Good Conversations Have Lots of Doorknobs

Link to article. My thoughts below.

This is an article by a psychologist relating improv techniques to conversational patterns.

The piece is interesting because it explores some archetypes of people in conversation, how we might conceptualize what we’re doing in conversations, and how we might improve our conversational skills to bring out the best in each other.


Givers think that conversations unfold as a series of invitations; takers think conversations unfold as a series of declarations. When giver meets giver or taker meets taker, all is well. When giver meets taker, however, giver gives, taker takes, and giver gets resentful (“Why won’t he ask me a single question?”) while taker has a lovely time (“She must really think I’m interesting!”) or gets annoyed (“My job is so boring, why does she keep asking me about it?”).

Blogging as Structured Thinking

Thinking about Blogging

When’s the last time you just sat down and thought about stuff?

For me, it’s not a regular habit, but I think it should be, and I think formalizing it as “blogging” is the way to make it happen.

While it could be just a me-problem, I suspect in the advent of the Instagram and TikTok eras I’m not the only one constantly on a media-powered serotonin high.

Early Stage Product Questions

Product Roadmap

Who What When Where Why and How - A Short Silicon Valley Poem

  1. The CEO looks at the market conditions to identify a problem that a user segment has.

    Consumes: when, where

    Answers: who, why

Loss, Grief, Sadness

Link to original comment on Reddit. Quoted in full below.

Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

The Future Historians of Silicon Valley

One of the most common university majors for past presidents is History. In fact, students of history find their way into some of the most “influential” professions, with careers in politics, policy-making, and law.

Those who study history learn of the decisions that were made in the past, the reasoning behind them, and the results thereafter. Thus those who study history might have a better understanding of policies that they are working on, the options available to them, and the potential consequences.

Although this kind of history-based work sits firmly in the humanities, it’s not all that different from what we do here in Silicon Valley.

Lists of Startup Tools Are Not Useful

There’s a common trend among companies, blogs, and even Github repositories to create a list of “tools” for startups. Here’s a startup built on that premise: Startup Stash. Here’s a Medium article: 400 Free Resources And Tools For Entrepreneurs, Freelancers and Startups. Here’s a Github: Awesome Startup. Here’s a VC resources page: Antler Toolbox.

I too love being overwhelmed with options.

When I saw the first of these appear, I think it was a list on GitHub, it was pretty cool and I even bookmarked the site. But by now, these resource lists are becoming incredibly useless and boring.

Why Video Games Aren't Art

I play a fair amount of video games, including emotional, aesthetic games like Florence and complex, open games like Dwarf Fortress. Over the years there are periodically discussions about whether video games are art. For example, here are articles from Time and London Review of Books on the subject.

Florence, an interactive story about love and life.

These discussions tend to ask about the aesthetic and entertainment values of the medium, trying to address the question of what exactly makes art, art. But to peel back the layer of indirection, art at its core is anything that is culture; It is a shared experience.

And interestingly, that’s what disqualifies video games.

On My Procrastination With Blogging

To be honest, I’m scared of commiting content to the Internet. As a recovering perfectionist, I’m always scared to reveal the parts of me that are less than perfect. When I think of a blog entry, I think it needs to be fleshed out and insightful and fulfilling. But as Neil Fiore points out in The Now Habit, when we think about the final version of a project, we discredit all the dirty, imperfect work that has to go in to the steps of getting there. And this mental block causes us to procrastinate.