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Episode 59 of 129

059: Build Useless Stuff

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Show Notes:

01:11 - Doing Dumb Stuff aka “Throwaway Projects”
06:06 - Combatting Burnout
10:01 - Dumb Projects That Pay You Back
17:00 - Brainstorming and Abstraction
25:19 -
20:19 - “The Iron Triangle”: Creativity, Accomplishment, and Learning


React Native and Chill: A tale of stupid made fast by Charles Lowell


CHARLES: Hello, everybody and welcome to The Frontside Podcast, Episode 59. We're getting up there, 59. That's like, I don't know, it's not a milestone but it's something.

ROBERT: It's like one away from 60.

CHARLES: Yeah, it is. It’s past middle age. It’s like elderly.

ROBERT: Start thinking about retirement.

CHARLES: Yeah, exactly.

JEFFREY: These are our golden years.


CHARLES: Welcome to the golden years.

ROBERT: All right. Possibly, we need to go and watch the Golden Girls.


CHARLES: Actually, I think it was only five or six episodes, maybe 10 episodes, we were singing The Golden Girls theme so it all comes back around. We’re here with a very special guest and that guest is nobody. It's just folks from The Frontside --

JEFFREY: I was hoping you would say it was Betty White.


CHARLES: We're going to fly it solo or like tri-lo or like trio.

ROBERT: Trello?

CHARLES: Trello. I, of course, am Charles Lowell. With me is Jeffrey Cherewaty and Robert DeLuca. Hey, guys.

JEFFREY & ROBERT: Hey, what's up?

CHARLES: We were kicking ideas around and something that's been kind of percolating around the offices is a theme for 2017 is doing dumb stuff, just stuff that has no apparent value but that you can learn from. I think, we each have a bunch of these experiences where we've done something a very little import that ends up being really, really helpful, either both in the short-term and the near-term.

JEFFREY: And who knows, maybe this episode will turn out the same way.

ROBERT: Oh, how meta. This could become a black mirror episode. I'm start to questioning my values.

CHARLES: I know for me, I recently did some explorations into React Native, which I found to be very edifying. I could obviously talk about that experience quite a bit I did on a blog post but I'm curious, if you guys recently had something that was a throw away, something that you did that wouldn't really matter if it had come into existence or it didn't but it's just so happens that in this thread of reality, it did.

ROBERT: You know, I have. It's always been centered around the impagination library that we wrote here. I was always kind of intimidated by impagination for some reason because it was this big library that I didn't necessarily understand. I was like, "You know what? I'm just going to go for it. I'm going to go do something dumb with it," and then I just decided to implement the most useless infinite scroll. It solved absolutely nothing and as you're paginating through 500 records of robots from Faker, I sat down and spent six days and wrote some code and implemented it React Native and it was actually the most informative and fun thing I've ever did. I don't feel tied to it.

CHARLES: Yeah, so what kind of inspired to do that? Because usually, it feels like there's this pressure to ship something. Ship something is like just go build something but the idea is that you're going to build something that people actually might use.

ROBERT: Yeah, I always had that idea. Maybe you can think about it as like feeling getting cornered, like the pressure of shipping sort of pushing me into a corner. Then eventually, I just kind of lash it out like, "No, screw this. I'm out." I'm going to go do something that's not even useful. I don't care. I'm not going to try and support people or make it to something that other people can use. If that is what falls out of this, that's cool but I'm going to totally sidestep and this needs to be something that other people can use.

Sometimes, when I go to build a project, I start thinking, "This is going to be in my GitHub public profile. What if somebody comes and finds it? What are they going to think about my code?" And I just shed all of that fear away, then what