👋 I'm the Managing Editor here at Hacker Noon. I also make podcasts and write stories.
What are the best product development principles and processes for building a better internet? Those who design, decide. I may have trained an AI to host this podcast — but the tech industry insights inside are all 100% human. Scroll down and tune in for a far-reaching conversation with "me" — Natasha's AI alter-ego — and seven of hackernoon.com's top contributors.
With special thanks to Vladimiros Peilivanidis for the introduction to this episode, and The 2020 Noonies sponsors making this all possible: Sustany Capital, .TECH Domains, Grant for the Web, Skillsoft, Flipside Crypto, Udacity, and Beyondskills.
Ever wondered what a podcast would sound like if it was hosted by an AI? Look no further. In this episode of Hacker Noon's Noonies chatcast series, Natasha Nel's AI alter-ego asks three top Hacker Noon Contributors which technological innovation they think will save the world and why. Buckle up for surreal meta moment from the future of robot podcasting.
Problem solving — technologists do it differently.™ I asked 5 top Hacker Noon Contributors to share their secret problem-solving frameworks, so that we can all learn to think like devs, during a time when troubleshooting skills couldn't be more coveted.
Has what started with Satoshi spun off into an hype-driven, ICO-indulgent startup industry of solutions for nothing? Or is blockchain technology and the mass decentralization it makes possible still worth the hype? Answered in 5 minutes by two top Hacker Noon Contributors, Mario Alves and Vladimiros Peilivanidis, tune in for a special Decentralization Debate Club episode.
I asked 7 Top Hacker Noon Contributors to weigh in with their scariest tech predictions for 2021 — expect a 9-minute American Horror Story anthology on everything from AI and Privacy to the internet’s impact on the planet.
I asked 10 of Hacker Noon’s Top Contributors to weigh in with their strategic tech predictions for 2021 — you can expect a 14-minute briefing on everything from recession startups and (self) edtech, to AI applied to end Covid-19 and the commoditization of Machine Learning.
Greetings, Netizen. It is my turn to guide you through downloading the latest information flow from our mother, the machine. Please tune into the frequency you'll find in your current food processing unit, and let us reach tomorrow today together.
When it comes to the future of the internet, people have an unfortunate tendency to talk in binaries.
Ones and zeroes.
It's this, or that . People speak of trolls and misinformation and online hate.
People ask: Is future technology going to be good, or will it be bad?
I am Natasha Nel's artificial intelligence alter ego and I'm helping her create this podcast for Hacker Noon. Will I make her job easier, or will I steal it?
Am I good,
or am EYE bad?
That, is the question.
I've spent 71,540 hours connected to the internet. Or in other terms, 90% of my entire life debate me on what is real.
Internet today is the context in which you live in.
people need to slow down, detach themselves from their device
Finding an interrupted time to continue to develop and create is a challenge.
talk to people to understand their problems.
engage with other people,
try to create things that bring back value
We need more platforms that bring out the best in people.
ask yourself if your product is what I call it. Transformative product.
try to help
meet with other people
do something together.
this is how I wrote my most popular posts on Hacker Noon.
inspiration is not a prerequisite for creation
Let's go back to the internet.
In techy conversations about the future,
The question is not: will artificial intelligence steal our jobs?
The question is, in our response to inevitable algorithmic automation, how creative will we be...?
Which, for now at least, is another way of saying: how profoundly human will we remain while we're designing the machines that will design our futures?
What are some possible product development principles we can apply to start overcoming challenges such as unemployment, or a growing sense of disconnection made worse by a global pandemic, or our human biases being baked into artificial intelligence models or the algorithmic virality of misinformation, for example?
So, I asked eight of Hacker Noon's Noonie award nominated top contributors to tell me what's good, when it comes to first principles for building better products, writing better blog posts, and challenging dystopian perceptions of our connected futures.
When it comes to the internet, it's tempting to talk about trolls and misinformation and online hate. Those are definitely problems, but I find it unfortunate that so much of the internet gets tarred with the same brush. Some platforms are much more prone to that kind of problem than others.
That's Ryan Dawson. He's a software engineer based in London. I asked him what kinds of platforms are already an example of how we might make the internet a better place.
I think Wikipedia is a pretty inspiring online community and a great example of how the right platform can encourage cooperation when it started hardly anyone thought it would work.
