Brian PJ Cronin (
All the talk of leaving the birdsite vs. staying on the birdsite to “fight” makes me think of Barry Lopez: “The amount of energy that goes into the defeat of an enemy is energy that would be better spent in doing something that makes the enemy irrelevant.”
No cure for loneliness
So, while every country in the world has issues with social isolation and loneliness I think the US seems to have a particularly large problem with it. I have no evidence to back this up but it seems to me that family structures in the US are less solid than they are in other countries. And for the people who say "I'm from X immigrant community and we have very strong familial bonds", imagine how much stronger they would be had you not come to the US, and will the next generations bonds be as strong or stronger than your generations bonds? There is a self-reliance in the US which when it works seems to work ok (although even "successful" people can be very lonely), but when it breaks down very quickly leaves people with no where to turn. People often travel long distances from their families. Often relocating across the country again for work breaking whatever bonds they formed in University. People see their families once or twice a year (because the distances are so great). People prioritize economic needs over family and societal needs and this weakening of familial and societal bonds is the result. Often you end up living far from your family with a spouse and kids. If that doesn't work out - say you break up - you can find yourself alone very fast. I feel that the homeless problem in the US is a symptom of this - although it also has many other causes. In societies with much stronger societal bonds, people don't let people live on the streets. I don't have a solution for it, it's just something I've noticed and think about a lot when I listen to stories like this one. And don't get me wrong. Every country has problems like this. It's very easy to get isolated in large crowds of people, I just think the US has a pronounced case of it.
Thomas Fuchs 🕹️🔭:verified_paw: (
"Mercedes locks faster acceleration behind a $1,200 annual paywall"[1] What's next? - Oven only goes above 300F with a $50/month "Heat Plus" subscription - Dishwasher can only be used more than once a week with a "Sparkle" plan - Insulin pump that requires active Internet connection and a $5/day "Sugardaddy" service charge [1]
Is Our Definition Of Burnout All Wrong?
Perhaps more like... 'engagement fatigue'? When it's truly rote or mindless work your brain can disengage and be somewhere else. With knowledge work you don't have that luxury, even when the work itself isn't what we could consider 'engaging', you nevertheless are obliged to be engaged mentally to carry it out. Do that long enough without deriving any satisfaction, it seems a perfectly sane reaction to want to escape the situation, or just plain shut off. It makes sense for our brains to realize we're spending a lot of brain focus and time on something that isn't activating any reward centers, and insist we stop doing that. That really seems like a fundamentally sensible and healthy response from a brain functioning properly.
Is Our Definition Of Burnout All Wrong?
I've noticed a similar discrepancy in my life: Mental burnout wasn't present in my early, physical-labor jobs. It also wasn't present in my early coding jobs. It only started to appear later in my career when my pay was highest and my actual time spent producing tangible output (whether physical labor or code) was lowest. One theory is that I became less physically active over time. Exercise is well known to have a protective effect against burnout, and physical labor jobs are a lot of exercise all day. I was also going to the gym much more when I was younger. Another theory is that my later career burnout came from what studies would call "social defeat stress". I was most burnt out when I spent most of my job time trying to navigate dysfunctional companies, deal with incompetent bosses, and fight against dirty office politics. Changing to a job where my boss was more demanding but also more competent unexpectedly reduced my burnout symptoms rather than worsening them. Something about being in a socially consistent environment makes everything easier to stomach. On the contrary, being in weird office politics situations where Bob in management gets to insult your work and upend your priorities every week just because he's got a certain title leads to burnout. It's like the burnout is a response to dampen your expectations and efforts in response to situations where more engagement will only produce more stress and frustration. Physical labor jobs, on the other hand, have a property that more input will usually result in at least some tangible forward progress.
Is Our Definition Of Burnout All Wrong?
Reframing burnout as what’s getting in the way of your wellness and a symptom of inadequate support led Aviles to conclude that the problem isn’t the burnout. It’s an economic system that makes individual workers essentially dispensable, so that the workplace becomes a site of survival struggles. “I really think it's a tool of oppression, to keep folks constantly busy, and we're overworking and underpaying them,” she explains. “You're not allowing people to rest and relax and rejuvenate and refresh their minds and their bodies, [and] oftentimes, you can't make clear decisions if you're in that state.”
Is Our Definition Of Burnout All Wrong?
“One of the biggest differences between exhaustion and burnout is that it is strongly associated with inadequate support in your environment,” Aviles tells me. You can address exhaustion through rest. To address burnout, she says, you need to step away from work.
Is Our Definition Of Burnout All Wrong?
“Who can take time off from work to recuperate from burnout?” says Dionne when I bring this up. “I think when we are talking about impoverished people, many of those people are indigenous folks, Black folks, brown folks — exhaustion is the baseline so often because capitalism is eating these people alive,” she says. “There is no safety net for those folks, so it really is either work yourself into the ground, or starve.”
Tools for Thought as Cultural Practices, not Computational Objects
The past is a different country, and anything that happened before your grandfather was born happened in a different culture altogether. The people who lived in your general geographic area ages ago are not your people, and it's useless to try and set the record straight for them.
Kris Nóva (
Watching this many people come to #Hachyderm because they trust me and believe in me is the perfect “fuck you” to the VCs and rich men who have put me down in the past. Last year I had a group “throw stones” me because “nobody would want to work with her”. Just funny to see this play out. Deep down I knew they were wrong, however this is also nice. 😅 Just wanted to say I love you all, and it’s wonderful to see good people in the world again. Sincerely it’s made an enormous impact on our family.
BORG (@borgposting)
socialism will never take root in america because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as The Main Character
The Rise of Influencer Capital
I strongly disagree with Galbraith's argument essentially about "the end of quality". We did not reach a zenith of product quality in the 50s. What did change was the coverage of mass media. Instead of relying on long and expensive genuine user feedback loops to generate positive buzz around a product, advertising manufactures that buzz directly. This is why is it everywhere, and influencers are just the latest innovation. Not because product quality/QoL reached a high point.
The Rise of Influencer Capital
This is only tangentially related, but this article reminds me of Galbraith's "The Affluent Society" which should frankly be required reading for undergrad social sciences. In it, he argues that, at the time of writing (late 50s), the industrialized West has largely solved what had previously been the main preoccupation of economics - improved standard of living. As evidence, Galbraith points to advertising. The argument is simple: when important productivity improvements take place, say the invention of a new way of baking bread, they don't need advertising to gain mass use. Their benefits are so obvious that they don't need to be sold. Demand doesn't have to be created, because demand comes from human existence. The existence of advertising, in contrast, shows that the thing being advertised probably isn't that important. Indeed, the item is so trivial as to require advertising to create demand for it. This then leads us to wonder what benefit is being served by both creating this product and the demand for it; Galbraith argues that we've essentially fetishized economic growth at all costs (a holdover, in his view, from the early days of econ which was concerned with our metaphorical bread making instead of our metaphorical advertised widget making). He then attacks planned obsolescence as the dumbest outcrop of this process, because now we're purposefully wasting materials on things which we hope to replace in the near future for no reason other than to keep making the things, things which we don't need anyway - as evidenced by the fact that they're advertised. Anyway I think this fits in perfectly with the whole influencer economy phenomenon, because that's literally all they do. Their raison d'etre is to generate demand for items nobody needs or even previously knew about.
Scaling Mastodon is impossible
Mastodon is messy. The world is messy. We have cities with different rules, different mayors, different odds of existing in 50 years. It's nice to have all the cities follow all the same rules and customs if you agree with them, and nice to have another city to move to if you don't. Email as a decentralized medium has survived for decades. You use a big provider like Gmail, choose a host in another region, or an organization like Proton Mail that does thing somewhat different. It's OK that Mastodon is messy and at times chaotic. It's organic.
Why are U.S. transit projects so costly? This group is on the case
It partly has to do with the bidding process - the drive to get the lowest bid. Competent companies know the cost won't work and are unwilling to put up the surety bonds to take on a project. It leaves with the boldest incompetent company to make the lowest bid who gets their foot in the door and then jack up the cost overrun later on. Often the project failed due to cost overrun or sheer incompetence. At the end the cost of doing business go up for all parties involved. I've seen transit projects with hundreds of millions budget fell apart with nothing to show at the end, and have seen a transit project that doubled the cost and tripled the schedule to get to completion, and that was a good project.
The Age of PageRank Is Over
You can't compare the good faith web from 1996, which consisted of a bunch of nerds blogging, to today's web. Everything of any importance in our society moved online, and much of it needs monetization. And since on average users won't pay a cent for anything, ads it is. We very much have a role in this outcome ourselves. Even in a hypothetical situation where ads would no longer be the driving force of algorithms, something else will. As soon as something gets large enough, it will be gamed. If not for commercial reasons, it might be cultural/political influence. I will end by reminding ourselves that us techies should spend some more time with ordinary folks. I agree with everybody here that Google Search has been getting worse and worse for years now, especially for our niche searches. It's a mistake though to think that this is widely experienced as such. My mum looks up an unknown ingredient in a recipe and within a second sees a picture of it. That means it works. All kinds of personal data might be shared in the process but since you can't really see that, it didn't happen. From her point of view, Google Search works extremely well and is close to magic. The point being, Google doesn't give a shit that you don't get the best answer for your query on JavaScript closures. Nobody searches for that, and those that do, block ads.
Nowadays we have the concept of "vegging out" (relaxing while doing very little), but it's usually associated with TV/video games/mass media. Did similar forms of relaxation exist before the 20th century and mass media? If so, what did people do to "veg out"?
Before hand held computers, before video games, before television, before radio, mass entertainment required you to go somewhere, often dressing up to do so, for movies, silent movies, opera houses…colosseum events, religious festivals — the exact opposite of vegging out. What did exist over many millenia that was comparable was oral story-telling. These existed in more formal settings but also took place at night while gathered. Wilson (2008) suggests there are three levels of stories. At the highest level are sacred stories, which are specific in form, content, context, and structure which must never vary in how they are told. At the second level are mythical stories that teach morals, lessons, or events. They can be shaped by the storyteller – drawing on the teller’s or the listeners’ experiences – but the underlying message of these stories does not change. The final level of storytelling is personal stories or personal experiences. This is still the predominant form of vegging out groups not exposed to mass media (indigenous communities) or those who reject it (like the Amish). King, T. (2003). The truth about stories: A Native narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi Press. Lewis, P. J. (2006). Stories I teach^live by. Qualitative Inquiry, 12, 829–849 Wilson, S. (2008). Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Halifax, NS: Fernwood.
Coby (@Cobylefko)
A Yokocho is a narrow Japanese alleyway that’s packed with intimate small bars and places to eat. They’re magic realms hidden away from the world, free from the traffic & anonymity of big city life. How lovely would it be if all of our cities had such places?! Each street & shop has its own personality, but the charm & intimacy of the typology is consistent. Far from architectural marvels, they excel because of their urban form. With warm light, a sense of enclosure, connection to a community, we’re innately drawn to them! Food halls in the west have tried to replicate the yokocho, to varying degrees of success. Most fail to understand the success of the form isn’t because of 5-star chefs, or Instagram worthy food, or even the trendiest design aesthetic. These places are no-frills & affordable. The success of the yokocho is due to a connection between small businesses & consumers in intimate surroundings. We feel protected, warm, & together when eating in such places, as opposed to the exposed sterility of food halls. The relationship isn’t transactional, but genuine. Yokocho: the powerhouse of urban planning. Immensely efficient use of space, leading to high tax revenues on small areas of land, sustainability by not sprawling out these used into malls & stroads, community building through intimate connection, & beauty through warm enclosure!
Dave Temkin (@dtemkin)
We built Netflix streaming from scratch without ever spending a night in the office. Any employer that tells you that you need to do otherwise is toxic and you deserve better.
amos ( (@fasterthanlime)
I wish everyone discarding Mastodon as weird and bad and "not a replacement" a very change your mind and do it anyway. Twitter is not territory that's yours to fight for. You never owned it in the first place. I'm sad too, but rebuilding your audience takes a while — don't wait.
