Are We Entering a Maker Renaissance?
This month 👾 Cocaine and Kale | The Maker Renaissance | Sam Altman on Productivity | Underground apps | Creator Routines + loads more…
🆕 Personal Updates
I’m working on something new. It’s been years in the making and I’ve talked myself out of it countless times, but I can’t stop thinking about it and would kick myself if I didn’t try. But I need to remind myself there is never a great time and I need to carve out the time if I want to bring this idea to life.
I love the process of creating something from nothing. I love the research, validation process, design, learning and analysis. The idea typically starts life rough and abstract before it begins to take shape into someone more refined and polished.
This is one of these projects where there isn’t really any downside for me, apart from my own invested time. It’s cheap to create due to me doing all the work and if no one else finds it of value I will have at least synthesised my thoughts and learned a lot in the process.
I’ll be sharing more in the coming newsletters. This is my public accountability so please feel free to nudge me for more details in the coming month.
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Right, let’s get to it - time for this month’s roundup 👇
🔥 Top post last month: EarlyBird: Validation in a box
This month’s sponsor is GummySearch. Ideate & validate businesses with Reddit. Quickly find painful problems to solve and solutions people are asking to be built. Reddit is a goldmine of insights from the millions of daily conversations, use it to your advantage.
We Are Entering a Maker Renaissance
When I set out to create this newsletter it was aimed at Makers. The type of folk that nerd out on the evenings and weekends tinkering with ideas, prototyping, testing new technology, running experiments and sharing their learnings. But, the term maker is still somewhat undefined and abstract. The first half of this post sets out to provide a definitive explanation of what a maker is and it’s the best I’ve seen yet.
As the word says, makers make stuff. They’re the inventors and prototypers who engage with a new technology not because they have to as part of their job, but because they find it irresistibly interesting and fun. They don’t do it for entertainment, fame, or promise of other future boons (even if they sometimes reap those benefits).
Author Dimitri Glazkov (Strategy Lead at Google Labs), goes on to discuss his theory that makers thrive in cycles of technological innovation. Dimitri believes there are three key conditions that make a ripe environment for makers which include, access to technology, openness of space, and iteration velocity. When all three conditions are met does this mean the technological progress between VC-funded startups and established tech giants begins to level with makers? “Is the next big thing much more likely to come from a tinkerer’s garage—thanks to generative AI’s accessibility, speed of prototyping, and massive market opportunities?” In this post, Dimitri explains why he seems to think it is.
Sam Altman on Productivity
When it comes to productivity, if you have managed to get to work, it’s already a milestone, and you will do so for an average of at least 90,000 hours in your life. That’s about ten years of consecutive work. Somewhat discouraging but true. However, you try to make the most of the time you spend at work. To that effect, our desire for it has gone so far and in such a macabre way that, as always, it’s taken its toll on us. Influencers have taken productivity porn to an unhealthy extreme and we’ve been sucked in. However, this isn’t a post that’s going to make you feel like shit at the end of it questioning how productive you are - it’s going to inspire you to think about how you spend your time and the value of compounding growth.
This essay was written back in 2018 but it’s great evergreen content by Sam Altman - CEO of OpenAI and ex-president of startup accelerator Y-Combinator.
As I mentioned in last month's issue, Altman’s ex-colleague (Paul Graham) shared some wisdom when it comes to compound growth which bears repeating. “A small productivity gain, compounded over 50 years, is worth a lot. So it’s worth figuring out how to optimize productivity. If you get 10% more done and 1% better every day compared to someone else, the compounded difference is massive.“
How to do product positioning
In this post, Evan Conrad shares his model of how products work. This an inherently complex topic to discuss, however, this is a fascinating approach that is extremely well articulated and straight to the point with some handy illustrations throughout to visualise his thesis.
Evan states that making products involves understanding the Abstraction Chain, Scaffolding, Upshifting, and Downshifting. All somewhat new terminology created to articulate his model. Understanding these concepts helps build a product that can satisfy customer needs.
Validation is a mirage
I love Jason’s (founder of Basecamp) content. It’s straight to the point without the fluff and unnecessary preamble. He’s somewhat contrarian when it comes to creating software, but I want fresh thinking that challenges the status quo. Do I agree with everything? nope, but I do want to hear other approaches I have yet to consider. This is one of them and I’m obsessed with the topic of product validation so this pricked my ears up when I discovered this post.
