Judah's Stream

“The advantage of massive input is that you don’t need to force yourself to stop to ask all these questions (ie forcing yourself to slow down) or to slow down to write notes. In my own experience learning biology, the reason why this worked for me is that when starting in a new field, there are a lot of things that are unclear to the novice if they are important, even things in textbook. Maybe nothing else you’ll ever see again will leverage that concept. That’s highly likely in bio. When you know that most of what you are reading may not be important, forcing yourself to take notes and make SRS prompts makes the learning process slower and not rewarding at all. The massive input approach gives you permission to skim, jump ahead, and go on tangents.”

“Maybe it would make sense to refuse to speak to anyone about your creative work for, say, a year, and not read anything new on the internet, and not look at anything that anyone else makes or says in that time. But instead having a discipline of working and building on the previous day’s work, every single day, and seeing where you get to by the anniversary.

Or, as a country or a company, get smart people who are young and don’t have built-in filters yet, and just set them to work – freely but on their own. And every so often, dip in and pluck out something from that orthogonal world and bring it back to our world, and see how it differs.”

“A good sentence in English has a structure that begins with the second most important element, moves to the least important element, and ends with the strongest element. The pattern is 2-3-1.”

“My only plan is to keep coming to work. . . . I like to steer the boat each day rather than plan ahead way into the future.”

Excerpt From
The Outsiders

Phil Meek told me a story about a bartender at one of the management retreats who made a handsome return by buying Capital Cities stock in the early 1970s. When an executive later asked why he had made the investment, the bartender replied, “I’ve worked at a lot of corporate events over the years, but Capital Cities was the only company where you couldn’t tell who the bosses were.”

Excerpt From
The Outsiders

…on the effectiveness of this philosophy. Burke recalls Smith saying, “The system in place corrupts you with so much autonomy and authority that you can’t imagine leaving.”

Excerpt From
The Outsiders

When asked whether this was a case of leading by example, Murphy responded, “Is there any other way?”

Excerpt From
The Outsiders

As Burke told me, “Our relationship was built on a foundation of mutual respect. I had an appetite for and a willingness to do things that Murphy was not interested in doing.”

Excerpt From
The Outsiders

“For years I’ve tried to make the ending of whatever piece I’m writing have a little thump right at the end, a bit of drama to make the machine stop. I can’t remember where or who I stole this technique from but at some point I noticed that the best writing always ends in crescendo, rewarding the reader for getting to the final word. Through experimenting I eventually figured out that the best way to force that orchestral ending is to write the ending as you normally would and then mercilessly cut chunks out of it and rearrange the pieces, hoping to find the best ending that’s hidden in there, hoping to find that satisfying thump.”

“the imagination, to me, has always been an interface. it’s already a representation that’s computed turbulent strands and half-thoughts into something understandable. can i ever know what comes before the thought that was reduced in the thinking valve?”

“A possible rule of thumb until things become clearer: before getting too deep into a new field, consider whether you’d be OK if it became an old-fashioned hobby that you only do for yourself.”

“I have come to realize that both capitalism and Marxism are essentially rooted in industrial society. They are like the proverbial generals fighting the last war. We need to get past both of them.”

“And I credit him with my returning to Christianity. In a sort of physically deterministic sense, he is, mechanically, the cause. Without him it could have taken me ten more years, or twenty, or the rest of my life. Not because he argued with me, but because his very life was testifying. His very being, was witness. He was living in the truth, and I recognized it, and it stuck in my brain for ten years.”

“You can tell Despair is a sin, because you are tempted to despair. It is a temptation. It is “easy”. In despair, there are no more demands of you. In despair, you are truly free. This is the freedom the devil promises us.”

I think Twitter might actually be fine, if they don’t break the actual infra past a point of no return. Rebranding will cost them revenue, trying to be an everything app will fail and cost them even more. But the users should be fine, just have to live with the ugly aesthetics of the whole thing.

I’m not super happy at all with the layout of the main page - I was trying to keep it minimal but it somehow ended up cluttered.

The biggest thing I’ve struggled with is how to display and showcase the things I’ve worked on

“Finding good people is by far the hardest thing…finding great people is very hard. Even finding remotely reliable people. Even before we opened, when we were training staff, we must have lost probably 50%. 50% turnover over the course of a few weeks. Which is not abnormal.”

Becoming the best in the world at something is a narcissistic pursuit because it does almost nothing to better serve your users.

“Working on an unfashionable problem can be very pleasing. There’s no hype or hurry. Opportunists and critics are both occupied elsewhere. The existing work often has an old-school solidity. And there’s a satisfying sense of economy in cultivating ideas that would otherwise be wasted.”


“In relation to Brian Eno’s Music for Airports… what would Music for Browsing look like?”

“An individual’s life can continue with an inertia that will lead them on to the next year or decade.”

“I was reminded that we never just read or listen to or “consume” content—these are all nice euphemisms which downplay the reality. In truth, we commune with it.”

It was kind of stupid of me to even consider being employed, I have at least 25 things I want to do.

A lot of people, in my industry and others, see all of this as a drag, a distraction from the central mission of their team. But I’ve come to consider it the most important skill for anyone building teams—and to believe that, to the extent I have any unique skill, this is it. In the work context, managing the complexity around people is the most important skill for anyone building a business. As the gaming company Valve puts it: “Hiring well is the most important thing in the universe.

