Unlimited Scale from Infinite Leverage

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Kyle Gill, Software Engineer, Particl

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One of the central ideas of the book Fahrenheit 451 revolves around preserving books and their ideas. In my essay on Things Principles, I first identified a principle of “writing things down” as central to an effective, and productive lifestyle. The preservation of ideas comes mainly from writing, or recording things. Past inventions like Gutenberg’s printing press and modern inventions like databases make this preservation of ideas more possible and even more valuable.

The Infinite Extension of the Brain

Computers have RAM and Storage, brains just have RAM. You can build an infinite extension onto your brain as long-term storage by writing. Here are some cases of 1:∞ leverage:

Micro Scale (1)Infinite Scale (∞)
Memorizing passages of textWriting a printed book
Telling coworkers about a change to a business processWriting a Slack message that highlights and announces changes
Following manual steps to access info about a customerWriting a scripts in code that accesses customer info
Creating a custom excel reportWriting an extensible API platform
Explaining setup steps to a new teammateDocumenting setup steps (README/Notion)
Observing product trends by attending Paris Fashion WeekWriting code to track product trends by scraping websites (Collection)

There may not be a perfect argument for every example above but they were a few that rang true as I’ve come across them.

In the infinite case, you produce an asset that you can use again in the future. Spoken word is ephemeral, but the written word is forever.

Proof of Work

You are accountable when you write something down. Your words can be used against you, but they can also be used in your favor.

I leave the words “follow up” in Slack so that I can go back and find them as an example of doing something I said I would do that is easy to find when performance reviews come back around.

To operate like the most efficient enterprises, you need to be able to trace and audit work.

There are few new ideas

“Indeed, there’s a kind of thinking that can only be done by writing.” -Paul Graham

You can write about the same thing with a new analogy and it will be new to someone else.

The best writers grow up into the busiest roles, leaving a vacuum for new writers to fill.

The Best Thinkers Write a lot

  • Benjamin Franklin was an extremely prolific writer, crafting letters, essays, books, and later in life even served in the Constitutional Convention.
  • Da Vinci kept a record of his thoughts, sketches, and ideas in a collection of notebooks known as the Codex Atlanticus. Some of the ideas in his books were hundreds of years ahead of their time, and would be rediscovered years later. Didn’t publish stuff, he imagined up ideas like tanks, machine guns, airplanes, scuba gear, and other details like how blood pumps through the heart that wouldn’t be confirmed until the 21st century.

How many other ideas are lost to time because they were never written down? Everyone can relate to an idea once imagined, that can no longer be recalled.

Modern Cases of Infinite Scale

“Skype had a team of 27 when they got acquired for $2.6B. Instagram had 13 at $1B. Whatsapp had 32 Engineers and 55 employees when they were acquired by Facebook and had a whopping 900mn people using the service (and was doing approx $30mn in revenue) for $19B. Gmail for eg, is still managed by a team of 100 (engineers).”

Revenue per employee:

  • Skype 27 employees, $2.6B
  • Instagram 13 employees, $1B
  • Whatsapp 55 employees, $19B

Companies that write great code scale to infinite leverage, individuals can be capable of the same! In many cases, less is more.