Instapaper Zero

MSG, Day 3 + 4

I didnt get to complete my goal of 32 articles in the past 2 days because I’ve been spending my free time reading and watching stuff related to Steve Jobs.
Will have to do double time over the weekend.
These are the 8 articles I archived along with highlights.
1364 articles left
1. You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss

  • We’ve now funded so many different types of founders that we have enough data to see patterns, and there seems to be no benefit from working for a big company.
  • In an artificial world, only extremists live naturally
  • I wouldn’t say founders seem happier, necessarily; starting a startup can be very stressful. Maybe the best way to put it is to say that they’re happier in the sense that your body is happier during a long run than sitting on a sofa eating doughnuts.
  • a normal job may be as bad for us intellectually as white flour or sugar is for us physically.
2. Buried (but no excuses) « John’s Blog

if you feel like someone’s gone dark — me or another investor — just drop them a note asking what’s up. Generally that’s all the prodding I need to (at least) let you know more clearly what’s going on.

3. Facebook Timeline: Putting the Auto in Autobiography - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
  • Facebook’s Timeline confirms what writers have long known: narratives are how we structure our relationships with the world. Stories are how we make meaning. And that’s why Facebook wants you to tell stories in the structured format they’re giving you.
  • Facebook’s version of autobiography is very specific. It is data-driven. It is simple: Alexis likes the iPad. Alexis eats a hamburger. Alexis reads The Innovator’s Cookbook. It is a ranked, chronological database of a life. It is technically complex but grammatically simple. It is multimedia, but not rich. It is autobiography without aesthetic effort. It is a story without words.
4. Getting Funded: Market, Product, Team 
  • Market:  Why now? What pain is the company addressing?  Who are the people that have this pain?  How many are there?  Do they have money to spend for the solution?  How much money do they have?  What are they spending this money on right now?
  • Product: Why this? What have you built and are planning to build?  What does it do?  How does it address the market you described?  What is unique about it?  Why will it be better than the others out there?  How does the product extract the cash the market is willing to spend on the solution to its problem?
  • Team:  Why you? How smart are the co-founders (I don’t like one-man companies)?  What is their education  (schools matter) and professional background?  Have they done this sort of thing before?  Are they honest about skills that are missing from the team or will it be a struggle to get them to take on additional leadership and accept help?
5. Steve Blank - The Next Bubble Dont Get Fooled Again

Dr Jean-Paul Rodrigue, in the Department of Global Studies & Geography at Hofstra University, observed that bubbles have four phases; stealth, awareness, mania and blow-off. I contend that we are approaching the early part of the mania phase.

6. You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss

Do not finance your startup with credit cards. Financing a startup with debt is usually a stupid move, and credit card debt stupidest of all. Credit card debt is a bad idea, period. It is a trap set by evil companies for the desperate and the foolish.

7. Steve Jobs Was Always Kind To Me (Or, Regrets of An Asshole) | The Wirecutter
  • I thought about the dilemma every day for about a year and half. It caused me a lot of grief, and stopped writing almost entirely. It made my spirit weak. Three weeks ago, I felt like I had had enough. I wrote my apology letter to Steve.
  • I just feel lucky I had the chance to tell a kind man that I was sorry for being an asshole before it was too late.

8. Vision Without Obstruction: What We Learn From Steve Jobs :: Articles :: The 99 Percent
  • There are a lot of great ideas in this world, and the obstacles that get in the way are no excuse. Steve would never stand for it, and neither should we.

Kirigin, Day 2

Remaining: 1,478.

Down by 23, but not all of those were interesting things to read. Also kept some links to look at later.

Worth reading:

Not worth reading:

MSG, Day 2

Read 16 articles! + Archived 3 because of doubles/read already + added 3.

1372 left

The following are the articles I read + highlights:

1. On the Make | Think Quarterly by Google

  • If you’ve designed a protective case for your phone, you can upload it to Thingiverse and anyone with a 3D printer can download and print it out. It sounds like a Star Trek replicator, but it’s real and it’s happening right now.
  • Commercial versions of Hackerspaces are called ‘TechShops.’ These fully equipped facilities have every tool you could think of to make your computer ‘bits’ into real ‘its.’ They’re membership-based – think of them as a gym for your brain.
  • As we ask ourselves what society will look like in a digital world, it’s worth remembering the words of Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Robotics (a program that enables school kids to become scientists and engineers) and a famous maker in his own right. Kamen said, “We are what we celebrate.” That’s the maker movement: We’re trying to make the world a better place by celebrating ingenuity, creativity, sustainability, and, most of all, sharing.

2. Predicting the Present | Think Quarterly by Google

  • Searchblog’s John Battelle has called Google ‘the database of intentions,’ because search queries provide insights into people’s interests, intentions, and future actions. Needless to say, such insights can be very useful to businesses. Free tools like Google Correlate and Google Insights for Search enable you to use that database of intentions to ‘predict the present’ and better understand your customers’ behavior in real time.

3. Project: People | Think Quarterly by Google

We’re doing all this while paying close attention to people’s privacy. This is a big challenge, not just for Google but for practically any internet company today. People need to have complete control over what’s private and what’s public, and they need more ways to let us know how we’re doing in this regard.

4. – chris dixon’s blog / Some lessons learned

  • get rejected more
  • climb the right hill
  • create an amazing toy
  • grow that toy into something big that transforms an important industry

5. Love on the Internet: Dating in the Age of the Profile Image - Erik Stinson - Life - The Atlantic

  • Categories provided by the sites encourage an even flow of meaningless popular responses. None of these profile types describe a person — at least not a real one. These are descriptions that teach us something about desire. They tell us that desire requires brevity and lack of information. Digital desire specifically requires something close to a completely abstract longing for the sexual image.
  • ‘True love’ was a construction of Western-style nobility courtship rituals, enhanced by centuries of media, nearly as insubstantial and potent as Coca-Cola’s Santa Claus. Which begs the question: What is this new Internet Love? Who made it?

6. Richard Branson on Time Management |

  • You must manage your Blackberry; do not let it manage you. Many executives check their smartphones throughout meetings and during off-hours. This is not good for concentration, and has a negative impact on decision making. Use it only in bursts: check emails for an hour or so and then put it away so you can focus on the task at hand.

7. Venture Capitalist Reid Hoffman

  • To make a great product, you have to be passionate about it in order for it to become something that will improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
  • When the idea is on the back of a napkin, the only difference between a madman and a visionary is that the visionary’s idea works. So when you are investing at very early stages, you’re picking the one you think is the visionary.
  • Social networks do best when they tap into one of the seven deadly sins. Facebook is ego. Zynga is sloth [laughter]. LinkedIn is greed.
  • Some data matter and some don’t. People think, “Oh no! This company has data about me!” To that I say: OK, so a website or mobile application knows that you’re a man or a woman, and it’s giving you ads based on that. That’s a benefit, not a bug. But you should also try to provide a direct benefit for every piece of data you collect from the users. Everything you gather, the user knows it’s there because they are participating. They are buying into the benefit of it, and you are getting the benefit too. Data will be foundational in the next wave of mass applications that go to hundreds of millions of people.

8. Clive Thompson on Memory Engineering | Magazine

  • 4SquareAnd7YearsAgo is an example of a new trend I call memory engineering—the process of fashioning our inchoate digital pasts into useful memories.

9. It’s Betweenness That Matters, Not Your Eigenvalue: The Dark Matter Of Influence | Stowe Boyd

  • Recent research suggests that the most important people in social networks, relative to actually transmitting ideas, viruses, or moods, might not be the folks with the most followers, but instead might be people that are connected to a large number of individuals through shorter paths than others have.
  • Betweenness is a measure of how short are the chains that connects a person to the totality of the network.
  • Or, looked at differently, betweenness is a measure of how many social circles, or social scenes, a person is connected to.
  • So, it’s not who you know it’s where you know. It’s where you are situated in the network, and not just in the limited sense of how many immediate contacts you have.

10. The $32,000 Startup - BusinessWeek

If entrepreneurs can build sophisticated technologies so cheaply in the Web world, who needs venture capitalists any more?

