Category Archives: Quotes

Quote of the day

I like this one:

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

This is most commonly attributed to Albert Einstein, but the credit for it should probably really go to William Bruce Cameron, a Professor of Sociology.

More info on its history here.

The Razor Returns

I’ve written before about Hanlon’s Razor — one of my favourite aphorisms — but I realise that it was 16 years ago, so perhaps I can be forgiven for returning to it!

It is quoted in various forms and attributed to various people, but the version I heard originally was:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Worth repeating to oneself on a regular basis, I find.

On the topic of quotations, though, a longer recent discussion about Hanlon’s Razor on the Farnam Street blog includes this rather nice one from the German general Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord:

I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent – their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy – they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent – he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.

Quote of the day

This one is from Sam Altman:

The hard part of standing on an exponential curve is: when you look backwards, it looks flat, and when you look forward, it looks vertical. And it’s very hard to calibrate how much you are moving because it always looks the same.

Thought for the day

In order to progress, modern society should be treating ruined entrepreneurs in the same way we honor dead soldiers, perhaps not with as much honor, but using the exact same logic. . . .

— Nassim Taleb

Conway’s Law

Somehow, I hadn’t come across Conway’s Law until today, despite the fact that Melvin Conway came up with it when I was still wearing nappies.

Conway’s Law states that:

Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.

Or, as it is often more briefly stated,

Any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it.

If you’ve worked on software of any scale, you will know how true this is! Another nice form is:

If you have four groups working on a compiler, you’ll get a 4-pass compiler.

Brilliant stuff. More information on Conway’s Law and some of its corollaries here.

Quote of the day

Money doesn’t change you. It just reveals who you really are when you no longer have to be nice.

— Tim Ferris

Quote of the day

I like this one:

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.

— Bill Gates

Thought for the day

Reading a second Dan Brown book constitutes the triumph of hope over experience.

Deep thought for the day

All the world’s a toolbox
And all the men and women merely pliers

9 to 5

A couple of nice quotes from this talk by Nicolas Lara on how his company, Lincoln Loop, works (and thrives) despite being small, globally-distributed, and with employees working from home.

This one, I think, is particularly true:

It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.

– Paul Graham

and, on maintaining a healthy work-life balance:

Every one of us has learned how to send emails on Sunday night. But how many of us know how to go to a movie at 2pm on Mondays? You’ve unbalanced your life without balancing it with something else.

-Ricardo Semler

It’s an interesting talk. I remember a Lullabot podcast from about 18 months ago about how they managed a rather larger but similarly-distributed organisation. Lincoln Loop, though, is not just a distributed company with flexible working hours – it’s one where the finances are open, and where employees, based on their knowledge of how the company is doing, get to choose their own salaries. An interesting concept to ponder.

Or you could always ask Dolly about the more traditional model…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAQ2SiSAt-A

Quentin’s Law of Photography

The second-best camera is the one you have with you.
The best is the one you have in your hand.

Quote of the day

Today’s inspired thought is from the economist Charles Goodhart. Goodhart’s law states that:

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser