Anil and I have had a few conversations lately about building cool stuff for the internet, the Golden Age of the independent web, and how it’s increasingly hard to filter out industry noise. He posted a quote from Dave Winer and it reminded me of our “About” page for Ludicorp, where we outlined our corporate philosophy (kicking ass), which is akin to avoiding a tour of gas stations. I have a quote behind my desk from Freeman Dyson that I see every day: “There is a great satisfaction in building good tools for other people to use.”
Anil worries that it’s hard to communicate this motivation to a new generation of entrepreneurs, and I agree. There are so many conferences these days, so many voluble, charismatic leaders, and so much noise. I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs in their 20s who are knowledgeable about the valuations various Y Combinator startups have attained, know the names of all the angel investors in the Valley, have in-depth knowledge of the Facebook diaspora and their doings, have opinions on various Zynga acquisitions, and know exactly how to get Andrew Mason on the line…it boggles the mind. These are good things to have in your tool kit. But I want to hear about things out there that they love. About loving the thing they’re building. There’s less of that. Nevertheless, Anil remains “optimistic that we can make this mindset the default.”
Just after reading his post, I settled in to read a book about homeschooling, by John Holt, and in it I found this heartening quote:
Leaders are not what many people think–people with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see whether anyone is following them. “Leadership qualities” are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. The include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, determination, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head even when things are going badly. This is the opposite of the “charisma” that we hear so much about.
And this made me think. People ask me who inspires me. This question often stumps me because I have been inspired in my work by stuff that people make. I fell in love with zines and independent radio when I was an isolated teenager living in the suburbs. Then BBSs, people’s personal web sites, Usenet, Entropy8, online zines (holy crap, the old Bitch magazine site is now a porn portal! And Maxi is squatted!), blogs, Excel, online communities, Amazon, Salon, eBay, O’Reilly books, Google, Friendster, Alamut, NQPAOFU, Metafilter, board games, Blogger, paper games, 1000 blank cards, The Mirror Project, 1000 journals, Moveable Type, 20 things, Google Maps, Flickr, Gmail, last.fm, iPhone, NaNoWriMo, McSweeney’s, Kingdom of Loathing, muxtape, vimeo, Etsy, iPad, Kickstarter …the people who make these things are my leaders. Most of the time I don’t know their names. Sometimes I’m lucky and do.
So, to hell with all that noise. It’s just a big mass of envy, chatter and FOMO. Let’s get excited and make things.
93 thoughts on “Make things”
Wow, I feel the same way you do but specially when these things are physical(iPad, makerbot, kickstarter) or has physical results(I’m working on image and speech recognition or trying to do a new design of motor for 3d printers[one single motor for 2 axis] ).
My mayor issue is finishing things focusing on what you are already doing instead of starting new things, this is really really hard for me.
Invigorating. I am one that got lost in all of the noise. Now 27 an just about to find my footing and get on track to be what I am suppose to be and that is “The One Which is Me”. Since I was young I longed for the recognition that come to so many these days yet I have been chasing it in the wrong way. As you say her I really need to focus on making thing and get back to what really makes me happy which is studying what make enterprise business so successful and bringing back to the mom and pop that can barley turn on their own computer. I do this not to have the superiority complex, but to help those whom are lost in the riff of today and cannot find the way to the next stage and or the right person to actually want to help them and not just cash their check and go. thank you for helping to reset my mindset back where is needs to be .
Good post. Yes, the noise takes the most attention and you wonder, ahh this is what I want to generate as well ! But, the truth is, you should love what you are doing and that’s enough.
Thanks for ‘providing the perspective’ post.
Startups are like independent movies I think. Most think the equipment is what makes a good movie. Good audio, good lighting Hd and high production value. In the end all that doesn’t matter. If you don’t tell a good story it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the story. All the startups you listed tell fucking good stories.
As a homeschooler, a moderately-early-Web homesteader, and as someone who bangs his head daily against the constraints that limit higher education (and church, for the other part of my vocation), I second all you’re saying here. It’s helpful and important for those of us who aren’t ‘leaders’ to hear that someone in your position may be paying attention, and on our side.
AKMA! Great to hear from you! I am hoping the noise in higher education and the church isn’t nearly as bad as in tech, but I’m sure in all fields there is more talking than doing.
what a fantastic post caterina. i reblogged that closing paragraph at fredwilson.vc. it’s killer. you and anil are right about the 20 something entrepreneurs and focusing on the wrong stuff. but there are plenty others out there who are caught up in what they are building and not focusing on the other stuff. they are the ones i want to meet too.
Fred, I keep thinking of more things…LambdaMOO, boingboing, mihir, the5k, emoticons, LiveJournal, Starwalk,
I’m struck by the “love” undertone in your post. The motivation to build stuff for other people comes from love, at least in part. Don’t you agree? Leaders who don’t care whether anyone follows them are willingly vulnerable, which also starts with love — a love for oneself.
I wrote about it on Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhansen/2011/07/30/what-great-entrepreneurs-have-in-common/
Looking forward to more of your posts.
> Anil worries that itâ€™s hard to communicate this motivation to a new generation of entrepreneurs, and I agree.
Who communicated it to your generation? There were plenty of forgettable startups in your “generation” too. I absolutely agree with your “make great things” premise, but looking at today’s startup flippers and thinking they’re different from flippers of the past is simply a high-falutin “kids these days.”
Great ideas and great thinkers exist across all generations.
You’re right about the 20y-olds… I meet a lot of them and the most passionate, the most successful ones (and the most rare onse) – don’t even know what “Y-Combinator” is.
Lets get excited and make things! Lets impress ourselves and few others, let ourselves and the few others impress many more. 🙂
This is fantastic.
Another exciting perspective on leadership and it’s deep connection to solitude is offered by William Deresziewicz in his address to last year’s Plebe class at West Point: http://drawingdownthevision.com/solitude-and-leadership/
A very good post Caterina. I was just speaking to an entrepreneur about this very subject yesterday. I’m afraid another funding bust is the only cure: passion is easier to spot when there is no money to bail half-steppers out. It is the people that are absolutely, 100% going to execute on their vision-with the highest level of passion-that I enjoy being associated with.
In defense of those focusing on the wrong things, the tech media industry really does only focus on massive successes and massive failures — not the legions of startups that find themselves in an extended battle to get where they want to go.
Great post. This nails it:
“Itâ€™s just a big mass of envy, chatter and FOMO.”
People now don’t see the work as an end in itself but as the means to fame and fortune.
The social internet has made “fame” the name of the game. Too bad, it’ll be the death of it.
Great post. What was the name of the book you read about homeschooling? As a primary school teacher I have a vested interest in teaching leadership skills to my students. I like how the author drew a distinction between Charisma and leadership. I suppose I always thought those went hand in hand. I have a new blog to follow. Yay!
@jesse, It’s called “Teach Your Own”. Really good. It’s by Pat Farenga who put together a lot of John Holt essays and quotes. Farenga ran the newsletter John Holt started for Homeschoolers in the 70s.
thank you for the great words…especially the Freeman Dyson quote…it is going up on my wall
Awesome post, Caterina — it inspired one from me (including references to a book that you recommended to me long ago!)
Thank you so much for writing about the important things, about building things that people use and that solve problems instead of building the same stuff that’s already out there and getting it funded simply because an investor knows what it is. It’s pretty rare for me to meet people that build useful things because they’re often not the ones attending conference and talking about their new social network/Groupon-clone/eCommerce/location-based startup and are busy building something they’re freaking passionate about, even of they know no one will care. They are the people that build for the people that sometimes don’t think or speak like them, but who have problems and needs and passions too.
I’ve also pondered over this fact for long. Media is on the wrong track promoting stuff that doesn’t matter. What really matters is the daring spirit to follow your dream and catalyze changes in the world, for good.
