My Profile Photo

Dan Cole

Perhaps there are thoughts we cannot think

Creating on Principle

Craftsman, entrepreneur, or activist?

Creators need an immediate connection. Delays between having an idea and the out come lead to missed ideas. Ideas you can’t think. Or at best are stunted.

With a delay you have to imagine the out come. If you writing software, then you’re pretending to be a computer.

A delay in the feedback loop could be a waste of time. You know what you want to create, but your stuck implementing the details. Maybe some minimum time is required, but most of the time a bad interface is the issue. You can’t convey an idea fast enough. You have to start from nothing every time and build up to the thing you want.

Things need to be immediately interactive.

Before there were graphs, there were tables, but it’s hard to put the data in your mind. Graphs are a mapping of data on to a positional system. When it’s hard to see something, it is necessary to map that data onto a system you can.

Systems don’t have to be the way they are. Not everything has to use the pen and paper metaphor. Try to figure out in which ways your blindfolded. What assumptions are you making? Why do beginner not recognize their mistakes? What are your simulating in your head?

Sometimes you need more information, other times less. Being able to explore is a great feature. But remember to display it in a useful format that helps.

What is locked in your head?

This is an injustice. It is a moral wrong. We have a responsibility to correct social wrongs. Have a vision for what a better world could be. It would be invisible in today’s society.

Are you focused on a career or a technology or working for a cause? Are you working from principles. Is this a personal crusade?


  • Enable mankind to solve the world’s urgent problems.
  • Amplify human reach and bring new ways of thinking to a faltering civilization that desperately needed it.
  • Software must be free. It’s a moral wrong for it to be otherwise.

You must be willing to fight for your cause. The world will try to define you by a skill. That’s why you have a major in college. That’s why you have a job title. That is the path of a craftsman.

The other common path is that of the problem solver, an entrepreneur or an academic researcher. There is a field and a set of problems within that field. You work it and make your contributions.

What do you want to stand for as a person?

Make lots and lots of things. Study lots and lots of things. Then use all of those experiences as a ways of analyzing yourself. Does this resonate with me? Does this repeal me? Or do I not care?

Confining yourself to practicing a single skill can make it difficult to get that broad range of experience which seems to be so valuable for finding a principle to follow.

A principle should be directly actionable. Does it make you see the world in an objective way. Does it prompt Yes or No answers.

What matters to you? What do you believe in? What will you fight for?

Recommend watching Bret Victor’s Inventing on Principle. Many of the thoughts are his.

  • Why do we have to do so many repetitive tasks that we do not like?
  • Why do we have deadend jobs that are soul sucking?
  • Why is it so hard to find great people to work with?
  • Why is it so hard to open up to people?