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Instagram is not worth $1 billion to Facebook

Sat, Apr 14, 2012 - 12:27pm -- Isaac Sukin

This is based on a comment I wrote on the Mashable post Why Instagram Was Worth $1 Billion to Facebook which has absolutely no explanation of why Instagram was worth $1 billion to Facebook.

How can you have a whole post about how Instagram was worth $1 Billion and have absolutely zero numbers in it? Yet that's what we're seeing all over the internet in the wake of Facebook's billion-dollar acquisition. Many people have explained why Facebook bought Instagram, but few have explained the valuation. Explanations for the purchase generally break down into these points:

Social Noise

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 - 3:43am -- Isaac Sukin

I brought up something in my last post about friend/follow relationships that I think deserves more attention than I gave it: the social graph -- as it is currently constructed at least, where all relationships are equal and mean the same thing -- is not the same thing as an interest graph. The implication is that using a standard unweighted relationship network to predict what content should show up in my activity stream will result in me seeing a lot of content that I'm not really interested in. That's inconvenient at best. As Hunter Walk so charmingly put it, "I like you, but not everything about you."

Cars Don't Kill Cities (Silly Assumptions Do)

Thu, Jan 26, 2012 - 5:35pm -- Isaac Sukin

Today I came across a post on Twitter (via Hacker News) called Cars Kill Cities. It uses Atlanta as an example, and since I grew up there, I feel compelled to explain why the author is way off the mark.

First: is Atlanta -- the 9th largest US city, world's 15th largest economy, and 4th-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies -- dying? Not at all. Atlanta was hit hard by the collapse of the real estate bubble, but it still has a rapidly expanding, very highly educated population. It's a global economic center with a significant concentration of high-tech and white-collar industries and good local universities. This suggestion is silly, probably a poorly-researched one made out of convenience rather than conviction.

So let's address the topic of the article instead:

Making money from the fallout over SOPA and PIPA by questioning assumptions

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 - 6:55pm -- Isaac Sukin

Recent discussion sparked by opposition to the SOPA and PIPA bills has mostly been along the lines of "piracy is bad because it hurts the entertainment industries, but SOPA and PIPA go too far..." I agree with Jonathan Coulton that statements like this make too many unproven assumptions. So let's start from the beginning.

Assumption 0: People should pay money for art

I think most people would agree with this assumption, although for most of human history that wasn't true.

PennApps Hackathon 2012S

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 - 2:43am -- Isaac Sukin

I participated in my first (!) hackathon this weekend, a 48-hour student-run event at UPenn known as PennApps Hackathon. A friend and I wrote UnStock.Me, a stock trading game that -- at one point at least -- was intended to be educational. "Codecademy for the stock market" was the original idea, which we intentionally chose because it wouldn't take very long.

Questions I'll Ask Your Startup

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 - 4:49pm -- Isaac Sukin

I talk to a lot of startups. I have a lot to say about what (not) to do if you are on the hiring side of this exchange, but for now I'll cover the minimum set of information you should be prepared to discuss if you want to hire a developer for your early-stage company. This is the first real interaction you'll have with a potential coworker. If you struggle with convincing someone to join your company, you can bet you'll struggle with convincing someone to buy your product or service, so you should be prepared with the information a potential hire will want to know. These are questions I will pretty much always ask you about your startup in an interview, and they're pretty similar to what a VC would want to know. When I say "I" below what I really mean is "any developer" but it's more convenient to write in the first person.

TODO: Make code prettier

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 - 8:38pm -- Isaac Sukin

I'm writing a game in JavaScript for fun (I'm almost done, it'll be out within a few days). I've written dozens of games in traditional desktop languages, and I've written a lot of JavaScript designed to make user interfaces prettier, and I've even written some useful JS tools -- but this is the first time I've written a full application in JS complete with complex hierarchical entities. That is to say that I've never had to care much about the fact that JS more or less supports OO architectures before. I could have made this an opportunity to learn about OOP in JS, but I didn't. Instead I wrote the game basically without using (custom) objects at all, resulting in some redundancy and confusion. I did this because it was fast and easy and I already knew how to do it. The code's a mess, but so what? It works. It's good enough. I had fun, and I'm about to ship.

But I have this little note at the top of main.js:

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