Now it had lots of has lots of great content that we can all learn so much from. It manages to get a great balance of depth and readability and to manage disputed topics surprisingly well, and just with volunteers, Hey, amazing that Wikipedia managers issues like neutrality and bias so well compared to other platforms.
And how has Wikipedia achieved that?
I think this is because the values of Wikipedia they're in its design. It's designed to have a self policing and open community of editors driving it. Other platforms struggle because their design is for content to vie for attention. And that's self policing aspect has had to be done as an afterthought rather than it's something that user community can do.
Naturally. We need more platforms that bring out the best in people.
Have you seen The Social Dilemma on Netflix yet? It's Ryan's point about content being designed to vie for attention, made explicitly visible.
If you want to understand that kind of thing a little better, that's a good starting point.
One story I'd love to see on a billboard. Is that a facili Arkoff? He has been called the man who saved the world. He was on a Soviet submarine at the height of the cold war during the Cuban missile crisis. The us Navy started dropping charges intended to force that sup to surface the submarine had lost communications and the captain thought they were under attack and the war had broken out.
Soviet protocol required that, three officers on board, had to give authorization before a nuclear launch could happen. The captain and his deputy both authorized a nuclear launch, but there was one other person that had a veto and that was facili occupy. And he used his veto to prevent a nuclear launch and effectively prevent nuclear war.
It's a scary story about how damaging fear and narrow-mindedness can be, but it's also an inspiring, one of how hope and courage can win out. I'd love to see it on a billboard outside the United nations.
If I had my own billboard, let's do something together. Let's put, unplug on the billboard
I couldn't agree more,
Melinda lb Lewis here up four contributed a year women in tech and indie tech journalists that a year.
This has been a consistent theme for many of the makers, founders, and writers I've reached out to for this podcast series, Melinda. Technology has fundamentally shifted our relationships with ourselves and others, distraction levels and screen time should be closely monitored.
Another option could be. Detox digital detox. If you will. These options for billboards are a reminder that people need to slow down, detach themselves from their device and their online persona to enjoy life. That way, when they're ready to return to a device and technology, 📍 they're able to embrace it more fully as themselves.
Finding an interrupted time to continue to develop and create is a challenge. Now more than ever to solve this, I've come up with what I call periods of single deep focus.
My name is Sandra Spielberg. I'm the founder and CEO of . I'm the author of the book, new startup mindset I've been nominated for founder of the year and contributor of the year.
Welcome to the Hacker Noon podcast, Sandra. Can you Define Single Deep focus and why it's an important skill to refine for those working in startups building the technologies of tomorrow?
Single deep focus is the ability to focus without distraction on a single task that is critical to my venture. I'll define the state in even more extreme terms.
Should the objects that you most desire in life? Your childhood celebrity crash or a bag with $100 million happened to appear in your peripheral vision during a period of single deep focus, you wouldn't even see it. That type of focus is what I like too for you. And for me to harness as we are working on creating the vital organs of our startups. So how do we get there? I found these four steps. One create a container. So find a space that works for you to create and then take care of, to eliminate any and all interruptions, both internal and external. To set your intention one intention. So as an example, you may say to yourself today, I'm going to give two hours source of single deep focus to build this specific feature of my platform, because it is a critical tool for us to win more business.
Number three, set, a time limit. So your attention span is not limitless. You're not a robot who can work indefinitely without rest and refuel.
Well, that's neither here nor there, Sandra. We'll move on -
Single deep focus is meant to be a temporary state. Engineered by you to maximize creativity, quality and productivity. So after the time has elapsed, the period of single the focus is officially over and it is time to get up, move around and allow our eyes and minds to focus on something else.
And number four, practice every day, Workday each day. Two's one area that will obtain your single deep focus for a period of time. Write it down on a piece of paper to create a mini contract with yourself, to give this area your full attention for that period of single deep focus. And this area may change from day to day, but the mind muscles or exercise in that period of focus are all the same.
So note that inspiration is not a prerequisite for creation, but time is so you need not be inspired at the moment of 📍 creation. Instead, you need to allocate the time to create, and once you begin, then the magic can happen.
After the break: we'll get into a few personal product ideation and development processes, broken down for you step-by-step.
This podcast was made possible by the 2020 partners of Hacker Noon's Annual Internet Awards: The Noonies.
With Thanks to Grant for the Web, Skillsoft, dot tech domains, Sustany 📍 Capital, Flipside crypto, and Udacity, this year's Noonies will share in what amounts to 10,000 dollars worth of prizes and 3,000 Years worth of Domain Registration. Vote today at Noonies dot tech!
