I spend a large amount of time on the Internet. With that comes the opportunity to observe various phenomena in action. Recently, it occurred to me that all thought on the Internet has a value, but that value is not always the same. After a little thought of my own, I came up with a theory of what certain kinds of thought are worth – and how often you see them.
On the bottom of the hierarchy is an idea. As discussed by entrepreneurial bloggers the world over, ideas are worthless (at least without brilliant execution). On the Internet, ideas are everywhere. They are cheap and nasty and you can’t give them away, since own ideas are better than everybody elses.
A well-crafted opinion is worth slightly more, since basic literacy is required to get your point across. Notice however that I said well-crafted. Generally, a well-crafted opinion will be found in it’s own post. They are very rarely found in comments. They are almost never found in YouTube comments.
If you have a very well-crafted opinion, and a famous name (at least Internet famous, if not real-world famous), you might be able to obtain some ad revenue from your opinion. But it’s not going to be a lot, because like ideas, opinions are everywhere.
Analysis of news, events, products and services is a rarer commodity than an opinion. Because it brings in facts, and tones down the emotions, they are harder for people on the Internet to produce. You may even need to be a good writer. Whilst opinions might be found on sites like WordPress.com, Medium or Tumblr, analysis will most likely be found on it’s own domain – this generally indicates a slightly higher level of effort, and thus a slightly higher worth.
Facts are what the Internet loves, hence the higher value of analysis than opinion. What if you could introduce more facts to the Internet? That’s where information comes in.
What do people go on the Internet to do? Many things (usually involving amusing images or naked women) but primarily to find out how to do something. If you have the answer to somebody’s question, you can get them to pay for that. This is why there are so many eBooks available these days. Because telling people how to do something is valuable, since it will save time, and time is money.
It took a long time, and was a complete ordeal to organise (seriously, telecommunications companies have the worst customer service ever), but I finally have an NBN connection at my apartment!
I’ve chosen a 25/5 Mb/s “Silver” plan from Internode, which provides roughly 5 times the speed of my old ADSL2+ connection in both the upstream and downstream directions, as well as much lower latency. I’m really excited about the increased upstream bandwidth, it should allow me to host services from my house more comfortably.
A few weeks back I posted ‘I’m Jack Scott, IT Consultant, And This Is How I Work‘, pretending I was famous and answering LifeHacker’s standard interview questions for famous tech entrepreneurs. In the post I suggested that I’d like to see Chris answer the same questions.
Hamzah asked Jamie Bailey. So far Jamie hasn’t blogged, but given personal circumstances at the moment it is quite understandable.
This has been quite an interesting exercise. Mostly about peer pressure – nobody seems to want to break the chain. It is also worth noting that there are a heap of people who should be answering these questions who don’t have blogs (Michael Wheeler, I’m looking at you). I truly believe more people should blog (and that I should blog more often). The act of putting finger to keyboard for more than 140 characters actually makes you start thinking about things a bit more (I only realised my prowess with search engines halfway through writing the blog post).
If anybody else feels like answering the questions, let me know and I’ll update this post with links.
Lifehacker regularly features a segment where they interview famous people and ask them how they work (such as this). Since I’ll never be famous enough to be asked by Lifehacker directly (though you never know, they might get are desperate for content one day). So here are my answers. Hope you enjoy.
Location: Hobart, AU Current gig: Software Engineer at Workzerk Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini. I hate it so much and would love to get rid of my mobile phone and never get another one. Current computer: Cool people don’t have brand names on their computer. They also have more than one computer. One word that best describes how you work: Hungrily.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I can’t live without Outlook. I use it to manage my entire life, business and personal. I know Google Apps cover a lot of the same use scenarios, but Outlook is so much friendlier and more efficient – it really has been a killer app for the last fifteen years and will continue to be for as long as people want to actually get work done on computers instead of watching YouTube videos of kittens. Because the world really needs more work and less youtubeing kittens. As much as we all love them.
I happily pay for my own Active Directory installation and Exchange server. For one person. It just benefits me that much. Plus it sounds cool.
What’s your workplace like?
I have two. The first one, “at work”, is grey and white and very clean. I have two monitors and an Aeron chair. I recently bought two pot plants.
The second one, my home office, is a lot more fun. I have a desk I built myself (with a lot of help from my great Dad) which has 6RU of 19″ rack space built in (every desk should have this). The rack forms a monitor stand for three mismatched monitors (one for chat and social media and Outlook, one for Firefox, and one for everything else (which includes everything from Visual Studio to OpenTTD).
What’s your best time-saving trick/life hack?
Only watch television that’s been recommended to you by more than five people. If you do watch something, download it to your computer, use VLC to play it, and have the speed set to 1.2x. The speech is still understandable and doesn’t sound at all chipmunky (if it does occasionally I set the speed to 1.1x) and I save minutes an episode.
