Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm.
— Publilius Syrus

Keeping a “writer’s notebook” in public imposes an unbeatable rigor, since you can’t slack off and leave notes so brief and cryptic that they neither lodge in your subconscious nor form a record clear enough to refer to in future. By contrast, keeping public notes produces both a subconscious, supersaturated solution of fragmentary ideas that rattle around, periodically cohering into nucleii that crystallize into full-blown ideas.
— Cory Doctorow

Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.
— Melvin E. Conway, How Do Committees Invent?

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.
— John Gall, Systemantics: How Systems Really Work and How They Fail

February 25. Continuing on positive emotions, this subreddit post disagrees with my statement that nobody would consciously avoid feeling good. Clearly this subject is less straightforward than I thought, because it’s hard to separate “feeling good” from the stuff that you feel good about, from social displays of feeling good, and from the whole internal ecology of how you feel.

When I think about my personal perspective, it’s mainly about motivation: feeling good about doing things. That’s why, despite high grades and test scores, I didn’t get into an elite college, and never passed an interview for a salaried job, because everyone could tell I wasn’t really into it. I failed at homesteading because tasks that I valued in an abstract way turned out to feel like chores. I’m constantly trying to 1) find stuff that I feel like doing, or 2) hack my own perspective so that I feel like doing stuff, or if both of those fail, 3) force myself to do stuff, which is exhausting. So that’s the context from which I don’t understand why someone would avoid feeling good if they have the option.

And Noah comments:

Happiness is not a meaningful state without something to compare it to. If there was no suffering, we would have no word to describe happiness, it would simply be the natural state of things. It would be invisible to us I imagine, like the background space of our awareness.

That sounds wonderful! And it reminds me of the Christian idea, that the fall of man happened through knowledge of good and evil. This never occurred to me, but maybe the principle that you can’t have something without also having its opposite, is only true on a cognitive level.

Trying too hard to say something just right can result in it not being said at all.
— Mike Grindle

She fills my horizon, she is the great fact of my life, she has my love, she saved me from the fate of living out my life alone, which is where I seemed to be heading… She has been with me in sickness and in health, certainly far more sickness than we could have anticipated. I will be with her, strengthened by her example. She continues to make my life possible, and her presence fills me with love and a deep security. That’s what a marriage is for. Now I know.
— Roger Ebert

Because it’s like, when you start rubbing against each other, in that sense, a feeling comes up like “I don’t like this. I’d rather go and hide away.” Staying with that is a powerful way of getting to know yourself and others, deepening conversations and relationships.

I think it’s so important to embrace conversations, particularly ones with people who make salient points with whom you don’t agree. That’s when you really learn stuff. “You think this and I think something different. Change my mind. Let me come into your perspective.” You don’t need to feel threatened by that. Because it’s not like you as a human being are weakening as your opinion is changing.
— Jacob Collier

I think the job of someone who’s in charge of the beginnings of the process, is to encourage an environment where it’s cool if something doesn’t work. Because a lot of that stuff is the friction that creates the spark that makes the idea happen. The myth that the frictionless environment is the most effective is just not true. It’s not true in your life, it’s not true in your workflow, and it’s not true in your music. — Jacob Collier

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

A powerful way to improve the Web platform is to provide new primitives. A primitive is a capability that, on its own, likely doesn’t do much that interesting. But a good primitive will be designed to interact usefully with existing (and future) parts of the stack, and this will enable it to enrich the platform across the board.
— Robin Berjon

the idea that lack of effort to maintain the talismans and protocols of representation would result in a void. Put more simply: You’re the keeper of yourself and of what matters. There is no consistency that will protect you.
— Jason Scott

I thought I was going to die.
But strangely enough, that became for me, a wonderful opportunity.
— Jacques-Yves Cousteau

When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.
— Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Every explorer I have met has been driven—not coincidentally but quintessentially—by curiosity, by a single-minded, insatiable, and even jubilant need to know.
— Jacques-Yves Cousteau, The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World

I first heard this while watching Becoming Cousteau (2021).