11. A Liquid, Not A Solid: A City, Not A Machine | Stowe Boyd

  • The boundaries of businesses will be more diffused: it will be hard to say exactly where a business ends, because of loose and shifting integration with other groups, freelancers, and customers. And internally, businesses will seem like marketplaces, with people cooperating and competing for resources, making deals and agreements, exchanging goods and services, building up and tearing things down, and lots of comings and goings. The edge of businesses will be where value is created and delivered.
  • professional reputation will be more important than titles, connections more important than rank, and authority will be derived from connections not control.

12. Om.Is.Me » What Does a Founder Do?

Founder is like a tugboat, nudging, pushing, guiding and moving a much bigger ship (aka the company) ahead and on track.

13. Robert Gaal - Plutor & Fedor: A Facebook Acquisition Story

Facebook has a big problem that, in my opinion, Sofa can solve. It consists of many talented developers, but design has never been an integral part of Facebook. However, on the scale at which they operate, design is crucial to win wars. Apple has Jonathan Ive. Facebook needs exactly that. By buying Sofa, they’ve acquired ten Ive’s at once. Sofa can have a direct impact on the growth of the worlds biggest social network, thanks to the flat organization Facebook is known for.

14. stop-ab-testing-and-make-out-like-a-bandit

  • The key problem with A/B testing is it doesn’t respect what the significance test is actually saying. When a test shows B is significantly better than A, it is right to throw out A. However, when there is no significant difference the test is not saying that B is no better than A, but rather that the data does not support any conclusion.
  • A/B testing is also suboptimal in another way — it doesn’t take advantage of information gained during the trial.

15. NYTimes: Do Happier People Work Harder?

  • Gallup estimates the cost of America’s disengagement crisis at a staggering $300 billion in lost productivity annually. When people don’t care about their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less, or their work quality suffers.
  • A clear pattern emerged when we analyzed the 64,000 specific workday events reported in the diaries: of all the events that engage people at work, the single most important — by far — is simply making progress in meaningful work.
  • As long as workers experience their labor as meaningful, progress is often followed by joy and excitement about the work
  • Working adults spend more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else. Work should ennoble, not kill, the human spirit. Promoting workers’ well-being isn’t just ethical; it makes economic sense.

16. The Psychology of Yogurt - Wired

  • When probiotic-fed animals were put in stressful conditions, such as being dropped into a pool of water, they were less anxious and released less stress hormone.
  • Although we feel like a disembodied soul, many feelings and choices are actually shaped by the microbes in our gut and the palpitations of our heart.

Kirigin, Day 1

I underreported how fucked things were, looking at an old archive.
Remaining: 1501Reduced by: 11
In a sadistic turn of events, I’ll list the articles I read that you should read, but also those that you can skip. 
Worth Reading:

Not worth reading:


Read 16 articles! + Archived 9 I already read but never archived.

Added 9 (Damn you Think Quarterly).

1388 articles left


The following are the articles I read today along with notes & highlights:

1. Amazon, the Company That Ate the World - BusinessWeek

  • We don’t think of the Kindle Fire as a tablet. We think of it as a service.”
  • As its rivals steadily asphyxiate, Amazon is ringing up 50 percent growth in quarterly revenues, and could reach $50 billion in sales this year. Walmart needed almost twice the time—33 years—to cross that threshold. “Amazon is such a smart learning organization,” says Nancy F. Koehn, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. “It’s like a biological organism that through natural selection and adaptation just keeps learning and growing.”
  • We are a company with a lot of ideas,” Bezos says, when asked directly about his plans. And then, of course, he laughs uproariously
  • I believe these industries are so big, there are going to be multiple winners,” Bezos says. He’s been saying that for 10 years, during which time he’s helped consign Circuit City, Borders, and others to oblivion. “When I look at something like the Kindle Fire, what I want is to be one of the winners.”

2. How Does Google Make the Big Bucks? An Infographic Answer | Epicenter |

Rounding out the top 20 is an odd entry — Cord Blood.

