  organization  meetings  paulgraham  timemanagement  business  culture  software  productivity  programming  collaboration  work  development  time  schedules  makertime  makerstime  makersschedule 
july 2009 by robertogreco
The Age of the Essay
Classic Paul Graham essay on writing essays: "Remember the essays you had to write in high school? Topic sentence, introductory paragraph, supporting paragraphs, conclusion. The conclusion being, say, that Ahab in Moby Dick was a Christ-like figure.

Oy. So I'm going to try to give the other side of the story: what an essay really is, and how you write one. Or at least, how I write one."
paulgraham  education  learning  writing  essays  creativity  literature  teaching  rhetoric  english  language  howto  communication 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Why TV Lost
"[1] the Internet is an open platform... [2] Moore's Law, which has worked its usual magic on Internet bandwidth... [3] piracy. Users prefer it not just because it's free, but because it's more convenient." ... "After decades of running an IV drip right into their audience, people in the entertainment business had understandably come to think of them as rather passive. They thought they'd be able to dictate the way shows reached audiences. But they underestimated the force of their desire to connect with one another."
internet  web  online  paulgraham  broadcast  tv  television  technology  convergence  bittorrent  distribution  piracy  kindle  facebook  media  information  future 
march 2009 by robertogreco
virtualpolitik: Dumbest and Dumber
"Ito describes two kinds of youthful Internet users: 1) those who use social computing technologies to facilitate high school affinity practices such as gossip and status-checking and 2) those who seek out more advanced forms of expertise in specialized knowledge communities. Bauerlein totally dismisses the latter group in his attack on the former, but -- speaking as the parent of a teenager who has used the Internet to learn about film noir, contemporary French drama, traditional printmaking, and the ethnomusicology of the blues -- I don't think the existence of this demographic should be completely discounted without any critical reflection."
paulgraham  mimiito  danahboyd  teens  youth  generations  books  internet  intelligence  socialnetworking  add  adhd  henryjenkins  parenting  learning  education  tcsnmy  literacy  writing  reading  online  web  facebook  markbauerlein 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Startups in 13 Sentences
"1. Pick good cofounders. 2. Launch fast. 3. Let your idea evolve. 4. Understand your users. 5. **Better to make a few users love you than a lot ambivalent.** 6. Offer surprisingly good customer service. 7. You make what you measure. 8. **Spend little.** 9. **Get ramen profitable.** 10. Avoid distractions. 11. **Don't get demoralized.** 12. Don't give up. 13. Deals fall through."
tcsnmy  startups  paulgraham  howto  entrepreneurship  business  administration  management  leadership  focus  success  diy 
february 2009 by robertogreco
After Credentials
"Judging people by academic credentials was...an advance...seems to have begun in China...in 587 candidates for imperial civil service...take an exam on classical literature...Before...government positions were obtained mainly by family influence...bribery...great step forward to judge people by performance on a test... [not] a perfect solution...The use of credentials was an attempt to seal off the direct transmission of power between generations, and cram schools represent that power finding holes in the seal. Cram schools turn wealth in one generation into credentials in the next...History suggests that, all other things being equal, a society prospers in proportion to its ability to prevent parents from influencing their children's success directly...general solution...push for increased transparency, especially at critical social bottlenecks like college admissions...better way...make credentials matter less... If you could measure actual performance, you wouldn't need them."
education  learning  paulgraham  credentials  schools  colleges  universities  testing  SAT  parenting  government  economics  business  performance  admissions  gamechanging  inheritance  legacy  careers  deschooling  korea  us  china  history  unschooling  homeschool  merit  lcproject  wealth  power  influence  competition  competitiveness  society 
december 2008 by robertogreco
The High-Res Society
"trend to bet on seems to be networks of small, autonomous groups whose performance is measured individually...Part of the reason—possibly the main reason—that startups have not spread as broadly as the Industrial Revolution did is their social disruptiveness. Though it brought many social changes, the Industrial Revolution was not fighting the principle that bigger is better...The new industrial companies adapted the customs of existing large organizations ...military & civil service...resulting hybrid worked well. "Captains of industry" issued orders to "armies of workers"...Startups seem to go more against the grain, socially. It's hard for them to flourish in societies that value hierarchy and stability, just as it was hard for industrialization to flourish in societies ruled by people who stole at will from the merchant class. But there were already a handful of countries past that stage when the Industrial Revolution happened. There do not seem to be that many ready this time."
paulgraham  industrialization  industrialrevolution  startup  disruption  business  future  society  small  leadership  management  administration  change  gamechanging  accountability  lcproject  organizations  hierarchy  autonomy  flexibility  wealth  technology  money  culture  entrepreneurship  startups 
december 2008 by robertogreco
The Other Half of "Artists Ship"
One of the differences between big companies and startups is that big companies tend to have developed procedures to protect themselves against mistakes. A startup walks like a toddler, bashing into things and falling over all the time. A big company is more deliberate. The gradual accumulation of checks in an organization is a kind of learning, based on disasters that have happened to it or others like it. ... Whenever someone in an organization proposes to add a new check, they should have to explain not just the benefit but the cost. No matter how bad a job they did of analyzing it, this meta-check would at least remind everyone there had to be a cost, and send them looking for it."
