Even if we crash and burn and loose everthing the experience is worth ten times the cost.
~ S. Jobs
As always, Oh Dear Readers, i trust this finds you safe. Second, to those affected by the SVB situation – Godspeed.
Third, i was inspired to write a blog on “Doing versus Thinking,” and then i decided on the title “Execution Is Everything”. This statement happens to be located at the top of my LinkedIn Profile.
The impetus for this blog came from a recent conversation where an executive who told me, “I made the fundamental mistake of falling in love with the idea and quickly realized that ideas are cheap, it is the team that matters.”
This is taken directly from the book in his words, but condensed for space, here are some examples of the types of lists James makes:
10 olds ideas I can make new
10 ridiculous things I would invent (e.g., the smart toilet)
10 books I can write (The Choose Yourself Guide to an Alternative Education, etc).
10 business ideas for Google/Amazon/Twitter/etc.
10 people I can send ideas to
10 podcast ideas or videos I can shoot (e.g., Lunch with James, a video podcast where I just have lunch with people over Skype and we chat)
10 industries where I can remove the middleman
10 things I disagree with that everyone else assumes is religion (college, home ownership, voting, doctors, etc.)
10 ways to take old posts of mine and make books out of them
10 people I want to be friends with (then figure out the first step to contact them)
10 things I learned yesterday
10 things I can do differently today
10 ways I can save time
10 things I learned from X, where X is someone I’ve recently spoken with or read a book by or about. I’ve written posts on this about the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Steve Jobs, Charles Bukowski, the Dalaï Lama, Superman, Freakonomics, etc.
10 things I’m interested in getting better at (and then 10 ways I can get better at each one)
10 things I was interested in as a kid that might be fun to explore now (like, maybe I can write that “Son of Dr. Strange” comic I’ve always been planning. And now I need 10 plot ideas.)
10 ways I might try to solve a problem I have. This has saved me with the IRS countless times. Unfortunately, the Department is Motor Vehicles is impervious to my superpowers
Is your brain tired of just “thinking” about doing those gymnastics?
i cannot tell you how many people have come to me and said “hey I have an idea!” Great, so do you and countless others. What is your plan of making it a reality? What is your maniacal passion every day to get this thing off the ground and make money?
The statement “Oh I/We thought about that 3 years ago” is not a qualifier for anything except that fact you thought it and didn’t execute on said idea. You know why?
Creating software from an idea that runs 24/7 is still rather difficult. In fact VERY DIFFICULT.
“Oh We THOUGHT about that <insert number of days or years ago here>. i call the above commentary “THOUGHTING”. Somehow the THOUGHT is manifested from Ideas2Bank? If that is a process, i’d love to see the burndown chart on that one. No Oh Dear Readers, THOUGHTING is about as useful as that overly complex PowerPoint that gets edited ad nauseam, and people confuse the “slideware” with “software”. The only code that matters is this:
Code that is written with the smallest OPEX and Highest Margins thereby increasing Revenue Per Employee unless you choose to put it in open source for a wonderful plethora of reasons or you are providing a philanthropic service.
When it comes to creating software, “Execution is everything.” gets tossed around just like the phrase “It Just Works” as a requirement. At its core, this phrase means that the ability to bring an idea to life through effective implementation is what separates successful software from failed experiments.
The dynamic range between average and the best is 2:1. In software it is 50:1 maybe 100:1 very few things in life are like this. I’ve built a lot of my sucess on finding these truly gifted people.
~ S. Jobs
In order to understand why execution is so critical in software development, it’s helpful first to consider what we mean by “execution.” Simply put, execution refers to the process of taking an idea or concept and turning it into a functional, usable product. This involves everything from coding to testing, debugging to deployment, and ongoing maintenance and improvement.
When we say that execution is everything in software development, what we’re really saying is that the idea behind a piece of software is only as good as the ability of its creators to make it work in the real world. No matter how innovative or promising an idea may seem on paper, it’s ultimately worthless if it can’t be brought to life in a way that users find valuable and useful.
You can fail at something you dislike just as easily as something you like so why not choose what you like?
~ J. Carey
This is where execution comes in. In order to turn an idea into a successful software product, developers need to be able to navigate a complex web of technical challenges, creative problem-solving, and user feedback. They need to be able to write code that is clean, efficient, and scalable. They need to be able to test that code thoroughly, both before and after deployment. And they need to be able to iterate quickly and respond to user feedback in order to improve and refine the product continually.
The important thing is to dare to dream big, then take action to make it come true.
~ J. Girard
All of these factors require a high degree of skill, discipline, and attention to detail. They also require the ability to work well under pressure, collaborate effectively with other team members, and stay focused on the ultimate goal of creating a successful product.
The importance of execution is perhaps most evident when we consider the many examples of software projects that failed despite having what seemed like strong ideas behind them. From buggy, unreliable apps to complex software systems that never quite delivered on their promises, there are countless examples of software that fell short due to poor execution.
On the other hand, some of the most successful software products in history owe much of their success to strong execution. Whether we’re talking about the user-friendly interface of the iPhone or the robust functionality of Paypal’s Protocols, these products succeeded not just because of their innovative ideas but because of the skill and dedication of the teams behind them.
The only sin is mediocrity.
