David Heinemeier Hansson

May 11, 2022

The founder's gamble

As companies mature, grow departments, accumulate staff, and develop reliable streams of revenue, it gets structurally harder and harder to make the big decisions that might upset the applecart. This is the familiar scene of The Innovator's Dilemma. The more of everything there is, the higher the stakes appear, and the less likely prof...
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May 9, 2022

Everybody loses when legitimate power isn't exercised

Just because you have a high-ranking title, doesn't mean you're automatically right about everything. More junior employees can surely hold better insights, field smarter ideas, or judo solutions toward simplicity in a given circumstance. But it does mean you should be mostly right, most of the time, or that title isn't vested in legit...
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May 6, 2022

Celebrating the end of The Good Times

It's deja vu all over again for founders looking for easy money on soft terms to chase dreams of unicorns and waterfalls. With interest rates shooting up, a recession in the forecast, and three whirlwinds of economic hurt spinning at the same time, the fair-weather funding conditions are over. Good. See, The Good Times™ all too often s...
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May 5, 2022

Bring your work self to work

If employees are expected to spend the majority of their life at work — pulling those 60-80+ hour weeks — it's no wonder they in return demand work embraces their "whole self". But that's a terrible trade in both directions. What work and you really need is for everyone to show up with their "work self". Your work self needn't be a fac...
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May 3, 2022

Growing apart and losing touch is human and healthy

I quit Facebook back in 2011 for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the most crucial was to rebel against its core mission: Connecting the world. I was over-connected with the world, acquaintances and friends from the past, and I wanted out. Zuckerberg has repeatedly doubled down on the toxic idea that we should only have one self, one pers...
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May 2, 2022

It's hard to escape being ordinary in a connected world

There's a scene at the beginning of The LEGO Movie where the main character Emmet is faced with the brutal assessment of his bland ordinariness by the people he works with. A few quotes: "Look at Randy here, he likes sausage. That's something. Gail is perky, that's something... I mean, all [Emmet] does is say yes to everything everybod...
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April 29, 2022

Breaking from the news

I’m not sure exactly when I became addicted to the news. But I clearly remember the time before I was checking the latest developments in the world three times per day (or four or five!). I remember momentous events like 9/11 or the swine flu pandemic from an era before being hooked into an IV feed of BREAKING NEWS. World events that r...
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April 28, 2022

Rogan popped the cancel balloon

I know it's a couple of episodes ago on The Current Thing show, but remember when much of the media together with Neil Young and a motley crew of "270 health professionals" (that included dentists, consultants, students, psychologists, and a licensed marriage and family therapist) had a collective freak-out over Joe Rogan? That episode...
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April 27, 2022

Where are all the kids in America

There's a lot to notice about Copenhagen when you arrive fresh off the plane from America. Look at all those bikes! What a clean city! See all those pedestrians dutifully waiting at the crossover for the light to turn green without a car in sight! All these observations stick out, but none trigger the culture shock like seeing kids eve...
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April 25, 2022

Either/or with Mr Spaceman

Sell Twitter to Musk, and you'll regret it. Don't sell Twitter to Musk, and you'll regret that too. Sell it or don't sell it, you'll regret it either way. Such goes Kierkegaard's immortal admonition that many of life's grand dilemmas have only regrettable choices. Yet we spend much of our time trying to argue and act as if otherwise. T...
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March 25, 2022

A state of sunshine

The contrast couldn't have been starker. About a year ago, we were going through a really difficult time at Basecamp, after instituting a new etiquette around societal politics at work. Twenty-odd employees took our 3-6 months severance offer, and we became the main characters on Twitter for a moment. Today, we've just finished a wonde...
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March 18, 2022

Always provide a way out

It's never been easier to dig yourself into an ideological hole. Get swept up in The Current Thing without really thinking it through or simply by following whatever herd you've been trotting along with so far. The internet today is nothing if not a credence reinforcement program. But some times people do change their mind, some times ...
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March 16, 2022

I can't tell the difference

Despite my continued and fierce opposition to Apple'smonopolyabuses on the App Store, I continue to be thoroughly impressed with the technical advances they keep making. I don't have a problem in the slighest with admiring the engineers while skewering the business operators. And perhaps no engineering unit within Apple is currently mo...
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March 11, 2022

Back to Le Mans

The 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is back to it's pre-pandemic schedule, and will be held June 11-12, complete with the traditional scrutineering of the cars in the city center. I'll be participating in the #43 Inter Europe Competition LMP2 car running under the Polish flag alongside team mates Fabio Scherer from Switzerland ...
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March 10, 2022

The silent majority's reply

When so much of the American political discourse and agenda is being set and performed on Twitter, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking this forum accurately represents the voice of the people. But not only do the majority of people in the US never tweet, they're also increasingly disconnecting from party affiliations. Here's a ...
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March 9, 2022

