Twitter is the new RSS

I’ve been watching from afar the outcry over the shutting down of Google Reader. Previously a heavy gReader user, I’ve gradually moved away from the service, the move coinciding very much with the emergence of Twitter as an effective content curation platform. Nowadays, when I find an interesting post / blog, I usually try to find the author’s Twitter account and follow it. This way I not only get updates on new blog posts in realtime, I also get additional content via regular tweets that might be of interest.

The asymmetric Twitter following model really supports this behavior – for a long time I used Twitter almost exclusively as a content curation service. While my Google Reader account was getting out of hand with the guilt inducing +1000 unread items, with Twitter I never felt pressured to chase “Inbox zero” on my read count. I might miss some good content, but in most cases if it’s interesting enough it will float up again and I’ll catch it anyway.

With the deprecation announcement of Google Reader, many new RSS subscription services popped up / gained popularity, and I wonder whether they’re catering to an inferior content publication approach. If you look at the Google Trends chart Andrew Chen put in a recent post, the downwards trajectory correlates well to the launch of Twitter (Mar. 2006).

My 2 main sources now for new + interesting content are Twitter and HackerNews. HackerNews pushes to the top the really popular items (so it’s basically my actual “news” source), while with Twitter I can personalize my stream to suite my interests and preferences by managing the people I follow. I get introduced to new content via RTs and mentions, so my content stream is always expanding.

While I think RSS failed mostly on marketing and usage penetration for the average user, I also think it had problems scaling as your subscription inventory grew. I (and probably most people) don’t have time to read everything interesting that crosses our way, and in that sense Twitter has become the content subscription service I actually needed.

 

Recapping Week #1 at 500startups accelerator program

The first week of the 500startups accelerator program is in the books, and I definitely feel accelerated. Keeping with the current Star Trek theme at the 500s offices, I’d say we’re about Warp 7 right now after previously being at sublight speed for an extended duration. Lets go over what we managed in 1 week:
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There are no x10 developers, but there are certainly 1/10 ones

I keep seeing the term “x10 developer” pop up recently, and I think it’s misleading and leads to a rock-star / primadonna culture that benefits no one.

“x10 developers” are, in fact, proficient developers, who are experienced with their stack and problem domain. Once you get to this point, you can still find room to optimize – some people are inherently more focused or talented and you can always gain more experience, but the difference between developers who are proficient at what they do will never be a x10 multiplier – it will be closer to a variation of 30-40% in productivity. In some extreme cases (super experienced, focused, and naturally gifted), you might even reach x2 times productivity over a baseline proficient developer (I’ve seen it in action).

On the other hand, you have developers who are simply not proficient. They either have no aptitude for programming at all, or are so inexperienced that progress is very slow as they are learning everything as they go. Those are the “1/10 developers” and they make proficient developers (i.e, professionals) seem like x10 developers.
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Medical Care in the U.S is Bad, But Insurance Sucks Too

There’s been a lot of media attention recently to the high cost of medical care in the U.S compared to other countries (see some nice graphs on this NY Times opinion piece). Most of the attention has been on medical care itself, with medical insurance getting a pass with reportedly low margins.

As someone who recently moved to the U.S (from Israel), I’d definitely put some of the blame for the cost disparity on the medical insurance system in the U.S. To explain why, I’ll relate from my own experience –
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The Real Cost of Software Development

In a previous lifetime (until about 3 years ago), I was working at a software development firm as part of a small webdev-shop team of 3. Our focus was building MVPs for aspiring entrepreneurs, file guiding them through specifications, user-experience, product decisions and marketing (we called it “concept-to-launch”).

Coming across a heated discussion a couple of days ago on Hackernews over an article titled “30 pounds in 30 days”, took me back to the time we were educating clients on the cost of software development. I would like to offer my perspective on outsourcing, cultural difference and the overall cost of outsourcing software product development.

(For the short summary, skip to the TL;DR below)

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