~ M. Graham
In the end, the lesson is clear: when it comes to software development, execution really is everything. No matter how brilliant your idea may be, it’s the ability to turn that idea into a functional, usable product that ultimately determines whether your software will succeed or fail. By focusing on the fundamentals of coding, testing, and iterating, developers can ensure that their software is executed to the highest possible standard, giving it the best chance of success in an ever-changing digital landscape.
So go take that idea and turn it into a Remarkable Viable Product, not a Minimum Viable Product! Who likes Minimum? (thanks R.D.)
We are organized like a startup. We are the biggest startup on the planet.
First, i hope everyone is safe. Second, this blog is about something everyone seems to be asking me about and talking about, but no one seems to be able to execute the concept much like interoperability in #HealthIT. Third, it is long-form content so in most cases tl;dr.
Let us look to Miriam-Websters OnLine Dictionary for a definition – shall we?
a: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group also: the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time ; popular culture,Southern culture
b: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization a corporate culture focused on the bottom line
c: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic studying the effect of computers on print culture
d: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations
a: enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training
b: acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills; a person of culture
3: the act or process of cultivating living material (such as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient mediaalso: a product of such cultivation
5: the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education
6: expert care and training; beauty culture
Wow, This sounds complicated. Which one to leave in and which one to leave out?
Add to this complexity the fact that creating and executing production software is almost an insurmountable task. i have said for years software creation is one of the most significant human endeavors of all time. i also believe related to these concerns the interplay between comfort and solutions. Most if not all humans desire solutions however as far as i can tell solutions are never comfortable. Solutions involve change most humans are homeostatic. Juxtapose this against the fact that humans love comfort. So what do you do?
So why does it seem like everyone is talking about kəl-chər? i consider this to be like Fight Club. 1st rule of kəl-chər is you don’t talk about culture. It should be an implicit aspect of your organization. Build or Re-Build it at a first principles engineering practice. Perform root cause analysis of the behaviors within the company. If it does in fact need to be re-built start with you and your leadership. Turn the mirror on you first. Understand that you must lead by example. Merit Not Inherit.
i’ve recently been asked how you change and align culture. Well here are my recommendations and it comes down to TRUST at ALL levels of the company.
Create an I3 Lab: Innovation, Incubation,Intrapreneurship:
Innovation without code is just ideas and everyone has them. Ideas are cheap. Incubation without product market fit is a dead code base. Intrapreneurship is the spirit of a system that encourages employees to think and act like individual entrepreneurs and empowers them to take action, embrace risk, and make decisions as if they had founded the company themselves. Innovate – create the idea – Incubate – create the Maximum Viable Product (not minimum) – Intrapreneurship – spin out the Maximum Viable Product. As an aside Minimum Viable Product sounds like you bailed out making the best you possibly could in the moment. Take that Maximum Viable product and roll it into a business vertical and go to market strategy – then spin the wheel again.
I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.
Value The Most Important Asset – Your People
Managing high-performance humans is a difficult task because most high-performance humans do not like to be managed they love to be led. Lead them by example. Value them and compensate them accordingly. Knowledge workers love achievement and goals. Lead them into the impossible, gravitate toward dizzying heights, and be there for them. Be completely transparent and communicate. Software is always broken. If anyone states differently they are not telling the truth. There is always refactoring, retargeting, more code coverage and nascent bugs. Let them realize you realize that however let them know that if they do make a mistake escalate immediately. Under no circumstances can you tolerate surprises. Give them the framework with OKRs and KPIs that let them communicate openly, efficiently and effectively and most important transparently. Great teams will turn pencils into Mount Blanc Fountain Pens. Let them do what they do best and reward them!
Process Doesn’t Make A Culture
Nor does it make great products. Many focus on some software process. Apple used and as far as i know still uses strict waterfall. As far as i am concerned, we are now trending towards a Holacracy type of environment which is a self-organizing environment. However, this only can be achieved with the proper folks that appreciate the friction of creating great products from the best ideas. The Process of evolving from an idea to a product is magic. You learn you evolve; you grow your passion for and into the product as it becomes itself the team that built the product. Your idea and passion are inherent in that shipping software (or hardware).
What do you want me to do
To do for you to see you through?
The Grateful Dead
Empower Your People
Provide your people the ability to manage themselves and have autonomy. Set them free. Trust them to make the decisions that will drive the company and projects into world-class endeavors. Take a chance with them, Let a new college graduate push some code to production. Let a new sales associate push a deal with a customer. Let your new marketing person design an area on the company site. Allow them to evolve grow and be a part of the Great Endeavor. Put them in charge and provide the framework for autonomy to make decisions and when they deliver – award them not with something ephemeral but volitional. Money and Stock work wonders. Empower. Align. Evolve.
Provide and Articulate a Common Vision
Provide a vision of the company or project. Two sentences that everyone understands. Most people who are empowered and given the frameworks to create within know what to do in these circumstances. Articulate the vision and gain common alignment across the organization or project. That is leadership that high performance teams desire. Take this alignment then map it into the OKRs and KPIs then in turn pick a process and let everyone know how this aligns to the vision. Create the environment that every line of code maps to that vision. Show commitment on this vision.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Collaborate. Collaborate. Collaborate. Till you puke. i cannot emphasize this enough. You must be prepared everyday to manically interact with your teams and have the hard friction filled uncomfortable discussions. You want to keep the top performers let them know where they stand, how they stand and why they stand in the rankings and how they are contributing to the vision. Again attempt to create coder-metrics across your organization or project that exemplifies this performance. Interact with your most important asset your people. Over communicate. We have the ability to reach everyone at anytime, email, zoom, slack, granite tablet where once used to message. Write the message and give feedback. Better yet go take a walk with them. Have 1:1s. Listen to your people receptively and without bias and judgment about their concerns, passions, what scares them, what makes them happy, their joys, goals, and aspirations so they feel validated and understood. Solicit feedback, shut up and listen.
