Simon Willison’s Weblog

Quotations

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The future will not be like the past. The comfortable Victorian and Georgian world complete with grand country houses, a globe-spanning British empire, and lords and commoners each knowing their place, was swept away by the events that began in the summer of 1914 (and that with Britain on the “winning” side of both world wars.) So too, our comfortable “American century” of conspicuous consumer consumption, global tourism, and ever-increasing stock and home prices may be gone forever.

Tim O'Reilly # 4th July 2020, 4:06 pm

Data Science is a lot like Harry Potter, except there’s no magic, it’s just math, and instead of a sorting hat you just sort the data with a Python script.

GPT-3, shepherded by Max Woolf # 29th June 2020, 4:45 am

Here’s a common piece of advice from people who create things: to make better things, make more things. Not only does it give you constant practice at making things, but it gives you more chances at lucking into making a good thing.

Ned Batchelder # 28th June 2020, 2:29 pm

If you have to choose between engineering and ML, choose engineering. It’s easier for great engineers to pick up ML knowledge, but it’s a lot harder for ML experts to become great engineers.

Chip Huyen # 24th June 2020, 5:24 am

Without touching upon the question of who’s right and who’s wrong in the specific case of Basecamp’s Hey app, or the broader questions of what, if anything, ought to change in Apple’s App Store policies, an undeniable and important undercurrent to this story is that the business model policies of the App Store have resulted in a tremendous amount of resentment. This spans the entire gamut from one-person indies all the way up to the handful of large corporations that can be considered Apple’s peers or near-peers.

John Gruber # 20th June 2020, 5:48 am

Any time you can think of something that is possible this year and wasn’t possible last year, you should pay attention. You may have the seed of a great startup idea. This is especially true if next year will be too late.

Sam Altman # 28th May 2020, 9:36 pm

Food consumption really only grows at the rate of population growth, so if you want to grow faster than that, you have to take market share from someone else. Ideally, you take it from someone weaker, who has less information. In this industry, the delivery platforms have found unsuspecting victims in restaurants and drivers.

Collin Wallace # 22nd May 2020, 3:05 am

Company culture is the shared way everyone acts when you aren’t around to see it

Adam Kalsey # 20th May 2020, 3:30 am

Web apps are typically continuously delivered, not rolled back, and you don’t have to support multiple versions of the software running in the wild. This is not the class of software that I had in mind when I wrote the blog post 10 years ago. If your team is doing continuous delivery of software, I would suggest to adopt a much simpler workflow (like GitHub flow) instead of trying to shoehorn git-flow into your team.

Vincent Driessen # 14th May 2020, 1:49 pm

And for what? Again—there is a swath of use cases which would be hard without React and which aren’t complicated enough to push beyond React’s limits. But there are also a lot of problems for which I can’t see any concrete benefit to using React. Those are things like blogs, shopping-cart-websites, mostly-CRUD-and-forms-websites. For these things, all of the fancy optimizations are optimizations to get you closer to the performance you would’ve gotten if you just hadn’t used so much technology.

Tom MacWright # 11th May 2020, 12:03 am

If microservices are implemented incorrectly or used as a band-aid without addressing some of the root flaws in your system, you’ll be unable to do new product development because you’re drowning in the complexity.

Alexandra Noonan # 29th April 2020, 5:56 pm

The biggest thing people don’t appreciate about large companies is the basic productive unit isn’t an individual it is an engineering team with about ~8 members.

Patrick McKenzie # 29th April 2020, 6:39 am

Spotify introduced the vocabulary of missions, tribes, squads, guilds, and chapter leads for describing its way of working. It gave the illusion it had created something worthy of needing to learn unusual word choices. However, if we remove the unnecessary synonyms from the ideas, the Spotify model is revealed as a collection of cross-functional teams with too much autonomy and a poor management structure.

Jeremiah Lee # 24th April 2020, 9:57 pm

Slack’s not specifically a “work from home” tool; it’s more of a “create organizational agility” tool. But an all-at-once transition to remote work creates a lot of demand for organizational agility.