‘Westworld’ canceled at HBO after four seasons
It's interesting to compare US tv to UK tv. In the US you create a world with interesting characters and then write stories within that, and hope you can keep it interesting enough over time to keep getting renewed. In the UK you have a story that you want to tell, and that's your series, and then it ends, unless it's super popular and then they'll shoehorn a weird second season in. (*ahem* Broadchurch) There are obvious exceptions - the US does some great "miniseries" (like Dopesick is amazing, 5 days at memorial is pretty good), and the UK has had some weirdly long running sitcoms (Only Fools and Horses 20 years, Last of the Summer Wine 35 years, Mrs Brown's Boys only 12 years but feels like a god-awful eternity) I'm in the UK so that's what I'm used to and I think I prefer it. I feel like the US system can lead to lack of coherent characters, or weird conflicts between people driven by the need to create conflict rather than any intrinsic character or plot driven thing. It can also lead to stuff being kept on because it had a great first season, and maybe they'll get back there, let's give them one more try. I do think some of the US services should focus a bit more on the miniseries as a format. This may help with diversity of writing, directing, acting - diversity of stories. One of the problems of the UK is that there's a lot of formulaic content where there are fairly minor cosmetic changes. Here's a cantankerous detective, and he's a recovering alcoholic. He solves murders in a beach town. Here's a cantankerous detective, and he's lost his family. He solves murders in the English countryside. Here's a cantankerous detective, and she likes opera. She solves murders in the northern city. (But you can't tell which northern city because all the accents are a bit wonky). Or, it's a detective show with a quirky angle. Here's a British detective, but oh no! They're stuck on a Carribean island. Here's a British detective, but he's a stage-magician's assistant. Here's a British detective, but he's an antique dealer. ((Wait. I know I've just typed all this out and said "this is what happens in the UK" but I'm a bit dopey, aren't I? *Exactly* the same happens in the US too. Here's a detective but he's got OCD; here's a detective but he's good with numbers, here's a detective who knows bones; here's a detective but he's in a wheelchair; here's a detective and he's bald; etc etc. I'll leave it in because for some reason I still think it's a problem with the UK system even though I've just realised that it's also a problem with the US too.))
Incidents caused by unappreciated OSS maintainers or underfunded OSS projects
our model of society is not compatible with open source there needs to be a massive shift and appreciate more the work of volunteers, contributors and benevolent until then, these problems will amplify and i'm not talking about github sponsors since it's opt in, and it's more of a popularity check than anything else i'm talking about that dude who will randomly appear to send a PR that fixes something important, the dude who decide overnight to open source his work but is agoraphobic, that other dude who help write documentation, that other dude who help triage issues, countless hidden people who never are rewarded
Too Like the Lightning: Book One of Terra Ignota - Ada Palmer
You have seen Lifedolls before, but have you touched them? Each bone, tendon, and muscle of a human body is reproduced precisely, so a hand squeezed folds just as a friend’s hand folds, and ingenious systems even keep it warm. Lifedolls are the pinnacle of man’s long quest to craft synthetic love. A child with a Lifedoll cries less when ba’pas head out for an evening; a twentysomething with a life-sized Sniper stashed at home rebounds faster when love turns sour. You may call it sick when grown men and women hold these dolls as dear as bash’mates, or, with the fully anatomical Sniper-XX and Sniper-XY models, lovers. And you may be right to call it sick, but should a sickness be cured if makes its sufferers happier than healthy men? When the Lifedoll labs first decided to mass-produce a version of the vice director’s two-year-old, they thought no more of it than that the child was exceptionally cute, good therapy for lonely kids and childless couples, especially because his hybrid face, mixing Asia, Europe, and South America, let small changes in costume make him seem like almost any couple’s child. When it proved their best seller ten times over, they marketed the child again at age four, again at six, at eight, and it took only one fan to recognize the original on the street to open the doors to young Sniper, instant celebrity.
Don't Be A Free User (Pinboard Blog)
I love free software and could not have built my site without it. But free web services are not like free software. If your free software project suddenly gets popular, you gain resources: testers, developers and people willing to pitch in. If your free website takes off, you lose resources. Your time is spent firefighting and your money all goes to the nice people at Linode.
Don't Be A Free User (Pinboard Blog)
If every additional user is putting money in the developers' pockets, then you're less likely to see the site disappear overnight. If every new user is costing the developers money, and the site is really taking off, then get ready to read about those synergies.
What “work” looks like
Look how many comments here are something like: "Well, of course leisure is good - because it helps me work harder!" It's sad. It's that "work-is-noble" ethos. These people are effectively saying that they are at-lesiure in order to work better - they have it backwards! I don't know about you, but I work in order to be-at-leisure; I am only ever not-at-leisure in order to be-at-leisure. Refreshing and recharging is good - because it's the end, not the means!. But so many here seem to be framing leisure as the means, the end being work itself. Work itself is not noble.
What “work” looks like
Software development is creative work. Creative insight can come anywhere, any time. Better ideas can make difficult things easy. And make the impossible– possible. So the most important thing on a software team (or really any team creating high technology products or services) is an environment where team members feel safe to be themselves– psychologically safe, where they can try out new things, make mistakes, fail, and not be punished or belittled. Say their ideas and have them improved by others, not criticized. It's an environment where team members take care of themselves so they can be creative– sleep enough, exercise enough, be with friends and family enough, play enough. You have to be at your keyboard or lab bench or whatever enough to make things. But if you are there too much your creativity plummets. This is what I try to get across to my teams.
The pleasure, the pain and the politics of a digital detox | Psyche Ideas
Moving towards 24/7 connectivity means more work is required to disconnect and find compensatory alternatives. Hence, the possibility of digital detoxing is unequal. While many cannot disconnect for work or social reasons, the affluent can send their kids to offline schools or seek refuge in offline cultural or natural experiences.
A global house-price slump is coming?
It's sickening that this is always marketed as bad news, even though we've been in a bubble for the past 20 years. The bad news is that we decided that owning a house is a retirement plan instead of giving people proper retirement plans. Somehow every non-homeowner has to be a policy slave to the passive income of some wealthy person. And we defend it by claiming that old people who are worth enough money not to work are not wealthy, as if we care about old people. We only care about old people as model "savers" who can be used to morally justify policies that directly and overwhelmingly benefit the very wealthy to the obscenely wealthy. And also, there's a problem with revolving credit (i.e. a 2-year mortgage), such as Australia or Britain, or anything that is floating along with some interest rate. But these are a) intentional problems that the people making the loans hope will make them rich, and b) problems with pricing, because people are expected to take decades longer to pay off a house than it would take for them to build it alone with their own hands in their spare time.
Too Like the Lightning: Book One of Terra Ignota - Ada Palmer
In 2266, when the work week finally shortened to twenty hours, and crowds deserted those few professions which required more, the first Anonymous, Aurel Gallet, rushed to defend ‘vocation’ with a tract which is still mandatory reading for three Hive-entry programs. Why is a calling passive, he asked? Why is one called helplessly to one’s vocation, when surely it is an active thing? I find my calling, take it, seize that delight, that path before me, make it mine. I call it like a summoned magic, it does not call me. His new word ‘vocateur’ (one who calls) was born to remind us that a person with a strong vocation is not a victim driven helplessly to toil, but a lucky soul whose work is also pleasure, and to whom thirty, forty, fifty hours are welcome ones.
People Staring at Computers
In 2011 I was still under the false belief that all varieties of law enforcement are designed to protect the public from harm. It was a sign of my privilege, and of my naive faith in the system. How many other people have pointed the Secret Service to incriminating evidence on their own laptop, and literally given them passwords in an effort to help? I thought we were all on the same side. In some ways this is a story about how I began to learn that law enforcement is there to protect some specific people (and companies), and not the general public as I imagined.
The millennials in sexless marriages - BBC Worklife
This article really resonates with me because most of my relationships have ended based on my “low libido.” One of my partners would even try to shame me by saying I have erectile dysfunction despite the fact that I was clearly attracted to them and would often try to express that in other ways besides simply having sex. I think the problem for me is more important than anything else in a relationship is a sense of emotional security and trust. It has to do with the emotional abuse and neglect I got in my childhood. And so for me what is much more important and attractive than sex is just being able to lay in the arms of someone and be able to tell them about the stresses of my day or my fears in life and know that they won’t run away or try to quickly change the subject. And so much of sex, in my personal experience, has been sort of the opposite of that. It’s almost something transactional, because in our increasingly busy lives there isn’t time for that boring emotional intimacy stuff, so when we have a few hours to spend together we better make sure we have sex because that’s the sign of a good relationship. Then after that we can just, like, watch TV or fall asleep or whatever. For me sex feels like something that should grow out of the intimacy and strength of other aspects of a relationship, and it’s just ridiculously hard to grow those other dimensions when both partners are working full time, and we’re trying to balance all of the other aspects of our lives. So sex sort of turns into this glue that is supposed to hold what little we have together, it’s supposed to be what separates “us” from just two buddies who go to movies together that happen to like each other. And I honestly can’t stand it. It feels so brittle and arbitrary as opposed to romantic and meaningful. So I’ve had to do a lot of self reflection and therapy over the years to try and break the image that I’m somehow “broken” or incompatible with so many of the people around me. It’s taken quite a lot of emotional energy to get back up again and again and try to meet new people despite so many of them just not getting my emotional needs and us being sort of emotionally incompatible (if not abusive) to the point where I know they’re talking about me and my lack of libido behind my back to their friends. But I always do feel a little relief when I see articles like these or Reddit posts where I see that I’m not the only one, and that it’s actually systemic more than a personal failing. It makes me feel less alone.
Your account is permanently suspended
It's only hard if your business model is "growth & engagement" and you need to maximize user and engagement numbers at all costs. If that's not your business model, abuse prevention is trivial. You can operate the network like a members' club where people gain privileges (such as posting links, media, etc - anything that can be used to spam or harm other users/the platform) over time as they prove themselves and acquire trust (Stack Overflow calls this number "reputation") and you can then use this trust number as a weight in automated decisions, so that high-trust users (who are unlikely to suddenly burn their hard-earned account) will not be impacted by an automated ban. Forums in the good old days were ran by volunteers were able to deal with spam/abuse just fine with a combination of bans and privilege levels (it will take time & effort to level up an account to where it's able to post links/etc and be useful for spamming), there's absolutely no reason current social media companies can't do the same, if it wasn't for the fact that their business model to a certain extent relies on moderation being both unfair to users and subpar at effectively suppressing bad content (hint: bad content is nice to have around as long as it's not too visible, as it generates tons of outrage and thus engagement - it's only a problem when powerful people get wind of it and then you delete it and issue a fake apology).
Why we're leaving the cloud
Of course it's expensive to rent your computers from someone else. But it's never presented in those terms. The cloud is sold as computing on demand, which sounds futuristic and cool, and very much not like something as mundane as "renting computers", even though that's mostly what it is. But this isn't just about cost. It's also about what kind of internet we want to operate in the future. It strikes me as downright tragic that this decentralized wonder of the world is now largely operating on computers owned by a handful of mega corporations. If one of the primary AWS regions go down, seemingly half the internet is offline along with it.
Remote work may have aided the reversal of America's long decline in birth rates
I can understand that it's probably easier to track the numbers of children born to 'women' instead of 'parents', but my observation has been that remote work has resulted in a sea change as to what it means to be a full time working parent. My boss works long hours and now has 2 kids under the age of 4. Pre-Covid he would have been out of the house from about 7-7 and only able to have moments of interaction at the edges of the day. Now, he works about the same hours, but when he takes a break, when he gets lunch or coffee, when his wife is busy, he can spend time with the kids. Play a little peek-a-boo, read some Dr Seuss, watch them grow. Our company is pushing back-to-work policies and he's pulling every string to get exceptions for our group. I think if push comes to shove then he's gone. My brood is older but boy I like being there to help with the math homework. Even 10 minute to go though the process of "Here's the strategy, here's an example, here's why it works this way" makes a huge difference. I let them work out the problem by themselves, and 10 minutes later they come back with "I got it!". My partner, the scientist, is in his element. If we're not careful the kids are going to be going back to class and correcting their teachers. It's redefined what it means to be a working parent. I hope it sticks. I'm old enough that I'm seeing the regrets from parents who quit their jobs to stay home and are in a unenviable situation post-divorce.
