Writing on his personal website, Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham admits that at least one piece of the going criticism about startups is spot on: the use of the word itself. The majority of those who claim to be in the game exhaust their efforts “working on something that’s never going to go anywhere, yet glorifying their doomed efforts with the grandiose title of ‘startup’.”
But there's still much to love about those who rigorously pursue their visions. Every founder has an idea and a dream, and while few will succeed, “It’s the same with other high-beta vocations, like being an actor or a novelist.” So let us forgive those who list “Founder” on their business cards without a second thought. We should celebrate their commitment. They probably won’t reach Facebook levels of success, of course — but there’s always a slim chance they will. And if you want a complete and clever lowdown on startups — including why they are different from barbershops — Graham’s lengthy treatise is worth the read.
Polaroid isn’t a pillar of innovation these days, but its founder, Edwin Land, was as enterprising as Steve Jobs, says Maria Popova. Peppered with choice bits from Christopher Bonanos’ new book, Instant: The Story of Polaroid, this post reveals the characteristics of Land’s innovator’s DNA. Land was a great inventor, but he also knew what a strong role serendipity plays in discovery — his instant camera a prime example. He was also a champion of associational thinking. So much so, in fact, he recruited women from Art History departments to train as Polaroid scientists. Unfortunately, his term of endearment for these Renoir enthusiasts is as outdated as self-developing film. He called them Princesses.
In this informative rant, tech writer John Biggs warns us to stay away from early product reviews, especially for high-demand items such as the iPhone 5. Reviewers, he says, “only have a week with this stuff. So you miss a lot. And I mean a lot. You miss maps sucking, purple flaring, scratches, static.” Since many websites rush to publish, meaty reviews are a thing of the past. So if a reviewer offers effusive praise for a just-launched product, don’t listen. The reviewer may be right, but you’re better of waiting for more thoughtful reviews to trickle in.