Its good to know a lot of stuff. But it’s even more important to do what you love to. I love the John Holt quote.
Thats the whole reason why world has only seen few great leaders with such clarity of thought and this will always be so.
Well said. In my opinion, charisma is for orators and evangelists, although not a requirement for leaders. Leaders don’t just talk, they also listen.
I often think of the overlap of doing things and making things based on inspiration, love, attraction, motivation, discipline — a mixture of doing, serving, helping, building, constructing, offering, and the people who do/serve mixed with the people who make/build. I’m more of a doer than a maker.
The noise is everywhere. You hear it in tech, because that’s where you are. But, wherever you are, the noise is there – it’s part of the human condition.
We get distracted by the noise, consumed by the noise and contribute to the noise. Some people become successful through some aspect of the noise, and that perpetuates the noise further by convincing everyone that the noise does in fact lead to success.
At best, leaders direct the noise for awhile, at worst they become gate-keepers, using the noise and their influence over it to ensure they remain at the top.
Great post Caterina, also great quotes! http://amix.dk/uploads/do_epic_shit.jpg
That’s an impractical and vague definition from Holt about leadership. Leadership is rather simple really – it’s a voluntary relationship between two people characterized by non-cohersive influence. A leader is influential and a follower accepts their influence.
To be coerced into action is not to be led. It is bullying or even at it’s extreme, tyranny.
To be influenced by other’s work is a modest level of leadership. But to be influenced by other’s decisions is more significant. The questions to ask about leaders is “why are they influential?” and “do I find them influential?”
Leadership isn’t magical, it’s very practical and can indeed be learned. It’s a group of skills based in decision making, communication and knowledge that leads to others listening to the leader and acting.
Charisma is part of communication but it does not solely constitute leadership. There are many charismatic people that are ineffective at decision making and lack influence.
Egotistical people often think they are leaders and will promote themselves as such. But the facade is often broken when their decisions lack accuracy or precision. This is all too common in corporate culture.
So I think Holt just misses the mark and is just describing personality qualities that he himself appreciates in others and considers to be virtuous. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what leadership is at it’s root. It’s what he considers important in allowing himself to be influenced. (An exercise that all of us can do too.)
Leadership is influence.
Spot on. Great post. Unfortunately the people you speak of, the young entrepreneurs, are hitting their formative years with all this noise in their face constantly. There’s not much optimism out there save for all things tech and the celebrity entrepreneurs who make it look easy. Its cylcical and like waves in high tide it floats all boats. Or, turkeys can fly in hurricanes. This often gets confused with a bubble. Create something meaningful with a long term vision. This is no ‘get rich quick scheme’. Just like during the real estate bubble everyone who swung a hammer called themselves a carpenter or a real estate investor/ expert because they flipped a house with no money down. This too will have the froth wiped off the top and we will be left with the true meaningful game-changers. And in doing so people will grow and learn and find meaning in the process.
The closing paragraph of this post makes me so happy.
With all due respect Caterina, I disagree, although I used to think like you.
What you are describing are normative ideas for how the startup world should look. But the reality is that it is perfectly rational for these young 20-something entrepreneurs to run around and do all the things you described above. Startup incubators have made creating a startup a replicable process. There is a formula. Shake the right hands. Get the right introductions. Say all the right things. Know the right players and you have a funded, hyped, and well regarded company. Fact. I know because I have done it and I have friends who have done it.
It is also easier to pine for a more ideal world where everyone works on what they love once you have an exit like Flickr. Not everyone has that kind of monetary safety net.
NOTE: my normative take: entrepreneurship should be a wild, destructive, violent process. Not a factory like production that incubators and early stage programs have created. It is NOT good that it is so easy + cheap to start a company today. It is NOT good that so much information on getting started up is out there because it makes it impossible to distinguish people who truly believe in the startup dream or people who know what the right steps/things to say/things to do are. It is NOT good that the media hypes quick exits and fast money in the Valley. TOO many people are doing startups and that is BAD.