Ask HN: Why don't I see gold at the end of the remote working rainbow?
Hot take this is the right line of thought. Restructure society so we work less, not so that we can work more.
Ask HN: Why don't I see gold at the end of the remote working rainbow?
You're conflating not wanting to be in an office with being mediocre at their job, and that's simply not true. Some of the best developers I've met were remote long before COVID, and I'm certain it's because they were so good at what they did, they could just command such a work benefit. Now that such a benefit is widespread, the majority of people get to design their own lifestyle for the first time ever, and they really enjoy it, instead of designing their lives around the needs of their employer (or your needs). It's not just commuting, it's moving closer to the office; its time away from family; it's cost saving conveniences because they're short on time; it's expensive lunches when they forget their brown bag; and feeling obligated to hang out with people they really just have a business relationship with (and maybe one they don't want). And yes, a lot of people's mission in life is their family, but that doesn't make them 'less than' you. Remote workers aren't enough to outsource, outsourcing is not a new thing, it's been around for a very long time. There are a number of reasons why a company might not outsource such as tax incentives, cultural clashes, work style clashes, and logistical challenges. I would encourage you to do some introspection as to why you think you need the office in the first place. Why do you need the social aspect of it? is something missing from your outside-of-work social life? Design your life around your own needs. Co-working spaces are still a thing, and I even go to them sometimes.
Ask HN: Why don't I see gold at the end of the remote working rainbow?
What if I can't fit in a shoebox and can't afford anything larger? What if I have a dog and want them to have a yard that doesn't require me to leash them every time they want to go outside? I don't mind sharing a yard with neighbors, heck I would even share a kitchen space if I knew it would be maintained well and available when I need it. But none of that is even an option. I don't buy the idea that only hyper-dense cities can be walkable. The fact that NYC, Boston, Chicago, etc. are the closest thing we have to anti-car living speaks directly to OP's point about the US not prioritizing building comfortable communities.
Ask HN: Why don't I see gold at the end of the remote working rainbow?
Most of my distaste for WFO comes from two places: - the USA's failure to provide even a single city that's pleasant to live in and travel around without a car - tech company insistence on open office layouts that are not conducive to deep work The first one sounds like a commute problem... but it manifests in more ways than you think. When you have to travel around in a car, everything is expensive. Parking is a pain. There's a certain amount of effort required to hop in a car, leave the parking garage for work, find a parking space near a lunch spot, etc. It's a huge financial burden in maintenance and feeding with gasoline or electricity. The economics of cars also impact how much space cities can devote to housing, how dense we can make downtowns, etc -- which has knock-on effects on housing prices and rent. Open offices make me never want to come into the office because I can't concentrate. They're always the wrong temperature. I can't personalize my desk or my space into something that best suits me. I can't leave stuff out on my desk, or even in unlocked drawers overnight because apparently the janitor might steal Kafka secrets and sell them to competitors. I actually like the idea of walking or biking to an office (with an actual office for me) where I can collaborate with coworkers in person. But modern society and tech companies have externalized so many costs -- car ownership, commuting time, comfort, rent -- onto workers that I'd rather just work from home. The last city I lived in had massive car theft and crime problems at night; it's not like I'd "hang out" with my coworkers for dinner downtown even if we all showed up.
Ask HN: Why don't I see gold at the end of the remote working rainbow?
This is why it’s controversial. For someone working remotely, a meeting with someone remote or in an office is irrelevant. For someone working in an office, it makes their “in the office” experience irrelevant and meaningless. It is not controversial because of the people who like working remotely; it’s controversial because of the people who dont, because they force their choice on other people. You know how many people have to work remotely before it has to be a zoom meeting to be inclusive? 1. So, in order for you in office preference to be meaningful, it has to apply to everyone. No one likes having their choice overridden by someone else’s preference. Thus; controversial. When you say “I want that old school in office experience…” what it means is “I want you not to have that flexibility”, “what I want is more important than what you want”. That might not be the intent, but let’s be blunt and realistic: The blue sky dream of that in office experience doesn’t exist any more. It can only exist if everyone is in the office at the same time. Personally, I think the cat is out of the bag now. What are the chances that everyone will go back into the office full time? Not big. That means the blue sky dream of the in office experience is probably gone forever. It’s probably time to start trying to figure out an alternative set of practices and social outlets for people who like in office work.
Ask HN: Why don't I see gold at the end of the remote working rainbow?
With all due respect, this is mostly my problem with the "work-from-office" (WFO for ease) crowd. Generally, the stance of the WFH crowd is that each individual should get a choice of what makes that individual happy. Very few, if any, of the WFH crowd want mandatated WFH, it would make no sense. But then the WFO crowd often says no, I don't care what makes you happy, because you being in makes me happy. That doesn't seem right. Of course you could argue that if some people work from home, the WFO people arent happy, but thats not because they lacked choice, whereas with the alternative, thats exactly the reason. I don't want that to come across as aggressive or anything, that just the way I see it, and I think thats why its sometimes met badly. If what makes you happy is a condition in which someone else is unhappy, that person is unlikely to react well.
darryl li (@dcli)
saw ted chiang give a talk yesterday where he basically told a bunch of ai bros, "we are nowhere near having real ai, and what we call ai today is just a tool of capitalism. i don't fear ai, i fear capitalism" and the ai bros got their feelings hurt. it was great.
Mental Illness Is Not in Your Head - Boston Review
Harrington and Scull surely did not intend for their books to be read this way, but we might understand them as a call to defund biological psychiatry in the United States—to refuse yet another promise of a “revolution” or “renaissance” that would save an academic project that has done little to help and lots to harm. We do not need to be neuroscientists to know that psychological and emotional suffering is “real” or “legitimate,” and that a pill, however effective, cannot abolish the carceral and capitalist system that is the source of so much trauma.
Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel (The Murderbot Diaries Book 5) - Martha Wells
(I know, it’s a logo, but I hate it when humans and augmented humans ruin things for no reason. Maybe because I was a thing before I was a person and if I’m not careful I could be a thing again.)
Take a Break You Idiot
It's funny isn't it. Recently in a job with "unlimited" vacation, because of a dubious message from one of my two bosses who was a bit of a dick, I was too scared to take a real vacation. Until Christmas. Then I decided I was going to take some. It had been a rough year, isolating from Covid, not enough money, and living in shitty circumstances. It was the first PTO I'd had in over a decade, as working as a freelancer/consultant often means no PTO, so I decided to savor it, come what may. I took just under 3 weeks, like almost everyone else: there was a shared vacation calendar where I could see everyone else's Christmas break. My reward when I got back? Low performance metrics "in December" were cited when laying me off. It wasn't just about December, but December was the month they decided to measure and "give me a chance". They didn't take into account the break, and the only way their "assessment" could be satisfied would have been to work through Christmas. I then worked my ass off to ship a technically difficult, world-record-beating feature during my notice month, which they told me if I delivered it would surely be impressive, and turn it around. I did ship it, but not until the very end of the notice period, which was too late. If they had cared, they would have seen it was on track. If they had kept me on, let me relax, and worked with me rather than their choice of how to assess work, they would now have a world-beating product. It's their choice of course, and I now don't think they were serious about trying to build a real product. I think it's a bit of a smoke-and-mirrors scheme to keep grant money flowing in. After all, in about 4 years nobody has ever run the product on the real data it is designed for, except me, and I had to pay for servers from my own pocket to run those tests. Even now, I believe I'm the only person ever to run it, or even be able to run it. It's been interesting to watch how the product has stayed in the doldrums since I left, and how the folks working on it are now starting to implement things for which I have had working, high-performance functionality for months in my private fork since leaving. (It's open source.) It will be particularly interesting to see if their version is ever able to run on the real world data it was created for, or if their perpetual optimism will be forever misplaced. Ironically, I'd say the company had the nicest, most helpful HR, legal and accounting teams I've ever seen at any company. There was a lot to like, and I'm sad to have had to leave. But I don't miss feeling constantly afraid there. And, as a person who really enjoys creating things, I don't miss watching another team member shipping garbage commits that usually didn't work, and doing fine, while I was the only person on the project providing real functionality but not scoring well on the right metrics, because I spent too much time solving the product's blocker problems. To score well I'd have to ship garbage too. Oh well.
Take a Break You Idiot
There was a time a dozen years ago when I was working alone on my (over-elaborate, uncontrollably sprawling) graphics software product. One time I wrote a multi-thousand-line refactoring of existing code into a new class and felt very happy about getting it done. The next day I discovered that I had already done the exact same work the previous week, just as a slightly differently named class. That wasn’t an isolated memory loss experience in those days. I ordered lunch, sat down, then five minutes later just stood up and left, assuming I’d already eaten. An hour later I realized what happened. Long-term productivity is impossible without proper rest, including regular vacations where you’re truly out of work mode preferably for a week at the minimum.
Take a Break You Idiot
After long bouts of work—months and months uninterrupted—I become a slug person; small hurdles spike my anxiety, my anger flares at the slightest confrontation, I notice fewer jokes, fewer attempts on my part to make people laugh. My memory goes to all hell too and I can’t seem to concentrate on prolonged amounts of anything. Books fall off my radar, I stop listening to music. My phone is in my hand at all times, scrolly-anxiety-inducing apps become impossible to avoid.
Apple AirPods Pro Are As Unrepairable As Ever
I still struggle to understand the appeal of wireless earbuds, Airpods or otherwise. Under my value system, the costs are significant while the benefit is small: * you have yet another battery to keep charge * you have another object to lose * you have yet another flaky wireless connection to contend with * you must pay a good fraction of $1000 for the mediocre audio quality supported by said wireless connection * you have to live with the knowledge that after two years you will have introduced yet another sliver of unrecoverable minerals to a landfill somewhere While the last consideration alone is, for me, enough to summarily rule out wireless earbuds from my purchasing options, apparently there is no shortage of people who feel that the benefit had in being rid of a cable outweighs all of these costs. Given that any decent set of wired earbuds will have a relatively tangle-free cable and carrying case, I can’t help but wonder whether I am failing to see some key benefit beyond not having to occasionally manage a cable.
Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder - Nassim Taleb
Authors, artists, and even philosophers are much better off having a very small number of fanatics behind them than a large number of people who appreciate their work. The number of persons who dislike the work don’t count—there is no such thing as the opposite of buying your book, or the equivalent of losing points in a soccer game, and this absence of negative domain for book sales provides the author with a measure of optionality.
André Staltz - Software below the poverty line
Marx wrote a famous piece called "Fragment on Machines". It actually predates Capital volume 1. He talks about the mix of knowledge and labour to produce machines that are capable of transforming nature (doing labour). From here, Marx explores a world where labour can be produced entirely (or almost entirely) by machines, for him machines are capable of undoing capitalism. The so called post-scarcity society. I think the key part here is that software is actually capable of replacing large portions of labour; think about how much book keeping work is saved through Excel. But what happens when capital owners own all the machines, what happens to people? This is a fundamental problem that Marx explores through out his whole work. I think OSS is actually what machines should look like for Marx, available for everyone at the cost of production and upkeep of the machines which in our case is the cost of copying and storage of the bits that compose the software. But Marx through out his work also explores deeply the relationship between labour and capital, and obviously producing machines requires labour! I know you're probably joking, but I we can learn a lot about OSS from Marx. I mean, a big part of Stallman's philosophy behind the free software movement is inspired by marxist ideas.
