better doing

How you know.

A Paul Graham essay. “Reading and experience train your model of the world. And even if you forget the experience or what you read, its effect on your model of the world persists. Your mind is like a compiled program […]

tech, startups, internet

Notable Y-combinator companies by year.

“Since Y Combinator was founded by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Tappan Morris, and Trevor Blackwell in March 2005, over 2000 companies have been launched out of the accelerator. The combined valuation of YC-backed companies was more than $300B by […]

better doing

How to think for yourself

A Paul Graham essay: “There are some kinds of work that you can’t do well without thinking differently from your peers. To be a successful scientist, for example, it’s not enough just to be correct. Your ideas have to be […]

big ideas

An open letter to Paul Graham

A few weeks ago I shared The Four Quadrants of Conformism where Graham writes about independent-minded people and the institutions they tend to inhabit being less hospitable over time. He ended with hope, for the “independent-minded are good at protecting themselves.” This […]

big ideas

Orthodox privilege

Another recent essay by Paul Graham. “I’m going to call it orthodox privilege: The more conventional-minded someone is, the more it seems to them that it’s safe for everyone to express their opinions.” | learn more

big ideas

The four quadrants of conformism

A new essay from Paul Graham sorts people into four quadrants to discuss social conformity: “Starting in the upper left and going counter-clockwise: aggressively conventional-minded, passively conventional-minded, passively independent-minded, and aggressively independent-minded.” I really like this, except the implication that […]

better doing

How to write usefully

A recent gem from Paul Graham: “What should an essay be? Many people would say persuasive. That’s what a lot of us were taught essays should be. But I think we can aim for something more ambitious: that an essay […]

better doing

How to disagree

Paul Graham wrote this essay in March 2008. He recognized that the rise of the internet allowed people to express disagreements more frequently than legacy media. Then he ranked the key methods of disagreement from name-calling to refutation of the […]

better doing

The lesson to unlearn

A new essay by Paul Graham talks about a lesson we all learn in school that does a poor job preparing us for life. We learn to score well on tests that aren’t actually representative of knowledge. “If tests truly […]