Welcome to the third blog post from Tales of Timehop. These will be product & engineering focused posts to share some of the challenges we’ve faced and the lessons we’ve learned here at Timehop. This post was written by Rob Zajdel & Sarah Wood.
Once upon a time, I was interested in a domain name. Of course, it was already taken by. The owner was Jonathan Harris, of all people—one of my all-time design heroes and an overall massively impressive human being. Fortunately, his email address was easy to track down, so I worked up the…
The cookies were freaking awesome. You missed out.
“The biggest obstacle to creativity is attachment to outcome. As soon as you become attached to a specific outcome, you feel compelled to control and manipulate what you’re doing. And in the process you shut yourself off to other possibilities.
I got a call from someone who wanted me to lead a workshop on creativity. He needed to tell his management exactly what tools people would come away with. I told him I didn’t know. I couldn’t give him a promise, because then I’d become attached to an outcome — which would defeat the purpose of any creative workshop.’
It’s hard for corporations to understand that creativity is not just about succeeding. It’s about experimenting and discovering.”—Gordon MacKenzie (via kenyatta)
Etsy seller Mazter has created a knitting pattern for these teeth-achingly cute Hello Kitty toddler trousers and is accepting pre-sales. It’s available in Norwegian and English. PRE-SALE: Knitting pattern - Kitty pants
Unless you’re already a major success, people don’t really care if you fail. Worst case scenario, they just don’t pay attention to you. That’s a blessing. To be able to create and test things out without the terrible consequences of public scorn is an opportunity.
“It’s a perennial question in copyright law: to what extent does copyright law protect attorney-drafted documents such as litigation briefs or contracts? Despite the venerability of the issue (I tested on copyrightability of contracts in my 2002 copyright class), we have surprisingly few cases on point. Today’s case involves Westlaw’s and Lexis’ electronic databases of publicly filed litigation briefs, which they build by downloading the briefs from PACER or copying directly from courthouses … The court silently assumes copyrightability and infringement and quickly resolves the case on fair use grounds: * Nature of Use. Westlaw and Lexis transforrmed the litigation brief, using it “toward the end of creating an interactive legal research tool.” The databases also added something new by “reviewing, selecting, converting, coding, linking, and identifying the documents.””—Republishing Litigation Brief Is Fair Use (via annielin)
Talking about @publicartfound, there is some stuff to clear up. I have about 2600 followers on twitter. The account is posting 300-400 times a day. I started the account last week and I have almost 2000 posts. From an outsider, it looks pretty official.
Heres what I did:
About 500~ followers are real. I played the black arts and bought 2000 followers on fivrr. There was some research about how higher follower counts increase follower rate, so I tried it out.
For @publicartfound, I was getting 3-4 followers a day when I just started the account. After the follower pump, the rate increased to 15-30. I get 30-50 favorites/retweets a day.
The post frequency is based on IFTTT recipes that pull from Instagram. Its currently at an experiment stage because the quality of content is so low. Im going to do some content curation and start a recipe to pinterest. After I figure it out how to keep the quality high, Im going to create a stream images back into instagram.
“This is an experiment of sorts: about giving artists more control (and money) with distribution of their films and how they are sold; about looking at the role of a media distributor in a different, and more fluid and digital, way; about not assuming that one price fits all. Some of those principles may not work. But also all of them may be right.”—Sometimes Wrong by Andy Weissman
“There seems to be a void in the market for intermediate level learners. Maybe they’ve gone through Codecademy’s tracks or even something more extensive like General Assembly’s Front End Web Development course. What do they do next? The narrative drops off at this point.”—d.rell: The Problem
“"Your ability to become a successful entrepreneur is about taking your current “informed pessimism” idea and turning the corner into “informed optimism”. If every time you get to the disappointing “informed pessimism” stage, you impatiently hop back to a new idea at ‘uninformed optimism’, you’ll get caught in a never ending cycle. You have to be patient long enough with your idea to see if you are able to turn the corner." - Vinicius Vacanti”—http://viniciusvacanti.com/2010/08/03/new-ideas-can-kill-your-startup/ (via jwan622)
What is the impact of file sharing releases on the movie industry? Ask the studios and they will say billions. An economist named Koleman Strumph is presenting a paper at the National Bureau of Economics this week that tries to estimate the crowd out from these releases. His conclusion: “I find that file sharing has only a modest impact on box office revenue.” In fact, Strumph finds that file sharing before the official release of a movie can actually be beneficial to revenues: “One consistent result is that file sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue. One explanation is that such releases create greater awareness of the film. This is also the period of heaviest advertising. In conjunction with the main estimates, this suggests that free and potentially degraded goods such as the lower quality movies available on file sharing networks can have some beneficial effects on intellectual property.”