When it comes to validation what people are asking about is certainty ahead of time. Certainty is a human desire, so it’s a somewhat expected want. Unfortunately, certainty is almost impossible to obtain ahead of time, and you need to be comfortable with that uncomfortable fact. However, to counter Jason’s point: “There’s really only one real way to get as close to certain as possible. That’s to build the actual thing and make it actually available for anyone to try, use, and buy.” I agree and disagree. I agree this approach is the closest you will get to certainly. However, I strongly disagree this is the better more efficient approach altogether.
Firstly, he’s missing a step. Derisking the assumption. There are a ton of strategies that you can use to de-risk an assumption you have. You most likely won’t be able to entirely reduce the risk to zero but you can substantially reduce it and save a lot of time and money in doing so before considering bringing a product to market to understand it’s not viable or desirable. Just see some of the strategies I’ve curated.
What do you think? drop a message in the comments or hit reply - I would love to hear your thoughts.
🎁 Bonus content: Basecamp created what would eventually be known as the Shape Up Method. The methodology aims to better define and prioritise the software creation process projects before building and shipping. Download it for free here.
If you have been reading this newsletter for a while you will know my two guilty pleasures of mine. Routines and office set-ups. The only common thread between the two I can think of is I’m nosey. I know routines are usually very particular to each person’s circumstances and very subjective but, I don’t care. I love to understand how others structure their day, what they invest their time in, what they care about and their weird quirks. In fact, I very rarely adopt a new routine when I read about others but nonetheless, I find them fascinating.
This month I found a new fascinating blog that interviews interesting people and digs super deeper into every part of their routine with guests such as Tim Ferris, Andrew Huberman and Andrew Wilkinson to name a few. The only odd thing about this is the generative AI imagery throughout the interview.
Cocaine vs Kale
It’s a pretty wild title but it’s genius copywriting from George Mack. Last month George shared his personal hack to control the usage of his smartphone addiction. Believe it or not, his solution was having two phones. The Kale phone (AKA serotonin inducer), only has notes, Kindle, Uber, and Maps, and only two to three people have the number. The Cocaine phone (AKA dopamine inducer) includes Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and WhatsApp, and allows anyone to call. Great content, with an interesting solution but I’ll just stick to creating multiple profiles on my iPhone for the time being to get the same effect with the one device.
This month’s products are some hidden gems I’ve found on the fringes of the internet. I guarantee you won’t know them all. Sorry to all you Android folks, these are all iPhone apps.
Photography apps are too intertwined with social media. What happened to a simple point-and-shoot camera app with a few basic filters and settings? Stops is a retro-looking app to take stunning everyday photos without distractions.
Shoutout to Rehat the creator of Stops. He’s currently not in great health so I’m wishing him all the best and hope he makes a speedy recovery.
If the interface of Tinder and Spotify had a baby this is what it would look like. Music Clips is an AI music discovery app that conveniently syncs with your Spotify account and delivers you suggestions of music based on your listening habits but tracks you have yet to hear all via a slick swipe to like/dislike interface.
A stunning podcast app currently on Testflight created by Rishi Mody. If you don’t have Testflight stop what you are doing now and go download it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check this out. Anyway, back to it, Untitled is a minimalists dream with a super slick dark UI which removes all the unnecessary noise from traditional podcast apps. I’ve been using it for the last week and haven’t gone back to the native Apple podcasts player yet.
The trendier, modern and slicker Pintrest. Zero noise, notifications, or distractions. No likes, comments, or ego. Just pure, harmonious expression. Still invite-only, unfortunately, but keep an eye out for launch.
👾 Community Submissions
Beta Directory | Discover the latest tech products
This month’s latest early access beta products brought to you by Beta Directory are:
Hey Alice: The world’s first AI assistant for macOS.
Visual Electric: AI design tool. A camera for the mind.
Sublime: A simpler, more communal way to build your second brain.
🐽 Other links to consume
This month I will leave you with the ultra-rare Macintosh Portable M5120 clear prototype. Unlike the launch version of the Macintosh Portable, which was sold in the late 1980s in a beige colour, this model is a prototype made from a clear plastic material. It’s thought that only 5 of these currently exist. This “portable” device is a whopping 16 pounds (7.2kg) which is heavier than a bowling ball, but it was still more transportable than standard computers of the era.
That’s it for this month!
If you made it this far, hit reply or jump into the comments and tell me what you thought of this edition. Was this 🔥 or 🗑. I read every response 👀
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Until next the next issue,
Sam | @thisdickie 👨💻
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