The Shopping Cart Theory

Tangential Tuesday

Hi team - I hope a great week.

Shopping Cart Theory 🤯

To return the shopping cart is an easy, convenient task and one which we all recognize as the correct, appropriate thing to do…A person who is unable to do this is no better than an animal, an absolute savage who can only be made to do what is right by threatening them with a law and the force that stands behind it.

The Shopping Cart is what determines whether a person is a good or bad member of society.

I find this theory both hilarious but also refreshing. The world is simple - but we make it complicated. Being a good person can be difficult at times - but it is not complicated.

I think it’s also a good lesson of the importance of internal consistency.

Does returning a shopping cart matter? not really… but I think these small acts of going against what we know/think is right hurt our relationship with ourselves in the long-term.

Does stealing a pack of gum from a gas station matter to the business owner? Not really. The impact is negligible. But if we do things we know are wrong, then we will slowly become more like the type of person that does other things that are wrong.

My YC app: Dropbox - Throw away your USB drive

The best comment:

I have a few qualms with this app:

1. For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account, mounting it locally with curlftpfs, and then using SVN or CVS on the mounted filesystem. From Windows or Mac, this FTP account could be accessed through built-in software.

2. It doesn't actually replace a USB drive. Most people I know e-mail files to themselves or host them somewhere online to be able to perform presentations, but they still carry a USB drive in case there are connectivity problems. This does not solve the connectivity issue.

3. It does not seem very "viral" or income-generating. I know this is premature at this point, but without charging users for the service, is it reasonable to expect to make money off of this?

I’m obsessed with the internet as a time capsule. I’ve shared this early facebook interview before as well - but it is truly a gem.

How we remember the past is often different than it actually was. And thoughts that we had in the past are often totally wrong… like the above comment that questions if it is reasonable to expect to make money off dropbox.

The current market cap of Dropbox is 8.9B… so yup - you could say it is fairly “income generating”.

Recently, I’ve been migrating my blog to a new setup - and re-reading some of my old posts as a result.

In some cases - I admire my previous self:

  • In my 2018 reflection, I wrote: “More than any of these individual things, I want to avoid complacency in 2019. I want to make 2019 count.

    Starting a full-time job has been a huge adjustment. I now have more free time and money than I've had for my entire life. I've watched more Netflix in the past 3 months than I watched in total over 4 years of college.
    I have the job I worked hard to get. And I enjoy it - but there is so much more out there. People to meet, people that become friends. Things to try, and skills to learn. Some of which will become passions.”

    and DAMN a lot of that same sentiment still hits me deep 1.5 years later.

  • In 2017 I wrote an article titled: “After building my first React Native app, I’m now convinced it’s the future.” It was a pretty absurd and ridiculous claim to make as a student posing as a software engineer - especially on such an immature technology. But it turned out to be pretty accurate…

    React Native is currently used by Facebook, Instagram, Uber, Pinterest, Shopify, etc. I still cringe looking back on certain parts of the article, but it was directionally correct.

And other times I cringe or laugh a bit about how wrong I was:

  • At the end of 2017 I wrote:

    “I've decided to apply to Georgia Tech's Computer Science Online Master's Program to study machine learning while working at Thumbtack.”

    ^ this 0% happened for various reasons

  • At the beginning of my internship at Braintree:

    “I'm planning to spend ~5 hours a week preparing for technical interviews so that I'm not cramming come the fall. Besides, interview questions can be fun!”

    ^Interview prep is rarely fun and I 100% did minimal prep and crammed in the fall 😂

  • Or even this rant from two weeks ago:

    “There is an ongoing meme I have with my friends that boils down to: the mission™ is the absolute worst reason to join a company.

    To me, talking about “the mission” is kind of like a college career counselor talking about “networking.” It’s become ingrained in my mind as an “icky” word. Even if you are genuine, I’ll find it hard to take you seriously.”

    Is joining a company that’s trying to solve health care or climate change more admirable than another random SaaS company? I’m still grappling with this one but it seems like the answer might be yes.

I can only hope to keep writing and keep trying to be right. Sometimes succeeding, sometimes less so. Luckily I have you all and the internet to keep me honest :)


Cool Companies

My Update

  • Read Remains of the Day (h/t to my Yash for the rec). IT WAS SO GOOD. The writing is so beautiful and poetic - yet not “show-offy” at all.

    He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lordship’s wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really – one has to ask oneself – what dignity is there in that?’

  • Published Hard Landing: Book Notes

  • Rebuilt my website with svelte (There are still some bugs / issues to sort out 😬)

  • Enjoying floundering in the world of machine learning. Managed to build a 78% accurate image recognition model to identify zucchini vs cucumber 😂.