You could be wrong

We recorded an episode for the REWORK podcast yesterday on the essay "Making the Call is Making Progress", which encourages training those decision-making muscles to be stronger so you can forward quicker. It included a discussion of lowering the price of making decisions by setting yourself up for cheap reversals. If making a bad call...
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March 8, 2022

The antidote to social media is being more social

I'm usually not one for coffee appointments or long business lunches, but since the pandemic restrictions were once again nixed a few months ago in Denmark, I've had the calendar packed with exactly such engagements. It's been a revelation. Part of this came as a result of giving an interview to the Danish magazine Computerworld about ...
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March 7, 2022

The long argument

It's rare that an argument is so strong that'll immediately pierce through all the cognitive defenses an opposing mind might muster. So if you only weigh an argument's worth on whether it served to convert someone to your perspective this instant, you'll usually be disappointed. "Right now, right here" is a bad timeframe to measure the...
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March 4, 2022

Weak principles, strong tribes

One of the most compelling metaphors of the battle between emotion and reason is that of the elephant and the rider. I first encountered it in Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind. It goes like this: “The mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider’s job is to serve the elephant. The rider is our conscious reasoning...
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March 3, 2022

No RailsConf

2021 was an incredible year for Ruby on Rails. We started it off still celebrating the third major version of Ruby, and left it with the accomplishment of the seventh major version of Rails. Together, these releases sparked a renewed enthusiasm for building modern web applications with Ruby on Rails, unlike anything I can recall since ...
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March 2, 2022

Diversify your life

If your existence is all about work, and work goes to shit, then life goes to shit too. If you live for your hobby, and your hobby hits the wall, then your life crashes too. If everything else is waiting until you hang with your mates, and your mates fade away, then you fade too. Betting your drive to get up in the morning on a single ...
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February 28, 2022

The other side of social media

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is at once reaffirming all the ills of social media and showing its utterly unique capacity to give a direct voice to anyone around the world. And while the more unfortunate expressions of this being due to "blue eyes and blond hair", it is fostering a strong sense of fraternity here in Europe. This just...
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February 26, 2022

Dangerous conversations going private

I went on Jason Calacanis' podcast this week for the fourth time. We've had some explosive, illuminating, and contested conversations over the years, Jason and I. And I've loved everyone of them. Whether we were discussing venture capital, profitable businesses, and the definition of success or talking about big tech, education, health...
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February 25, 2022

Russell Brand is grand

While Joe Rogan has served as a magnet for all the wagging fingers of the world, Russell Brand has somehow so far managed to build a five-million strong channel pushing equally or more heretic views without much consternation. It can't be long before the fingers start pointing in his direction. But I can see how he's been able to slide...
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February 24, 2022

The advantages of large, long-running pull requests

My favorite part of doing code reviews is to see all the trade-offs, design decisions, and changes in context together. You can't easily do that if your feature has been chopped into itty bitty pieces as independent pull requests under pressure never to let them run longer than a week. So at Basecamp, we let pull requests run as long a...
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February 23, 2022

Equating blasphemy with violence legitimizes the inquisition

By far the most furiously pushback I've received for writingabout the Canadian trucker protest has come from calling it "peaceful". Objections to this term has taken many forms. But they all seek to justify the opposite label of "violent", no matter the blind logical leaps required. Some claim that the background of certain organizers ...
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February 22, 2022

Simulacra

I never did make it all the way through Jean Baudrillard's book Simulacra and Simulation before I lost my paperback copy on a trip. But it lodged several perspectives deep in my brain that I'm still trying to process. One of which was this: “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real.” It's a...
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February 21, 2022

I was wrong, we need crypto

To say I've been skeptical about Bitcoin and the rest of the crypto universe would be an understatement of epic proportions. Since the early 2010s, some of my most ferocious Twitter battles have been against the HODL army with the laser eyes. There's just so much to oppose: Bitcoin's grotesque energy consumption, the ridiculous transac...
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February 16, 2022

Gritting your teeth, biding your time

What's the goodwill of developers worth to a platform operator? It's a hard question, because it can't be answered by the traditional economic models used by bean counters to populate the balance sheet. And it's far more ephemeral than the goodwill of consumers. The relationship is more intertwined. We're not just engaging in transacti...
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February 15, 2022

This just wouldn't happen on Twitter

I'm slowly regaining my faith in debates again. You know, the ancient practice of listening, presenting arguments, accepting counterarguments, and progressing towards a deeper shared understanding. Even when the topics are hot. Even when the counterpart is a stranger. And it's giving me vintage internet vibes! Take this Canadian trucke...
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