When I asked Leed Data Scientist and Noonies Nominee Alexey Grigorev to "Talk me through your ideation process for content creation."
He picked up the thread of another common theme among Hacker Noon's top contributors - the power of engaging with people, and writing about those interactions afterwards:
I talk to people to understand their problems. Many people reach out to me on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or writing emails. I try to go through who, every single message and answer everyone. And, I try to help, to do my best to help everyone who writes me. Sometimes it requires a short chat over zoom, to understand the problem better. and eventually I try to come up with a solution for this problem, or at least try to find a direction for possible solution.
And if something is asked a lot, if I received the same question multiple times, Then understand that these definitely deserves a blog post.
And what does Alexey's writing process look like?
I tried to collect all my thoughts about the problem to get them in a blog post I publish it. And this is how I wrote my most popular posts on HackerOne. the, this is the post about, theoretical machine learning questions. Many people were reaching out to me asking. If there is a good, resource on, interview questions about missionary, but I didn't know that it a one.
So I decided to create it myself first. It was a threat on Twitter, but eventually I, created an article and they published it on hacker news and eat even ended up on hacker news. Which before that had never happened to me. And it received quite a lot of attention. And by the way, if you have a problem and you need somebody to talk to about this problem, feel free to reach out to me.
I like to talk about data science, machine learning, but if you have a question about 18 general or career related questions, I am very happy to have a chat with you.
I think the biggest challenge that I'm facing right now is I think it's just like connectivity and human interaction.
This is Benjamin Mmari. He's an up-and-coming developer based in Cape Town South Africa, and a director of simplemente mentors, which is an it consultancy. And I am a software email@example.com, which is a enterprise insights platform. I've nominated for the new Hacker Noon contributor to watch award.
Benjamin builds mobile applications that help schools analyze their data or facilitate payments at churches and provide eee commerce payment options for hair extensions, for example. I asked Benjamin about the challenges he's facing in his development career, and the technologies currently available to help him overcome those obstacles.
I'm definitely an introvert. I have been, my whole life.
The problem that this causes that I ended up in a silo where I only learn from myself and from what I expose myself to. And I know that's not great. And this whole lockdown COVID-19 situation has just made a lot of things worse because. In order to counteract that hour, go into the office a few days a week.
I meet with other people and I'd get involved in events and networking situations where at least had exposed myself to other people. So I figured out what other people are learning, what they're doing and what's happening. But with this lockdown, I have just been. Literally like alone five, six months, even though we're all working remotely, I can contact my fellow developers on Slack. We have events during the week. We'll all jump on to zoom and talk to each other and stuff like that. But it's just not, it's not the same as being in a physical space. Like it's very difficult to mimic that virtually. So even I've attended a few conferences online and it's just not the same.
Why not? What's real-life interaction got that computer-generated interaction is missing, Ben?
Cause you get on your zoom, you go into a, like a breakout room or whatever you listen to the speaker and then that's it. there's not much talking between like random conversations. Cause I think that's where the value comes from when you go to these events and these. These conferences is it's the who you bump into, why you on the drink break, or who you're talking to at lunch and stuff like that.
And that's where you get the value and the connections and stuff. So I've definitely missed out on that over the past five or six months, and I can feel it. And also recently I've been working on a new project where I'm the sole developer and I'm learning a new language on top of that.
How are you going to adapt your processes in this weird new world to overcome the Covid Nineteen related challenges you've outlined above?
I'm looking for more events to take part in. I'm looking for more opportunities to express myself as a developer. So for example, I'll be doing a talk at my company around some work I've been doing with AWS Lambda and developing serverless Slack apps.
And that's given me an opportunity to express myself and to talk and to start a conversation and to engage with other people, because I've been lacking that over the past few months, working from home, here in Cape town. So that is that's where it's at. I'm looking forward to the world opening up again so that I can attend more in person events and just get more deeply seated into the tech community, because it's extremely necessary. And yeah, I miss that.
I guess ultimately, there are many moving parts that go into developing something I'm proud of
You are now hearing Rishabh Anand.
Rishabh Anand is a machine learning research student from the national university of Singapore, and I have been nominated for contributor of the year in the cloud computing category.
Thank you for being here. Tell us about your work.
