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Mastery & Mimicry

Stashed in: Life, Tools!, Copying, Bugs!, Plants!, Gandhi

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The problem with having a lot of stuff, he said, is that at some point the stuff starts ruling you.

"But what Gandhi understood is that tools are most useful to the people that own them.

And villagers didn’t own factories."

"We use tools to build our tools. We use an ax, a hammer, and a saw to make a cabin, and we use Python, Django, and Apache to build a web service. These upstream tools are crucial in shaping our society. A world with no hammers would have no houses."

Which brings me to my second point: all metrics leave something out. Often, they leave the most important things out.

"We see this principle at varying levels in some of our tools today. I call them cyclical tools. The iPhone empowers the developer ecosystem that helps drive its adoption. A bike strengthens the person who pedals it. Open-source software educates its potential contributors. A hallmark of cyclical tools is that they create open loops: the bike strengthens its rider to do things other than just pedal the bike.

Cyclical tools are like trees, whose falling leaves fertilize the soil in which they grow."

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