What’s your favourite to-do list manager?
For general to-do lists, Asana. It’s awesome. It manages to-do lists with gusto.
For software development I’d pick JIRA or Redmine because of their integration with source control systems.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
My collection of vegetable peelers. I joked to my Mum once that I didn’t have a good vegetable peeler and ever since I’ve been receiving them as gifts. This might sound like a curse, but it’s really not. It’s awesome. You know how everybody always recommends you peel and cut away from you to avoid injury, but nobody ever does it? You just need sharper instruments, then you can. All but one of my peelers can cut through pumpkins. Most people’s knives can’t do that. If I’m just cutting up vegetables for dinner, I don’t use a knife sometimes, just for a challenge. I just use a peeler.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else? What’s your secret?
I’ve been thinking of answering these questions for a long time. Up until recently my answer would have been shelling boiled eggs. I didn’t know my secret, I was just better at it than anybody else I know. Recently though it dawned on me that there is one every day thing I am very good at that most people aren’t: I know how to know anything.
You see, most people never learned how to use Google. For a skill that is possibly the most important business skill of the early 21st century, we have spent very little time teaching it to people. Even when I was in school nobody taught me (since, I guess, the teachers didn’t know how). So I taught myself. + to combine words, – to leave them out. “quotation marks” will search for something literally. And so on! But nobody knows this. So I have an edge.
A lot of people assume I know everything there is to know about a computer. That’s not true. I actually know very little. I can just find out the answer to a computer related problem quicker than anybody else.
What do you listen to while you work?
1970’s rock music, Triple J hottest 100s from 2003-2010, and classical music for the organ.
What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m reading this blog post, looking for the spelling and grammatical errors which will undoubtedly sneak in. Normally though, if I’m reading, it’s Wikipedia. I love reading Wikipedia because it can take you anywhere. Though for some reason, leave me long enough and I will always end up reading about the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?
What’s your sleep routine like?
I go to bed around 10 to 10:30 and talk to my partner (she’s awesome!) for an hour before sleep. I wake up (I hate that bit) around 8.
Fill in the blank. I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.
This weekend has been a great one. I spent it at PyConAU, the premier conference for Python in Australia. Two days filled with all of my favourite things: great open source software, lots of friends, great food, interesting talks by interesting people – and the weather has been “interesting” too.
Conferences like these (PyConAU and linux.conf.au) are a really great chance for me to catch up with some of my friends that live interstate or overseas, as well as make new friends and meet new people. There’s always an interesting discussion going on, and nobody minds if you just stand there and listen in – you learn so much just by standing around!
Of course, the whole point of a conference is the talks, and here were some of my highlights:
Luke Miller’s talk on making a point-and-click indie game for gay men. This talk really covered the entire breadth of the game making process, both generally and specific to his game. He showed us the engine he built, discussed the story and graphics, discussed packaging and marketing the game, as well as some of the feedback he has got back from the gaming press – both positive and negative. Anybody who wants to make their own game should definitely check out this talk when it is available online.
Ed Leafe‘s demo of creating OpenStack deployments using Python. He showed simply using the pyrax library to create VMs and provision databases and DNS entries, but of course you could extend this by using python scripts to set up applications on the VMs afterwards, naturally. I’m almost convinced to move everything that I have in Amazon AWS to Rackspace’s cloud. OpenStack is pretty much awesome.
The Saturday morning keynote from Alex Gaynor on trying to narrow down what exactly programmers “do” and how they do it… by drawing in parallels from other fields like science, engineering and art. Really, it seems programming and software engineering is the intersection of the three. Also, software engineering is a very young field, really only 40 or 50 years old, compared to science which has hundreds of years to mature, and art which has had tens of thousands.
I also enjoyed the many (I think I went to about 5) talks I went to regarding software testing (unit testing, mostly). I actually learned a few tips from these that I plan to use in my day job, even though we use C# and not Python. Things like writing tests before adding any new feature – which of course is best practise that I knew, but “forgot” (i.e., was lazy). Food for thought.
Speaking of food, the conference venue, the Wrest Point Casino, provided a good spread of food right throughout the conference, with morning and afternoon teas being very well catered, as well as lunches (lots of options for my vegetarian friends, and lots of tasty meat those such inclined). The peak, of course, was the conference dinner held on Saturday night, where we ate ourselves into an absolute stupor with the finest Tasmanian produce. A truly terrible burden, but one we accepted with vigour.
Naturally, the conference had to come to an end, but not before a trip to a local pub (and despite being a local, one I hadn’t been to before). Jack Greene in Salamanca Place hosted our after-party, and I’ll definitely be going back. I’ll also definitely be attending the next PyConAU, in Brisbane next year.
Thanks to Chris, Josh, and the rest of the organising team for a great weekend!