There are two approaches for creating something of significance, the cathedral and the bazaar. The cathedral is best for creation and the bazaar is best for growth.
The cathedral is unified coordination mechanism that is well suited for reaching a singular vision. It is hierarchical which provides a clear line of decision making. This consolidation of decision making makes it efficient for coordination.
The bazaar is a distributed and loosely coordinated mechanism best suited for growing something that is well defined. By agreeing on a few rules (like commerce, or open source code) it can grow autonomosly—far exceeding what a single person or group (cathedral) could do on their own. However, the bizaar fails to create something new that’s also great (like designing by committee).
Read Curtis Yarvin’s blog post A Founder’s Farewell.
- The path from concept to product is an annealing process
- Putting both together, the bazaar is like compounding interest and the cathedral is the initial investment
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Fields that exhibit tournaments with asymmetric and convex payouts favor high-variance strategies (variance from the benchmark mean).
It’s common in product and engineering circles to constantly ask people “what problem are you solving?” While this can be useful for focusing work on the right things, it also leads to solutions disguised as problem statements and self-referential arguments. Instead, ask “what’s the situation?”. This gives space between facts and the interpretation of those facts which makes it easier to understand and spot errors.