“I didn’t know what that was,” Kim told “Turns out the industry has to with rich parents preserving their child’s umbilical cord with idea that the stem cells in it will be able to cure diseases in the future. And storage of cord blood has huge upfront cost and substantial ongoing payments.”

3. How StumbleUpon is winning on the web — Tech News and Analysis

  • Earlier this month, StumbleUpon surpassed Facebook to become the biggest traffic driver among social media startups in the US.
  • Camp’s dedication to StumbleUpon through thick and thin seems unique in an industry where the label “serial entrepreneur” is often worn as a badge of honor. The CEO told me he has stuck with StumbleUpon for one basic reason: It’s still the best place for him to turn his dreams into realities. “At the end of the day, I just really like the service,” he said. “To this day, when I have an idea, it always seems like StumbleUpon is still the best place to implement it. Now that we’re independent again, you can have an idea here and make it happen very quickly.”

4. [this is aaronland] meat grinder prisms [Flickr Push API]

It works at a scale that no one has been able to do before and it makes possible all kinds of applications that have either been impossible or so annoying to build that they might as well be impossible.

5. Teatime » Dangerous Art - 
My friend Teafarie and her friend Seuss dean wrote THE BEST overview of Burning Man I’ve ever read

  • It’s many things to many people, but even the most jaded of its critics agree that it’s never boring. Burning Man is a social experiment, a networking opportunity, an outdoor art museum, a rite of passage, a great excuse to blow stuff up, and the best damned party in the world.
  • There is a truism amongst enthusiasts that Burning Man, like the psychedelic experience that informs a large subsection of its culture, cannot be satisfactorily described to a non-initiate. That doesn’t stop folks from going on and on about it about it, though, as many long-suffering friends of devoted participants can attest. First-year Burners are the worst. They sound exactly like zealous converts to some kinky new religion; except the only dogma seems to revolve around the decommodification of goods and services, radical self-expression, total participation, low environmental impact, and the primacy of immediate experience.
  • I remember watching movies about the ’60s when I was a kid and thinking that I’d missed all the good stuff. I was wrong, of course. Yet back then, it seemed to me like there had been one great spasm of explosive freedom before I was born, and then it all slipped back to business as usual. Now ever-increasing change has taken business as usual off the menu, but most people still feel like spectators. Unsure of how to turn the juggernaut of history, many of us bury our heads in the silicon confetti, rendering ourselves too numb even to despair. Burning Man illustrates that we can do anything we put our minds to. Burning Man creates a context in which we feel free and inspired to be the change we want to see in the world. Burning Man makes me feel that this is the most exciting possible time to be alive and the best part is just beginning. Burning Man is the epicenter of a true cultural revolution that turns spectators into participants in the art of life, and there is nothing more dangerous and beautiful than that.

6. The Technium: The Shirky Principle

  • Peter Principle, which says that a person in an organization will be promoted to the level of their incompetence. At which point their past achievements will prevent them from being fired, but their incompetence at this new level will prevent them from being promoted again, so they stagnate in their incompetence
  • The Shirky Principle declares that complex solutions (like a company, or an industry) can become so dedicated to the problem they are the solution to, that often they inadvertently perpetuate the problem.

7. Life in the Crosshairs
The man has a gift of looking at the world and concisely sharing its glory with the world. I find myself wanting to reblog his stuff on a daily basis. I basically highlighted each paragraph in this post.

  • The first rule of startup club is that if you’re doing anything interesting you’re in someone’s crosshairs. Get over it. Startups are at far greater risk of putting themselves out of business than having Steve Jobs do it for them.
  • But, life in the crosshairs tends to have a better outcome when you don’t start there; meaning, its best not to start your business as an obvious missing feature or a better version of an existing one. Most crosshairs take aim on what’s at the center of the bullseye. Going after pieces of an emergent platform that would bring them to parity with their competitors will occasionally lead to a small exit, but it’s generally a losing strategy
  • We’ve found that creating your audience at the edge of a market allows startups to build and educate a user base on the value of their service before the platform vendor takes note. That existing user base will tend to pull you to other platforms and technologies which will mitigate the competitive risk of being tied to a single platform vendor’s technologies and objectives.
  • As a startup you can’t out Apple Apple, but you can compete in ways they can’t. And if you find yourself locked in their crosshairs, the worst thing you can do is get scared and freeze. Its much tougher to hit a moving target.