What all of this comes down to what i call – Amplifying_OthersTM. This is easier said than done. Personally, i believe that you need to commit even to the point of possibly finding them a better fit for a position at another company. This goes back to understanding what truly drives the only asset there is in technology the people. Always Be Listening, Always Be Networking, and Always Be Recruiting.
This brings up the next big question for your company – How do you attract the best right talent? Hmmmm… that might be another blog. Let me know your thought on these matters in the comments.
American Beauty by The Grateful Dead. Box of Rain and Ripple are amazing. Also if you haven’t heard Jane’s Addiction’s cover of Ripple check it out. i am not a Dead fan but the lyrics on some of these songs are monumental.
The human body resonates at the same frequency as Mother Earth. So instead of only focusing on trying to save the earth, which operates in congruence to our vibrations, I think it is more important to be one with each other. If you really want to remedy the earth, we have to mend mankind. And to unite mankind, we heal the Earth. That is the only way. Mother Earth will exist with or without us. Yet if she is sick, it is because mankind is sick and separated. And if our vibrations are bad, she reacts to it, as do all living creatures.
i have been considering writing a series of blogs on the coming age of Cybernetics. For those unaware Cybernetics was a term coined by one of my heroes Dr. Norbert Weiner. Dr. Weiner was a professor of mathematics at MIT who early on became interested in stochastic and noise processes and has an entire area dedicated to him in the areas of Weiner Estimation Theory. However, he also is credited as being one of the first to theorize that all intelligent behavior was the result of feedback mechanisms, that could possibly be simulated by machines thereby coining the phrase “Cybernetics”. He wrote two seminal books in this area: (1) “Cybernetics” (2) “The Human Use of Humans”. This brings us to the present issue at hand.
The catalyst for the blog came from a tweet:
More concerning Ted is how long before people start paying for upgrades. What effects will this have when you have achieved functional immortality?
We believe that before 2045 an artificial body will be created that will not only surpass the existing body in terms of functionality but will achieve perfection of form and be no less attractive than the human body.
Now for more context. I am a proponent of using technology to allow for increased human performance as i am an early adopter if you will of the usage of titanium to repair the skeletal system. i have staples, pins, plates and complete joints of titanium from pushing “Ye Ole MeatBag” into areas where it did not fair so well.
There are some objectives of the movement of specific interest is Number Two:
To create an international research center for cybernetic immortality to advance practical implementations of the main technical project – the creation of the artificial body and the preparation for subsequent transfer of individual human consciousness to such a body.
This is closely related to Transhumanism which is more of a philosophy than an execution. The way i frame it is Transhumanism sets the philosophical framework for cybernetics. The contemporary meaning of the term “transhumanism” was foreshadowed by one of the first professors of futurology, a man who changed his name to FM-2030. In the 1960s, he taught “new concepts of the human” at The New School when he began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and worldviews “transitional” to post-humanity as “transhuman“.
Coming from a software standpoint we could map the areas into pipelines and deploy as needed either material biological or conscious. We could map these areas into a CI/CD deployment pipeline. .
For a direct reference, i work with an amazing practicing nocturnist who is also a great coder as well as a medical 3D Printing expert! He prints body parts! It is pretty amazing to think that something your holding that was printed that morning is going to enable someone to use their respective limbs or walk again. So humbling. By the way, the good doctor is also a really nice person. Just truly a great human. Health practitioners are truly some of humanity’s rockstars.
He printed me a fully articulated purple octopus that doesn’t go in the body:
Building upon this edict and for those who have read William Gibson’s “Neuromancer,” or Rudy Ruckers The Ware Tetralogy: Software, Wetware, Realware, Freeware “it calls into question the very essence of the use for the human body? Of the flesh is the only aspect we truly do know and associate with this thing called life. We continually talk about the ‘Big C Word” – Consciousness. However, we only know the body. We have no idea of the mind. Carnality seems to rule the roost for the Humans.
In fact most of the acts that we perform on a daily basis trend toward physical pleasure. However what if we can upgrade the pleasure centers? What if the whole concept of dysphoria goes away and you can order you a net-new body? What *if* this allows us as the above ponders to upgrade ad nauseam and live forever? Would you? Would it get tiresome and boring?
i can unequivocally tell you i would if given the chance. Why? Because if there *is* intelligent life somewhere then they have a much longer evolutionary scale that we mere humans on earth do not and they have figured out some stuff let’s say that can possibly change the way we view life in longer time scales ( or time loops or even can we say Infinite_Human_Do_Loops? ).
i believe we are coming to an age where instead of the “50 is the new 30” we can choose our age – lets say at 100 i choose new core and legs and still run a 40-yard dash in under 5 seconds? i am all for it.
What if you choose a body that is younger than your progeny?
What if you choose a body that isnt a representation of a human as we know it?
All with immortality?
i would love to hear folks thoughts on the matter in the comments below.
“What we’re doing here will send a giant ripple through the universe.”
