Mental models

Mental models

These are some mental models I find useful. They’re rooted in decades of experience of thousands of experts – a modern equivalent of folk wisdom. Mental models are useful to quickly and correctly reason about seemingly intractable problems. They require quite a bit of intuition to properly internalize, but once you’ve internalized them they’re relatively…

RethinkDB: why we failed

RethinkDB: why we failed

  Terrible market Our thinking went something like this. New companies aren’t getting built on top of Oracle, so there is a window of opportunity to build a new infrastructure company. The database market is huge. If we build a product that captures some of that market, we’ll end up building a very successful company….

Paul Roberts

Paul Roberts

From How to say nothing in five hundred words: List as many arguments as you can. When you can’t anymore, you’ve probably listed most of your cached thoughts. Don’t use these. When in doubt, go for maximum surprise. Concrete is better than abstract. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out….

George Orwell

George Orwell

From Politics and the English Language: Bad writing has two qualities: staleness of imagery and lack of precision. Tabulate your thoughts in precise and detailed ways. Prefer concrete to the abstract. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. There is no such thing as keeping out of politics. All issues are political issues. Grammar is…

Paul Graham

Paul Graham

From The Age of the Essay: An essay begins with a question. You notice a door that’s ajar, and you open it and walk in to see what’s inside. Surprise the reader by telling them something they always knew deep inside but didn’t bother to do the work to make it conscious. Collect surprises. It’s a…

Talking to users

Talking to users

The idea that startups should talk to users is conventional wisdom. Great founders talk to users, so most founders signal their greatness by making a point that they do it too. But empirically talking to users is so hard that people make excuses not to do it, and then convince themselves that they’re extremely user…