8. Mike Hudack • Typed tweets

A single-channel Twitter lets us subscribe to our friends’ lives: a multi-channel Twitter would let us subscribe in a much more fine-grained fashion to the specific aspects of their activity that interest us.

9. Hack Your Culture | TechCrunch

  • Behavior is a virus. We spread our behavior to those around us, whether passively or on purpose.
  • You can hack your own culture. Surround yourself with people who do what you want to do, and eventually you’ll wake up to find yourself doing the same

10. Courtney Love does the math -

  • I have a 14-year-old niece. She used to want to be a rock star. Before that she wanted to be an actress. As of six months ago, what do you think she wants to be when she grows up? What’s the glamorous, emancipating career of choice? Of course, she wants to be a Web designer. It’s such a glamorous business!
  • You funny dot-communists. Get your shit together, you annoying sucka VCs The celebrity-for-sale business is about to crash, I hope, and the idea of a sucker VC gifting some company with four floors just because they can “do” “chats” with “Christina” once or twice is ridiculous. I did a chat today, twice. Big damn deal. 200 bucks for the software and some elbow grease and a good back-end coder. Wow. That’s not worth 150 million bucks.
  • Put simply, the antitrust laws in this country are basically a joke, protecting us just enough to not have to re-name our park service the Phillip Morris National Park Service.) Artists will make that compromise if it means we can connect with hundreds of millions of fans instead of the hundreds of thousands that we have now
  • Digital distribution gives everyone worldwide, instant access to music. As a user, I love Napster. It carries some risk. I hear idealistic business people talk about how people that are musicians would be musicians no matter what and that we’re already doing it for free, so what about copyright? Since I’ve basically been giving my music away for free under the old system, I’m not afraid of wireless, MP3 files or any of the other threats to my copyrights. Anything that makes my music more available to more people is great. MP3 files sound cruddy, but a well-made album sounds great. And I don’t care what anyone says about digital recordings. At this point they are good for dance music, but try listening to a warm guitar tone on them. They suck for what I do.
  • The present system keeps artists from finding an audience because it has too many artificial scarcities: limited radio promotion, limited bin space in stores and a limited number of spots on the record company roster. The digital world has no scarcities. There are countless ways to reach an audience. Radio is no longer the only place to hear a new song.
  • I’m looking for people to help connect me to more fans, because I believe fans will leave a tip based on the enjoyment and service I provide. I’m not scared of them getting a preview. It really is going to be a global village where a billion people have access to one artist and a billion people can leave a tip if they want to.
  • Here’s my open letter to Steve Case: Avatars don’t talk back!!! But what are you going to do with real live artists? And they’re not actors or participators. They’re the rightful owners, originators and performers of original compositions.
  • Every single artist who makes records believes and hopes that they give you something that will transform your life. If you’re really just interested in data mining or selling banner ads, stick with those “artists” willing to call themselves content providers. I don’t know if an artist can last by meeting the current public taste, the taste from the last quarterly report. I don’t think you can last by following demographics and carefully meeting expectations. I don’t know many lasting works of art that are condescending or deliberately stupid or were created as content. Don’t tell me I’m a brand. I’m famous and people recognize me, but I can’t look in the mirror and see my brand identity. Keep talking about brands and you know what you’ll get? Bad clothes. Bad hair. Bad books. Bad movies. And bad records. And bankrupt businesses. Rides that were fun for a year with no employee loyalty but everyone got rich fucking you. Who wants that? The answer is purity. We can afford it. Let’s go find it again while we can. I also feel filthy trying to call my music a product. It’s not a thing that I test market like toothpaste or a new car. Music is personal and mysterious. Being a “content provider” is prostitution work that devalues our art and doesn’t satisfy our spirits. Artistic expression has to be provocative. The problem with artists and the Internet: Once their art is reduced to content, they may never have the opportunity to retrieve their souls. When you form your business for creative people, with creative people, come at us with some thought. Everybody’s process is different. And remember that it’s art. We’re not craftspeople.