André Staltz - Software below the poverty line
This is why I think that open source / free software is the greatest trick that late stage capitalism ever pulled. It exploits the generosity and naivity of devs who have committed to a particular ideology that, while well motivated at the start, has nevertheless turned out to be extremely easily exploited by corporations who now essentially get an enormous amount of labour for free. What's more there is intense social pressure from large segments of the dev community to both contribute to open source and to publicly endorse and promote "open source values". Even the author refuses to acknowledge that the problem with open source is open source licensing. Dropping the non discrimination clause in open source licenses and demanding payment for labour from large companies, would be enough to solve all these issues. But that is anathema to the ideologues who dominate the conversation.
André Staltz - Software below the poverty line
There are two alternatives possible. One is that we collectively decide to stop shaming software developers for having the audacity to want some level of ownership over the product of their work. We don't shame authors for wanting copyright on their books; we don't shame musicians, artists, designers, or aerospace engineers for asking for some copyright protection for their creative babies. Yet when a software developer does it: fuck that guy! He's trying to take control of what's running on your computer (or the internet server that you're sending requests to ...). Nobody throws a hissy fit when J.K. Rowling has (gasp!) copyright over the Harry Potter books that are sitting on your Kindle. It's your Kindle! Shouldn't you have the right to copy off the words in the books and re-sell it to other people for much less money, undercutting Rowling? How dare she try to get some legal protection that says you can't do that! It's fucking ridiculous when we talk about authors that way, but somehow it's OK to talk about software developers that way. Do you think "open source authors" would make a living from their books? It's already difficult enough for new authors to get any notice; how much worse would it be if prominent authors (who were already rich) came out and founded the "Free Books Foundation" that comes out and says every young author who's trying to sell her books for money is being a greedy asshole and we should fight against them and every author needs to spend a significant portion of their free time contributing to "open books" or they're assholes? Of-fucking-course it's not sustainable. That's because it's always been OK to want copyright on your creative work. I'll be the first to say patents are a huge problem right now and we might be better off without any patent law, but copyright is not the same. Yes, the terms are way too long, and the family of Marvin Gaye proves that "copyright trolls" are possible, but the fundamental concept of copyright is actually critical if we want creative people to ever get a paycheck. The other alternative is Universal Basic Income, so that making "below the minimum wage" doesn't mean "fuck you, you get to die sick and homeless in a tent on the side of the highway". Then people could actually just contribute to OSS because they want to.
André Staltz - Software below the poverty line
The struggle of open source sustainability is the millennium-old struggle of humanity to free itself from slavery, colonization, and exploitation. This is not the first time hard-working honest people are giving their all, for unfair compensation. This is therefore not a new problem, and it does not require complicated new solutions. It is simply a version of injustice. To fix it is not a matter of receiving compassion and moral behavior from companies, for companies are fundamentally built to do something else than that. Companies simply follow some basic financial rules of society while trying to optimize for profit and/or domination. Open source infrastructure is a commons, much like our ecological systems. Because our societies did not have rules to prevent the ecological systems from being exploited, companies have engaged in industrialized resource extraction. Over many decades this is depleting the environment, and now we are facing a climate crisis, proven through scientific consensus to be a substantial threat to humanity and all life on the planet. Open source misappropriation is simply a small version of that, with less dramatic consequences.
Apple's director of machine learning resigns due to return to office work
Warning: Hot Take. I genuinely believe many people who prefer working in an office versus at home have unfulfilling social lives or bad home lives. The social dynamics, competition, in physical offices fills the void in their lives. Also seems like most of the people clamoring for a return to the office are also climbers & middle managers. For some work a physical presence is required not just preferable, but for most of a software engineer's day to day there really is no unquestionable upside. I'll quit before I go back full time. I've never been happier or more fulfilled with my work/life balance, and I've never been more productive with my time. I'll even take a different remote position at a 20% pay cut and a reduction in equity, at least, to retain WFH. Most I'm willing to give is a day a week in office, and maybe temporarily longer in rare circumstances where the benefit in performance is clear.
Gen Z does not dream of labor
> “My dad got a job straight out of high school, saved up, and bought a house in his 20s,” said Anne Dakota, a 21-year-old receptionist from Asheville, North Carolina, who earns minimum wage. “I don’t even think that’s possible for me, at least with the current money I make.” I think this is pretty much the whole story. It’s very hard to be motivated to work when you could save your entire adult life and still struggle be able to afford such “entry level” things as a house or even a new car. People are willing to save and/or hustle for 5-10 years to get material rewards, but beyond that it feels pointless. Why be miserable grinding for two decades just so you can get one hand on the ladder? Instead people look for ways to have a life they find interesting or satisfying now.
Neubrutalism is taking over the web?
> "People simply get bored with how their apps and websites look after six to seven years. They need a change" Real world objects rarely change design because of the costs involved. When they do, the change needs to justify that cost. For example, I'm not going to change the buttons on my microwave because I'm "bored" with them. The costs of changing software design is far less impractical and expensive, and therefore isn't driven by the same high level of justification. I strongly suspect then, there are two reasons for these design changes we see every couple of years in software: The first is easy, and most of us probably already agree; designers gotta design. They have to justify their salary _somehow_. The second is more philosophical. The west — and especially the U.S.A. — looks to alleviate existential crisis with distractions. Shiny new toys keeps us from having to face uncomfortable truths about the nature of reality (if you're not religious).
Hydration is pure overhead
if none of this makes sense to you - don’t try to make sense of it or you’ll be disappointed do you need 2000+ of dependencies to essentially show a HTML page in a web browser? why should you have to wait 5 minutes to generate a static website? Netlify and Vercel are well aware of these inefficiencies and offer you a “cloud” solution that promises to solve the problems you shouldn’t even have had in the first place if you think you need things like Gatsby or Next.js you’ve been brainwashed by capitalists
Windows 95 – How Does It Look Today?
I lol'd at your comment. Poor UX designers. In an age of gentleness, I wish I could barge into their houses and rearrange all their furniture, toss the contents of their refrigerators into the bathtub, and spraypaint their bedrooms a cheap pink color. Because that's what they do to my computer interfaces at random intervals, and I have no power over it anymore.
Is my advice too mercenary?
There was a time in America a generation or two ago when you could give your all to a company. Here in Michigan there were a number of small towns where a single employer would dominate. If the town needed something, like a baseball park the owner would simply write a check. If a loyal employee had a health crisis that insurance didn't cover the company owner would write a check. When there were tough economic times the employees would rally to help the company knowing in better times it would have their back. Then one of two things happened, the owner died with no capable heirs and the company was sold. Or after NAFTA the company wasn't competitive with low priced foreign labor and folded. If the company was sold a couple of MBA's came in to run the store and ruthlessly ran it exporting all the profits. Eventually the jobs would go overseas or to another part of America with lower wages like the South. Either way the people eventually lost their jobs and entire towns would collapse. I have seen it here in Michigan happen over the past forty years again and again.
How Ebooks Have Poisoned Electronic Ink
I sometimes wonder whether the invention of the public lending library could happen today. Had the concept not been given a prior place in our minds, the very idea seems otherwise inconceivable in contemporary society dominated by corporations. The lack of consumer-oriented legislation is the proximal cause for devices phoning home, spying on you, locking you out of the goods you've purchased (that is, dictating how you can and cannot use the good) and which resist the user's need to repair or extend. The author's solution is to apply duct tape and glue to arrive at "ethical reading" (really, it sounds more like ethical vending). However, I think it is a problem which consumers can't buy themselves out of; pro-consumer legislation is required. Being choosy about where you buy your ebooks is fine, but we didn't get better automotive safety standards by just being choosy about the kind of cars we buy in the first place. It was a political -- not a consumer -- process that brought about change.
Be anonymous
It's good advice. The problem with anonymity in an environment of ubiquitous surveillance is that it's paradoxical. The point of anonymity is achieving freedom, but staying anonymous expends energy and makes you a target, so you can't actually do any things that anonymity was supposed to get you. If what you really want is sovereignty, which is what most people confuse anonymity with, the goal is to be like what Ernst Jünger called the anarch (in contrast to the anarchist), which is someone who complies and renders herself indifferent to authority, rather than standing out and drawing attention. A much better practice is to be as open as possible about the boring stuff, so you're not constrained and can do what everyone else does. Trying to be absolutist about anonymity is automatically like wearing a straitjacket.
I automated my job over a year ago and haven't told anyone
This story is a pretty accurate fable for the pointlessness of the modern economy and its inability to provide real value to anyone. Man spends all day playing video games, because he automated his largely superfluous job at a law firm which itself likely only exists to deal with bureaucratic or unnecessary cases (assuming this is true, as they have a single absent IT person who handles their entire infrastructure.) On top of all that, this story itself is probably made up, created to get attention from other people in pointless jobs. It’s a meta-exercise in pointlessness.
Tech workers warned they were going to quit. Now, the problem is spiralling out of control. Tech workers complain of toxic work environments, unrealistic demands from employers, and a lack of career progression. Research suggests that they may have reached their limit.
It’s not just a lack of career progression for the technically inclined. It’s also the fact that extroverted project managers with no technical skills tend to shoot up into higher ranks despite holding a fraction of the experience of the technical staff. We’re literally being led by loud-mouthed idiots whose defining traits are that they don’t think deeply, they talk over people, and they thrive off meetings. If I have one more manager state, “I don’t understand technology, hahaha,” I’m going to scream. We’re a technology company. You work managing developers. You should understand technology! No manager working with developers in a tech company should feel comfortable admitting they don’t understand technology, let alone mention it to the whole team repeatedly. In fact, they shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. They damn sure shouldn’t be promoted!
I write code 100 hours/week, here's why I probably won't stop
I’m no longer able to live like this for the usual reasons (family, kids) but agree with everything here. I’m more likely to burn out from other responsibilities than I ever could from coding. Coding *is* my main relaxing activity, my main hobby, the thing I spend most unallocated time doing. Coding for “work” did break this in me for awhile. Just like reading for school can kill a love of books for awhile. But with some space from toxic environments like school and soul-sucking jobs they have both come back and now I read books and write code for myself again.
Facebook going down meant more than just a social network being unavailable
Was talking about this with a friend today, and I think this incident highlights why I sometimes get really depressed about my career and technology. I'm a Gen X-er, and I started my career in the late 90s. Before that I was a ham radio operator in junior high and HS (back when they had Morse code tests!). I remember the heady euphoria around the Internet then, and the vision of "tech utopia" was certainly the dominant one: the Internet would bring a "democratization of information" where anyone with a computer could connect to the Internet, publish a website, and communicate with people across the world. Really cool new services came online frequently. I still remember the first time I used Google, and at the time I was blown away by how good it was ("like magic!" I said) because the results were so much better than other search engines of the time. But these days, the older I get the more and more I feel like tech is having a negative impact on both society at large and me personally. In the 90s we all thought the Internet would lead to a decentralization of power, but literally the exact opposite happened. Sure, telcos sucked, but there were tons of them spread across all corners of the globe. Now there is 1 single megacorp that a sizable portion of humanity depends on for phone/text communication. It just makes me sad. Sure, there are pluses to tech I'm ignoring here, but I just think that how reality turned out so 180 from the expectations of the late 90s is what really hurts.
A monk’s guide to office life
I think the biggest problem in modern society is car dependent infrastructure. Cars are the ultimate form of isolation. They isolate us from the intermediate spaces where we interact with other people. Parks, paths, stations, cafes, downtowns, and all the other free public spaces we used to use to meet with other people have been devastated by cars. I can go a week in my suburban home without ever interacting with anyone. Take away the office and the supermarket and you can go for years without talking to anyone. Then I get on my bike, or walk somewhere and suddenly I meet more people in 30 minutes than I did in 3 months.
I just don’t want to be busy anymore
One thing that helped me is not to care so much about my employer's goals. It's almost heretical. But once you embrace this mindset, it does wonders. Or at least, it has for me so far. I think a lot of us want to be proud of the work we do, and we feel that if we slack off, then we shouldn't be proud. But it's the other way around. I think the slackers have it right. You're probably not going to get rich from working a day job. You're replaceable, and if you left your job tomorrow then you'll soon be forgotten. This is true for the majority of software engineers. In that context, why do so many of us take on so many unnecessary responsibilities? It's tempting to say "Well, my employer assigned them." But how often do you tell them no, or try to present a different approach that just so happens not to involve you? I know someone who is a chronic yes person. They will almost never say no, and they're pretty stressed day to day because of it. Whenever I point out that they're taking on too much, they say that they disagree and that it's their career. That's true, but they won't get rich from that career, so I don't understand why they care so much about it. Just remember to say 'no' for yourself from time to time. You often don't need to take on as many responsibilities as you have.
