I wrote an opinion piece for the SF Chronicle. They ran it with some great edits for length, so I figured I’d put my original, longer, and worse version here for posterity’s sake.
San Francisco is one of the most progressive cities in the nation, especially when it comes to national immigration. We believe so much in the natural right of people to join us here in America that we fought to keep our status as sanctuary city even in the face of being federally defunded for it. We pride ourselves in our rejection of plans to tighten immigration controls and deport undocumented immigrants. Yet take that same kind of conversation to the local level and all bets are off. City meetings have become heated, divisive, and prone to rhetoric where we openly discuss exactly which kinds of people we want to keep out of our city.
In November of last year, I was invited to give a fairly informal talk on the
topic of my choice at Dropbox. I decided to go with the mildly controversial
topic of advocating Dropbox employees to consider making side businesses.
They were gracious enough to furnish me with a recording of the talk, which you
may also enjoy below. It’s got a few nuggets about how I think about running a
small business and some mistakes you probably want to avoid making.
If you’ve tried to make a Google Hangouts app, you probably already know that it
sucks pretty badly. Famously terrible documentation, crazy bloated
can craft a URL to open a new hangout without any of the bloat like so:
But what if you want to make a hangout with your app and set its app_type to
ROOM_APP so that your app is loaded for everyone by default?
Posit that humans are just the reproductive organs of ideas, and our minds
little more than churning pools of interchanging notions. In short, standard
meme theory. We might be hosts whose carefully formulated egos are nothing
more than the emergent terrain of an ancient memetic battleground - one imagines
long wars between the myriad incarnations of fear and laziness for control of
our weary brains. The memes with the most dominant survival characteristics must
have long since evolved - likely candidates being caution, hope, and solidarity.
In this paradigm, the most prolific ideas are the hardiest survivors of
thousands of years of crossbreeding, their properties now the building blocks of
more complicated and fragile abstractions like justice, ambition, and
melancholy. The simplest ideas might occupy the lowest and most important rungs
of an intellectual ecosystem, akin to our humble meat-space phytoplankton.