11. Introducing Omar Hamoui’s First Project From Churn Labs: Gnonstop Gnomes

April Fools post

12. Nat Turner (Don’t assume people are smart)

  • All too often, people give other people (including us) the benefit of the doubt for being intelligent.  This post suggests that you should flip that thinking around and start assuming someone is not smart until proven otherwise.
  • The truth is, not everyone is smart but way too many people are able to “fail upwards” and get credit when credit isn’t due, or are just really good at faking it.
  • Bad advice taken seriously can be as dangerous as good advice that was ignored.
  • I’m obviously not suggesting you use this strategy out in the open and voice your findings.  I’m suggesting that this way of thinking can be useful if you internalize it when judging and sizing up the people you’re working or interacting with, which we all do (and should do) in startup building.

13. Skillshare - Careers

  • We build all-star team players. No exceptions.
  • We have an extreme bias towards action.
  • We fail fast and embrace change.
  • We are a meritocracy.
  • We pursue growth and learning as a team.
  • We believe that happiness and passion trumps everything.
  • We have a social purpose and mission.

14. Yokul: Local Google Charts

Yokul is a little JavaScript experiment I’ve been playing with in my free time. Using the same query string you’d normally send to the Google Image Chart API a local chart is created on the client using an HTML5 canvas

15. Stumptown Expands With the Help of a Powerful Investor -

“Getting some money to grow your business is not evil,” Mr. Panos said

16. Greg Meyer of Gist: Finding your true fans in every city - Silicon Prairie News

your community is a living and breathing thing – if you help it to grow by engaging key members in a city or in an affinity group, they’ll help you to be interesting, and help you avoid the trap of “try my product” instead of the true goal of “get to know me and my team as people.”

Totally Fucked


Ok, I’ll start this too. But I don’t have a chance of finishing by the end of the year. Here is what my instapaper looks like, approximately:

  • Unread: 1356
  • Edifying Waste: 24
  • Industry: 25
  • Required Reading: 1
  • Startups: 38
  • Work: 3
  • Waste: 19

So total of 1466. If I read 10 a day, and read my incoming articles nightly, this will take about 5 months. I’ll count moving things from unread into a category as partial progress too.

I’ll try to check in again in a week.


MSG, I suggest you only read those things that will help meet your goals.

For example, no need to read about Russia’s upcoming elections if that does not relate to your goals.

I get overwhelmed with “interesting” articles that do little to help my professional and personal goals. So I am working on cutting those out of my stream. Just FYI.


MSG’s Response:

I hear ya brother, but I dont agree. Reading outside of your zone allows for thinking differently when you are in your zone.

My buddy Matt Lehrer just figured out an easy way to get your instapaper unread count.

Go to your unread folder then on the bottom right click export csv, then download html, then open html and scroll down to find the number next to your last article in your unread folder.

I’ve decided that by the end of the year I would like to have an empty instapaper queue.
According to Wolfram Alpha there are 2 months and 29 days left in 2011 and based on randomly guessing the last page in my unread folder (35) and the # of articles per page (40) thats how I figured out that I have 1400 articles to read. Since the tweet I added 4 more articles.
According to @amandapey I need to roughly read 16 articles a day.
I will be using this tumblr to highlight the days progress and some interesting reads.
If you want to join me on this mission. Holler at me (@msg) I’ll add you to this site or you can just submit your daily notes here.

I’ve decided that by the end of the year I would like to have an empty instapaper queue.

According to Wolfram Alpha there are 2 months and 29 days left in 2011 and based on randomly guessing the last page in my unread folder (35) and the # of articles per page (40) thats how I figured out that I have 1400 articles to read. Since the tweet I added 4 more articles.

According to @amandapey I need to roughly read 16 articles a day.

I will be using this tumblr to highlight the days progress and some interesting reads.

If you want to join me on this mission. Holler at me (@msg) I’ll add you to this site or you can just submit your daily notes here.