Who We Are

Josh Petersen

Erik Benson
Chief Janitorial Officer

Todd Gehman
Holiday Inventor

Daniel Spils

Ivan Opalka

Bob Cottrell

Eric Hodel
Fact Checker


Open Positions
Rants & Raves
The Office

Keeping it simple · 7 December 04

We haven’t quite opened the floodgates on the Hugster beta yet. However, we’re still accepting people to sign up to be notified when we do. Anyone that has signed up is already first in line, of course. Looks like this will start happening for real early next week.

Many teams I’ve worked on in the past end up slipping their dates because they want to get that one last feature in … it’s quite the opposite over here. We’re busy taking features away, trying to whittle the site down to its essense.

43 Things/ Twinkler is teaching us a lot about the power of simplicity (not that we weren’t already eager students at this school). Strangely, our first prototype (Snuzzle) was the most feature-packed and the most lines of code. Twinkler is only 450 lines of code. Hugster will be one half the Snuzzle site as far as functionality is concerned (I’ll go into a list of features that have been temporarily pulled a bit later). I almost need three hands in order to count the number of fully-implemented features we’ve cut. It’s a joyous feeling. My only hope is that it’ll be 1/4th the site it once was by the time you see it … and that that 1/4th is the best 1/4th we can give you.

Posted by Erik Benson | Thoughts | Comment [3]

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Kinsey, Savage & 43 Naughty Things · 1 December 04

Walking to lunch at Ballet with my fellow Robots, I was recounting the film Kinsey which I had seen over the weekend. Prior to Dr. Kinsey, no one had taken a truly scientific approach to profiling human sexuality—Kinsey managed to cast a wide survey net with his now infamous human sexual behavior studies.

As fate would play out Seattle’s own love doctor, Dan Savage, was dining at the table north of the Robots as the conversation turned to 43 Things and Twinkler. We let Dan eat his pho in peace, but couldn’t help but draw the correlation of events: Kinsey’s landmark sex studies, Dan Savage’s hilarious sex column and the fact that in its first two weeks 43 Things had experienced a 9% goal adoption rate for the sexy and downright mature.

Posted by Daniel Spils | Thoughts | Comment [1]

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Recombinant idea folding: your ideas are our ideas · 22 November 04

Joe Goldberg has created a fantastic list of his top desired features for 43things

Joe’s list of features is split into 5 handy categories:

  1. Community
  2. Personalization
  3. Notification (RSS, email)
  4. Productivity
  5. Zeitgeist/Superlatives

We’re hard at work on the next version of 43things but continue to marvel over what Ryan Singer of 37signals calls the goal soup of Twinkler. Help us make 43things better—tell us what features you’d like to see on 43things in the coming weeks.

Joe Goldberg, Web Developer and Live Journal user:

Posted by Daniel Spils | Thoughts | Comment [6]

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The Age of the Amateur · 15 November 04

Amateur: French, from Latin amator, lover, from amare, to love.

When we started working on product ideas, one of the tests we subjected every idea to was “what if it works?”

We had lots of ideas: a better answering machine, online education tools, job hunting sites, baby blogs, personalized text ads, personalized news services. Sure, we could build a personalized text ads service! But what if it works? Do we really want to run that business?

Before long, we realized we had one primary criteria for an idea we’d want to work on: it had to be an idea we loved so much that if it works, we’d be happy to work on it. Reflecting on the “love test” I found myself contemplating the word “Amateur”. The root word there is love, and an amateur is someone who pursues their interest out of love, not a hope for professional recognition or market success.

The test we were concerned with wasn’t how great a business the idea would be. It was whether we could love the work. We thought about products we admire: del.icio.us, flickr, upcoming.org, craigslist, bloglines. Some of these are going to be great businesses, but all of them have an amaeteurish edge in the best sense of that word. They look like works of love. It was the amateur roots of them, the passion behind the product, that we admired.

The First Age of the Amateur

Historically speaking, the first Age of the Amateur gave us the birth of science. New technologies in optics and new gadgets for measurement allowed gentlemen to put aside their hawking and horses and take up nobler pursuits, like the new science and learning that was growing up around them. A “republic of letters” developed between gentlemen scholars who compared their discoveries and investigations. The Royal Society replaced the royal court as the domain for displaying talents. Their standing as gentlemen meant they had no material stake in their researches and their reputations served as a sort of social guarantee that their accounts of natural phenomena were true. Their scientific pursuits were pursuits of love. They were amateurs.

The Age of the Expert

Fast forward. The last century saw most human beings come under the jurisdiction of some (typically immense) institution in the business of trading on expertise. Wall Street, the Pentagon, the University, the Corporation, the Factory – all were organizing institutions that established what would count in the order of things. Professional degrees were created and professional associations grew. Gone was the generalist, the hacker, the amateur. The key to the future was to go to school, study something and do it for the rest of your life.

The New Age of the Amateur

But something funny happened on the way to the future. Today parents don’t tell their child to learn one thing and do it forever. The order of the day is to learn how to learn. The happiest people are those who love what they do (and do many things). The key to a great career is knowing what you are passionate about. Nothing could hurt your career more than working on passionless projects with passionless people. The people with the good jobs not only seem to love what they do at work – they do what they love away from work. The consumer landscape is covered with services turning pastimes into professions and hobbies in to obsessions. Love and the amateur are back in fashion.

Could it be that doing it for love is the ultimate competitive advantage? In open source, in marketing, in living - love powers amateurish products past other more professional products. Love creates disruptive innovation. Amateurism is a source of innovation. For a while, we thought we could substitute expertise for passion, but with Google helping us research any topic and blogs helping the world publish on an equal level with the experts, the learning curve doesn’t seem so steep anymore. The new age of the amateur is at hand.

Posted by Josh Petersen | Thoughts | Comment [5]

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Assumptions wrong, sound quiet · 26 October 04

We had feared that when we staffed up the operation that the noise in our one big room would be too much. Turns out it is deadly silent. Except for the clicking of powerbook keys . . . and the (on by default) burps and yelps of ichat.

Posted by Josh Petersen | Thoughts | Comment [5]

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