I have an old mac laptop that was not doing anyone much use sitting around the house. i had formatted the rig and due to it only being an i7 Pentium series mac you could only roll up to the Lion OS. Also, i wanted a “pure” Linux rig and do not like other form factors (although i do dig the System 76 rigs).
So i got to thinking why dont i roll Ubuntu on it and let one cat turn into another cat? See what i did there? Put a little shine on Ye Ole Rig? Here Kitty Kitty!
Anyways here are the steps that i found worked the most painless.
Caveat Emptor: these steps completely wipe the partition and Linux does run natively wiping out any and all OSes. You WILL lose your OS X Recovery Partition, so returning to OS X or macOS can be a more long-winded process, but we have instructions here on how to cope with this: How to restore a Mac without a recovery partition. You are going All-In!
On that note i also don’t recommend trying to “dual-boot” OS X and Linux, because they use different filesystems and it will be a pain. Anyways this is about bringing new life to an old rig if you have a new rig with Big Sur roll Virtual Box and run whatever Linux distro you desire.
What you need:
A macintosh computer is the point of the whole exercise. i do recommend having NO EXTERNAL DRIVES connected as you will see below.
A USB stick with at least 8 gig of storage. This to will be formatted and all data lost.
Download your Linux distribution to the Mac. We recommend Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS if this is your first Linux install. Save the file to your ~/Downloads folder.
Download and install an app called Etcher from Etcher.io. This will be used to copy the Linux install .ISO file to your USB drive.
Steps to Linux Freedom:
Insert your USB Thumb Drive. A reminder that the USB Flash drive will be erased during this installation process. Make sure you’ve got nothing you want on it.
Open Etcher Click Select “Image”. Choose ubuntu-16.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso (the image you downloaded in Step 1). NOTE: i had some problems with 20.x latest release with wireless so i rolled back to 16.0x just to get it running.
Click “Change” under Select Drive.
Pick the drive that matches your USB Thumb Drive in size. It should be /dev/disk1 if you only have a single hard drive in your Mac. Or /dev/disk2, /dev/disk3 and so on (if you have more drives attached). NOTE: Do not pick /dev/disk0. That’s your hard drive! Pick /dev/disk0 and you’ll wipe your macOS hard drive HEED THY WARNING YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! This is why i said its easier if you have no external media.
Click “Flash!” Wait for the iso file to be copied to the USB Flash Drive. Go browse your favorite socnet as this will take some time or hop on your favorite learning network and catch up on those certificates/badges.
Once it is finished remove the USB Flash Drive from your Mac. This is imperative.
Now SHUTDOWN the mac and plug the Flashed USB drive into the mac.
Power up and hold the OPTION key while you boot.
Choose the EFI Boot option from the startup screen and press Return.
IMMEDIATELY press the “e” key. i found you need to do this quickly otherwise the rig tries to boot.
Pressing the “e” key will enter you into “edit mode” you will see a black and white screen with options to try Ubuntu and Install Ubuntu. Don’t choose either yet, press “e” to edit the boot entry.
This step is critical and the font maybe really small so take your time. Edit the line that begins with Linux and place the word "nomodeset" after "quiet splash". The whole line should read: "linux /casper/vmlinuz.efifile=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper quiet splash nomodeset --
Now Press F10 on the mac.
Now its getting cool! Your mac and Ubuntu boots into trial mode!
(Note: at this point also go browse your favorite socnet as this will take some time or hop on your favorite learning network and catch up on those certificates/badges.)
Double-click the icon marked “Install Ubuntu”. (get ready! Here Kitty Kitty!)
Select your language of choice.
Select “Install this third-party software” option and click Continue. Once again important.
Select “Erase disk and install Ubuntu” and click Continue.
You will be prompted for geographic area and keyboard layout.
You will be prompted to enter the name and password you want to use (make it count!).
Click “Continue” and Linux will begin installing!
When the installation has finished, you can log in using the name and password you chose during installation!
At this point you are ready to go! i recommend registering for an ubuntu “Live Update” account once it prompts you.
One side note: on 20.x update there was an issue with the Broadcom wireless adapter crashing which then reboots you without wireless. i am currently working through that and will get back you on the fix!
Executing the command less /proc/cpuinfo will detail the individual cores. It looks like as i said the i7 Pentium series!
Happy Penguin and Kitten Time! Now you can customize your rig!
Screen shot of keybase running on my ubuntu mac rig!
And that is a wrap! As a matter of fact i ate my own dog food and wrote this blog on the “new” rig!
As of late, i’ve been asked by an extreme set of divergent individuals what does “Open Source Software” mean?
That is a good question. While i understand the words and words do have meanings i am not sure its the words that matter here. Many people who ask me that question hear “open source” and hear or think “free’ which is not the case.
Also if you have been on linkedin at all you will see #Linux, #LinuxFoundation and #OpenSource tagged constantly in your feeds.
Which brings me to the current blog and book review.
(CatB)as it is affectionately known in the industry started out and still is a manifesto as well accessible via the world wide web. It was originally published in 1997 on the world wide wait and then in print form circa 1999. Then in 2001 was a revised edition with a foreword by Bob Young, the founding chairman and ceo of Redhat.
Being i prefer to use plain ole’ books we are reviewing the physical revised and extended paperback edition in this blog circa 2001. Of note for the picture, it has some wear and tear.
