I Want To Be A Meaning Machine

Meaning Machines

I want to have a fancy cup of coffee with a fancy VC in a fancy restaurant and never ask for a dime. I want to get a transhumanist, a militant utilitarian and a techno-anarchist in the same room at the same time to workshop a screenplay. I want to write, write until the words burn and spark from my screen. I want to drown in inspiration. I want my life to be my world to be my clever Twitter hashtag. I want to hike in Nepal and not have to ask permission.

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What I Learned On My Istanbul Vacation


“Hello friend!” Silence. The man pauses for a moment, adjusting his wide smile, “Hello friend!” He repeats. More silence. His expression transforms at the edges — becoming thin, neutral, teeth still bared but lacking mirth, it’s a predator’s gaze.

“When I say ‘hello friend!’ you are supposed to answer, ‘hello…’ ” He offers flatly. The silence breaks. I begin to stammer in the same pidgin I’d been using for the last 30 minutes. I lie. I mumble about not understanding, about not speaking English. I know, like everyone else, he wants me to buy a tour of the Hagia Sophia, only 30 Euros (~$41) he will say, which to a harried tourist juggling a language barrier, the growing mid-day crowd, and the majesty of the ancient Mosque in front of him seems like a good deal. The ticket is already 25 Lira (~$12), what’s a few extra Euro between friends? I grimace and shake my head dumbly, he looks from me to the swelling crowd and walks away.

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Hammer Nail Problems


I make a lot of bad decisions, even when I know what the corresponding “good” decision is.

I do this for the same reason that programmers try to solve everything through code, and sales guys try to solve everything through handshakes. I do this because like everyone else in the universe I am a hammer and I have very particular nails that I just love using.

You don’t notice this anymore clearly than when you’re working on a tricky project with people who aren’t like you. To see the effect, it’s important that both of these conditions exist in tandem. The problem has to be fairly complicated, with multiple interpretations and multiple, possible solutions and the people trying to solve it have to bring different skills to the table. A room of marketers chatting about marketing won’t set off this effect, it will however produce a whole lot of self-congratulatory navel gazing…

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Make Your Feedback Brutal


If you are putting your product in front of the right people, they are telling you what a piece of crap it is.

It’s really easy to find people who agree with you. It’s really easy to find people who will be “nice” and “constructive” in how they critique you. It’s easy because most of us have no real desire to get into a knife fight with a creator, and so mild platitudes are australianviagra.com far less frustrating to spew than harsh criticism. While it is good and right and marginally productive to ask your kind critics what they think of your shiny, new thing ultimately if you’re trying to build something good it’s sound and fury signifying nothing.

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Execution is Everything

You can be too smart. You can be too strategic. The world is often moved on the back of blind, stupid execution.

The problem with “smart” people is we tend to believe, truly believe, that there is a perfect time to strike, that if we just think a little further ahead, if we just put one more piece of the puzzle in place, if we prepare for just one more day, that somehow, someway we’ll be able to avoid mistakes.

We’re all liars. The wise ones among us know this.

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Introducing the Polymath

The first working airplane was built by a pair of brothers who knew next to nothing about the air, and nothing at all about planes. The Wright brothers, the most famous duo of aviation to ever grace the skies were bike makers and small time tinkerers, a couple of guys who just so happened to have the insight that some of the same principles that allowed their customers to ride a bike without falling flat on their faces would allow a person to pilot a plane without meeting a much more unpleasant end.

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The Grand Narrative of American Life

I sit here having just finished reading article number 345,576 about how hard it is to find work. This storyline is rapidly becoming the grand narrative of modern American life, and quite possibly the only issue that every ideological faction otherwise busy nipping and biting at each other’s heels can, in some part, agree on. It’s an idea that resonates with this generation as well as two cars in every garage and the American Dream did with the last. It’s the Super Premium Unleaded gas in the tanks of issues ranging from who should be President to the rising cost of education. It’s an idea that, despite the good intentions and very real pain of those expousing it, misses the point entirely.

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