If I could bring one thing back to the internet it would be blogs (2020)
As a minor counterpoint: I've come to dread blogs and newsletters because so many of them are written by grind culture freaks who only write faux-insightful SEO'd content as a way to build an audience to sell snake oil to. These days the only blogs I trust are the ones I see on the top of HN or lobsters, which is unfortunate because I have interests beyond tech and I find it very, very difficult to find good blogs I can read about those interests. I think that shows there is a problem with blogging that goes beyond just the medium. Consider that blogging is a decentralised ecosystem, so you have no central place for discovery outside of Google specifically and search generally. Being on the top of Google is an attractive proposition because it means many eyeballs and lots of ad revenue. Therefore it is natural that many new blogs exist to game the search engine, hence the term "blogspam". Some of the same incentives exist with large social media sites as well, but on Twitter and the like if you mute/block enough big people and follow only those you care about, your feed will eventually become clean enough to look at every day. So I think it is much more important to solve the discovery problem with blogs if you want them to get more traction.
Was Germany’s 19th century industrial expansion due to an absence of copyright?
I think the notion of proliferation of broadly available technical knowledge is correct, but I'm not entirely convinced whether literature in particular was so relevant. In How Asia Works, a great book on industrial expansion in Asia, Studwell notes that when Taiwan was moderately prosperous and dominated by industry half of the workforce could not even read. What really benefited East-Asia was a grey-collar culture, a national, egalitarian educational system and corporatism rather than a white-collar, classist and academic culture more common in say, England. This is something you also find in Germany. The education system was designed to be broad. Schools were universal and focused on practical knowledge, with few ivory towers. Knowledge was historically and is still spread around between institutes (Frauenhofer say), firms, and industry-friendly universities, dispersed and practical rather than concentrated, theoretic and elitist. This Prussian style system which is really where most German institutions come from also was quite literally copied by a lot of now industrial powerhouses in Asia.
ByteDance in talks with banks to borrow over $3B
I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives.
Does someone else feels "wasting life time" at work?
Definitely. Almost all the work we do is completely meaningless business optimization and will be forgotten in a few years. I've come to terms with that. I don't try to look for meaning in capitalism. You need a good job to live comfortably in society so I put up with it and put in a decent amount of effort. If I had the choice I would not work another day in my life. I'd still code some projects for fun like I did as a kid. The ways I've seen people try to solve it are: FIRE, philosophy (engineers seem to love zen buddhist, stoic, existentialist ideas), drugs, workaholism. In about that order of efficiency. I'd love to have a 4 day work week. Sounds like a great improvement. Maybe something worth pursuing.
58% of Hacker News, Reddit and tech-savvy audiences block Google Analytics
There is a German movie about the system that is used to gather TV ratings. It's a special box that some users get which reports what they are watching. Small sample size goes into a big statistic (not sure how accurate the portrayal of the system in the movie is). These boxes are given to the people who pay the German public TV fee, which excludes i.e. students (they don't have to pay) and some other groups. This group of critical people figured that out and started to hack into these machines to fake ratings. They faked the ratings away from stupid trash TV towards some higher quality stuff, documentaries, culture, ... Obviously in the movie then the country saw a renaissance, everyone got smarter, yadda yadda, you get it. I feel like this is similar. All tech savvy people block ads and analytics and at least the known tricks they use against us. So the internet only tracks the defenseless people and is then built to serve them (and or exploit them). Maybe we should engage in large scale AdWords fraud. Send come fake traffic away from Facebook and over to Wikipedia.
Burning Out and Quitting
This is a powerful piece that resonates with my own experience. I went through a period of severe burnout that took me a couple years to recover from. One of my later insights was that burnout doesn't merely entail working too much (although that's certainly part of it); burnout often involves pouring too much of your heart and soul into something that does not love you back. I describe burnout now as a kind of "unrequited love." So many of us go above and beyond for our companies/projects/teams/whatever. The author here describes overcommitting at work. We might have the best of intentions, but at some point, we don't see the returns we yearned for and start to question what all this self-sacrificial giving is for. That is when burnout really sets in. I've had friends burn out while working for hostile or indifferent managers, startups that are trending the wrong direction, companies that engage in illegal or unethical behavior, etc. A second insight was that burnout can play a positive role in our lives. It's like a circuit breaker that trips to protect us from a damaging situation. When we feel burnout coming on, it's a warning to pay attention to an important misalignment in our lives.
The case for mutual educational disarmament
This is basically right. Quite a lot of education is a waste, it's window-dressing actual learning. For instance, you might have spent some time getting exam prep advice: read the instructions, skip questions that are hard and come back later, try to memorize this or that formula / molecule / map / argument, if it's multiple choice strike out obviously wrong answers, look for hints to part 2 in part 1, if you can't figure out the integral guess that it's 0 or 1 (LOL a lot of high school integrals are elegant). You have to spend real time learning this kind of sharpening exercise in order to do exams, or you will get less than what you should get, given what you actually understand about a subject. There's no value to this time. You'll never need to remember how to reverse a linked list, because in real life when it comes up, you will just find it in a browser. Similarly with most things that require a precise answer, the effort in sharpening the answer is way more than what might reasonably be worthwhile in a real-life setting. Eg. I needed a Bessel function at one point in my career. Could I write down its form from having seen it at uni? No, of course not. Did I spend time doing just that at uni? Yes. The real damage is we end up not educating people. We give them a bunch of answers to memorize and never test them on how the question is important. Did anyone ever examine you on why complex numbers are a big deal? Or what the big gap between classical and quantum physics was? I bet you only had exam questions about how to do the calculations and derivations. Get a number or a formula, that's easy to test. Whether this formula makes sense to use, that's hard. The part about education being positional is also important. There's quite a lot of jobs that could be done by someone with no degree at all, including mine. My first boss in the City still has no degree, and didn't need it despite options trading having a reputation for being mathematical. All that's happened is nobody wants to not go to uni, and nobody wants to hire a non-degree holder to trade options anymore, because both groups think that going to uni signals that you're smart. Neither group actually thinks you need any of the actual skills you learn in uni, though.
Thoughts of work invaded my life until I learned how to unplug
I struggle with this daily. As the founder of a startup, I would routinely pull 100 hour weeks. I remember being invited to a Halloween party and just showed up as "exhausted software person" because I had no time to prepare a costume. I took a break for 8 years from startups, because I was unable to create boundaries in my mind. This April, after what I thought was a long enough break, I just joined another one. I'm writing this right now because I woke up early in a panic attack about an announcement from one of our competitors. We have a big launch coming up this week, and I'm afraid that we're already too late. I feel my stomach clench and my mind race when I think about the next steps for the company. The problem is that I'm only 4 months into the startup and I've already alienated my partner enough that I have to move out. My whole life has become devoured by this puzzle, and I'm always checking Twitter and Discord to see what I can work on next. I can't slow my heart-rate down and just work at this job normally. If any of you have a good way of "turning off" in order to keep your family stable and mental health okay, please let me know. And I'm not looking for a run of the mill response -- I really would like some advice from people who have really dealt with this before. It's easy to give advice if you have good boundaries, but I would like some help from those who have really struggled. I love my work, but I don't like how it makes me feel. Thanks for your help, everyone.
Australia is becoming a surveillance state
Since leaving Australia (and started living in Europe) I have come to the conclusion that Australia is not a "real" country - it is just a continent owned by corporate interests that happens to also have people living on it. Corporate interests own the media, politicians, food production, education etc. and no one cares, because Life Is Good. Why expect anything to change, or people to care about strong democratic institutions, when there is no incentive for them to care about abstract concepts such as privacy or governmental oversight. Decades of bull markets, house price increases, a decline in public education, torpedoed communication infrastructure and complicit "independent" media has resulted in a wealthy, ignorant and complacent society who allow their representatives full control over their lives. It is not that they don't care about these issues, they are not even aware they are issues at all. But who cares, when you can go to the beach?
Building a vision of life without work (2015)
I was 2nd employee at a unicorn startup and have been on a work-hiatus for almost a year. Now, I live amongst Amish people in the country. My biggest insight has been a mindset change. Previously my underlying approach to life looked like: "I will do X which will enable me to do Y so that I can finally do Z." I now approach my days with "What will make me happy?" This is an experiment I'm performing. A structured life feels safe and orderly - but what if living life and letting things unfold more 'organically' is better? It is a weird/uncomfortable shift because I can't predict what is coming. As an example, turns out I really enjoy building dams. A couple months ago I would not have been able to tell you that I'd be building a dam. I have no idea what it is that drives my own interests or affinities, but now instead of attempting to manipulate them for whatever X, Y, or Z goal... I just roll with wherever they take me. And they always seem ready to take me somewhere. My point is: In a life without work (in my experience) stuff will come up. Follow what arises, see where it goes. It certainly feels better.
Some Days I Can’t Do Life – When everyday life becomes a struggle (2020)
I have caught myself riding the snooze - alarm clock pattern. Its my favourite part of the day, the 'waking up in warm bed' time. When I am just barely conscious and its feels good to be in warm bed - it feel blissful. When I wake up in the morning I will hit 10min snooze, just enough to fall asleep and wake up. Just to get more of that feeling - because I know thats the only time I will get it. I am doing it for an hour on weekdays and often for hours on the weekends. I just can't force myself out of bed, out of that state where it doesn't feel bad. I talked to people who are going through the same. Some skip work to stay in bed because they cant do it anymore. I did it few times too, and I am terrified I might slip into that state of apathy. That fear is the only thing that keeps me going, I can only hope this fear will stay. I dont have any wisdom or advice for anyone going through this, I just wanted to vent my thoughts and say that you are not alone in this, stay strong.
On working too hard: finding balance, and lessons learned from others
A friend of mine who fell for the "work hard forever" idea just wrote a lengthy post venting about what this did to her: when you spend all your free time working/studying, and constantly turn down invitations to go do stuff with friends, people stop inviting you to things. And you drift out of friend groups because of this. Your social skills atrophy, you have no idea how to try and make new friends on the rare occasions you pry yourself away from work. Work becomes your life. And even if your work is something you love to do, that never involves a toxic workplace or moral qualms or any other problems, there's still emotional needs work will never, ever fulfill.
Japan government backs 4-day workweek
It's an open secret at least in the tech world that absolutely no one is putting in a productive 40 hours of work a week. This was true well before the pandemic and is more pronounced than ever now. Everyone needs to be "present" for 8 hours a day 5 days a week, but spends their time in pointless meetings, preparing documents and powerpoints that no one will read, faux social/teambuilding events, hour long lunches, goofing off on the internet, all to maintain the pretense of office culture. Companies that shuffle things up to prioritize productivity over simply showing up will be set to succeed over the next generation.
Ask HN: What huge mistake did you make early in your career?
My biggest mistake, that I made again and again, was not leaving a job when it was time. I thought I had something to prove, but there was never any point to it. You don't owe anything to an employer. You can't prove anything to an employer. They have absolutely no loyalty to you, and care less than nothing about what is right or wrong, wise or foolish. So: If you ever think things might not turn out as well as you hoped, move on. There is so much else going on in the world that is at least as interesting as what you are doing, where you have a much better chance of making a difference, that spending time on things that you might not end up proud of is a terrible waste of your short time on Earth.
Employees Are Quitting Instead of Giving Up Working from Home
They want to build that familial model where you live and die for your teammates and wfh hampers that because you aren't forced to trauma bond with a bunch of strangers. Facebook/Google learned early on that building campuses that look and act like colleges increased worker retention and productivity because they built their whole lives around the company. Shopping, Doctors, Recreation all happened on campus. All your new friends were made on campus after they forced relocation.
