interview with Dan Reynolds
conversation between Sam Harris and Oliver Burkeman
talk by Jack Conte
“[…] I wanted take a minute to celebrate the opposite end of that spectrum: the people who are not talented, not driven, not striving, not improving, not recording, not sharing, but who are enriched by the sound-making process nonetheless.”
The eight-hour workday developed during the industrial revolution in Britain in the 19th century, as a respite for factory workers who were being exploited with 14- or 16-hour workdays.
As technologies and methods advanced, workers in all industries became able to produce much more value in a shorter amount of time. You’d think this would lead to shorter workdays.
But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.
We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.
Western economies, particularly that of the United States, have been built in a very calculated manner on gratification, addiction, and unnecessary spending. We spend to cheer ourselves up, to reward ourselves, to celebrate, to fix problems, to elevate our status, and to alleviate boredom.
“In some sense, being an independent artist means you work in sales. This is blindingly obvious to anyone who has been down that road, but I feel it is worth pointing out.”
“I’ve asked this in interviews at my aerospace engineering firm for 30 years: What planes do you build at home? Many answer they dont have time. Wrong. Build missiles at home. Every day. If you dont have that passion aerospace engineering isn’t really for you. Launch small rockets.”
conversation between Sam Harris and Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com
in plain English
wow, it must be painful to throw away a lot of things you’ve developed, go back to the beginning, give the project to another team, and have to talk about it publicly
Discussion of a documentary about the production process of South Park. Each episode is created in six days from start to finish.
interview with Cornelius Dämmrich (so much struggle…)
“Many famous scientists have something in common—they didn’t work long hours.”
“I think the frustration I feel comes from an inherent desire to feel connected to people. I use my work as a way to connect to the world. On occasion people do manage to see what I am trying to express in my work and that is a very gratifying feeling. But often people find their own meaning in the work and it’s been an ongoing process to accept that, especially when there is a consensus of which you are not a part.”
“The Icon Thief probably went through eighteen substantial drafts before the final version was delivered to my publisher, an amount of revision and rewriting that would have been unthinkable without Word. Is the novel better as a result?”
CGP talks about his dayjob tactic at 25:40
“I thought this was a nice reminder of what goes into being a professional. Failure, followed by more failure. Eventually, after 300 tries, you might even pull it off.”
A movie about engineers’ dreams and workaholism. Featuring: white males.
interview with Peter Chung
“I think people, in order to work, they have to focus on the process because the content doesn’t inspire them. […] Blinded by the process so that they, you know, are interested in at least something because, yeah, it’s a hard reality when the thing that you’re working on just isn’t really good.”
“It’s completely wrong to apply the same standards of critique to works that are made with different intents.”
“The trick to juggling it all is to stop juggling.”
“Think about things you can’t turn into more work.”
“I think of boredom as a clock. Every second that someone on my team is bored, a second passes on this clock. After some aggregated amount of seconds that varies for every person, they look at the time, throw up their arms, and quit.”
A terrific way to accelerate the boredom clock is a promise of productive and creative time that is then taken away. […] The only thing this decision teaches your team is how little you value the cultivation of your people.”
Computer programming, if marketed properly, ought to be “the golden skill” that allows a person unlimited mobility within industry. However, we’ve allowed the businessmen who’ve colonized us to siloize us with terms like DBA, operations, data scientist, etc., and use those to deny opportunities, e.g. “you can’t take on that project, you’re not a real NLP programmer”. As a class, we’ve let these assholes whittle our confidence down to such a low level that our professional aura is one either of clueless youth or depressive resignation. When they beat us down, we tend to blame ourselves.
If you ask an engineer whether he thinks he’s ready to be VP of Engineering or CTO, you’ll get a half-hearted, self-deprecating answer. “You know, I might be ready to lead a small team, but I’m not sure I’m at the VP/Eng level yet.” Cluelessly, he believes that “the VP/Eng level” exists objectively rather than politically. On the other hand, if you ask a nontech the same question, he’ll take it without hesitation. Even if he’s terrible at the job, he gets a generous severance (he’s a VP) and will fail up into a better job.
“Do the bare minimum on stuff that’s not advancing your career or teaching you something; if it has no career-adding value, people probably don’t care enough about it for it to matter that you’re putting in a minimum effort, as long as you don’t get in anyone’s way.”
“If your company won’t let you work on something during normal work hours, then don’t fucking do it on their behalf for any reason. Respect your time. Or no one else will.”
talk by Jacob Kaplan-Moss
“Agile increases the feedback frequency while giving engineers no real power. That’s a losing bargain, because it means that they’re more likely to jerked around or punished when things take longer than they «seem» they should take. These decisions are invariably made by business people who will call shots based on emotion rather than deep insight into the technical challenges or the nature of the development.”
“If you’re set on a remote job (e.g. you don’t want to drag your family around) you really don’t want to be looking for companies you like and then trying to argue the case for remote working. Even if you end up working at that company if they aren’t set up for remote working you’ll have a fairly miserable experience. […]
~50 companies […] ~30 email conversations, ~20 Skype calls […] ~10 in-person interviews in San Francisco […] two confirmed offers with confirmed (decent) salaries”
“If people knew what really happened, would they view me differently? Would they — gulp — view me as a failure?”