A rocket scientist responsible for calculating propulsion capacity approached a software engineer. The rocket scientist wanted to calculate the effect of all that software on the mass of the system. The software engineer didn’t understand; was he asking about the weight of the computers? No, the computers’ weight was already accounted for. Then what was the problem?
"Well, you guys are using hundreds of thousands of lines of software in this moon shot, right?"
"Right," said the software engineer.
"Well," asked the rocket scientist, "how much does all that stuff weigh?"
The reply: "…Nothing!"

Howard Baetjer Jr., Software as Capital. "This story was told to me in a personal conversation with Robert Polutchko of Martin Marietta Corporation."


Blockchain’s real world problem

A while back, early in the blockchain hype cycle, a startup called Verisart popped up and promised to “fix” fine art. Not sure if that painting is real? Can’t find out who owns it, or where they got it? Worried that the gallery you’re emailing is a scammer? Worry no more! Verisart puts it all on a magically secure blockchain, and poof! No more problems.

It wasn’t long before “digital troublemaker” Terence Eden created a Verisart account, told them he owned the Mona Lisa, and they dutifully accepted it and published it permanently on their “secure servers” and “most trusted” blockchain.

Long story short, I convinced them that I painted the Mona Lisa. An excellent situationalist prank. Much avant-garde, so postmodernism.

Funny joke, right? Blockchain fans cried foul, everyone else had a good laugh, we all moved on. The blockchain didn’t go away, though. More and more people are connecting it to the real world now, in more and more ways, and it’s not up to the challenge. Its strengths do not apply to the offline, off-chain world. The blockchain has a real world problem, and we’re not talking about it enough. Continue reading


I’ve been hearing and saying “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” a lot over the past few days.

The only way I know how to make something good is to ship and iterate. Get something usable out there, in front of yourself and eventually others, use it (read it etc), get feedback, revise. The early versions will not be as good as later versions. Resources and time are constrained, iteration is what makes it good, much more than the guess at a good v1. MVPs are imperfect and incomplete. That’s ok! The sooner you ship and iterate, the sooner it gets better.

First impressions are one caveat. You only get one chance at them! Look hard at what truly matters in a first impression, be clear eyed about the tradeoffs, make decisions, and ship the MVP. Most people won’t see it anyway, but if you iterate and improve, they may eventually see a later, better version.



I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

– John Adams

Our parents studied business and engineering so that our generation may study World of Warcraft and 4chan.

– GreenStrong, via Reddit