The barriers are TOO low.
This is not going to change. It will only get worse, until funding shuts down or something else ends this cycle…
Great post – and I think many of us create amazing things out there. But, guess what, they also get lost in all the noise.
So the bigger issue right now, IMHO, is how to surface really great things to the awareness of people who can benefit from them.
Great post! What you’re addressing reminds me of what it felt like being in the Bay Area during the later dot com years: the dreams of money and hype seemed to come so within people’s reach, that the dreams of making wonderful things effectively were pushed out to sea.
The primacy of chasing riches is more or less part of the flow that fills “the bubble,” but unlike in the dot com, I think the majority of what’s happening on the web now is way outside of the bubble–to the point of even being untouched should the bubble burst.
The dot com was one kitchen sink with one big bubble; now it’s an ever growing ocean with some foam bubbling on a couple shores where VCs like to make sandcastles.
Just swim further away from those shores, and there’s truly a vast ocean of interesting possibilities, with whole ecosystems largely outside of the Silicon Valley-type VC milieu.
I dont read much, but I read this one…..well… I believe in doing what I see is achievable, I really don’t stumble on what other may think about it like me being dreamer or fantacising, if I can find reason enough that it is needed and it is achievable I go for it…especially when I see someone in my time also achieving similar…that for me is proof enough.
I agree 100%. Thank you for writing this!
Well heck. Best post?
Not a constant reader but do check in … plus you can be hard to avoid at times.
Thanks for this post, and the quote. I am not an advocate of home schooling and never would have come across this apt and accurate quote unless I read this post. Thank you.
Flickr once excited me … 🙂
Is FOMO (and how you feel about it) the reason why you don’t keep a public Twitter account?
It would be great if you did. It would be mush easier to follow you (i mean your blog) if you had a twitter account. I stopped doing RSS a while back thx to Twitter and now follow most of interests via Twitter.
Their “world in your pocket” concept is working for me. Not sure if I am addicted yet. But having I can see it becoming addictive.
Thanks for inspiring me to keep doing what I’m doing.
Hear hear! I’ve been re-reading Taleb”s The Black Swan and just highlighted a relevant section the other day. He’s talking about how the discoveries and innovations that matter are the result of tools developed for the pure enjoyment of it. These lead to the unexpected breakthroughs that we celebrate.
“Rarely do our tools seem to work as intended; it is only the engineer’s gusto and love of the building of toys and machines that contribute to our augmentation of our knowledge. Knowledge does not progress from tools designed to verify or help theories, but rather the opposite. The computer…was not built to let you chat with your friends in Siberia, but it has caused some long-distance relationships to bloom.”
“We build toys. Some of those toys change the world.”
As for schooling, I’ve been involved (as a parent) with helping get a new school off the ground that is all about these ideas. It’s called Brightworks, and it’s just about to start its first school year. Check it out: http://sfbrightworks.org.
Thanks for the inspiring post!
Thanks for this great post. I saw this from @vkhosla’s Twitter. This is an extremely cogent post, and I’m glad to have read it.
I do; however, have a slight issue with the thesis of this post:
” I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs in their 20s who are knowledgeable about the valuations various Y Combinator startups have attained, know the names of all the angel investors in the Valley, have in-depth knowledge of the Facebook diaspora and their doings, have opinions on various Zynga acquisitions, and know exactly how to get Andrew Mason on the lineâ€¦”
Perhaps those 20-something entrepreneurs know that what the investors want to here is
a) valuations of their company and comparable companies (am I getting a good deal or not? Is the market “frothy?)
b) the names of all the angel investors with whom they’re talking (social proof) and
c) how much they’re going to exit for.
I think this is a great post, but perhaps an argument by fallacy, I wonder.
Caterina, you are an investor, and so naturally entrepreneurs — whether or not you are interested in investing in them — approach you about the kinds of things they (rightly or wrongly) assume that an investor would want to hear.