Bernie Madoff has died
Here's the one lesson I really want us to all learn from this: the only thing the rich fear is prison because prison robs them of time. Fines are just the cost of doing business. There are many other scandals: the whole subprime disaster, pollution from plants and the like where no one went to prison and people really should've.
“It's Not Cancel Culture – It's a Platform Failure.”
Twitter rewards being a dickhead. It was fun when everyone was allowed to be a dickhead, but now there's a protected class that cannot be criticised and freely sends death threats and the like to whatever bad guy they think they have that day. This wouldn't be so bad, but there's now a bunch of normies who weren't raised on the mantra of keeping internet shit on the internet
The Miseducation of Americas Elites
My belief on the topic of increasingly extreme left social ideology in unexpected places (and hopefully this doesn't get me blacklisted or something, posting under my real name) is that the institutions of power in the US see Progressivism as an actual threat. They are giving ground in some spaces and even getting ahead of the curve in others as an act of self-preservation. A giant corporation is happy to add one non-man and one BIPOC (ideally as a two-for-one) if that allows the power of the rest of the board to be preserved. They'll put all their employees through sensitivity training, celebrate every holiday and tweet anything you want if it has even a chance of keeping the minimum wage from getting increased. Prep schools for the elite will teach radical ideology if it keeps a target off their backs during education reform. For people trying to move America towards a more liberal and just society: these institutions are not your allies. Do not be fooled by their language, their tokenism, the sincere people they hire as mascots. They're taking half your message and saying it back to you twice as loud to drown you out.
The Space of Developer Productivity
The problem starts with name. Developers are creating not producing. They don't make the same widget every day. When you are measuring productivity instead of creativity, you hinder creativity and therefore output.
Do less and do it better
As an individual, I sometimes feel as though I’m trying to prepare a large field and plant seeds there using a poorly hand-constructed and inefficient plough made of the wrong sort of wood and bits of string, combined with a seed drill made out of old toilet rolls and sticky tape. Not only that, but I’m trying to plant across the entire field, 50 furrows wide, as I move along. Needless to say, the ploughing doesn’t go very well, and the seeds are planted imprecisely, sometimes superficially, mostly wastefully, resulting in poor distribution, low growth and high energy expenditure. But if I were to abandon the idea of going wide, and instead go narrow, focusing on just a handful of furrows, I could afford to take the time to correctly plant each seed, nurturing & watering each one, producing strong plants with deep roots and healthy growth.
Honesty in craft |
A skilled carpenter doesn’t always want to build a factory. Their craft is creating something personal, for themselves, on their workbench.
The Buy Nothing Project
These groups are awesome, but they're also fragile. Our little English town had an amazing Freecycle group running for a while that got us through the "baby clothes" issues that people are discussing here. But the next town over had a "Sell & Seek" group that was essentially the same, but for small cash payments instead of goodwill. One woman saw the arbitrage opportunity and started accepting pretty much everything that came up on the Freecycle, only to re-list it on the Sell & Seek. My wife gave away a big basket of washable diaper stuff and watched as it all popped back up, one item at a time, for $5-$10 each on that Sell & Seek. Think about the emotional ride that puts you on, from thinking you'd single handedly sorted some new young mom, to realizing you'd been suckered by this... well, not nice person. Then multiply it by every member of that group that gave anything away in good faith. The Freecycle just sort of went away inside of a month, and now all that's left is that paid version from the next town over. All it takes for one person to do this and your community dies. Notice that she didn't ever do anything illegal or even "wrong" from her viewpoint. Just the same sort of "disrupting" and arbitrage that we see praised here all the time. But it completely ruined a nice thing.
E Ink has developed a 2nd generation Advanced Color E-Paper
E-ink is one of those techs that only advanced when large batches of patents expire. E-ink the company has tied up the tech stack in so many patents, NDA's, and exorbitant prices that no one wants to touch it. E-ink the technology wont go any where for 10-15 years when that next big batch of patents expire. Its just like 3D displays and VR there will be a massive consumer push new batches of patents will be filed progress will grind to a halt as no-one can afford everyone else's patent licensing fees on a unproven market until the next wave expires and better products can be built again repeat
Moral Competence | Evan Conrad
> The signature move of the morally incompetent is to be told about existing solutions that they were previously unaware of and then soldier on without any critical examination of any added value they're providing. Others working on the problem are ignored entirely or seen as a threat to their own solution. Really hit the nail on the head for the non-profit industry (of which I am a part). A lot of non-profit leaders are totally insufferable because they take anything less than fawning over them to be an attack on their identity as savior. You get some of these people everywhere, of course, but there's a way higher concentration in non-profits.
How New York became a metropolis of stoops | Ephemeral New York
Stoops can have a dramatic impact on the culture of a given block. When you have stoops, people sit on them. This means more conversation outside in public, creating community. When I was young, it was normal for a group of kids to sit on any stoop if the front gate was open. (This has mostly gone away) Older people might spend hours sitting on their stoop, and basically end up being a neighborhood watch. Neighbors get to know each other, and are more likely to quickly identify someone being violent and call the police. Overall, I would always choose a block with stoops over one without, everything else being more or less equal.
What Does Privacy Really Mean Under Surveillance Capitalism? ‹ Literary Hub
I have checked her site, it has references to Facebook and is full of trackers. She is just some self promoting woman that has found a niche in privacy, where she doesnt follow what she preaches. Yes Survailance Capitalism is a nightmare and a real thing but such fake stars should be weeded out. It is just a shame how low can some people go.
What Does Privacy Really Mean Under Surveillance Capitalism? ‹ Literary Hub
Privacy is a form of power, and that whoever has the most personal data will dominate society. If we give our data to companies, the wealthy will rule. If we give too much of our personal data to governments, we will end up with some form of authoritarianism. Only if the people keep their data will society be free. Privacy matters because it gives power to the people.
What Does Privacy Really Mean Under Surveillance Capitalism? ‹ Literary Hub
Privacy is about being able to keep certain intimate things to yourself—your thoughts, your experiences, your conversations, your plans. Human beings need privacy to be able to unwind from the burden of being with other people. We need privacy to explore new ideas freely, to make up our own minds. Privacy protects us from unwanted pressures and abuses of power. We need it to be autonomous individuals, and for democracies to function well we need citizens to be autonomous.
Building the Middle Class of the Creator Economy - Li's Newsletter
A 1981 paper by Sherwin Rosen, an economist at the University of Chicago, offers a prescient explanation of how the “superstar phenomenon” would become more pronounced as a result of technology. Rosen argued that in markets with heterogeneous providers, like most creator economies, success accrues disproportionately to those on top: “lesser talent often is a poor substitute for greater talent [...] hearing a succession of mediocre singers does not add up to a single outstanding performance.” This phenomenon is further exacerbated by technology which lowers distribution costs: the best performers in a given field are freed from physical constraints like the size of concert halls—and can address an unlimited market and reap a greater share of revenue.
Building the Middle Class of the Creator Economy - Li's Newsletter
The sustainability of nations and the defensibility of platforms is better when wealth isn’t concentrated in the top 1%. In the real world, a healthy middle class is critical for promoting societal trust, providing a stable source of demand for products and services, and driving innovation. On platforms, less wealth concentration means lessening the risk that a would-be competitor could poach top creators and threaten the entire business.
I used to work really hard. I then requested a small raise of my below-market-average salary, and I found out the people in charge of the company have decided to freeze salaries for the time being. I no longer work that hard.
I am French and got a top education by French standards (two Grandes Ecoles (the equivalent of Ivy League in the US) and a PhD). I worked really hard to get it, especially to get into the first school due to the completely crazy and unique French system (prépas - two years of suffering taken from your young life). My son who is 14 had very, very average marks last year. He is a very bright and capable boy so I was really dissapointed. This year he is top of his class with an average mark of 18/20. As you can imagine, I am all happy and everything and I told him that I am proud etc. - all the right things a parent says. To what he told me that the marks in the class he is in this year decide which high school he will be admitted in. And he wants to be admitted to the best one. So he obviously started to work hard to get good marks. That lead to the best high school. Where he will be probably average until the marks start to have a meaning again etc. I was initially bemused at this approach, so far from the work ethics his father tried to instill in him. And then, after some thinking, I think he is right (which is a major change in the way I was thinking). Grades are nothing more than a gateway to the future and ultimately do not mean anything more. So "hard work" when it makes sense to do so.
For me, having alignment means being a startup founder because I'm ambitious and there are specific things I want to build—I'm not satisfied by working on whatever the company that hired me happens to be building. But all that being said, alignment is important for everyone, regardless of what your individual goals and desires are. As with most hard things, there's no formula for alignment. You have to figure out what it means for you and how to get it. But being aware of the concept is at least the first step.
I hypothesize that the real problem with many of Bronnie Ware's patients wasn't that they worked too hard—the problem is that they worked too hard on things that, at the end of the day, weren't as important to them as they thought. Notice that the #1 regret was "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me." Perhaps the regret of working too hard was really just a symptom of this deeper regret.
Pornhub Just Purged All Unverified Content From the Platform
I think the decline of moral argument and the rise of this general "anything goes" attitude has been a negative for society. We have to decide to draw a line somewhere. Even porn companies that feature of-age performers are highly exploitative and uncomfortably close to human trafficking - see the case of Girls Do Porn, and they're just the one that got caught doing it. I don't think it's unreasonable to argue that some sexual behavior should be considered "bad" - voyeurism, selling yourself for money, extreme fringe interests/fetishes, etc. I don't buy the idea that Pornhub is just an innocent business trying to run their website. They have built an empire on human exploitation.
Pornhub Just Purged All Unverified Content From the Platform
I read most of the Nickolas Kristoff editorial in the NY Times (don't confuse editorial with actual reporting, in the NYT or anywhere - editorial has 'license' to do hit pieces). While I agree that online porn is a horror show, Kristoff oddly omits what looks like the biggest problem to me: (This might be upsetting. Read at your own risk.) What I've seen of online porn sites is a strong emphasis on the real physical and sexual abuse of women. It's advertised brazenly in video titles: I am confident that if you search for something as horrible as 'woman gets the crap beaten out of her', you'd find lots of videos, and I'm not using more stomach-turning and sexual examples that I'm confident would find equal success. It's shown in the videos (at least the still frames that are part of the video title): Women expressing pain and showing bruises and even bleeding. I understand sexual fantasy, and that to widely varying degrees and frequencies people enjoy these fantasies - PornHub has many customers - and that a few people even consensually engage in them in a safe, controlled manner. That is all people's private business, not mine or the public's, and I have no objection to it. But these are not fantasies - these are real people, real human beings, getting hurt and abused, physically and emotionally, for others' entertainment. It's on an enormous scale. We can argue to ourselves that they are actors and it's all made up, like a Hollywood movie. We can say the women choose to do these things. And I will tell you what I told myself: We are full of shit and we know it. Almost everything we see and read tells us otherwise, and yes many of these people are assaulted on camera by any definition of the word; many are beaten and tortured. Also, if you think Amazon workers are vulnerable, imagine the situation of these women. Are they going to take the video producers to court? Call the National Labor Relations Board and file a complaint? Has it ever happened? If it has, it's a drop in the ocean of porn online. From what I understand (and see), these are among some of the most vulnerable people in communities with limited resources. The world and the system tell them (wrongly): You're work in porn, you are the lowest of the low, we don't care. Imagine Amazon treating employees this way - and then selling the videos for profit. I don't want to speak for the people in the videos or define them; I encourage you to find online them speaking for themselves. They are all different people with different responses to different experiences, but a lot of it is much worse than this HN comment. Also, imagine seeing someone you know or love being hurt like that; imagine how you would feel if it was you, beyond the pain. These are people just like us and our loved ones; they feel the same things. It's straightforward: It should be illegal to hurt people, and to distribute videos of it, and to do it for profit. It's not hard to understand. It is happening on a wide scale and publicly. It's a horror show, and it's real.
