In this post, I wanted to describe a mental model that I’ve developed over the years for iterative improvement. I wouldn’t quite call it a “framework”, as it doesn’t present specific guidelines or steps to success. Instead, I’ve found it to be a helpful way to visualize and consider the steps we take toward our goals.
Daniel J. Choi Articles.
It’s been a little over 2 years since my last blog post.
I’m reminded of a short poem, which I wrote several years back: “When there’s nothing at all to right, I find there’s nothing at all to write.” I wish that I could attribute this latest hiatus to similar sentiments, but the ragged truth is that the last couple years have been some of the hardest of my life. Today, I might sooner write, “When life is falling apart around me, the last thing I have time for is writing about it.”
A lot has happened – mostly challenges and disappointment, interspersed with small wins and moments of beauty.
This post is a companion piece to my previous essay: A “Unified Theory” of Social Networks, in which I developed a classification framework for social media platforms.
That framework ended up inspiring a host of generalizations and insights, which are presented here in bullet form. Please note that this is a work in progress, and I will continue to change and add to it over time.
Last revision: June 10, 2021
In this post, I’m excited to present a framework for classifying social media platforms.
Aside from helping to illustrate how and why successful apps have earned a place in our lives, I hope it may also serve as a “playbook” for new entrants who hope to carve out their own places in the landscape.
The main concepts are represented in the graphic below, and the rest of this essay provides insight into my development process.
To read about how I used this framework to derive generalizations about different types of social communities, check out my companion piece: Insights from the Unified Theory of Social.
Back in 2016, I was five years into building Plastiq, and the company had grown large enough to afford me a burgeoning work-life balance. I took up pottery and rock climbing, and filled the cracks of my days with books and podcasts. It felt great to get healthy again, both physically and mentally.
One day I happened to catch a This American Life podcast about social media.
For most of my life, I couldn’t care less about art.
Sure, I’d bought the occasional print to decorate my apartment. And I’d actually been to one or two art shows in my time. For a while I even sported a membership to the MFA in Boston.
But my motivations and experiences with art were purely superficial. Having art on my wall made me feel like a “grown-up”, and going out to a show was less about the art and more about having something to do. Tickets to the MFA were simply another “stop on the tour” for visiting friends and family.
For all the time I spent knelt at the altar of art, I simply wasn’t a true believer.
Next month, my brother is set to finish his Neurosurgery residency at Harvard, a full 16 years after completing undergrad. He’s a bit older than most graduates of his program, but not for lack of progress – along the way he’s earned a Ph.D in brain tumor immunology and amassed a plethora of papers, press, and patents. I couldn’t be more proud.
His first “real job” as a doctor starts in a couple months, and as I’m also embarking on a new journey of starting my next company, a recent phone call turned to discussing uncertainty about the future and the pivotal choices that drove us down two – by all superficial accounts – very different career paths.
Those who have spent some time around the Plastiq offices have probably heard me refer to one of my favorite alter egos – “Past Dan” and “Future Dan“. It all started as a joke when a co-worker and I were digging through some old code, and I just couldn’t decipher why I’d written it that way.
Starting a new job can be both exhilarating and nerve-racking. As a manager at Plastiq, I view it as one of my most important responsibilities to – with the help of our excellent talent team – onboard new reports in a manner that instills within them the context and confidence to do a good job, as well as set the tone and pace for our on-going working relationship.
To facilitate this onboarding, I thought it’d be valuable to compile a “Bill of Rights” that all my new reports can read, refer back to, and – most importantly – hold me accountable for during their tenure at Plastiq. It is my hope that these guidelines will provide a welcome centering influence as our work and roles continue to evolve over time.
Lately, I’ve been undertaking a large-scale, back-office project to support our growing operations teams at Plastiq. The application started experiencing some hanging, which ended up being caused by native PHP session handling. I was able to fix the issue by swapping in AWS’s DynamoDB for session management and storage, and I thought it’d be helpful to document the steps I took.
More after the jump.