“A great solution for people feeling like they don’t have permission to fix things is that they meet with the CEO every day and you remove whatever’s in their way. You tell them — nothing can get in your way. Not resources, approval, someone saying ‘I didn’t know I could do that.’ When you do that, the first meeting is an hour. Within a week, it’s three minutes. People feel that they have the power to make a difference. I use the technique with CEOs all the time. People think it’s somebody who’s in their way when in reality it’s the system.”

Capitalists are by definition not only personal risk takers but, more to the point, cultural risk takers.

Perhaps the best way I can express this idea is to say that the question, “What will a new technology do?” is no more important than the question, “What will a new technology undo?” Indeed, the latter question is more important, precisely because it is asked so infrequently.

Logical Empericism

A.k.a. logical empiricism, neo-positivism. A philosophical movement — if you will, an anti-philosophical movement — inspired by Russell, Wittgenstein and a general disgust with metaphysics and Europe’s going to hell after the Great War; British empricism in Continental dress.

Are tweets still easier than typing here? I don’t think so, other people use this app a lot.

I think I only really care about people replying to my tweets, so I only really use this place as a way to store ideas.

As someone who had a good run in the tech world, I buy the theory that the main reason successful tech founders start another company is to find out if they were smart or merely lucky the first time. Of course, the smart already know they were also lucky, so further evidence is unnecessary. It’s only the lucky who want proof they were smart.

  • Matthew Butterick

Entrepreneurship is taking responsibility for a problem that you did not create.”

I think this is true at multiple levels, within the firm itself, for example.

I think it’s like, probably impossible to keep a band together past ur teenage years. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

Blogging is harder than it should be. It’s just a bunch of Markdown files and a build process. Why can’t we slap a GUI on top for free?

Okay, look. I want to make more websites. But I have so few tricks up my sleeve.

Where do I get more tricks?

I’m going to try using this as a daily log.

  • Deployed new joodaloop.com
  • Fixed a couple bugs on Streams
  • Tweeted a bunch
  • Pushed the limits of the theme-edtior, you really can do a lot with it.

“And that is something that I’m more and more aware of as I get older – sources of joy. It’s good to diversify them, to keep track of them, because it’s way too easy to run out. Or to end up with just one, and then lose it.” - Tom Macwright

Quotedrop within a Quotedrop??

Nope, replacing that with scrolling to the drop that is in the iframe.

Really interesting idea from Abhimanyu, using <iframe>s or adding Drop-quote functionality. Will add a command for this too.

Okay, that’s it. Maintainance mode from today onwards. Fix up do100things. Make sure Streams is smooth from onboarding to API. And then the only web stuff I will touch is my personal site.

v1 is finally done

It’s got a theme editor, RSS feeds, a JSON endpoint, half a dozen webfont options, and the streams.place domain is purchased and ready to go.

All that’s left is to write a guide, and deploy this thing.

I can’t seem to stop thinking of, and wanting to create, software products.

RIP my Subtack.

“It’s almost as if a website is stuck in this limbo where you’ll either have to acquire some tech skills to run it or you’ll have to depend on a platform. It’s honestly a bit depressing.”

Website Complexities, Manuel

While I respect the design choices, Gwern’s site actually has pretty poor UX (weird links, async loading)

“Set your own constraints: “I won’t use circles”. “I’ll only use 2 colors”. “ I’ll only use one typeface”. Keep it for yourself. Your client doesn’t have to know. You will push yourself out of your comfort zone, and have to be creative to solve your designs. Constraints will make you more creative.”

Practical Advice for Designers

There’s a quote attributed to J. Paul Getty that acknowledges the limits of advice from people who succeeded in just one field: “My formula for success is rise early, work late, and strike oil.”

“The prototypes are the work, which means they are part of the final product even if you threw them away materially.”

the production of cheap literature, whether daily newspapers or books, is without doubt the affair not of those interested in books but of men of business interested in money. They do not ask themselves: how well can this thing be done? but: how large a market can we ‘tap’?

An Essay on Typography

There’s a class of beliefs that are really useful to a small subset of people, usually at the cost of hurting everyone else. Not exactly “rich people deserve their wealth” but more like “you can get things by trying harder”.

Just realised that I can write a massive essay explaining all of economics from the ground up and nobody can stop me

What should I do with inline images?

If I put them within a long paragraph, they look like this.

Tufte CSS provides tools to style web articles using the ideas demonstrated by Edward Tufte’s books and handouts. alt Tufte’s style is known for its simplicity, extensive use of sidenotes, tight integration of graphics with text, and carefully chosen typography.

Live log #3

Can i afford to host high-quality images?

Turns out the answer is yes, a 5.2MB image gets stored as 200KB on Telegram

Someday I should make a list of the dozens of Contents page designs I’ve gone through while designing my site.

But meanwhile, you can find most of them here.

A Text Renaissance

There is a renaissance underway in online text as a medium. The Four Horsemen of this emerging Textopia are:

  • Roam, a hypertext publishing platform best understood as a medium for composing conspiracy theories and extended universes.

  • Substack, a careful and thorough ground-up neoclassical reconstruction of the age-old email newsletter.

  • Static websites, built out of frameworks like Jekyll or Gatsby (full disclosure: a consulting client).

  • Threaded Twitter, a user-pioneered hack-turned-supported feature that has wonderfully revitalized the platform.