We’re Optimizing Ourselves to Death – Zander Nethercutt
Amen to that. One life, live it well. To me that doesn't mean 80 hour weeks, 40 years of working and dropping dead of exhaustion the day I retire. I'm alright for that, thanks. Would rather be slightly poorer financially (some might say "less optimised") and richer for time. Time I can spend with my kids, looking at the sea, making music, reading. I'm ok for optimisation. If there's anything covid should teach us, it's that optimisation to the max leaves us collectively and individually extremely fragile. We all need time and space and quiet and contingency, not "optimisation" and "growth", not all the time, anyway.
Playmaker: The Reality of 10x Engineer | by Ofer Karp | Nov, 2020 | Medium
10x engineer is underpaid senior working as middle/junior. or underpaid architech/principal workong as senior engineer.
Winning back the Internet by building our own | ROAR Magazine
For a very long time, no one paid for Internet access because Internet access was not something that was sold. It was like a public beachfront at the ocean. If you were near it, you could jump in, no credit card required. The nature of the technology itself meant that if you had a computer running an operating system with a TCP/IP software stack installed, like any modern Windows, macOS, or GNU/Linux distribution, you could extend the Internet. All you had to do is connect your computer to another computer already pre-attached to it. As with BitTorrent, there was no other special software or hardware required, and everyone who wanted to download files could, by definition, also upload files. And, more importantly, this is still true about internetworking software today.
Winning back the Internet by building our own | ROAR Magazine
In short order, Internet access itself was commercialized and the telecom industry waged legislative war against community groups and municipal governments that prevented them from erecting their own networking infrastructures. The logic of the telecom monopolies was simple and devastatingly effective: to share, you must first connect, so instead of losing the battle to share, they would win the war of connectivity. In other words, they recognized that they could not win against a rapidly rising number of increasingly sophisticated people using ever-improving encryption and privacy tools, but they could install themselves as toll collectors for Internet access itself.
End Micromanagement: 6 Signs You’re a Micromanager + How to Stop it
The common pattern of behavior I have observed with micro managers is a fear of perception, such as a fear of looking bad. Most commonly this manifests as the boss wanting a hyper selective output they wish they could do themselves because either they do not trust the employee and/or because they cannot communicate what they want. Contrast that against excellent managers who provide proper direction and allow their employees to safely fail for growth because you learn more from failure.
No More Free Work from Marak: Pay Me or Fork This
Seriously. What's the point of open source if companies just steal it, build billion dollar industries on top, and then lock everything down? Apple is telling us we can't run our own software on their goddamned devices, yet they built their empire on open source. Look at Facebook, Google, Amazon. They've extracted all the blood they can and given us back scraps. AWS is repackaged software you pay more for. Yes, it's managed, but you're forever a renter. They've destroyed our open web, replaced RSS with DRM, left us with streaming and music options worse than cable and personal audio libraries. The web is bloated with ads and tracking, AMP is given preference, Facebook and Twitter are testing the limits of democracy and radicalizing everyone to cancel one another. Remember when the Internet was actually pleasant? When it was nice to build stuff for others to use? Stop giving your work away for free when the companies only take.
So you want to buy a farm?
Also, I suspect many of us here "spent" time learning programming as children/teenagers and honed it as early twenty-somethings. At those stages of life time is essentially free and unlimited. You can easily pull allnighters and 40 hour hacking weekends and 80 hour weeks - and you do it because it's exciting and fun, and it has only very minor opportunity costs - you might miss a school or college assignment deadline, or a few shifts at your minimum wage part time job. Your bedroom at your parents house or you college dorm is paid for already (even if just by usurious student loans). Once you get to the "disillusioned with the damned tech industry" stage of your life though, you have responsibilities and rent/loans/bills to pay and probably family you need/want to spend time with and a circle of friends who're in the same stage of life who can't on zero notice order in pizza and mountain dew and hack from 6pm on Friday thru to midnight Sunday catching only naps on the couch as needed. I reckon there's almost as much of a hill to climb for a "woodworker since junior high" looking at programming as a way out of a woodworking career they've become jaded with - as there is for a thirty-something software engineer dreaming of building timber boats for a living instead of being part of "The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads." -- Jeff Hammerbacher (But yeah, you don't need to buy new timber when you accidentally "move fast and break things" as a programmer. On the other hand, at least the tools you buy as a woodworker will still work and be useful in a decade or century's time...)
Technical debt as a lack of understanding
In a go-go-go product cycle, that loss of understanding begins to create problems that have literal and figurative costs. A general sense of confusion builds and builds. The developer economics are fairly simple to quantify; either you slow down and pay someone to refactor and document the code after every major iteration, or you pay every developer who works on the project until the end of time to stare at the code for a few hours and wonder what the hell is going on. That dumbfounded staring at the codebase compounds over time. Organizationally, you pay in velocity and turnover; talented people are going to leave after a few rounds of bullshit.
Goodbye IFTTT
> For me, the biggest downfall of IFTTT was how many services started locking them out of useful hooks. Absolutely. The 2000 - 2010 time range was filled with such great hope for APIs, for expanding humanity creativity. The last decade though has been shuttering & closing & withdrawl of computing, the systems receding, getting further & further away from general usability, a retreat into the walled garden, systems effervescing from manipulability, going up, into the cloud. I've been calling the before time the Pax Intertwingularis era, the peace of intertwingularity, interoperation, interfacing of systems. When we were all excited to build & interconnect & share, when the hope, what we all saw, was humanity getting better & better from the power to wire ourselves together in new & changing ways.
Goodbye IFTTT
> but as time went on and services removed many useful hooks, it lost a lot of value Worries me that with post-smartphone technology it’s more valuable for companies to remove interoperability than to foster it. Look at Instagram, you can’t even post a hyperlink because it’s more beneficial for them to prevent a fundamental internet feature.
Surviving disillusionment - spakhm's newsletter
Once you observe the darker side of human nature in the technology industry, you cannot forget or unsee it. The subsequent cynicism can be so disheartening that the romance of the computer revolution is beat out of people completely. I've met many engineers with extraordinary talent who decided to stop making software. They wanted to program computers all their lives. They were born for it. After spending six, eight, ten years in the industry, they quit for good. Now they're running breweries and hydroponic farms, with no desire to ever again touch a compiler, let alone get back into the fray.
We Were Builders Once, and Strong
I cant recall who but some ingenious game developer wrote an article arguing that a design with land tax makes people (players) do interesting thing with land. Without it the game world just ends up owned and stale. I see a parallel with [insane] real estate prices but also with taking land from one person and giving it to another.
The Need for Touch
My running theory is that western society is built around depriving men of certain emotions that say "you are good enough as you are and should be appreciated just as you are"; be that touch, sex (how many times have I heard this cultural fetish that men should transmute their sexual energy to something "better") . Like cutting branches from a young tree so that it grows taller or straight -- to serve an ulterior purpose. The ulterior purpose for cutting emotional branches of men is to increase productivity and yield from men, increase obedience to authority figures for fighting wars and so on.
You Reap What You Code
The curb cut effect was noticed as a result from the various American laws about accessibility that started in the 60s. The idea is that to make sidewalks and streets accessible to people in wheelchairs, you would cut the part of the curb so that it would create a ramp from sidewalk to street. The thing that people noticed is that even though you'd cut the curb for handicapped people, getting around was now easier for people carrying luggage, pushing strollers, on skateboards or bicycles, and so on. Some studies saw that people without handicaps would even deviate from their course to use the curb cuts. Similar effects are found when you think of something like subtitles which were put in place for people with hearing problems. When you look at the raw number of users today, there are probably more students using them to learn a second or third language than people using them with actual hearing disabilities. Automatic doors that open when you step in front of them are also very useful for people carrying loads of any kind, and are a common example of doing accessibility without "dumbing things down." I'm mentioning all of this because I think that keeping accessibility in mind when building things is one of the ways we can turn nasty negative surprises into pleasant emerging behaviour. And generally, accessibility is easier to build in than to retrofit. In the case of the web, accessibility also lines up with better performance.
You Reap What You Code
Rather than having a merchant bring goods to the town square, the milkman drop milk on the porch, and markets smaller and distributed closer to where they'd be convenient, it is now everyone's job to drive for each of these things while stores go to where land is cheap rather than where people are. And when society develops with a car in mind, you now need a car to be functional. In short the cost of participating in society has gone up, and that's what an oppressive monopoly is.
You Reap What You Code
Ivan Illiches introduces the concept of an "oppressive" monopoly; if we look at societies that developed for foot traffic and cycling, you can generally use any means of transportation whatsoever and effectively manage to live and thrive there. Whether you live in a tent or a mansion, you can get around the same. He pointed out that cycling was innately fair because it does not require more energy than what is required as a baseline to operate: if you can walk, you can cycle, and cycling, for the same energy as walking, is incredibly more efficient. Cars don't have that; they are rather expensive, and require disproportionate amounts of energy compared to what a basic person has.
A ritual for your product increases satisfaction and spending
This is quite disturbing. It is an example of marketing as a form of social conditioning, where our brains our conditioned to perform repetitive actions until they become unconscious. While this can be useful for some things (e.g. touch typing), when it is designed to sell you some kind of shitty cookie, phone, or whatever other focus-group-designed consumer product, it is disturbing to me. It's training people to consume as a replacement for spiritual or other introspective, healthy rituals in order to make private companies profits. It just seems so soulless to me, to ritualize consumerism and monetary transactions in this way. Can't we just make useful things instead of creating new branches of pseudoscience in order to sell more shit that people don't need? Imagine all of the brainpower that has gone into developing rituals for this stuff. In the future, I can imagine this kind of marketing morphing into a sort of consumer religion, where these rituals begin to take on a spiritual element.
Distance traveled |
There are so many forces pushing us to move as fast as possible, but little about doing good work is about getting places as fast as we can.
YouTube is shutting down crowdsourced captions
What's incredibly insane here, is that "low usage" is the excuse being used to terminate an accessibility feature. Accessibility features will always be low usage, but it's still important to provide them. This is kinda like a restaurant removing their handicapped ramp because it's "not used often". Of course, that'd be illegal.
Work on what matters | StaffEng
For a while you can try sleeping less or depriving yourself of the non-work activities you need to feel whole, but you’ll inevitably find that your work maintains a aloof indifference to your sacrifice rather than rewarding it.
Toward a Technological Cage for the Masses
Computer hardware and software makers have always known they can make more profit by selling computers and software that we don't really want but that we will tolerate because we have no other options. So, while they compete based on price, I don't see much evidence that they compete based on functionality, repairability, upgradeability, quality, or other factors.
Toward a Technological Cage for the Masses
First, the computer industry is not and never has been governed by an efficient market. By that, I mean that the market for computers has always been controlled by a small group of manufacturers who by-and-large determine which computers they will make, hence which computers we can buy.
Working from (your parents’) home
I'm my early 20s and in the UK. I earn more than my Dad who is in his 50s. He managed to get a house, have money left over for an expensive hobby, decent car, the odd holiday etc. I'm a 90th percentile earner. Will 95+ percentile earner in a few years time. Yet it feels like I am not as well off as I should be. I don't live in an expensive area either. Yet I need to save so much money to even have the opportunity to buy a house. Then I also need to save a tonne of money for a nice retirement as government pensions get absolutely gutted. I'm not going to pretend I won't have a good amount of disposable income even after maxing my pension contributions and paying a mortgage. But it just annoys me that I'm a relatively high earner and yet the money won't go very far. The most expensive thing I'll ever buy would be a brick box, and one that's not even as good as my parents.
The software industry is going through the “disposable plastic” crisis
In the micromanaged world of agile, ticket velocity is more important than any other metric. At least everywhere I've worked. Open source is the only place I regularly see high quality code. There the devs are allowed to love their code like pets not cattle.
The software industry is going through the “disposable plastic” crisis
The lie we tell ourselves is that the quality of code matters to non-engineers. It seems it doesn't. The most uncomfortable truth of our field is that there is no floor for how bad code can be, yet still make people billions of dollars. Because that's the outcome everyone else is seeking - making money. They don't care how good the code is. They care about whether it's making money or not.