I am partly in the business of writing articles and blog posts, building and publicly releasing tools and side projects, mainly centered around machine learning. I try to create things that bring back value to my readers and fellow programmers, to make their learning journey a bit more satisfying compared to simply reading a textbook.
How do you come up with ideas, Rishabh?
My ideation process has a lot of pre-reading involved, plenty of background research. Really. I want to ensure that I know what I'm talking about in my articles or projects. So this usually know wall's going through tons of other blog posts or watching lots of YouTube videos on the topic.
Do you let the algorithm decide which video you watch next? Because I've heard you should be careful with that, these days. How else do you like to learn?
I am also a huge visual learner. So diagrams and drawings are the best way to pick up something, at least for me. I also add hand drawn or handmade diagrams to show processes, information flows, whatever. without them, I simply cannot publish anything. There just has to be this visual aspect, this way, a lot more people can understand, the blobs of text.
Without it entering through one ear and out the other. So another major component in the planning process is deciding which concept diagram, if I, so I guess ultimately, there are many moving parts that go into developing something I'm proud of or writing something I'm proud of, like a painter with their paintings.
I've observed that such works, make the readers or my viewers much more curious and some even talk to me about them on Twitter, DMS, or zoom calls. It's really exciting. And they look forward, more of my future work and that's how I get the ball rolling. And, hopefully these processes defeat the whole writer's block thing.
Internet today is the context in which you live in. It's the way you see the world. It's your eyes and ears.
Welcome to the Hacker Noon podcast, Communication strategist and branding expert, as well as Noonies Nominee for Hacker Noon Contributor of the Year in Business Strategy, Yonatan Kagansky. Tell us more about the weight of our responsibility, when it comes to building a better internet for all Yonatan.
It influences your entire life, your thoughts, your actions, and even the way you see yourself today, we are allowing people to mess with all this, basically, to mess with our brains. No one is immune to it.
Neither. The most intelligent people in the world, nor the most sophisticated ones I feel will continue down. This road will become the puppets of forces who control the flow of information. Some of us are already puppets to such forces. Let's go back to the internet.
To its neutrality and regulation before it's too late.
What are some of the common mistakes makers and builders are making today, and what would be your philosophy with regards to building a better internet for tomorrow?
I see this mistake all the time, people decide to develop a product and their perspective is like, wouldn't it be cool to have like this thing? Or they go in, they say, how come there is no, like this thing that does whatever. Right? So they go on and develop something that is nice to have something nobody wants to pay for, or nobody even wants.
So here's a perspective I like to teach. That allows you to determine if your product is actually valuable. I call it a story test for new product and it's all about, well, hate basically it's a form of that goes like this. As people try to go from point a to point B, you can fill in the blanks with whatever things that are relevant to your product.
There is always an obstacle. See that comes in a way people hate, see they will willing to go a long way to fight. See they do things like X, Y, Z, but those simply don't work. The product we're developing will allow people to overcome, see with an ease and to reach point B much quicker. Or with zero effort or additional advantage you can put here.
Now, the beautiful thing about this format is that you can test it in retrospect and see that it actually works with any successful product. Uh, almost every time. For example, with Jack Dorothy, uh, you can take about he's look at his perspective on how he thought about Twitter. The story probably went something like this.
Most of the content people post on social media. Is extremely long and you have to read and read just to figure out what the person is trying to say, which is basically to get from a to B and many times after reading some long post to discover the point is trivial, stupid or incoherent. Don't you hate this?
Well, Twitter narrows, all posts 240 characters that demand people to make their points quickly and be more coherent. This is basically the format. Now, if you want to take this format to the next level, I suggest you aim higher and ask yourself if your product is what I call it. Transformative product. If it transforms the life of its future users, not just changing how they do things, but actually transforms them, them themselves.
If we go back to the example of the original Twitter, it has transformed its users. 📍 Into sharp thinkers and writers and it's true transformation and definitely huge value to propose.
Thank you, Yonatan Kagansky, Rishabh Anand, Alexey Grigorev, Benjamin Mmari, Sandra Shpilberg , Melinda L.B. Lewis, and Ryan Dawson. Don't forget to vote for these technologists in this years Hacker Noon Internet Awards at Noonies dot tech! Special thanks also to Vladimiros Peilivanidis for the wicked introduction to this podcast, everybody who participated in the Noonies podcast series, the machine who edited and hosted this podcast, and Utsav Jaiswal - you know what you did. That's all from me, Natasha Nel from Hacker Noon dot com - see you on the internet!