I had a meeting the other day with a parking sign manufacturer and they said that my signs are the most exhaustively researched parking signs. That was a big surprise to me. Apparently, although road sign typefaces are tested in terms of readability at certain speeds and distances, they are not tested for usability.
“For this is the truth that we are now facing. For all of its democratizing power, the Internet, in its current form, has simply replaced the old boss with a new boss. And these new bosses have market power that, in time, will be vastly larger than that of the old boss.”—fred-wilson (via heif)
As we have become more comfortable discussing the politics of culture, our discussions of art have become a lot more like our discussions of politics.
We treat people whose interpretations differ from our own as if they are acting in bad faith. We focus on gaffes and supposed gaffes. And we demand that significant figures in cultural commentary have something to say about every big event so we can check their reactions against our sense of what they ought to feel to remain in good standing.
”—Brilliant piece about what we lose (and gain) by talking about pop culture in the same way that we talk about politics by Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post. (everybodyatonce)
“That whole “be smart and get things done” philosophy may work (somewhat) in a quirky 40-person company with an existing business model, but when navigating the uncertainty of creating something new entirely, everything falls apart if you were taught to think you’re smart.”—
This week’s Orbital Bootcamp reading included a talk by Jessica Mah, co-founder of inDinero, on the journey of founding your own startup. She touches upon being a young founder, failure, getting into YC, picking the right investors, hiring and firing, and a lot of other things that are typically re-iterated by many founders. It’s all good advice, but there are a couple of points in particular that stood out to me:
1) Press = dangerous && press != signups.
I think a lot of founders (I’m certainly guilty of this) can get caught up with press. Two months ago, after only 24 hours of hacking I had somehow managed to get my face on the front page of TechCrunch. It was certainly something I wasn’t expecting, but boy did it feel good. After that came a slew of other press that talked about my VR hack that blew my ego through the roof.
Why would I want it to stop? If someone wants to interview you because they think you’re awesome why wouldn’t you do it?
Because you have a product to build. One should certainly feel accomplished for this sort of stuff, but that’s not the end of the road. For me, it was only the beginning.
2) It’s OK to Struggle
Failure, depression, and the struggles of founding your own startup are something that have recently received a little more attention and are very important. The press can talk you up for being young, raising $1 Million, and starting a company, but Jessica discusses how difficult it was to tell her friends the truth about the struggle behind starting a company.
Behind the scenes bugs are appearing in your code base, customers are frustrated, people are quitting, you’re firing people, but nobody can know this because you’re the awesome 20 year old who just launched his or her company and is going to take over the world. False. It’s hard, confusing, and frustrating and that’s ok.
3) Build Something Useful
This one may seem really obvious, but I’ve overlooked it before. I’ve certainly built useless things before. Just because something CAN be built doesn’t mean it SHOULD be built. This is something I’m working on getting better at and I’m starting to spend less time building and more time getting to know the people I’m building for. I thought I was going to spend the summer coding 24/7, but that would probably result in a product that was built entirely out of my imagination and what I thought people needed.
Jessica talks about how she and her co-founder thought they had to learn everything about accounting, take the CPA exam, and rebuild Quickbooks. A month ago I thought I’d have to rebuild and compete with some of the best 3D modeling software out there. After some customer interviews, Jessica learned that people were still using Excel and anything better than that would be a win. Talking to people is important and focusing on other people’s software limits you.
This made me think of a passage from Peter Thiel’s upcoming book Zero To One and this is what I’ll end on. This was a long post so if you didn’t read any of the stuff above at least read this:
”[…]disruption has recently transmogrified into a self-congratulatory buzzword for anything trendy and new. This seemingly trivial fad matters because it distorts an entrepreneur’s self-understanding in an inherently competitive way. The concept was coined to describe threats to incumbent companies, so startups’ obsession with disruption means they see themselves through older firms’ eyes.
If you think of yourself as an insurgent battling dark forces, it’s easy to become unduly fixated on the obstacles in your path. But if you truly want to make something new, the act of creation is far more important than the old industries that might not like what you create.”
when: 2014 (I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now)
why: Got A Girl is the collaborative creation of Mary Elizabeth Winstead (of Scott Pilgrim fame) and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura. Influenced by ’60s French Pop and girl groups, their first LP comes out July 22. Winstead’s vocals are spot-on (silkier than The Bird and the Bee, less brassy than She & Him) and their newest single is infectious and lush.