To start off as you will see from the cover there is a quote by Guy Kawasaki, Apple’s first Evangelist:
“The most important book about technology today, with implications that go far beyond programming.”
This is completely true. In the same train of thought, it even goes into the aspects of propriety and courtesy within conflict environments and how such environments are of a “merit not inherit” world, and how to properly respond when you are in vehement disagreement.
To relate it to the book review: What is a cathedral development versus a bazaar environment?
Cathedral is a tip of the fedora if you will to the authoritarian view of the world where everything is very structured and there are only a few at most who will approve moving the codebase forward.
Bazaar refers to the many. The many coding and contributing in a swarm like fashion.
In this book, closed source is described as a cathedral development model and open source as a bazaar development model. A cathedral is vertically and centrally controlled and planned. Process and governance rule the project – not coding. The cathedral is homeostatic. If you build or rebuild Basilica Sancti Petri within Roma you will not be picking it up by flatbed truck and moving it to Firenze.
The forward in the 2001 edition is written by Bob Young co-founder and original CEO of RedHat. He writes:
“ There have always been two things that would be required if open-source software was to materially change the world; one was for open-source software to become widely used and the other was the benefits this software development model supplied to its users had to be communicated and understood.”
Users here are an interesting target. Users could be developers and they could be end-users of warez. Nevertheless, i believe both conditions have been met accordingly.
i co-founded a machine learning and nlp service as a company in 2007 wherein i had the epiphany after my “second” read of Catb that the future is in fact open source. i put second in quotes as the first time i read it back in 1998 it wasn’t really a read in depth nor having fully internalized it while i was working at Apple in the CPU software department on OS9/OSX and while at the same time knowing full well that OSX was based on the Mach kernel. The Mach kernel is often mentioned as one of the earliest examples of a microkernel. However, not all versions of Mach are microkernels. Mach’s derivatives are the basis of the operating system kernel in GNU Hurd and of Apple’s XNU kernel used in macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS.
That being said after years of working with mainly closed source systems in 2007 i re-read Catb. i literally had a deep epiphany that the future of all development would be open source distributed machine learning – everywhere.
Then i read it recently – deeply – a third time. This time nearly every line in the book resonates.
The third time with almost anything seems to be the charm. This third time through i realized not only is this a treatise for the open-source movement it is a call to arms if you will for the entire developer community to behave appropriately with propriety and courtesy in a highly matrixed collaborative environment known as the bazaar.
The most obvious question is: Why should you care? i’m glad you asked.
The reason you care is that you are part of the information economy. The top market cap companies are all information-theoretic developer-first companies. This means that these companies build things so others can build things. Software is truly eating the world. Think in terms of the recent pandemic. Work (code) is being created at an amazing rate due to the fact that the information work economy is distributed and essentially schedule free. She who has distributed wins and she who can code anytime wins. This also means that you are interested in building world-class software and the building of this software is now a decentralized peer reviewed transparent process.
The book is organized around Raymond’s various essays. It is important to note that just as software is an evolutionary process by definition so are the essays in this book. They can also be found online. The original collection of essays date back to 1992 on the internet: “A Brief History Of Hackerdom.’
The book is not a “how-to” cookbook but rather what i call a “why to” map of the terrain. While you can learn how to hack and code i believe it must be in your psyche. The book also uses the term “hacker” in a positive sense to mean one who creates software versus one who cracks software or steals information.
While the history and the methodology is amazing to me the cogent commentary on the types of the reasoning behind why hackers go into open source vary as widely as ice cream flavors.
Raymond goes into the theory of incentives with respect to the instinctive wiring of humans beings.
“The verdict of history seems to be free-market capitalism is the globally optimal way to cooperate for economic efficiency; perhaps in a similar way to cooperate for generating (and checking!) high-quality creative work.”
He categorizes command hierarchy, exchange economy, and gift culture to address these incentives.
Goods are allocated in a scarce economy model by one central authority.
The allocation of scarce goods is accomplished in a decentralized manner allowing scale through trade and voluntary cooperation.
This is very different than the other two methods or cultures. Abundance makes command and control relationships difficult to sustain. In gift cultures, social status is determined not by what you control but by what you give away.
It is clear that if we define the open source hackerdom it would be a gift culture. (It is beyond the current scope of this blog but it would be interesting to do a neuroscience project on the analysis of open source versus closed source hackers brain chemistry as they work throughout the day)
Given these categories, the essays then go onto define the written and many times unwritten (read secrets) that operate within the open-source world via a reputation game. If you are getting the idea it is tribal you are correct. Interestingly enough the open source world has in many cases very divergent views on all prickly things within the human condition such as religion and politics but one thing is a constant – ship high-quality code.
Without a doubt the most glaring cogent commentary comes in a paragraph from the essay “The Magic Cauldron.” entitled “Open Source And Strategic Business Risk.”
Ultimately the reasons open source seems destined to become a widespread practice have more to do with customer demand and market pressures than with supply-efficiencies for vendors.”
“Put yourself for the moment in the position of a CTO at a Fortune 500 corporation contemplating a build or upgrade of your firm’s IT infrastructure. Perhaps you need to choose a network operating system to be deployed enterprise-wide; perhaps your concerns involve 24/7 web service and e-commerce, perhaps your business depends on being able to field high-volume, high-reliability transaction databases. Suppose you go the conventional closed-source route. If you do, then you put your firm at the mercy of a supplier monopoly – because by definition there is only one place you can go to for support, bug fixes, and enhancements. If the supplier doesn’t perform, you will have no effective recourse because you are effectively locked by your initial investment.”
