Driven by art, the diffusion of innovation, or just being weird
What is a Life Dedicated to Art?
What does it mean to live a life dedicated to art, focused on art? I know what it means and feel like for a software developer to dedicate your life to programming, to technology innovation. It is somewhat indescribable: you just do it because you think it’s important (to humanity, just groups of people?), has a purpose (often in a tool way, productivity, bringing people together, making streaming possible, etc.), and is just fun. Software becomes the purpose of your life. Is that what it’s like with art?
But the next question would be: what are the effects, the goals…as I listed with software innovation? Is it just to discover new things? To innovate, come up with something new? To entertain and sooth the viewer? That is, sort of, the de Botton view of art as therapy, personal and group harmony and peace through empathy-building:
[A]rt (a category that includes works of design, architecture and craft) is a therapeutic medium that can help guide, exhort and console its viewers, enabling them to become better versions of themselves.
So far, the Rick Ruben answer to art is sort of Buddhist: for artists (which is not everyone?) art is just living life, going through time and letting existence float you along like a river. You don’t fight the flow, you just go along with it.
“Everything about this is wrong,” Software Defined Talk #403 - This week we discuss the digital transformation of paid TV, the struggle to modernize the IRS and DHH’s MRSK project. Plus, Matt is Factorio famous…
The Link Gourmand
This is a new section where I ask people how they find links. You like links, I like links, they like links! Here we have Rachel Stephens, one of the analysts at RedMonk. With her background as financial analyst, she can add new angles to her tech world and developer analysis. She’s one of the people who email me most frequently about the newsletter, and they’re always delightful little notes. Also, she is a friend of otters.
The below was originally a bulleted list, but substack’s block quote doesn’t allow for quoted bullets, so: here we are.
A comprehensive list of the ways I’ve tried (and largely failed…) to organize my internet-based content consumption while working at RedMonk:
open a link of something I plan to read later into a new tab. slowly accumulate more and more things I’m planning to get to ‘eventually’ until I get overwhelmed by the number of tabs I have open, and then Marie Kondo my browser and close everything. the joy this sparks is fleeting.
maybe I should try to avoid using my browser as my To Read list by bookmarking things to come back to? once in a blue moon I actually make it back and read things later.
convince myself that it’s the tool that’s the problem. maybe I should experiment with different bookmarking tools?
realize that I’ve now saved links across Pocket, Pinboard, and Instapaper.
maybe I can make a Trello board that includes a “when there’s time” category and I can make cards for all the interesting articles I want to read and conference talks I want to catch? use this religiously for about a month, until Trello itself falls victim to a “which of these 19 possible tracking systems will actually help me get things done?” (and I repeat this entire floundering process with my whole to-do list, not just my reading list)
maybe RSS was the way all along? let me go subscribe to everything and then never come back to Feedly again.
maybe I need to focus on deep reading? maybe I should use Evernote on my iPad and I can highlight and annotate as I go, and I can create an elaborate metadata tagging structure as though I am writing a thesis. pick a first paper that is too technically deep, get stuck, and abandon the entire system.
what about mindmapping while I read? (here comes a whole new software exploration rabbit hole)
hmmm. maybe, just maybe, I have spent too long focused on what software I need and not enough time on reading? I should probably just subscribe to some newsletters and let other people curate links for me.
oh god, my inbox.
I need some filters.
oh no. once something skips my inbox it’s pretty much the equivalent as opening a new tab or bookmarking it to read later: I will never see it again.
maybe I need more tabs?
The internet is vast and the content unending. I can’t get to everything, even though I desperately want to. If anyone in your network figures out the solution to this, I am eagerly awaiting my next magic bullet. :)
Being (more) weird is the way to creation and fun. This is a competitive differentiation to business, innovation, process, and maybe life (let’s come back to “life”). To do something new, stand out, and attract interest, attention, usage, and business, you need to do something different than the competitors, and to maximize profit and customer retention (LTV minus CAC and COGS) you need to be the only one who provides this.
But should you be weird in real life? Should I be raising my children weird, or following best practices followed for thousands of years and billions of parents?