I cannot remember the last time (or the first time) an investor asked me “What do you love to build, David?” “What are your deepest passions?” And if they did, it might be in the context of…’I’m glad you have a passion so deep…that it’ll make you work when you are penniless, get 4 hours of sleep a night, and turn my money into more money.”
I think that young entrepreneurs are just much better at “playing the game” than ever, and so naturally know the language du jour in order to make their company succeed. While their vision may be to make the world a better place, clearly, for many investors that is not a strong selling point, but rather an ancillary benefit.
For savvy entrepreneurs, one only needs to look at Groupon as a shining example of what investors want to see (high growth, high return) vs. what so often they may say they want to see (world-changing companies).
Just my $0.02
I can only comment from my experiences in Berlin,Germany but what I ve found here that many people here read books / watch movies of “How to…. ” or someone’ story to sucess and use it as a carbon copy of how to suceed.
I think people like to hide behind big names, like if you criticse them ” well Bill Gates did that” so like trying to use someone else mask to make you immune from critique. I think also this whole speech using figures and big names as well is a form of name dropping, its like ” im in their league / I m part of their crowd / take me serious” . To me it only shows who they want to be but who they are not at this very moment.
The shame is the “doing / creating ” aspect gets them to the state that they present themselves. So in this creatlve period, with no current exiting model template to follow, you need to strike out with something new, so if you are actually a new guy acting like you made it, well not much will happen.
Funny- I had the same convo with Anil back in July… And with Doc Searls the week before that..
I think it’s normal. Regrouping and refocusing on what really matters.
We forget to do this because that’s what happens when one is busy and successful- everything else goes out the window… 😀
Great blog post, thanks 🙂
it’s the new religion, startup-ism
I’ve been feeling the same way about entertainment. My girlfriend likes to quote the play “[title of show]”: “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than a hundred people’s ninth-favorite thing.” My favorite web shows (a genre only starting to get real respect) are the cult hits. And they’re the ones moving the medium beyond “TV but cheap, short and bad.”
I wish it were that simple Caterina…
Making stuff alone is not enough
Making stuff that works is not enough
Making stuff that works and is appreciated is not enough
Making stuff that works, is appreciated so much that it is infectious seems to be where it’s at.
A tall order. But of course I know … most entrepreneurs are created during a moment of naivety where they think that simply building it is enough to make it happen …. (me included).
Art Williams – Just Do It speach – 1987
People get sucked in by the hype that surrounds sucess and want a piece of it. In reality all the matters is to create great things useful for others. The rest is just PR fluff. Trust me, I know. I own a PR firm.
You said it, my dear. Making something–anything–also requires an intrepid willingness to fail. It’s a part of leadership that people rarely acknowledge. I love that Freeman Dyson quote. And I always return to Blake: “Forgive what you do not approve and love me for this energetic exertion of my talent!”
Amen to that!!
Thanks for this refreshing post, and I frickin’ love that John Holt quote. Will dig up the book you mention–been thinking a lot about education as we consider how to navigate SF’s bizarro educational system for our kids. Home schooling is on the table.
It’s interesting that you drew initial inspiration from a non-tech source, then listed, mostly, a bunch of (deservedly) well-loved websites and online communities as other sources of inspiration. Not saying this about you, but so many people in tech are at once so brilliant and so narrow–the only advice I’d add for young entrepreneurs is to occasionally get outside of tech entirely. Read a novel. See a dance performance. One of the most enriching things I’ve ever done was to spend a year reading only books published before 1915. Which turned out to be both deeply pleasurable, and a lot more practical than I’d expected.
This is just what I needed to kick me into the next month when I launch my first digital business. Thank you, says the 45 year mother of three.
yes true, blogs, tumbler, flickr, Apple etc inspire me the most….your post is great read..Thanks
From a 45-year-old mother of three, first time Founder and CEO, about to launch her first digital business:
Having just cleared the breakfast dishes and tweeted to my very few followers – and posted to my slightly more friended Facebook page full of yummy mummies – I am reflecting on your post.