“The truth is this: when your key business processes are executed by opaque blocks of bits that you cant even see inside (let alone modify) you have lost control of your business.”
“Contrast this with the open-source choice. If you go this route, you have the source code, and no one can take that away from you. Instead of a supplier monopoly with a choke-hold on your business, you now have multiple service companies bidding for your business – and you not only get to play them against each other, but you also have the option of building your own captive support organization if that looks less expensive than contracting out. The market works for you.”
“The logic is compelling; depending on closed-source code is an unacceptable strategic risk So much so that I believe it will not be very long until closed-source single-vendor acquisitions when there is an open source alternative available will be viewed as a fiduciary irresponsibility, and rightly grounds for a share-holder lawsuit.”
THIS WAS WRITTEN IN 1997. LOOK AROUND THE WORLD WIDE WAIT NOW… WHAT DO YOU SEE?
Open Source – full stop.
i will add that there was no technical explanation here only business incentive and responsibility to the company you are building, rebuilt, or are scaling. Further, this allows true software malleability and reach which is the very reason for software.
i will also go on a limb here and say if you are a software corporation one that creates software you can play the monopoly and open-source models against each other within your corporation. Agility and speed to ship code is the only thing that matters these days. Where is your github? Or why is this not shipping TODAY?
This brings me to yet another amazing prescient prediction in the book that Raymond says that applications are ultimately where we will land for monetary scale. Well yes, there is an app for that….
While i have never met Eric S. Raymond he is a legend in the field. We have much to thank him for in the areas of software. If you have not read CatB and work in the information sector do yourself a favor: buy it today.
“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” ~ HAL 9000
“If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make a change.” ~ MJ.
First and foremost with this blog i trust everyone is safe. The world is in an interesting place, space, and time both physically and dare i say collectively – mentally.
This past week we celebrated Earth Day. i believe i heard it was the 50th year of Earth Day. While I applaud the efforts and longevity for a day we should have Earth Day every day. Further just “thoughting” about or tweeting about Earth Day – while it may wake up your posterior lobe of the pituitary gland and secret some oxytocin – creating the warm fuzzies for you it really doesn’t create an action for furthering Earth Day. (much like typing /giphy YAY! In Slack).
As such, i decided to embark on a multipart blog that i have been “thinking” about what i call an Ecological Computing System. Then the more i thought about it why stop at Ecology? We are able to model and connect essentially anything, we now have models for the brain that while are coarse-grained can account for gross behaviors, we have tons of data on buying habits and advertisement data and everything is highly mobile and distributed. Machine learning which can optimize, classify and predict with extremely high dimensionality is no longer an academic exercise.
Thus, i suppose taking it one step further from ecology and what would differentiate it from other efforts is that <IT> would actually attempt to provide a compute framework that would compute The Human Condition. I am going to call this effort Project Noumena. Kant the eminent thinker of 18th century Germany defined Noumena as a thing as it is in itself, as distinct from a thing as it is knowable by the senses through phenomenal attributes and proposed that the experience was a product of the mind.
My impetus for this are manifold:
i love the air, water, trees, and animals,
i am an active water person,
i want my children’s children’s children to know the wonder of staring at the azure skies, azure oceans and purple mountains,
Maybe technology will assist us in saving us from The Human Condition.
i have waited probably 15+ years to write about this ideation of such a system mainly due to the technological considerations were nowhere near where they needed to be and to be extremely transparent no one seemed to really think it was an issue until recently. The pandemic seems to have been a global wakeup call that in fact, Humanity is fragile. There are shortages of resources in the most advanced societies. Further due to the recent awareness that the pollution levels appear (reported) to be subsiding as a function in the reduction of humans’ daily involvement within the environment. To that point over the past two years, there appears to be an uptake of awareness in how plastics are destroying our oceans. This has a coupling effect that with the pandemic and other environmental concerns there could potentially be a food shortage due to these highly nonlinear effects. This uptake in awareness has mainly been due to the usage of technology of mobile computing and social media which in and of itself probably couldn’t have existed without plastics and massive natural resource consumption. So i trust the irony is not lost there.
We are no longer hampered by the concept of scale in computing. We can also create a system that behaves at scale with only but a few human resources. You can do a lot with few humans now which has been the promise of computing.
Distributed computing methods are now coming to fruition. We no longer think in terms of a monolithic operating system or in place machine learning. Edge computing and fiber networks are accelerating this at an astonishing rate. Transactions now dictate trust. While we will revisit this during the design chapters of the blog I’ll go out on a limb here and say these three features are cogent to distributed system processing (and possibly the future of computing at scale).
We will definitely be going into the deeper psychological, mathematical, and technical aspects of these items.
Some additional points of interest and on timing. Microsoft recently released press about a Planetary Computer and announced the position of Chief Ecology Officer. While i do not consider Project Nuomena to be of the same system type there could be similarities on the ecological aspects which just like in open source creates a more resilient base to work.
The top market cap companies are all information theoretic-based corporations. Humans that know the science, technology, mathematics and liberal arts are key to their success. All of these companies are woven and interwoven into the very fabric of our physical and psychological lives.
Thus it is with the confluence of these items i believe the time is now to embark on this design journey. We must address the Environment, Societal factors and the model of governance.
