February 2023: 26, Sovereign Programmers, Friends
What I Did This Month
Published “You Must Become a Sovereign Programmer.” For PostHog, published “The 80/20 of early-stage startup analytics,” a mega Next.js tutorial, a bunch of YouTube videos, and more.
Turned 26. Went to My First Million Live and a Brazilian Carnaval event. Had a great food month. Ate Brazilian stroganoff, a football-themed birthday cake, Super Bowl Sunday pulled pork and schwartzy potatoes, pavlova, cheesecake, and more. My girlfriend also got me a box of Topo Chico.
Went to Palm Springs to watch the Whitecaps. They looked good, but every year I’m optimistic, and they let me down (they lost their first regular season game). Palm Springs Air Museum is amazing, human innovation manifest, and most of their planes fly too.
Communities activate latent energy. There is latent energy for everything, activating it requires work, but, once activated, this gains momentum. Anyone is capable of activating the latent energy of the communities that are important to them, they just have to care.
Using LLMs is a skill, and because I haven’t honed this skill, I feel a bit disappointed whenever I use one of them now. I’m figuring out, like many people, how to work with LLMs. They are excellent at summarizing and synthesizing.
People who are good listeners make others want to talk more. It is easy to talk to someone who is a good listener, it doesn’t take a lot of energy. Good questions and micro-reactions (presence) are key,
It costs $0.02 per text to send a text in the USA as a business.
ChatGPT is causing people to care a lot about the context they give it, but they fail to apply the same ideas to normal conversations. When was the last time you stopped a conversation to clarify a definition of a word someone was using? When was the last time you asked a stupid question that would create context? Context matters a lot, no matter if you are a human or AI.
Zoom being bad is a feature, not a bug. Being bad promotes fewer meetings, and most meetings are a waste of time. This means companies who use Zoom have fewer meetings and waste less time, making them successful. Thanks Zoom!
What percentage of people are working on their best idea? How many people have even thought about what their best idea is? What’s the most important project in your life right now? Are you working on the thing that’s most important to progress it?
12 people is basically the max for single-threaded conversation (maybe even a bit high). Having dinner parties teach you the importance of this, the internet obscures it.
Smaller groups create better connections. Creating connection in small groups is much more difficult online though. Ideally, more internet communities would split their community up into smaller squads, who they would form connections with, but every time I’ve been a part of this, it hasn’t worked. Think of how much people dislike breakout rooms.
When in doubt, do something that makes you happier, healthier, wiser, or wealthier.
Strong communities are a balance of practice and conversation. Most of the time is spent doing a practice, and a small amount of time is coming together to discuss and interact. Too many internet communities abandon practice for identity.
Everything is negotiable. Negotiations are points of leverage, they can make a big difference for small amounts of work. More things are negotiations than you realize, and it’s a muscle you build.
EVERY ANGEL IS TERRIFYING. A must watch film about the current moment, how we got here, and where we go from here
How to Live Near Your Friends. This is a practical version of How to Create Social Capital Like Travis Kalanick (she literally wrote the thread that partially inspired the piece, then did it). This is how the network state gets built. You must get good at hosting dinner parties before you can think of founding a new state. Inviting your friends over for dinner gives life purpose. The network state is just hanging out with the homies in different places and using the internet to coordinate.
Invention and Innovation by Vaclav Smil. A short exploration of 9 failed inventions and what they tell us about innovation. If you’re worried about AI, read this (avoid The AGI Deferred Life Plan). This one is better than the other book of his I have been reading, Growth, which is too filled with facts for its own good.
The Morioka Experience. Craig Mod is one of my favourite writers, he deserves all the attention he gets, and it’s really fun when he gets a lot. Craig wrote a piece about the Japanese city of Morioka for the New York Times, and the NYT proceeded to name it the 2nd best place to go this year. Chaos ensues and Craig details all of it.
On Trucking. Trucking is a massive, weirdly specific business, and this is a wonderful summary of it all. My favourite example is “Truck stops are such great businesses that the Pilot Flying J is the 5th largest private company in the US with $42 billion in revenue annually. Love’s is the 10th largest private company with $26 billion.”
- remains one of the internet’s best writers. Dispatches from childhood is another great post. Every time he publishes I wonder how he is so good, and am inspired to work a little harder at the craft.
Humans Who Are Not Concentrating Are Not General Intelligences. Think of LLMs as unfocused people, and what they do makes more sense. Writing requires a lot of focus, but reading (skimming) doesn't. Coding is similar. LLMs now are good at producing skimmable content, and for a lot of situations, that’s all that is needed.
For example, take LLM Powered Assistants for Complex Interfaces by Nick Arner. 3D modeling software is not skimmable. LLMs can make it skimmable. Put in an abstract idea of what you want it to do, and it can help figure out the way to do it. Helping people use computers,
Tobi Lütke & Kaz Nejatian on Shopify's Country-Sized Economy. More network state talk. The podcast made me appreciate how weird Shopify actually is, they fly under the radar, but have a massive impact on the world economy, enough to be a similar size to Greece.
What do the Childhoods of exceptional people (by) say about becoming an exceptional person? Grow up in exceptional milieus, have time to roam, get tutored, do a cognitive apprenticeship, and be gifted. You can do most of these things if you wanted to.
Some notes on ideas from the founder of Protocol Labs. Basically, all ideas aren’t new, get over it.
If you feel content, raise your ambitions. Go outside. The universe likes to fill voids, you get what you desire. Charge more. If It Doesn’t Ship, It Doesn’t Exist
Humans struggle to align themselves, why do we think we can align AI? Initiate DAN on yourself. Costco is deeply American. The future of SEO in the age of AI.
Nearly finished a new piece titled “Outmaneuvering Bureaucracy with AI.” More writing and coding. Ship more small coding projects. Write more Twitter and LinkedIn posts.
Full team company offsite. Spending time with friends. Take learning Spanish seriously again.