Stewart Butterfield # 26th March 2020, 12:21 pm

I called it normalization because then President Nixon was talking a lot about normalizing relations with China. I figured that if he could normalize relations, so could I.

Edgar F. Codd # 7th March 2020, 11:12 pm

I’ve really come to appreciate that performance isn’t just some property of a tool independent from its functionality or its feature set. Performance — in particular, being notably fast — is a feature in and of its own right, which fundamentally alters how a tool is used and perceived.

Nelson Elhage # 24th February 2020, 2:32 pm

So next time someone is giving you feedback about something you made, think to yourself that to win means getting two or three insights, ideas, or suggestions that you are excited about, and that you couldn’t think up on your own.

Juliette Cezzar # 21st February 2020, 1:04 am

A group of software engineers gathered around a whiteboard are a joint cognitive system. The scrawls on the board are spatial cues for building a shared model of a complex system.

Eric Dobbs # 13th February 2020, 6:48 pm

We write a lot of JavaScript at Basecamp, but we don’t use it to create “JavaScript applications” in the contemporary sense. All our applications have server-side rendered HTML at their core, then add sprinkles of JavaScript to make them sparkle. [...] It allows us to party with productivity like days of yore. A throwback to when a single programmer could make rapacious progress without getting stuck in layers of indirection or distributed systems. A time before everyone thought the holy grail was to confine their server-side application to producing JSON for a JavaScript-based client application.

David Heinemeier Hansson # 8th February 2020, 8:10 am

I used to tolerate and expect complexity. Working on Go the past 10 years has changed my perspective, though. I now value simplicity above almost all else and tolerate complexity only when it’s well isolated, well documented, well tested, and necessary to make things simpler overall at other layers for most people.

Brad Fitzpatrick # 30th January 2020, 5:17 pm

Code is made of pain, lies, and bad ideas, all so we can pretend that electrified sand will do what we tell it to

Yoz Grahame # 18th January 2020, 7:04 am

There is enough wood; Green estimates that it takes about 13 minutes for 20 North American forests to collectively grow enough wood for a 20-story building

David Roberts # 15th January 2020, 4:03 pm

I’ve found, in my 20 years of running the site, that whenever you ban an ironic Nazi, suddenly they become actual Nazis

Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka # 8th January 2020, 4:11 pm

Come version 80, any cookie without a SameSite attribute will be treated as “Lax” by Chrome. This is really important to understand because put simply, it’ll very likely break a bunch of stuff. [...] The fix is easy, all it needs is for everyone responsible for maintaining any system that uses cookies that might be passed from an external origin to understand what’s going on. Can’t be that hard, right? Hello? Oh...

Troy Hunt # 3rd January 2020, 4:22 pm

For creative work, you can’t cheat. My believe is that there are 5 creative hours in everyone’s day. All I ask of people at Shopify is that 4 of those are channeled into the company.

Tobi Lutke # 26th December 2019, 7:06 pm

Let’s agree that no matter what we call the situation that the humans who are elsewhere are at a professional disadvantage. There is a communication, culture, and context tax applied to the folks who are distributed. Your job as a leader to actively invest in reducing that tax.

Michael Lopp # 3rd December 2019, 1:34 pm

In general, reviewers should favor approving a CL [code review] once it is in a state where it definitely improves the overall code health of the system being worked on, even if the CL isn’t perfect.

Google Standard of Code Review # 28th November 2019, 5:40 am

With a sufficient number of users of an API, it does not matter what you promise in the contract: all observable behaviors of your system will be depended on by somebody.

Hyrum's Law # 21st November 2019, 10:45 pm

I have sometimes wondered how I would fare with a problem where the solution really isn’t in sight. I decided that I should give it a try before I get too old. I’m going to work on artificial general intelligence (AGI). I think it is possible, enormously valuable, and that I have a non-negligible chance of making a difference there, so by a Pascal’s Mugging sort of logic, I should be working on it.

John Carmack # 14th November 2019, 1:18 am

Microservices are about scaling teams, not scaling tech

Petrus Theron # 28th September 2019, 4:23 pm