Chris Burnor Philosophical Nerd

Incremental Decision Making

I found this article in the New York Times a while ago and it got me to thinking about how we actually make decisions and the different philosophies that we use to govern our decision making process. This is vitally important to start-ups as 80% of the work amounts to making decisions. The funny thing about those decisions is that most of them are inconsequential, but a few of them turn out to be vitally important.

Users, Customers and Community

Jack Dorsey posted last week on reconsidering the use of the term ‘user.’ He proposes replacing it with the word ‘customer’ in the general sense, and ‘buyer’ and ‘seller’ in the specific Square context. While I agree in the general sense that the term ‘user’ is somewhat disparaging (though not as bad as some terms I’ve heard – like ‘muggle’) , I think that replacing the term with ‘customer’ is a step backwards.

What's the Deal With .*rc files?

Modern POSIX operating systems are littered with .rc and rc.¬†files. Apparently these stand for ‘run commands’ and the term actually dates all the way back to 1965 on the MIT CTSS system (the precursor to Multics which was the precursor to Unix). I love the overwhelming weight of history that you find in a *nix system.

Upside Vs Downside Risk

Risk is usually discussed in one dimensional terms, as though it is a scalar that simply has a value in a particular situation. Sky diving is risky. Leaving the root MySQL account without a password is risky. Starting a company is risky. I think this is a mis-modeling of how risk works. What is risk? Fundamentally, it is simply a probability – the chance that a particular outcome will manifest itself in a given situation.

Success Is 80% Not Screwing Up

There was a poster in the the hallway of my middle school that said ‘Shoot for the Moon: Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.’ I always hated that poster. My cynical eighth grade self, thought “It should read: ‘Shoot for the Moon: If you miss, you’ll slowly suffocate to death in the cold loneliness of space.’ " Cynicism aside, it seemed patently false. Success wasn’t about shooting for the moon, but doing your homework, studying for tests and not being a dick to your friends.