A mentor once told me one time in a land far away: “Timing is everything as long as you can execute.” Ergo Timing and Execution Is Everything.
It is my goal that i can create a design and hopefully, an implementation that is utilizing computational means to truly assist in building models and sampling the world where we can adhere to goals in making small but meaningful changes that can be used within what i am calling the 3R’s: recycle, redact, reuse. Further, i hope with the proper incentive models in place that are dynamic it has a mentality positive feedback effect. Just as in complexity theory a small change – a butterfly wings – can create hurricanes – in this case positive effect.
Here is my overall plan. i’m not big on the process or gant charts. I’ll be putting all of this in a README.md as well. I may ensconce the feature sets etc into a trello or some other tracking mechanism to keep me focused – WebSphere feel free to make recommendations in the comments section:
Create Comparative Models
Create Coarse-Grained Attributes
Identify underlying technical attributes
Attempt to coalesce into an architecture
Start writing code for the above.
Humanity has come to expect growth as a material extension of human behavior. We equate growth with progress. In fact, we use the term exponential growth as it is indefinitely positive. In most cases for a fixed time interval, this means a doubling of the relevant system variable or variables. We speak of growth as a function of gross national production. In most cases, exponential growth is treacherous where there are no known or perceived limits. It appears that humanity has only recently become aware that we do not have infinite resources. Psychologically there is a clash between the exponential growth and the psychological or physical limit. The only significance is the relevant (usually local) limit. How does it affect me, us, and them? This can be seen throughput most game theory practices – dominant choice. The pattern of growth is not the surprise it is the collision of the awareness of the limit to the ever-increasing growth function is the surprise.
One must stop and ask:
Q: Are progress (and capacity) and the ever-increasing function a positive and how does it relate to 2nd law of thermodynamics aka Entropy? Must it always expand?
We are starting to see that our world can exert dormant forces that within our life can greatly affect our well being. When we approach the actual or perceived limit the forces which are usually negative begin to gain strength.
So given these aspects of why i’ll turn now to start the discussion. If we do not understand history we cannot predict the future by inventing it or in most cases re-inventing it as it where.
I want to start off the history by referencing several books that i have been reading and re-reading on subjects of modeling the world, complexity, and models for collapse throughout this multipart blog. We will be addressing issues concerning complex dynamics as are manifested with respect to attributes model types, economics, equality, and mental concerns.
These core references are located at the end of the blog under references. They are all hot-linked. Please go scroll and check them out. i’ll still be here. i’ll wait.
Checked them out? i know a long list.
As you can see the core is rather extensive due to the nature of the subject matter. The top three books are the main ones that have been the prime movers and guides of my thinking. These three books i will refer to as The Core Trilogy:
As i mentioned i have been deeply thinking about all aspects of this system for quite some time. I will be mentioning several other texts and references along the continuum of creation of this design.
We will start by referencing the first book: World Dynamics by J.W. Forrestor. World Dynamics came out of several meetings of the Rome Club a 75 person invite-only club founded by the President of Fiat. The club set forth the following attributes for a dynamic model that would attempt to predict the future of the world:
The output of this design was codified in a computer program called World3. It has been running since the 1970s what was then termed a golden age of society in many cases. All of these variables have been growing at an exponential rate. Here we see the model with the various attributes in action. There have been several criticisms of the models and also analysis which i will go into in further blogs. However, in some cases, the variants have been eerily accurate. The following plot is an output of the World3 model:
Issues Raised By World3 and World Dynamics
The issues raised by World3 and within the book World Dynamics are the following:
There is a strong undercurrent that technology might not be the savior of humankind
Industrialism (including medicine and public health) may be a more disturbing force than the population.
We may face extreme psychological stress and pressures from a four-pronged dilemma via suppression of the modern industrial world.
We may be living in a “golden age” despite a widely acknowledged feeling of malaise.
Exhtortions and programs directed at population control may be self-defeating. Population control, if it works, would yield excesses thereby allowing further procreation.
Pollution and Population seem to oscillate whereas the high standard of living increases the production of food and material goods which outrun the population. Agriculture as it hits a space limit and as natural resources reach a pollution limit then the quality of life falls in equalizing population.
There may be no realistic hope of underdeveloped countries reaching the same standard and quality of life as developed countries. However, with the decline in developed countries, the underdeveloped countries may be equalized by that decline.
A society with a high level of industrialization may be unsustainable.
From a long term 100 years hence it may be unwise for underdeveloped countries to seek the same levels of industrialization. The present underdeveloped nations may be in better conditions for surviving the forthcoming pressures. These underdeveloped countries would suffer far less in a world collapse.
Fuzzy Human – Fuzzy Model
The human mind is amazing at identifying structures of complex situations. However, our experiences train us poorly for estimating the dynamic consequences of said complexities. Our mind is also not very accurate at estimating ad hoc parts of the complexities and the variational outcomes.
One of the problems with models is well it is just a model The subject-observer reference could shift and the context shifts thereof. This dynamic aspect needs to be built into the models.
Also while we would like to think that our mental model is accurate it is really quite fuzzy and even irrational in most cases. Also attempting to generalize everything into a singular model parameter is exceedingly difficult. It is very difficult to transfer one industry model onto another.
In general parameterization of most of these systems is based on some perceptual model we have rationally or irrationally invented.
