How Software Works

Here's a lesson in how software development works.

Say you'd like to port a popular arcade game to your home video console. You can give a guy like Tod Frye four months to do a good-enough version of Pac-Man. It'll sell 7 million copies, even though it looks like this:

Pac-Man 2600

Or, you can wait for 30 years of refinement and improvement in understanding of Atari software development, give someone three years to develop their own version of Pac-Man and end up with a near-flawless clone of the arcade original.

It will sell zero million copies.

Resolutions!

I'm not prone to making grand New Year's resolutions, but my friend Jessamyn West asked me to think a bit about what changes I'd make to my online activity, and I was glad to jot down some brief notes. You should check it out, for all the thoughtful things that were suggested by people smarter than me.

Our Internet Resolutions

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What We Can Do Together

Toward the end of every year, as people are thinking of making donations to charities either as an act of goodwill, or to help reduce their tax burden, or both, I try to work with my online networks to help out causes I believe in. And every year, I'm blown away by the generosity and creativity of the people I'm connected to.

2014 was no exception in this regard. First, we tried to help Family Care International, which fights for reproductive health and education around the world. The response was extraordinary.

As amazing as that was, it didn't prepare me for what was next. We set out to support DonorsChoose.org, and provide resources for schools and teachers in need.

And my incredible network of friends astounded me.

I don't ever take for granted that I've been given an incredible platform on these various social networks, and I thank everybody who's inspired me by trying to give back using these ridiculous little technological tools.

Even though I've been having a lot of conversations recently about being a dad, the truth is that on any given day what keeps me up at night is the things I'm getting wrong. I know every parent makes mistakes, and logically I am able to keep that perspective on it, but I also know every parent can recite the failings that make us feel sick to our stomachs just thinking about them.

So I should be clear that the reason I'm always thinking about parenthood and its obligations is not because I think I'm World's Greatest Dad, but because it's an unusual duty where those of us who take it on never really feel like we've mastered it.

It was with that spirit in mind that I went into the conversation with Kathryn Rotondo for the Motherboard podcast the other day. Typically, Kathryn speaks to women who are managing careers in technology while also raising their children. As a bit of a departure for the podcast, I was asked to give a little bit of a dad's perspective.

Kathryn picked out a quote that I hadn't quite realized was going to be a bit of advice to myself, a perspective that I'm trying to remember is true:

The only bad choice is for you to be a miserable parent, to not be present, to not be investing time as much as you can in your kid, or to not meet those basic needs—the biological-level needs.

The goal, as always, is that maybe each of us can screw up our kids just slightly less than the generations that came before. If you have a few minutes, I hope you'll give the podcast a listen (you can also get it on iTunes) and then offer your advice. Now I just have to figure out where I misplaced my kid...

Download the MP3: Episode 12: Anil Dash

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