You’re currently running an experimental version of earth.
— Google Earth

It is really not so repulsive to see the poor asking for money as to see the rich asking for more money. And advertisement is the rich asking for more money. A man would be annoyed if he found himself in a mob of millionaires, all holding out their silk hats for a penny; or all shouting with one voice, “Give me money.” Yet advertisement does really assault the eye very much as such a shout would assault the ear. “Budge’s Boots are the Best” simply means “Give me money”; “Use Seraphic Soap” simply means “Give me money.” It is a complete mistake to suppose that common people make our towns commonplace, with unsightly things like advertisements. Most of those whose wares are thus placarded everywhere are very wealthy gentlemen with coronets and country seats, men who are probably very particular about the artistic adornment of their own homes. They disfigure their towns in order to decorate their houses.
— G.K. Chesterton

Shellen in particular still rues losing the fight over the name. Even now, he bristles thinking about the fight and the fact that Google Reader is known as “an RSS reader” and not the ultra-versatile information machine it could have become. Names matter, and Reader told everyone that it was for reading when it could have been for so much more. “If Google made the iPod,” he says, “they would have called it the Google Hardware MP3 Player For Music, you know?”
Who killed Google Reader?

Having and not having arise together
— Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching

Do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else.
— Walt Whitman

In Japanese, the word for mountain pass is tōge. It’s written: 峠. It’s a great character, comprised of three other characters (or “radicals”). On the left is the character for mountain: 山. On the top right is the character for up: 上. And on the bottom right is the character for down: 下. So the character for pass — tōge — is mountain-up-down: 峠.
— Craig Mod

You must strive to find your own voice, boys, and the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.
— N.H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poets Society

Any system shall not harm your content or, through inaction, allow your content to come to harm.
— Jef Raskin’s First Law of Interface Design

Identity is not some magic homunculus that lives somewhere to the left of your pituitary gland, but the role you play in the drama your brain naturally constructs to map what’s happening.
Dramatic Identity

Halving requirements is the same as doubling capacity.
— Nigel Calder

Came across while reading Off the grid by Hundred Rabbits.

One who makes no mistakes makes nothing at all.
— Giacomo Casanove

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
— Helen Keller

Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket.
— Eric Hoffer, The Temper of Our Time

The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot
— Werner Herzog

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.
— Bessie A. Stanley, 1905

Understanding is love’s other name.
— Nhat Hanh

Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.
— Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that’s the most interesting.
— Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Know the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.
Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Jokes are the unit tests of our understanding.

The map appears to us more real than the land.
— D.H. Lawrence

What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.
— John Berger

A good photograph is knowing where to stand.
— Ansel Adams

He was thrifty, of Scotch-Irish descent, and at two minutes past three had never had an adventure in his life.

At three minutes past three he began his career as one of the celebrities of the world.
The Man Who Rocked the Earth by Arthur Cheney Train and Robert Williams Wood

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, ”Self-Reliance”, Essays: First Series, 1841

I’m lost. I’m going to find myself. If I return before I get back, please ask me to wait.
— unknown

The world needs all kinds of minds
Temple Grandin

People think about you much less than you either hope or fear.
Wisdom, Merlin Mann

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
— Kurt Vonnegut, Jr in Mother Night (1962)

The Extroverts are not the problem. And the problem with the Introverts is that we think the Extroverts are the problem. And the problem with Extroverts is that they don’t think about Introverts at all.
Toward a More Resilient Future by Kyle Aster

I used to be chronically introverted. It took a while, but life taught me that I’m at my best in company and now I live for that. I’d like to have a better idea of other people’s relationship with that arc, like, is that how everyone feels or is there something unusual about being an introvert for twenty years and then finding the tools to live intensely socially.

Or am I just missing too much of the puzzle to even ask the right question…?

