words on the internet

i'm will dennis. these are my movie reviews and thoughts. i don't proofread before publishing so forgive the editing or lack thereof

Month: October, 2013

Edit Your Product into a Corner


When building out a product, there are so many potential features to include, it’s hard to decide which features need to be included in the first version.

What we’ve found helpful building Hollerback, is actually editing back features until the experience, well, breaks.

By taking away the very features that make your product useable, you quickly get a deep understanding of why each feature has to be there. You also get the added benefit of cutting out fluff in the process.

A good rule of thumb is that if you cut something and don’t miss it after a week, leave it out.

With aggressive feature editing, you arrive at the experience that truly matters — the set of features that accomplishes your “one thing” in the simplest way possible.

Well designed products aren’t sets of features, they’re systems that accomplish a task with little to no friction.

By editing your product into a corner, you start to consider each new feature as necessary to solve a specific friction point. Eliminate features until your experience breaks, then only add the features that eliminate friction.

The result is a product that feels both whole and simple.

If you’d like to check out our execution of a whole-yet-simple product check out Hollerback.

Let me know if I can be helpful will@hollerback.co


Ideas For a New Social Structure

Yeah this one right here goes out to all the baby’s mamas, mamas…
Mamas, mamas, baby mamas, mamas — Andre 3000 of Outkast

I’d like to propose a new social structure that would fundamentally change our society for the better.

By tweaking the age at which certain life events and responsibilities occur we can create a more responsible, more productive, and more economically stable society.

Let’s Change Our Generational Responsibilities

It would go a little something like this.

  • Spend the first 18 years of your life learning and becoming sexually fit.
  • Spend the next 4 years of your life finding a sexually suitable mate.
  • At approximately age 22 — have a child or two.
  • Spend the next 3 years child rearing.
  • At age 25, give your kids to their grandparents to be raised.
  • Enter the workforce from age 25 to age 50. Use the money you earn to help support your children and your parents who are raising them.
  • At age 50, raise your grandchildren with the financial support of your children who have now entered the workforce.
  • At age 75, tidy up your affairs.

This alternative social structure and life plan has potential to advance humanity.

Let’s examine it on a life-stage by life-stage basis.

It’s Better for Each Generation

Adolescents — Age 0-18

You’re raised by your grandparents who are approximately 50 years of age. The grandparents are old enough to provide a stable household and young enough to be active and participatory. Their maternal and paternal instincts would still be intact as the children they’re raising are from their bloodline.

There would be no issue of the stay-at-home mom or dad. Because the family is receiving financial support from the “Workforce” member of the family, the grandparents are free to have leisure time and raise the children with all the attention necessary of young minds.

From the adolescent’s perspective, you have a pretty normal life — school, sports, music, friends — you’re just raised primarily by your grandparents.

As a child, you’ll also have a higher chance of being raised in a caring and loving way. If you consider a normal child needs 1 of 2 parents to be caring and responsible, in this new setup a child only needs 1 of 4 grandparents. The child is more likely to be raised in a good environment.

Sexually Active — Age 18-22

People are always going to be sexually active, but from age 19-22 would be the time to really find that person you want to make another human with.

You could argue the current university system serves this purpose already — but I think a more explicit focus on reproduction would be the norm (quite the opposite of what it is today).

Reproduction — Age 22-25

While the biological systems are in child-rearing mode (breast-feeding, etc), the father and mother would raise the child full-time. Towards the later part of this stage the parents would begin transferring responsibility to the grandparents. Ideally you’d want the child to develop an equally fond relationship for both the grandparents and the parents.

It would also be the parents decision to choose which grandparents (or grandparent) would be best to raise their child. There are actually financial incentives for the grandparents — they get to be supported by their children while raising their grandchildren.

Workforce — Age 25-50

Without the responsibility of raising children, both the mother and the father can enter the workforce and pursue their professional ambitions. They are financially responsible for their children and their children’s grandparents. Instead of contributing to social security, the members of the workforce could simply provide for their parents.

Without the burden of children, both men and women can work harder and likely accomplish more. The overall economy would be healthier and more progress would be made.

Marriages and relationships would develop and exist naturally. Unhealthy marriages could end quickly and have a marginal affect the children.

Golden Years — Age 50-75

There are two possible ways to spend your elderly years.

One option is to raise your grandchildren (should your own children want you to). In this scenario, you’d be financially supported by your children (who are now in the workforce).

Alternatively, you could continue working (either by choice or because you haven’t been selected to raise grandchildren).

Overall Societal Benefits

  • Children are cared for with full attention.
  • There is less gender discrimination in the work place because neither parent has to stay at home.
  • Reduce structural unemployment because less-capable elderly workers can are essentially “employable” within their own families.
  • Divorce shouldn’t affect a child’s development because grandparents should be in a stable relationship (or lack thereof).

The Three Generational Family

Developing countries seem to embrace the three generation family (either as a result of economic efficiencies or cultural tradition).

I think it’d be interesting to see the model applied to modern American society en masse.