paulgraham  innovation  management  leadership  tcsnmy  costs  startups  government  programming  business  economics  art  pricing  strategy  administration  software 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Conceptual Trends and Current Topics - How to Make New Things
"To sum up: Simple, iterative solutions to overlooked problems that someone cares about. There are other ways to make new things. But in my experience, Grahams approach is the most reliable and rarely fails."
paulgraham  kevinkelly  invention  creativity  innovation  ideas  solutions  problemsolving  process 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Cities and Ambition
"Even when a city is still a live center of ambition, you won't know for sure whether its message will resonate with you till you hear it...You'll probably have to find the city where you feel at home to know what sort of ambition you have."
paulgraham  cities  living  life  lifestyle  happiness  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  paris  entrepreneurship  employment  work  careers  demographics  economics  proximity  urban  geography  society  bayarea  boston  california  education  knowledge  universities  psychogeography  location  art  restaurants  technology  science  math  research  money  business  challenge  wealth  class  social  insiders  intelligence  culture  commentary  losangeles  washingtondc  berkeley  comparison  dc 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Disconnecting Distraction
"Eventually, though, it became clear that the Internet had become so much more distracting that I had to start treating it differently. Basically, I had to add a new application to my list of known time sinks: Firefox."
gtd  paulgraham  addiction  productivity  procrastination  tips  advice  learning  lifehacks  discipline  technology  television  tv  multitasking  psychology  attention  management  work  distraction  add  adhd  internet  concentration  information 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Lies We Tell Kids
"We arrive at adulthood with a kind of truth debt...I've found that whenever I've been able to undo a lie I was told, a lot of other things fell into place....It's not enough to consider your mind a blank slate. You have to consciously erase it."
education  parenting  kids  lies  truth  learning  life  children  culture  teaching  philosophy  paulgraham  childhood  bias  authority  youth  psychology  propaganda  productivity  drugs  health  identity  politics  society  sex  power  religion 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Be Good
"If you start from successful startups, you find they often behaved like nonprofits. And if you start from ideas for nonprofits, you find they'd often make good startups."
startups  business  paulgraham  management  nonprofit  entrepreneurship  nonprofits 
april 2008 by robertogreco
How to Disagree
"If we’re all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well...Most readers can tell difference between mere name-calling & carefully reasoned refutation, but...intermediate stages...here’s an attempt at a disagreement hierarchy."
writing  arguments  communication  language  howto  paulgraham  blogging  psychology  debate  dialog  discourse  discussion  internet  web  logic  netiquette  etiquette  conflict  conversation  culture  philosophy  argument  dialogue 
march 2008 by robertogreco
You Weren't Meant to Have a Boss
"You can adjust the amount of freedom you get by scaling size of company you work for...start company, most freedom...one of first 10 employees, almost as much freedom as founders. Even company w/ 100 people will feel different from 1 w/ 1000."
business  development  culture  paulgraham  groups  hierarchy  work  management  administration  society  nature  startup  jobs  motivation  entrepreneurship  organization  programming  freedom  workplace  projectmanagement  employment  education  economics  careers  success  organizations 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Why Nerds are Unpopular
"School is strange, artificial thing, half sterile, half feral...Teenage kids used to have more active role in society. In pre-industrial times, they were all apprentices ...weren't left to create own societies....were junior members of adult societies."
schools  society  education  teens  youth  apprenticeships  learning  nerds  culture  popularity  bullying  adolescence  paulgraham  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  middleschool  highschool  academics  childhood  children  via:preoccupations 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Six Principles for Making New Things
"I like to find (a) simple solutions (b) to overlooked problems (c) that actually need to be solved, and (d) deliver them as informally as possible, (e) starting with a very crude version 1, then (f) iterating rapidly."
paulgraham  advice  business  creative  creativity  design  entrepreneurship  problemsolving  software  process  howwework  wisdom  work  programming  marketing  howto  innovation  startup  invention  ideas 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Stuff
"Stuff used to be valuable, and now it's not...in the middle of the 20th century...food got cheaper, eating too much started to be a bigger danger than eating too little...now reached that point with stuff. For most people, rich or poor, stuff has become
consumerism  consumption  society  wealth  anthropology  materialism  psychology  organization  culture  value  books  paulgraham  clutter  history  economics  consilience 
august 2007 by robertogreco
What You'll Wish You'd Known [advice for high school sudents]
"Kid curiosity is broad and shallow; they ask why at random about everything. In most adults this curiosity dries up entirely. It has to: you can't get anything done if you're always asking why about everything. But in ambitious adults, instead of drying up, curiosity becomes narrow and deep. The mud flat morphs into a well. Curiosity turns work into play. For Einstein, relativity wasn't a book full of hard stuff he had to learn for an exam. It was a mystery he was trying to solve. So it probably felt like less work to him to invent it than it would seem to someone now to learn it in a class. One of the most dangerous illusions you get from school is the idea that doing great things requires a lot of discipline. Most subjects are taught in such a boring way that it's only by discipline that you can flog yourself through them."
education  learning  society  philosophy  paulgraham  highschool  wisdom  productivity  culture  creativity  careers  school  schooling  schooliness  psychology  work  life  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  motivation  discipline  self-discipline  advice  tcsnmy 
january 2005 by robertogreco

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