When these models were created there was the consideration of modeling social mechanics of good-evil, greed – altruism, fears, goals, habits, prejudice, homeostasis, and other so-called human characteristics. We are now at a level of science where we can actually model the synaptic impulse and other aspects that come with these perceptions and emotions.
There is a common cross-cutting construct in most complex models within this text that consists of and mainly concerned with the concept of feedback and how the non-linear relationships of these modeled systems feedback into one another. System-wide thinking permeates the text itself. On a related note from the 1940’s of which Dr Norbert Weiner and others such as Claude Shannon worked on ballistic tracking systems and coupled feedback both in a cybernetic and information-theoretic fashion of which he attributed the concept of feedback as one of the most fundamental operations in information theory. This led to the extremely famous Weiner Estimation Filters. Also, side note: Dr Weiner was a self-styled pacifist proving you can hold two very opposing views in the same instance whilst being successful at executing both ideals.
Given that basic function of feedback, lets look at the principle structures. Essentially the model states there will be levels and rates. Rates are flows that cause levels to change. Levels can accumulate the net level. Either addition or subtraction to that level. The various system levels can in aggregate describe the system state at any given time . Levels existing in all subsystems of existence. These subsystems as you will see include but are not limited to financial, psychological, biological, and economic. The reason that i say not limited to because i also believe there are some yet to be identified subsystems at the quantum level. The differential or rate of flow is controlled by one or more systems. All systems that have some Spatio-temporal manifestation can be represented by using the two variables levels and rates. Thus with respect to the spatial or temporal variables, we can have a dynamic model.
The below picture is the model that grew out of interest from the initial meetings of the Club of Rome. The inaugural meeting which was the impetus for the model was held in Bern, Switzerland on June 29, 1970. Each of the levels presents a variable in the previously mentioned major structures. System levels appear as right triangles. Each level is increased or decreased by the respective flow. As previously mentioned on feedback any closed path through the diagram is a feedback loop. Some of the closed loops given certain information-theoretic attributes be positive feedback loops that generate growth and others that seek equilibrium will be negative feedback loops. If you notice something about the diagram it essentially is a birth and death loop. The population loop if you will. For the benefit of modeling, there are really only two major variables that affect the population. Birth Rate (BR) and Death Rate (DR). They represent the total aggregate rate at which the population is being increased or decreased. The system has coefficients that can initialize them to normal rates. For example, in 1970 BRN is taken as 0.0885 (88.5 per thousand) which is then multiplied by population to determine BR. DRN by the same measure is the outflow or reduction. In 1970 it was 9.5% or 0.095. The difference is the net and called normal rates. The normale rates correspond to a physical normal world. When there are normal levels of food, material standard of living, crowding, and pollution. The influencers are then multipliers that increase or decrease the normal rates.
As a caveat, there have been some detractors of this model. To be sure it is very coarse-grained however while i haven’t seen the latest runs or outputs it is my understanding as i said the current outputs are close. The criticisms come in the shape of “Well its just modeling everything as a . I will be using this concept and map if you will as the basis for Noumena. The concepts and values as i evolve the system will vary greatly from the World3 model but i believe starting with a minimum viable product is essential here as i said humans are not very good at predicting all of the various outcomes in high dimensional space. We can asses situations very quickly but probably outcomes no so much. Next up we will be delving into the loops deeper and getting loopier.
So this is the first draft if you will as everything nowadays can be considered an evolutionary draft.
For the successful entrepreneur how many times have you heard this? In the world of “ustas” I used to get really mad about that when someone would say this to me or someone that I knew. I suppose jealousy and envy cloud the mind.
I have a good friend who is an accomplished martial artist and weapons expert with multiple level black belts in various forms. He is fond of telling his advanced students training up in the hills in some remote local, “Luck has nothing to do with why you are here.”
There are some who say that having an exit for your startup is complete luck. Ok fine. So be it. We can argue that one later. What I want to discuss today is what happens post-acquisition with the founders and principles of a startup that has been acquired with the proper frameworks in place. Lets take a recent example of the high profile IPO of Tesla. The PayPal Mafia is a great example of how to take care of the people that make the company successful. It is also a great example of how the machine works. During my last startup here on the right coast I was continually asked why I started the company? Well lets see: take an idea, create some software, sell it, make money. Money, Oh yea Money. Actually what I stated was to create a proper venture capital firm much like a Y-Combinator but with more cash. A good rule of thumb is to not create a company specifically for the company but create it for the next scenario. the paypal founders rewarded their people. Musk only had 11.5% at the time of the 30B in tech funds and companies. I continually see people who have founded company or are founding companies saying they will not give up the equity. Your choice. You must give to get, Yin and Yang, Push Me – Pull You.
PLEASE READ: REWARD THE ELITE PERFORMERS – HEAVILY – THEY WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN!
During the last go around I had a good friend of mine who has amazing experience come up from a semi-retirement from St. Marteen Island. He called me from the harbor club where he landed and said, “I dont need a salary or contract I just want Equity. We can figure it out later, lets start coding.”
Take that to the bank all day. I gave him multi-digit percentages. So for those that are trying to get something off the ground or after years cannot scale because you cannot find the right people. Give the blood. Give the equity. It is not luck.
I’ll leave you with a quote:
” The inferior man’s reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex — because it puts an unbearable burden upon his meager capacity for taking in ideas. Thus his search is always for short cuts. ” ~ H.L. Mencken