24 Nov Amiable Heretic Manifesto
Hugh had a great post today in which he wrote:
Why take 50,000 words [the length of your average business tome] to
say what you have to say, when 500 will do? Brevity. I love brevity.
We’re both in a hurry.
So I’m thinking, well, there’s also a lot of people out there
besides myself and the bloggers I read, with ideas needing spread.
Powerful ideas that could be easily summed up in 500 words or less. And
I would really, truly, seriously like to do what I can to help get them
So here’s the deal. If you’ve written a manifesto in 500 words or less, and you want help spreading the word, just e-mail it to me, or send me the link. If it’s any good I’ll either link to it, or post it on gapingvoid.
So here’s a quick collection of some of my thoughts on how to think clearly and creatively. It’s not complete, but it contains some of my favorite personal mantras for coming up with useful ideas. Hope you like it!
- Good ideas almost always begin as heresy.
- Life is pointless. So what? Make your own meaning. Revise to suit.
- If you can’t think anything at all, you can’t think anything at all. Any limitations you place on what you’re willing to consider restrict
your ability to engage in rational thought. That includes, of course, limiting your ideas to "rational" ones… Sometimes silly leads the way.
- You’re only entitled to the opinions you’ve thought through. You can only do that if you use hard data. Opinions you adopt from others are other people’s opinions, not yours.
- Fear is caused by thinking you have an answer when in fact, you haven’t done anything to get one.
- Belief in one truth over all others debases that truth. There are always a lot of truths… don’t require them to be mutually contradictory.
- Having no good flaws is worse than having no good traits.
- The inability to run a mental simulation of the effects of any given
action is an excellent indication of a possible new frontier. Simply,
if you don’t know what will happen when you do something, there is no
question that you will learn by doing it.
- The common denominator of human nature is the desire to transcend human nature. What are you doing about it?
- Why is the marketing of a product inevitably more effective than the product itself? Self-help books induce millions to buy, though few change. Appropriate the techniques by which you are manipulated into buying life-styles and packaged ideals, and use them to sell yourself the actual life and ideals you want. Learning how illusion works allows us to make illusion work for us.
- New ideas result nearly exclusively from the combination of thoughts, images, or concepts previously assumed to be exclusive. Creation is entirely the child of synthesis and discord.
- It’s not important that others agree with you. It’s equally unimportant that you agree with others. It’s important for everyone to listen.
- If an answer is easy, it’s probably wrong. If an answer is simple, there’s a fair chance it’s right. Or at least useful.
Here are some additions to the original manifesto a year later. They’re mostly in random order.
- Making people think is important. Attempting to control the outcome of that thought is immoral.
- Almost nothing is impossible but many things are less than obvious. Almost nothing is written in stone, but many things are written.
- In design, and hacking especially, the answers come from looking at what things do rather than what things are supposed to do.
- A subset of the above point is that almost all the hacks I’ve come up with are based on using a feature for something other than what it’s intended use. Misusing something because it does exactly what you need when put in a different context is the core skill of hacking.
- When I’m told that something is impossible, my response is: "list all the ways in which it can’t be done." Usually, one of those ways will work if you get rid of the assumptions about why it won’t.
- Find and exploit your weaknesses. If you don’t, someone else will.
- It’s harder to be Ghandi than not to be Hitler: you don’t have to be a saint, you just have to be a little better than your imagined best.
- I love empirical data, I’m just not sure there is such a thing.