Emphasis mine.

Anything added dilutes everything else.
Approachable is better than simple.
Avoid administrative distraction.
Design for failure.
Encourage flow.
Favor focus over features.
Half measures are as bad as nothing at all.
It’s not fully shipped until it’s fast.
Keep it logically awesome.
Mind your words, they are important.
Non-blocking is better than blocking.
Practicality beats purity.
Responsive is better than fast.
Speak like a human.
— Kyle Aster

Distilled principles of design from Kyle Aster’s (nee Neath) time working at GitHub.

  • Every shrub, every tree
  • if one has not forgotten
  • where they were planted
  • has beneath the fallen snow
  • some vestige of its form.
  • Shōtetsu

When you look at something you’re working on, no matter what it is, you can’t help but see past the actual thing to the ideas that inspired it, your plans for extending it, the emotions you’ve tied to it. But when others look at it, all they see is a piece of junk.

You only get one chance to make a first impression; why have it be “junk”? Once that’s associated with your name or project, it’s tough to scrape off. Even people who didn’t see it themselves may have heard about it second-hand. And once they hear about it, they’re not likely to see for themselves. Life’s too short to waste it on junk.
— the late Aaron Swartz

The Programmers’ Credo: “We do these things not because they are easy, but because we thought they were going to be easy.”
— Maciej Cegłowski

Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

I love an oxymoron, and I love this quote. No attribution because no one knows who said it first.

Emphasis mine.

The need of people to express power by writing about how much they could destroy has continued to present day. However, with more information than ever available to the serious researcher, files seem more and more professional than ever before. But make no mistake; the same caveats and warnings of previous generations are the same: don’t believe everything you read, and don’t try to blow things up based on what you read.
— Jason Scott,

Got a chuckle out of Jason’s disclaimer at the top of the destruction collection on

The design of the site also stands tall as a reminder that websites can have a style, and not everyone has to like it.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.
— Henry David Thoreau, from Walden

It is strange how people seem to belong to places - especially to places where they were not born…
— Christopher Isherwood

Life… we understand it differently at different stages. It’s what is interesting about getting older, you realize your relationship with the past is always negotiable. There is a lot of freedom in that, because you realize you can go back to what you did such a long time ago. You can talk with the dead, talk with your lost self, your disappeared self, and you can visit those places again, and understand it differently. That makes a huge difference.
— Jeanette Winterson

You don’t take a photograph, you make it.
— Ansel Adams

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
— Robert A. Heinlein

I like this because it goes some way to illustrating the total philosophical difference I feel compared to so many. I don’t want to partition my life into work and play, pleasure and displeasure. Might all my days and all my activities reflect the whole of myself and enrich me and others in the doing of them. Let those who must specialize, they rob the world of its soul that way but I cannot turn the tide.

A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.
— Lawrence Pearsall Jacks

Found on the about page of Jacob’s Early Retirement Extreme blog.

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
— Rumi

All models are wrong, but some are useful.
— George Box, Statistician

Understanding each other is not enough, but it is an indispensable beginning.
The American Character by D. W. Brogan, 1944

I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety.
— Joseph Chamberlain, 1898

I don’t ask that the story address my experience. I ask that my experience make it possible for me to understand the story.
— Susan Sontag, To Tell A Story, 1983

Your system should be as simple as possible, but not simpler than that.
— David Allen

Never fool yourself, and remember that you are the easiest person to fool.
— Richard Feynman

I wish life was not so short; languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about.
— JRR Tolkien

There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.
— Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

We live in fragments. You are one thing at the office, another at home; you talk about democracy and in your heart you are autocratic; you talk about loving your neighbours, yet kill them with competition
Jiddu Krishnamurti

Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.
— C.S. Lewis

In fact, not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the argument that life is serious, though it is often hard and even terrible. And saying that, I am prompted to add what follows out of it: that since everything ends badly for us, in the inescapable catastrophe of death, it seems obvious that the first rule of life is to have a good time; and that the second rule of life is to hurt as few people as possible in the course of doing so. There is no third rule.
— Brendan Gill

If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character, would you slow down? Or speed up?
— Chuck Palahniuk

When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
— Genesis 4:12

All I know is that I know nothing
and I’m not even sure about that.
Pyrrhonian Skepticism

Or if you’re French…

Que sais-je?
What do I know?

