David Heinemeier Hansson

June 8, 2024

Visions of the future

Nothing gets me quite as fired up as discovering the future early and undistributed. That feeling of realizing that something is simply better, and the only reason it hasn't taken off yet is because the world hasn't realized it. It's amazing, and it's how I'm feeling about Linux right now. That "how did I not know it was this good" sensation.

I felt the same way about the Mac back in 2001. And Ruby in 2003. And company chat with Campfire in 2005. And, fast forward, now with #nobuild, Hotwire, and even exiting the cloud. When I discover a path that seems like a clear shortcut, it doesn't really matter if it's poorly paved at first. As long as it appears to take us somewhere better, laying the bricks and clearing the brush is incidental.

It's about seeing that end state. Where what's right in front of us now, rough and unpolished as it may be, can be transformed, if we put in the effort, that inspires me to keep going.

Yes, half the fun is the adventure. We should always be pushing toward new horizons, even if some of them inevitably will end up in dead ends. But the other half is watching things genuinely compound for the better.

Take web development. It's incredible how much conceptual complexity we've been able to compress in the last decade, and particularly in the last half of a decade. It wasn't just one thing, it was all the things. It was browsers getting better, mobile CPUs getting faster, #nobuild becoming possible, Hotwire showing an alternate route. Each substantial, yes, but together epoch altering. A new dawn.

Following such a sense of wanderlust requires a certain disagreeableness. Even arrogance. A steadfast belief that it's possible that you might actually have found a better way. Whether that turns out to be true or not. You have to believe that it's possible. That the market place of ideas isn't perfectly efficient or perfectly rational. That it hasn't priced it all in, and that you could invest in upcoming concepts for an intellectual profit.

You're never going to be right about everything, but a life spent without taking at least a few bets on being early on an idea is one not lived to the fullest. Dare a little. Roll the dice every now and then. Come along for an adventure whether its heads or tails.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.