There was a recent shooting at a high school in Florida and the gun control debate is back.
Born and raised in a country where I’ve only seen two guns ever in my life and touched only one of them, I have a default bias and that is – why do we need guns in a civil society? Aren’t a majority of developed countries getting by with tougher gun laws?
Every society promotes one value above all else and that goes on their banners, t-shirts, hats and so on. In India, it is tolerance and diversity. (Although it’s starting to be questionable). The Chinese value economic emancipation. On those lines, Americans value liberty – the freedom to do what they want and speak their mind.
Both the left and right will agree on liberty. Their definition might vary, but they agree on the principle of freedom.
More than 40% of American households own gun i.e hundreds of millions of people. It’s is very easy for a someone like me to say everyone should give up their guns for their collective safety. It will work as effectively as telling Indians to forget their caste. Owning a gun is not half as bad as the Indian caste system which is a slow poison that affects millions of families for generations. Yet, it is not something that people (the higher caste mainly) can give up easily. It’s hard for people to even fathom being stripped of their caste. It is part of their identity. Looking at this through that lens, Owning a gun, provides people the safety to live anywhere and protect their families. A handful of deaths a year is the price paid for the freedom of the collective. I’m not justifying it. Just presenting it as I understand it.
When people on the left ask the people on the right to give up their guns, they want a less violent society. But what they realize is their urban lives is very different from the lives of people in the rural areas(predominantly right). Their needs of different. They are thinking – how am I to protect my family when I live in a rural village where a cop would take hours to respond to my 911 call?
Now not all gun enthusiast lives in a rural setting. Many live in urban areas too. But a 400-year practice is not something that can be thrown away overnight. It’s not going away. And it is not a minority.
We need to at least accept one thing. Gun enthusiasts don’t want kids to die as much as gun control enthusiasts. We need a compromise here. We can’t ban all guns. But guns in the hands of kids that can’t buy beer or cigarette shouldn’t be a hard thing to disagree on. The left and right need to give something up from their side for a compromise. No side is going to change the minds of a population equal to theirs in size. The best option here is to have an open ear for the other side and take a step towards each other.
You are one of the world’s most famous public intellectuals. How would you define the term intellectual? Does it still have a particular meaning?
If by intellectual you mean somebody who works only with his head and not with his hands, then the bank clerk is an intellectual and Michelangelo is not. And today, with a computer, everybody is an intellectual. So I don’t think it has anything to do with someone’s profession or with someone’s social class. According to me, an intellectual is anyone who is creatively producing new knowledge. A peasant who understands that a new kind of graft can produce a new species of apples has at that moment produced an intellectual activity. Whereas the professor of philosophy who all his life repeats the same lecture on Heidegger doesn’t amount to an intellectual. Critical creativity—criticizing what we are doing or inventing better ways of doing it—is the only mark of the intellectual function.
Interview with Jay Kreps on Apache Kafka and further pointers to learn more about it.
The best testing I’ve ever seen is shipping something to real people who use it daily, every single day and depend on it. And charging people for it. And they’re the ones who are going to give you feedback.
I hear this from people all the time: “how do you get customers to pay for something?” I say you charge them for your product. When people pay for something, they tell you what they think. They’re not just entitled to it, they’re now invested in this thing. They’re going to be honest with you. When you give stuff away for free, people will be like “oh yeah, it’s cool. Its awesome” they dont care as much. So, you don’t get good feedback.
I think the best way to get feedback to improve something is to ship something, charge for it, iterate in the wild and make it better over time. Thats how things get great. Things don’t get great in the lab.
I’ve been a happy camper since I moved to a mac. Most apps on the mac are awesome. But the notes app on the mac has been bothering me. It’s simplicity taken to an absurd level. I’ve tried many note taking Apps: Evernote, Mac Notes, Quip, Google Drive, Word, Pages etc. Nothing satisfactory. My manager quipped that he saw me using three notes apps in a three day conference.
I think that is all going to change. The same Microsoft that I was happy to ignore, has launched One Note for the mac. And it syncs to the cloud. They also have clients for the iPhone and iPad. All this for free. The feature set is limited, but OneNote is by far the best interface for note taking.
One annoying thing is that there is less smartness across the board. For ex: If I’m able to create a To-Do list, I want a fully functional todo list. Not a simple checkbox next to my text. But these are enhancements that could me applied on top of a simple app.
Talking of enhancements, Microsoft also released a api for OneNote. This means if you want it, you can build it. The sad part is, there is only one api. And that is the create a new page in OneNote. There is no way to get data out of the system. I hope Microsoft solves it and gives us the comfort to trust that they won’t kill it.
Sure we’ve all had that thought about a blog or a book.
When reading a book, it gives you many smart ideas that are great but you somehow already had those thoughts at the back of your mind. The book is not really saying anything new.
What is actually happening is we have a bunch of thoughts in our mind, but we are not really sure about them. We think those are weird thoughts and no one in the world around us really follows them. Since no one follows it we think those are ideas that were tried and failed.
The book reassures you that your thoughts are right. There are other people somewhere in the world who thought exactly the same way as you did and it worked out for them. The book just make you believe yourself more.