It makes me feel less lonely. And that I am not crazy to be jumping into a business where I don’t know the angel names, thought a Y combinator was a sex thing, am not 28, am not living in or remotely near the Valley.
However, I am addicted to what my divine team and I are building. My addiction, along with my kids, get me out of bed every morning. You – and Anil, who has been holding my hand – have reminded me, in the midst of pre-launch muck and back to school chaos, to keep my head down. Also, while I did not choose the easy path, I am lucky to do what I love.
The last line….
“So, to hell with all that noise. Itâ€™s just a big mass of envy, chatter and FOMO.”
reminds me very much of the motto of our makerspace
(quoting Mike Rowe)
Shut Up and Make Something!
i go make.
It is true that the words of this post and many of the comments ring true in my ears on the account that these words make me feel better. I am trying to create something useful for a large market that know one cares about and I am not worried if the people whose names I know not never know mine.
I’m struck by your comment “I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs in their 20s who are knowledgeable about the valuations various Y Combinator startups have attained, know the names of all the angel investors in the Valley, have in-depth knowledge of the Facebook diaspora and their doings, have opinions on various Zynga acquisitions, and know exactly how to get Andrew Mason on the lineâ€¦”
I can’t help thinking that the goal of too many of these folks isn’t to make something they love: it’s to grab the brass ring. They want to create a startup, get VC funding, go public with a hot IPO, and cash out as multi-millionaires. They are putting the cart before the horse.
The late Peter F. Drucker pointed out that revenue came from *outside* the organization. You don’t make a lot of money because you set out to make a lot of money. You make a lot of money as a *by-product* because you set out to build a product or a service a lot of people will want, and they *do* want it and pay you for it. As Drucker put it elsewhere, the job of business is to *create* a market.
If these folks don’t have a vision of something the love that they want to make real, why should anyone else love it and buy it if they *do* produce it? I think if I were a VC funder, *not* talking about that love would be an automatic fail in any pitch to get *me* to contribute. Having a clear understanding of the path to making it real, the money required, and the money to be made is necessary but not in itself sufficient. It starts with the vision and the love.
The Technology Sector will collapse in two stages from now in the Year 2012 and 2017. The result will be we will move to the phase of the early 1970’s when we had 1-3 broadcasting companies and the people who held these shares made a lot of money. Something like a billion dollars of Warren Buffett in the 1970’s which became 10 billion dollars in 25-30 Years. Good to see Monopoly back! Consumerism, Greed, Use and Throw Culture and losing money is a lethal cocktail- the one to stay away from.
guys, you’re getting old;)
I completely agree, and at the same time get caught up in the nonsense. And the nonsense and fame can be justified. For me, I justify long term because I’d like to define my life by how many others I’m able to inspire! And in order to inspire others, you may not need thousands of followers, but you do need an audience.
Also, to inspire others, you need a fantastic product. But should you find your audience before your product, or focus on your product, then audience. I mention this, because I think it may be important for someone to belong somewhere before they create a great product. I digress.
This is a wonderful post. Much appreciated and needed. Thanks,
I think, as you say, the first priority is to lead by example.
But it’s also good to publicly espouse a WorldView, even if that seems pretentious. (Your blog’s About page would be a good place for that.)
The most important person in leadership is the first follower. Sorry, but the quote while definitely describing a courageous individualist or at the very least a person with high self-esteem and confidence does not describe a leader IF at the very least the first follower is absent from the equation. You can have all the qualities you found in the quote in Holt’s book but if you cannot obtain followers then you are not a leader by the very definition of the word. A leader certainly should have qualities found in the quote. However, leadership requires doing 3 things consistently and well as Drucker states. First, a leader must convey her goals and aspirations that define how the world will be different if her followers act. This can be as simple as a lemonade stand or as complex as running for elected office. Second, the leader accepts the risk and responsibility for her followers. When things go wrong, and most of the time there will be a time when they do, the leader steps forward and says I am responsible. Third, leaders, especially good ones, surround themselves with strong followers. So strong in fact that eventually they become the leaders. The leader is not intimidated by the fact that these followers will eventually supplant her. Remember, it has always been about the what the vision of the future will be like NOT the postion of leadership. Lastly, and most importantly the leader must earn trust. She must convey to followers that what she says is what she means to do. Without trust followers will not follow.
