Links and Notes - March 29th 2021

School has begun

Today was the supposedly big day. The day where my son goes off to school and tears are supposed to be shed over how big of a deal it is. But funnily enough it really didn't feel much different than dropping him off at nursery. I just hope he's alright. With covid measures in place, the schools work with half of the class on one week, and the other half the next week. I assume that playtime is also limited and interaction between students is kept to a minimum.

Still, even with these restrictions making school life a hobbled experience, I think it's better than staying at home all day with no other children to interact with. This isn't to say that something like home schooling is bad. On the contrary I actually would prefer to home school my son and give him opportunities to learn in ways that suits his individual mental model. But, there is a lot to be said for the school going model where children learn to interact with other children unsupervised and unobserved by parents. Memories are made there.

On creating content for virality

With school starting, I do get to enjoy my podcasts again. One of the more entertaining and thought provoking podcasts I listed to is "My First Million". It's fun to work the critical thinking muscle as the podcast hosts move through various ideas and assumptions. This exercise ends up generating lots of creative thoughts for me.

Today's thoughts are not about that though. The episode I was listening to was about Shaan's recent and viral tweet thread on Clubhouse's inevitable-ish failure.

Shaan is pretty big on creating content that does well on social media. In the podcast he even mentions his approach to creating content which includes starting out with thinking about the emotion he wants to evoke with the content. The emotion has to be strong in order to be viral. Shaan recently retweeted one of his apprentice's tweets which shares his entire writing worklow.

And it's cool. I mean, Shaan has grown his follower count on Twitter by a lot over the last few months. His aim is to hustle on the platform so that he can create an influential presence that can be leveraged. And he's putting in hard work to make it happen; more power to him.

But it's just something I can't wrap my head around. I feel like writing in order to create "hits" is just such a killer of joy in putting thoughts out there into the world. It's always a happy day to know that something you've written has resonated with people, but to make it the entire purpose feels so... Empty? I don't want to judge and I'm not judging. It's just how it would make me feel if I was to do that. And I know it, because I tried that once a long time ago, and while I started growing my influence heavily, I started to feel sad when things I tweeted didn't get any action. I attached the value of myself to how people valued my "content". And one day I realised I had no joy. Just cycles of anxiety and euphoria.

I definitely want my content to resonate with people over time. I want to share and know that people find what I create to be interesting and of value. But I never want virality to be my success metric.

Shape up and non product work

Shape up is a product development methodology of sorts which Basecamp created to ensure that their work gets done. It's also a book which the team at Basecamp, particularly Ryan Singer, has written to share with the world how to follow this methodology. I've heard a lot of good things about it and I've been longing to try it out. The problem is that I don't do any product development work as such.

That said, after doing a read of the book a couple of weeks ago, I've been thinking about what parts can be applied to non product work. In the case of my work at Buffer, I need to document the deployment pipeline properly since I'm moving out of my current role into security engineering.

On that note, you should consider applying if you like to work as a devops engineer helping to shape developer experiences at Buffer. It's the role I'm leaving behind and I can assure you that it's a lot of fun and I'm only leaving it because I've found that I really really enjoy security engineering.

Anyways, back to the topic of Shape Up. The principle that I got from it are:

  1. Set a timeline that you feel comfortable allocating for the project (appetite). Note that this isn't an estimate. You decide how much work can fit into the timeline after choosing it.
    1. Also, don't choose more than six weeks because we humans are awful at estimating anything long term
  2. Figure out the solution at a high level. Details are for later. "Shape" that solution to something that feels doable in the timeline you've given yourself
  3. Set the limits on what you will be solving for and what you will explicitly not be solving for
  4. Make a pitch. If successfully accepted, begin work
  5. The most important bit! If you can't get the project done in time, hard luck. You go back to the drawing board, ask yourself where things went wrong, and what you'd need to do to fit the tasks to your appetite. And then you re-pitch the whole thing. This prevents projects from getting free extensions forever.

This doesn't have to be just for product work really. This could apply to a lot of different types of knowledge work. Even writing a book! And even more importantly, it's not incompatible with someone implementing the GTD methodology. GTD may seem to have less preference for due dates, but it's perfectly comfortable supporting it as long as it is a hard boundary, i.e., not something that can get pushed around endlessly.

And so begins an experiment in work methodologies.

Deno is a company... And a curiosity

Via Hacker News.

This is the second time I'm hearing of some Deno related news. I didn't even know that they'd already hit v1. In fact, it looks like the team behind it has been really busy. Of all the web tech that's being built, this seems to be one I'd love to poke around and look into.

This particular HN comment piqued my interest:

I've been building my new multiplayer games website [1] with Deno over the last 4 months and apart from some minor growing pains, it's been a joy to use.

[1] Not yet launched but we ran a preview past weekend with hundreds of players over WebSockets: -

That's production use! I'd love to know more companies who are using this in production.

GothamChess' most entertaining video so far

This one had me in fits. If you enjoy chess at all, watch this. Hilarious and educational.

This blog doesn't have a comment box. But I'd love to hear any thoughts y'all might have. Send them to [email protected]

Previous links and notes (March 28th)

Next links and notes (March 30th)

Posted on March 29 2021 by Adnan Issadeen