Unfortunately, most warning systems do not warn us that they can no longer warn us.
— From Normal Accidents by Charles Perrow

Most important things in life are a hassle. If life’s hassles disappeared, you’d want them back.
— Hayao Miyaza

You don’t choose the things you believe in, they choose you. — Lamar Burgess, Minority Report (2002)

I want to share with you my simple two-step secret to improving the performance of any website.

  1. Make sure that the most important elements of the page download and render first.
  2. Stop there.

You don’t need all that other crap. Have courage in your minimalism.
— Maciej Cegłowski in The Website Obesity Crisis

Language shapes the way we think and determines what we can think about.
Benjamin Whorf

You cannot get a simple system by adding simplicity to a complex system.
Richard O’Keefe

Presumably man’s spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his records more fully if he is to push his experiment to its logcal conclusion and not merely become bogged down part way there by overtaxing his limited memory. His excursions may be more enjoyable if he can reacquire the privilege of forgetting the manifold things he does not need to have immediately at hand with some assurance that he can find them again if they prove important.
— Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort (2003), The New Media Reader

The opposite of fragile is something that actually gains from disorder.
— Nassim Taleb

I’ve never been a cropper. Having grown up photographing with film and spending years developing black and white photos in my university apartment in Philadelphia, cropping has always felt like a hack, a lie. Of course, all photos are lies, all photos are crops. The very definition of a photograph is to add edges to the world, slice off some snippet, place it in a tiny box. Or, as the late Chilean photographer Sergio Larrain put it, “The game [of photography] is to organize the rectangle.”

I realize now that a “perfect” rectangle — pulled back so you see the edges of the negative in the exposed print (to “prove” you haven’t cropped) — is a parlor trick more than anything.

The story isn’t the art, nor its players, nor the paint, the technique, or the interpretation. The feelings are the art. The rest is just the way in.
All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani, Page 4

It takes so long for us to do so little.
— The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings, Page 3

conceptual integrity is the most important consideration in system design.
Frederick Brooks

When all is said and done, more is said than done.
— unknown

Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.
David McCullough in an Interview with NEH chairman Bruce Cole, Humanities, July/Aug. 2002, Vol. 23/No. 4

A place for everything, everything in its place.
— unknown

Widely attributed to Benjamin Franklin, as well as both Samuel Smiles and Mrs Isabella Beeton. But was in use long before any of them, hence ‘unknown’.

The relentless accretion of code over months, years, even decades quickly turns every successful new project into a legacy one.
Grady Booch

The moment that code springs into being and is made manifest in a system, it becomes legacy.
Grady Booch

The essence of systems is relationships, interfaces, form, fit, and function. The essence of architecture is structuring, simplification, compromise, and balance.
Eberhard Rechtin

Good sex is like good bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.
Mae West

The media only writes about the sinners and the scandals, but that’s normal, because a tree that falls makes more noise than a forest that grows.
Pope Francis

No one can grow if he does not accept his smallness.
The Name of God Is Mercy by Pope Francis

The code is the truth, but it is not the whole truth.
Grady Booch

Meaningful architecture is a living, vibrant process of deliberation, design, & decision, not just documentation.
Grady Booch

It requires energy to make a system simple, and to intentionally apply that energy requires that one reason about, understand, and visualize the system as built.
Grady Booch

Although software has no mass, it does have weight, weight that can ossify any system by creating inertia to change and introducing crushing complexity.
Grady Booch

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.
Phil Karlton