Wow. That is the 2nd time today I have run into that exact John Holt quote. The first was in this not unrelated blog post. http://495west.com/post/9885249988/the-wrong-question-i-want-to-learn-to-code-what?73331330
Thank you a million times.
I’m putting this post in my pocket (literally) and taking it out whenever I feel disheartened (which has happened too often in the past few years).
I actually long to make a documentary someday about how the social web was going to make the world a better place but instead got co-opted (discussed it with Georges Duverger last year). I know that sounds cynical. I want to be wrong.
awesome. if you love something, stay away from the scene. the scene will kill you.
my list, like your list. i remember these as techy software type things that, when i first saw them, i thought — wow that is magic.
This is the most important post I’ve read by anyone in a really long time.
Thank you for putting it out there and for setting us…me…straight. Thank you for the inspiration.
Onward to build some damn cool stuff in attempt to make the world better than I found it. Help people be good friends ….be better people …that kind of stuff.
@caterina – As a former homeschooler working on launching a site for makers in just a few weeks – thingspeoplemake.com – I was Most Pleasantly Surprised to read your post this morning.
There is a lot of noise in the US in particular right now about how to properly educate our youth to remain competitive on a global scale, but so little of that conversation focuses on giving children the skills and tools to make the things the want to exist in the world.
In your post I’m reminded of Jim Gilliam’s moving and emotional talk. Thanks to the Internet we have the opportunity to see each other make incredible things, and then go make amazing things ourselves. After the isolation of a homeschooling childhood, I believe deeply in the power of a connected world. If the Internet is my religion, then making is my sacrament.
This post nails it. There’s an exhaustingly loud and distracting echo chamber out there. Thanks for the reminder that ultimately, it’s just about creating and building stuff you think people will need, or enjoy.
Thanks for pointing out what’s true and timeless amidst all the noise. As the saying goes, nothing works till you do!
Great post, and I’m stealing that quote from one of my heroes, John Holt. Also, some of your readers might be interested in this:
Hope to see some of you as entrants,
As an entrepreneur building a company ‘away from the valley’, this post allows me to exhale. I have been in FOMO mania not being in the Bay Area or NYC, not knowing any VC or Angel personally (yet), not being invited to the right Happy Hours… Your post lets me doing what I am focused on – building our products. Thank you!
Thanks for this post Caterina, I always appreciate your perspective and insight into the start-up world. A lot of valuable feedback has already been given here, so I won’t reiterate.
I did want to make sure you knew that Bitch can still be found at: http://bitchmagazine.org. That other domain got taken on by porn folks eons I go, if memory serves. As a fellow webzine publisher from back in the day (long live the memory of Wench, Soapboxgirls and many others), I wanted to make sure that was on your radar.
Cheers from YVR.
Excellent comment – John Holt is an inspiration to me, ever since I found Grace Llewelyn’s How To Quit School And Get A Real Life Education (also inspired by Holt) right before graduating school.
I stayed in school, as it would have been silly not to at that late stage, but that thinking resonated with me, and continues to shape me to this day.
I agree with your analysis – I work in photography and spent a year managing the Street Photography Now Project for The Photographers’ Gallery. I loved that project for using social media to have a global mass-participation project that included excellent feedback from 52 top photographers, for free to participants.
It’s the kind of project that just couldn’t happen without social media, instead of being yet another gimmicky use of social media just because it’s “on trend”
You might also like the 4am Project by Karen Strunks, which organises days where people go out and photograph at 4am all over the world then share images to her site. Creates a real world sense of connection between people using social media to share their photography. Really inspiring!
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