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“In 1993, Fred Brooks, the software engineering guru, spoke at a conference on the history of programming languages sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery. His subject was software design, and at one point he noted that some programming languages and operating systems have “fan clubs” - which he defined as “fanatics” - while others do not. “What are successful, widely used, effective, valuable contributing products,” he asked, “that I never saw a fan club for?” He listed a handful including COBOL, OS/360, and Microsoft’s Disk Operating System. On the other side, his list of software with ardent fans included FORTRAN, Pascal, C, Unix, and the Macintosh operating system.
The difference, Brooks said, was that the languages and operating systems with fanatical fan clubs “were originally designed to satisfy a designer or a very small group of designers.” Whereas successful products unable to inspire fan clubs, he noted, were “designed to satisfy a large set of requirements” - they were “done inside product processes.” So, Brooks asked, “what does that tell us about product processes?”
His answer: “They produce serviceable things but not great things.””

—   Steve Lohr

“Men and women show more endurance, more resourcefulness and more humanity under conditions of adversity than they do under conditions of affluence.”

On the TripAdvisor IPO

Big win for the “golden age of SEO”.  By which I’m referring to roughly 2001-2008 when “demand” for content (people typing in search queries) far outpaced supply (good content). Companies like Yelp and TripAdvisor (along with Wikipedia, IMDB, etc) grew huge during this period, almost entirely through SEO. They did this by getting highly defensible flywheels spinning where more content meant more SEO which meant more users which meant more content. It is now far more difficult to grow a startup primarily through SEO. Almost all monetizable search categories have vast excesses of SEOd content. Moreover, Google is creating their own content (e.g. Google Places) which, at least at times, they have favored in their search results. - @cdixon


“What use could this company make of an electrical toy?”

—   William Orton of Western Union, after turning down the $100,000 offer for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patents 

“Work like a dog being taken for a walk, instead of an ox being yoked to the plow.”

“Exponential change is sneaky. At first, you barely notice it. Then, suddenly, it turns vertical and becomes apocalyptic. All the while, the first derivative never changed.”

—   Gary Morgenthaler

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

—   Dr. Carl Sagan

Strong endorsement of the internet’s potential in education