Monthly Archives: January 2011

Patchworthy

This blog is turning out to be about a lot about ‘firsts’ — first launch, first project to get X users, etc. To continue this fine tradition, here is another first.

Remember LinkPeelr, a weekend project that grew to 3,000 users when it was featured on lifehacker.com? The code for LinkPeelr has been on github from the very beginning, and just when I thought the interest in this tool was subsiding someone submitted a patch that fixed the way tooltip rendering conflicted with native tooltips on Twitter.

How cool is that? Someone actually took the time make the changes and create a pull request in github. Considering that the  project is tiny it would far easier to clone, modify the local copy to your heart’s content, and move on without me noticing anything (other than a fork).

Except that it wouldn’t work because it wouldn’t have the LinkPeelr presence online, another Chrome extension would have to be registered, and so on. In short, someone would need to be really determined to go off and “deep copy” it.

And I suppose there isn’t enough commercial value in LinkPeelr (there isn’t any, in fact) to want to copy it. This being said, there are clearly people for whom this project represents enough value to be improved further through contribution rather than cloning. I feel that’s a fundamental and important distinction because contribution expresses a commitment to public good whereas cloning does not, at least not necessarily.

So what does that leave us with? There isn’t enough value to invite malicious intent, and just enough value to invite the good will of collaboration. A wondrous amount of value indeed, and if you are in this range, you are what I would call patchworthy.

This tiny speck of a contribution also disproves the opinion (not that we don’t have sufficient evidence to disprove it already) that putting your work in public domain will necessarily invite plagiarism or that sharing your startup ideas is akin to writing someone a check for the sum of your unborn company’s valuation.

In the end I am definitely happy that someone else cares this much about LinkPeelr. I see it as a good omen, and I will be releasing an update with the contributed changes soon. :)

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Divide or conquer: On letting go of familiar and finding the best

In my two weeks of travel in Vietnam I couldn’t help but take mental notes of some things that were strikingly different about Asian approach to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. On the surface the differences may be obvious and much has already been written (and little read by yours truly) about the Orient and the Occident and the intrinsic disparities between the two. I couldn’t hope to add any insight to that body of work.

What I wanted instead is to arrive at some essential generalization about the two worlds (intentionally subjective), and then map this generalization to, say, the way we can approach our work environment or the way we can approach software design. Sounds pretty crazy, I know, but I explicitly wanted to avoid political or social angles. So I started by imagining choices in achieving happiness and well-being (the ultimate metrics of individual success) could map to choices other domains where matters as well.

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