Weekend Reading: Disintermediating Media, Boring Tech, and DIY Lights
Jerry Brito writes about the growth of independent writing on Substack, prompted by a Mike Solana tweet:
From a technical perspective, Substack does not belong on Solana’s list next to Bitcoin and Signal. Signal is a company, but they have almost no information about their users—no names, no messages. Bitcoin is not a company, but instead a permissionless decentralized network, and “it” can’t decide who can use it or for what. Substack, on the other hand, is a centralized service that permissions who’s allowed on and what they can do, and it is subject to official and market pressures.
Comparisons to YouTube or Twitter are closer than to BTC or Signal, for sure. But even with Substack being a centralized platform, the risks are lower in the text or email medium; there’s high portability to move to other platforms at will. If you can move your content and your subscriber list, you can bring your audience. The primary advantages Substack has are that are hard to replicate (today) on your own hosted system are the publishing tools and monetization layer (though not impossible). Trying to disintermediate YouTube yourself would be hard, and transporting your Twitter network isn’t possible. SMTP, hypertext, and DNS are still open.
I love everything about this perspective:
The problem with “best tool for the job” thinking is that it takes a myopic view of the words “best” and “job.” Your job is keeping the company in business, god damn it. And the “best” tool is the one that occupies the “least worst” position for as many of your problems as possible.
It is basically always the case that the long-term costs of keeping a system working reliably vastly exceed any inconveniences you encounter while building it. Mature and productive developers understand this.
Matt Haughey went nuts on a custom lighting setup for his home office. I ran across this searching for some wirelessly controllable LEDs for my office bookshelf. Mine won’t be this crazy, but I wish I had the patience to do something like this.