If you’re too weird, at best you become distasteful, maybe rude, and at worst immoral. Being “weird” assumes a morality, boundaries or acceptability?
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“Reddit was for guys who work at GameStop and their taxidermist elf wives.” Also: “Expect to see a guy vlogging in a pickup truck on Facebook wearing one of these bad boys in 5–10 business days.” Garbage Day.
Relevant to your interests
10 Years of Dell XPS13 developer laptops - I think this was the best thing I helped out with while I was at Dell. It’s certainly been the most long lasting and I’ve seen the most impact from it. When I started there, everyone I knew was like “will you tell Dell to finally ship a laptop with Linux?” And now, thanks to all the work Barton George and many others did, they have a great developer laptop, and many more.
New Pools of Power - “In fact, artificial intelligence is something of a red herring. It is not intelligence that is dangerous; it is power. AI is risky only inasmuch as it creates new pools of power. We should aim for ways to ameliorate that risk instead.”
On Pausing Alcohol - Marc Andreessen Substack - ‘“the perfect day is 10 hours of caffeine followed by 4 hours of alcohol”, which I did indeed say, and which is still indeed true.’
The silence of adult travel - “the other thing I miss is the travel without kids. The variety of cities and landmarks, both famous and obscure, but more than that, the space. All that time spent in airports and bus stops and train stations simply shrugging at a three hour layover because who cares? That’s probably more a sign of missing life before kids though haha.”
Excellent explanation of how to escape the sunk cost fallacy - ‘Once you put something into something — lives, money, effort, time — it becomes very hard to let those things go. This happens with jobs and relationships, but a simple example is a stock: I bought it at $50 and I don’t want to sell it at $40, because I want to get my $10 back. Now, of course that’s a fallacy. What matters is: would you use that $40 to buy that stock today? If the answer is “yes,” you should hold it, if the answer is “no,” you should sell it. It matters very little that you used to own it at $50. That $10 is already gone, and what you care about is whether it’s a good use of your money going forward. What the sunk cost fallacy shows us is that we naturally think of waste as a backward looking problem; I don’t want to have wasted my time, my energy, my money. But what waste really is is a forward looking problem. Is it right for me to waste time and money going forward? And the irony is that the fear of having wasted then causes us to waste more.’
Gartner Forecasts 39% of Global Knowledge Workers Will Work Hybrid by the End of 2023 - “Gartner estimates that remote workers will represent only 9% of all employees worldwide by the end of 2023.” Good three year chart, too.
Pulp Nonfiction : What I Learned Writing a Blog Post with ChatGPT - He find it’s good for organizing your writing and correction. The style is flat and without spark, though.
Availability Cascades - This what thought leadership is, mostly: ‘Availability entrepreneurs are “social agents who understand the dynamics of availability cascades and seek to exploit their insights. Located anywhere in the social system, including the government, the media, nonprofit organizations, the business sector, and even households, these entrepreneurs attempt to trigger availability cascades likely to advance their own agendas. They do so by fixing people’s attention on specific problems, interpreting phenomena in particular ways, and attempting to raise the salience of certain information."… Availability entrepreneurs try to make their preferred topic AVAILABLE by highlighting it in a way likely to start a cascade, and then WIDESPREAD by fanning the flames of the cascade however they can once it starts to go.’
I’ll be at SCaLE later this week in Pasadena, California. I’m talking about platform engineering on Saturday, March 11, at 6pm. The conference is March 9th to 12th. I’ve never been, but I’ve consistently heard it’s great over the years. DevOpsDays LA is running at the same time, co-located.
Matt Ray will be there, so once I get around to organizing it (!) we might have a Software Defined Talk meetup. Also, we’re having a live Software Defined Talk recording at the conference at noon on Saturday, March 11th. I don’t know the room yet, but stay tuned!
If you want to attend, you can use the code SPEAK to get 50% off when you register! You’ll also get into DevOpsDays LA, Kubernetes Community Day, and Ceph Days SoCal.
We’re back from our cottage in Belgium vacation. It was nice!