Michelle Sun San Francisco

It takes time to come across situations where you notice something missing. And often these gaps won’t seem to be ideas for companies, just things that would be interesting to build. Which is why it’s good to have the time and the inclination to build things just because they’re interesting.

Live in the future and build what seems interesting.

Which means, strangely enough, that coming up with startup ideas is a question of seeing the obvious. That suggests how weird this process is: you’re trying to see things that are obvious, and yet that you hadn’t seen.

Since what you need to do here is loosen up your own mind, it may be best not to make too much of a direct frontal attack on the problem—i.e. to sit down and try to think of ideas. The best plan may be just to keep a background process running, looking for things that seem to be missing. Work on hard problems, driven mainly by curiousity, but have a second self watching over your shoulder, taking note of gaps and anomalies.

Many founders believe they are at a disadvantage to someone who knows how to write code. They believe they are not hackers because they are not coders. The truth is they might have a creative advantage because they won’t be jumping into code too soon. Instead, they’ll be forced to “hack” their ideas and test them using high level tools and platforms that will keep them at the level of detail. They’ll be focused on solving user problems, rather than solving implementation problems.

Hacking isn’t just about coding skills. it’s a mindset of getting things done while focusing on what matters the most at each stage, without getting lost in the detail too soon.

You need to be able to shift decisively from brainstorm mode into execution mode. It’s fine to pontificate about the big world changing vision. But, at some point, you need to clear the cruft and make a beeline to launch, then iterate quickly with real customers.

// Paul Graham and his path to founding YCombinator//

On seeing possibilities: 

For people who are stuck in rigid ways of seeing, the familiarity of an old application hypnotizes them into not seeing its other possibilities. What it all really comes down to is the possession of a flexible, adaptable mind—something that is often enough to separate a successful inventor or entrepreneur from the rest of the crowd.

On successful entrepreneurs: 

what really makes successful entrepreneurs is not the nature of their idea, or the university they went to, but their actual character—their willingness to adapt their idea and take advantage of possibilities they had not first imagined. This is precisely the trait—fluidity of mind—that Graham had identified in himself and in other inventors. 

On creativity and adaptability: 

what constitutes true creativity is the openness and adaptability of our spirit. When we see or experience something we must be able to look at it from several angles, to see other possibilities beyond the obvious ones. We imagine that the objects around us can be used and co-opted for different purposes. We do not hold on to our original idea out of sheer stubbornness, or because our ego is tied up with its rightness. Instead, we move with what presents itself to us in the moment, exploring and exploiting different branches and contingencies. We thus manage to turn feathers into flying material. The difference then is not in some initial creative power of the brain, but in how we look at the world and the fluidity with which we can reframe what we see. Creativity and adaptability are inseparable.

(Source: Fast Company)

// Real time, same voice translation from English to Mandarin//

“Just over two years ago, researchers at Microsoft Research and the University of Toronto made another breakthrough. By using a technique called Deep Neural Networks, which is patterned after human brain behavior, researchers were able to train more discriminative and better speech recognizers than previous methods

- Rick Rashid, head of Microsoft Research

(Source: thenextweb.com)

// interfaces and caffeine//

"Interfaces are the poly in polymorphism.  The ab in abstract.  The caffeine in Java.”

Love it when books make great connections between concepts and real life objects. 

(Source: shop.oreilly.com)

thisistheverge:

The Verge iOS app updated with forums, iPhone 5 compatibility, and interface tweaks
iOS users, the wait is over — after updating our Android app with some design tweaks and the ability to browse the forums, we’ve now done the same for you. The latest version of the Verge app is live in the App Store right now and brings you all the forum functionality of the Android app along with some iOS-specific UI improvements. It also takes full advantage of the iPhone 5 and new iPod touch’s taller screen. 

One of the most beautiful tech blog apps I’ve seen. What a joy to use! 

thisistheverge:

The Verge iOS app updated with forums, iPhone 5 compatibility, and interface tweaks

iOS users, the wait is over — after updating our Android app with some design tweaks and the ability to browse the forums, we’ve now done the same for you. The latest version of the Verge app is live in the App Store right now and brings you all the forum functionality of the Android app along with some iOS-specific UI improvements. It also takes full advantage of the iPhone 5 and new iPod touch’s taller screen. 

One of the most beautiful tech blog apps I’ve seen. What a joy to use! 

The True Cost Of Facebook Keeping Secrets From Its Users

tedr:

I’m sure Facebook and its partners will weather the storm. But it’s going to lose a year of gift buying, incremental ad buys, and related revenue. All because it doesn’t know how to treat customers with respect.

Read my whole post on ReadWriteWeb on Facebook risking two HUGE new revenue lines simply because they have never learned how to communicate upcoming changes with their audience.

Instead of controlling the conversation by proactively announcing the changes they’ve made, they make platitude about how much they care about your privacy (see recent Sheryl Sandberg quote)

So later they’ll have to deal reactively to an irrationally strong, fear-induced user backlash which is going to hamstring their new Ad Targeting AND Gifts business lines in one big mess, which means instead of these business lines pulling the company out of their stock valuatiopn doldrums it’s going to make it last a whole year long.

And all because they don’t know how to communicate with their users.

READ THE FULL POST

I believe the true cost is much higher than a year loss in gift buying.  The true cost of Facebook keeping secret from its customers is a matter of boiling water with the frog in it.  How long will the frog stay in before it jumps out?  

Will users who made what they thought was a private transaction believe that Facebook is very protective of their trust when it becomes clear that the site has sold information about their action? 

The reason why Facebook’s business model is built on shaky sand is that, Google sells advertising based on its technology; a smart algorithm that brings order to the web.  Yes, they use users’ clicks to better the ranking so the ranking is improved based on users’ preference.  On the other hand, Facebook’s biggest asset is users.  Its content is user generated.  Network effect increases the value of the network for each user as more users join the network.  

However, now that Facebook’s revenue is based off of advertising, it is getting itself into a situation in serving two masters.  With a goldmine of user data, Facebook faces the daily choice of pleasing the advertisers (therefore increasing revenue/profit potential and share price performance) and selling out its users.  Facebook’s value as a company and its value to advertisers is contingent upon the users’ sharing, yet the ongoing changes are continuously distancing itself from long-time users, including myself

Mark Zuckerberg has been reported in various occasions that he does not care about privacy.  While there are arguments about Zuckerberg’s true stance, the thought of relying a central repository of personal data on a profit making company is by itself a shuddering thought.

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I work at Buffer on metrics/growth. Here I share about startups, personal improvement and wellness.
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