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Fred Wilson on Bootstrapping

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 by Dave Winer.

Fred's heart is in the right place. He puts money behind technology he likes. This is bootstrapping. Then he bothers the developers with features he needs. He's a bootstrapper and a hacker. Then Fred reads articles written by other people and listens to a Tim O'Reilly keynote and tries to get everyone into agreement. Reminds me of The Negotiator, William Shatner.  Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named antena.gifFred believes in triangulating, I do too. It's how you find the truth. Obviously I agree with Fred's conclusion -- just today I was working with Jay at Switchabit on a very small project. We spec'd it out, I went to work on it, and after I did it the way we discussed I realized there was a much more direct and simple way to do it, so I re-did it, and again I realized it was too complicated, and I re-did it, sent him a report, he integrated it into his project agreeing that it was much better than what we discussed. Permalink to this paragraph

People who believe in big-bangs miss that you learn stuff while you're implementing stuff and that learning should be recycled back into the project, again and again. Permalink to this paragraph

There was an excellent series on PBS a few years back called Connections; in each episode they take you through a series of developments how little pieces of one thing became something much bigger, you start with something small and every step of the way make small improvements and before you know it you're standing on the moon saying "One small step for man..." Permalink to this paragraph

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Permalink to this paragraph

I've heard bootstrapping described as "paving the cowpaths." Permalink to this paragraph

Twitter was a bootstrap too. There were a lot of small things that needed to get solved before Twitter could work. It may look like it popped up out of nowhere if you don't know how the pieces came together, but if you do... Permalink to this paragraph

One thing that's feeding epiphany for me is that I'm working with Scott Rosenberg on his history of blogging, which promises to be a great book, and reliving all the steps that got us to where we are.  Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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