Taking my home work setup seriously
Inside us all there is a void. People want to complete themselves and fill this void with spirituality, or hedonistic pursuits, or material things. If you’ll indulge a metaphor, this is not a void that can be filled - its nature is more akin to a black hole of the cosmic variety. Feeding it things - for example, expensive ergonomic equipment - will simply add to its mass and pull. Only if left alone might it slowly evaporate. You must learn to live with it. Materialism is the belief that something outside yourself will finally bring you permanent satisfaction, and we don’t want to be materialistic.
Taking my home work setup seriously
Humans are endlessly adaptable, for better or worse. Before setting out, know this: you might sink days of research and thousands of dollars into your work setup, but it will never be quite perfect. Just accept this. Live with it. It’s called hedonic adaptation. Even if your monitors end up an inch too close to your face, remember that the whole setup is massively better than sitting at your kitchen table or couch with a laptop. Buying things is fun, and spending money begets spending more money. It’s a good idea to let a setup sit for a couple weeks or a month before rushing off with further tweaks & improvements.
‘Success Addicts’ Choose Being Special over Being Happy
This is such an American perspective. Happiness doesn't have to be your #1 goal, or even in your top 5-10. The article seems to undervalue the idea of making a positive impact in the world or lasting change. It seems to conflate achieving goals with the idea that you'll move the goal post, and that's necessarily bad (e.g. the Sisyphean concept). Personally speaking, I much rather have a long-term positive impact on humanity than to be happy but a blip on history's radar. I should be so lucky. Many choose to value their own family's success over their own, or their community. Others dedicate themselves to noble causes with high potential fatality risk.
‘Success Addicts’ Choose Being Special over Being Happy
Put another way: many people choose to pursue a meaningful life over a happy life. The English word "happy" covers a wide range of states and I'm not sure the original article has even settled on one definition. They reference terms like 'life satisfaction', 'orginary delights', 'relationships and love', 'hedonic treadmill', etc. The article seems to be coming from a good place, but I think the deeper message got lost in the noise: "Work for a sense of personal meaning, not outward achievement" (paraphrased). Happiness and success don't have to be mutually exclusive.
Spotify CEO: musicians can no longer release music only “once every 3-4 years”
This is sad and feels to me like a dumbing down of everything due to short attention spans. I still prefer to listen to full coherent albums, and one of the highlights of my week is my Sunday run, which gives me time to listen to an album start to finish with no interruptions. I hope some of my favorite musicians will continue to conceptualize albums that have a 45+ minute arc, even if market pressures mean that they'll initially need to release the tracks one at a time.
Spotify CEO: musicians can no longer release music only “once every 3-4 years”
LP's or long form collections by artists capture a moment in that artist's creative point. Typically, the cycle was release a record, tour a bunch, write new music, and repeat. This meant by the time that next LP came along, the collection of songs on there could sound fairly different as the artist changed, got better, heard new songs and got inspired etc. Then there's the recording and engineering challenges around mixing and mastering an album. Albums need to sound cohesive even if the songs aren't necessarily the same genre even. The best albums are those ones that flow between softer or more upbeat music but still feel tied together as a whole. Forcing artists to pump out strings of singles and EPs diminishes music as an artform. It takes away the format that's allowed some of the best modern music to be created that likely would never have been created if artists were just constantly pumping out individual disconnected songs. Even today, you can still find some pretty amazing albums that are being made where each song individually would stand as less, but together as an album they come together to make some great art.
ZSA Moonlander: A next-generation ergonomic keyboard
I've been getting deep into the home office ergonomics hole now that I'll be working from home indefinitely. There's a real danger here - I generally pride myself as someone who is conscientious of consumerist tendencies, but it's become clear that my drive for better ergonomics is no longer about the actual facilitation of work or avoidance of injury. I have spent more time researching ergonomic setups than could ever be saved by marginal improvements in productivity, and my poor posture is by far the greatest risk for injury. It's become about completing myself. Filling the void. Materialism: the belief that acquisition of something outside myself will finally bring me permanent satisfaction. But if you'll excuse the metaphor, the void we try to fill is a black hole of the cosmic variety: its pull grows as it is fed. Shoveling in expensive ergonomic equipment is little different from shoes or bags or guns or radios or funko pops. Anyway, this next $250 I spend on an endlessly-adjustible retractable keyboard tray & fancy ergonomic keyboard will surely address all my complaints...
The futility of “I told you so ” in software engineering teams
The real trick is that caring about anything in the modern corporate workplace is a mistake. Unless you hold equity and board position in the company, then you are completely replaceable at any time for any reason. The only thing you should be doing is ensuring that the chain of decision making is documented so blame flows upwards. And exercise some discretion in ensuring you get away from managers with a track history of poor decision making. Workers don't own the company, and they have almost no power (nor the time to engage in the politicking which would give it) within the decision making structure there. Look after yourself first, and plan to leave when people who do think they have an ownership start making bad decisions.
Come for the Network, Pay for the Tool
Whether coming at it from the angle of social media, brand, or content creator, building and managing a community is its own skillset. Organizations which try to bolt on community or social networks to their existing business model without building the capacity to understand and engage the people who make it up are likely to fail.
It’s time to hear what adolescents think of mindfulness in schools
I've seen it suggested in other articles here before that mindfulness programs for employees are often a way for employers to try and get their staff to be more accepting of crappy conditions, or unpleasant, meaningless or unethical work. It sounds to me like the same kind of thing might also apply in schools. I'm sure the school teachers and administrators mean well. I'm sure they don't consciously realise what a nightmare their institutions have become for many of the students in their care. Even if they do realise, they didn't choose for it to be that way. The sad fact is that modern life has become a horrible nightmare for many people, grownups and kids alike. Mindfulness has become a popular attempt to paper over the problems, but in truth, many people who are having coping problems coping or exhibiting "mental illness" are just having understandable reactions to the dysfunction they're sensing in the world. To be clear: I'm in no way averse to emotional wellbeing techniques that are effective and that increase the agency of participants. I've gone very deep on this kind of work in my own life, and have benefited greatly. But I think the outcomes, and indeed the intentions, of mainstream mindfulness programs are quite different to this, and are sadly far more focused on maintaining the status quo for institutions and modern mainstream society.
The Return of the 90s Web
What I miss most from the early days of the Internet is the content. It was all created with love. My theory is that the high barrier to entry of online publishing kept all but the most determined people from creating content. As a result, the little content that was out there was usually good. With today's monetized blogs, it is often content for content's sake. People don't try, or they write about topics which they are not really interested in, but did just to have a new post. Or often the writing is bad. Maybe today's problem isn't the blogs, but the SEO that puts the crap blogs at the top of the search results. Or maybe I'm misremembering and the old content was crap too, or maybe my standards are higher than they were in my teenage years.
Repression Is Not A Brand - Steve Salaita
There’s nothing romantic about persecution, whether mild or catastrophic. It makes a person feel one step from destitution, at least among those lucky enough not to have become destitute already. Performing anxiety in front of strangers as a way to derive credentials (usually in the absence of accomplishment) isn’t something most victims of actual repression want to do.
After 10 Years in Tech Isolation, I'm Now Outsider to Things I Once Had Mastered |
Big advertisers are using metadata to collect and map any given users’ Internet behaviors for content marketing purposes. I, too, used to steal users’ data. But it was a crime when I did it. Perhaps if I had sent them an ad or two it would have been less illegal?
Avoiding the Global Lobotomy
Modern western society - and maybe others, I really only know the west - has built what must be one of the most powerful abstracting bubbles ever for separating people from the real world. For a wealthy westerner - if you don't want to know how your food is grown - you don't have to know. If you don't want to know how your shirt is made - you don't need to know. Don't want to know about the political systems that are keeping the world ticking over? Don't need to know. Anyone who is in a position earning more than ~$60k/annum can be totally isolated from the real if they want to be and all their problems start becoming social ones, except disease and the grim spectre of eventual death. Even then we're starting to abstract away disease as well - look at how the wheels fell off politically when disease popped through the walls of the bubble on a mass scale. Been a long time since that sort of threat has been meaningful (maybe AIDS in the 80s?). Good luck, in both sarcasm but also all sincerity, convincing people in that robust of a bubble that there are real problems that need to be fixed. People have no north star to fix a direction. They won't be able to organise anything in reality; they'll get caught up on social problems.
Anxiety Driven Development
I think the serenity prayer, sans unnecessary theological content, is relevant here. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the ones I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. For a lot of software products, there is no winning in the long run. You've got good product-market fit and customer loyalty, but your code base is a huge mess and the hard technical problems are solved by third-party libraries. Your tech is a liability and eventually someone with better tech will be smart enough to study your customers, or the students who will eventually replace your inevitably-retiring customers on the front lines and push adoption going forward. And this is okay. The advantage corporations have over government institutions is that they can be created and destroyed with much less friction. If you're lucky, your growth curve looks like double-sigmoid table-top. Probably it looks like an asymmetric Gaussian. What it doesn't look like is an exponential. Understand where your product is in its life-cycle, and maximize ROI.
Microsoft Defender SmartScreen is hurting independent developers
Application signing is a mafia protection racket, plain and simple. If you aren't signed by an "authority", every user is told by default automatically that your code is unsafe until you pay money. It is 100% analogous to thugs walking into your store saying "It would be a real shame if something were to happen to scare people away." The message is "We Protected You" and "Unsafe". WHY? Because "WE don't recognize" it. Application signing certificates cost money. Always. And if you're making something for free either out of the goodness of your heart or because you like making things, that money has to come out of your pocket just so the thugs don't stand in front of your door with bats. Nobody should be ok with that. AND FUN FACT: malicious or incompetent actors can and do also pay money.
People Drawn to Conspiracy Theories Share a Cluster of Psychological Features
If human language can be manipulated for commercial gain, it will be. Taken to its logical conclusion, the economically contested term ceases to have any meaning. Think of SEO search keywords or fashionable technology buzzwords (cloud, big data, AI). The adversarial weaponization of language by economically motivated actors should not be confused with the use of language for communication. Real humans have an amazing ability to communicate even on noisy channels.
Where Did Software Go Wrong? | Jesse Li
The startup founder, no matter how much they claim to love code, love humanity, or love the thrill of the hustle (and they may even believe themself when they say it), loves the growth of capital most of all. The tech founder is a capitalist proper, but capital does not love them back; capital cannot love at all, and the odds are stacked against our hero capitalist. “The larger capitals beat the smaller … It always ends in the ruin of many small capitalists, whose capitals partly pass into the hands of their conquerors, partly vanish” (Marx 1867, 621). Capital accumulates and concentrates, and in the midst of frothy competition, the startup either dies or gets acquired by Facebook or Google, leaving nothing behind but a bullet point on LinkedIn and a blog post signifying an incredible journey. So much for changing the world.
Where Did Software Go Wrong? | Jesse Li
For many of us fortunate enough to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, our only interface with the world outside our families and homes—the relays of connection between us, our families, communities and societies—have been filtered through our screens and earbuds. It is apparent now more than ever exactly what software does for us, and what kinds of inequalities it reinforces. Through Instacart, Amazon Fresh, and other grocery delivery services, we can use an app to purchase a delivery driver’s body for an hour to expose themself to the virus on our behalf. Unsatisfied with even this, some developers have written scripts to instantly reserve the scarce delivery slots on these services. One developer wrote to Vice’s Motherboard “I designed the bot for those who find it extremely inconvenient in these times to step out, or find it not safe for themselves to be outside. It is my contribution to help flatten the curve, I really hope this’ll help reduce the number of people going out” (Cox 2020). Is that right? Does a bot really reduce the number of people going out, or does it merely change the demographics of who gets to stay home, favoring those with the resources and technical skills to run a Python script and Selenium WebDriver? With a constant and limited number of delivery slots, Joseph Cox points out that these bots create “a tech divide between those who can use a bot to order their food and those who just have to keep trying during the pandemic” (2020).