How Bret Victor changed my life

Hi Mattias,

Do you know who this Bret Victor guy is? Actually I barely do, I heard he made the Al Gore iPad book amazing, that he did some cool stuff over at apple and yeah… more cool stuff somewhere else. But most important, after watching a video recording of him speaking at some conference I got renewed hope.

He speaks of a choice between Craftsmanship, Passion and Cause. Where most people choose craftsmanship, many speak of passion but few speak of or live by a cause. The later is of course what he describes; you can choose to live by a cause even if your work is not related to social activism or politics. He himself want creative people (like himself) to have a direct latency free connection to their work. He says: If I get an idea and make an adjustment to my work with the intent to realize that idea I need to see the result immediately! Without this ideas die. He hates when ideas die.

Do you have a cause? Do you want one?
I want one, I’m probably that type of person. I even think I have one but I can’t distill it to words, can you?

Written but not Read,
Sincerely yours,

PS. Perhaps the title should have been: How Bret Victor potentially changed my life, but that just isn’t as catchy.

4 thoughts on “How Bret Victor changed my life

  1. Great post!

    I have been thinking about this thing about having a cause for days now after reading this, and I’m surprised and impressed by how to-the-point Bret Victor’s cause is.

    I think I have a cause:
    “I want to make sure that everybody that I care about has a good manager.”

    I guess this means I should:

    A) Be a good manager myself so the people I manage have a good manager.
    B) Make sure I always have a good manager myself and if I don’t, influence them to be a better manager.
    C) Try to influence the managers of other people that I know to become better managers.
    D) Support my friends that don’t have a manager at all but actually has the need for one.
    E) Try to figure out what makes a manager good (and what makes good managers great).

    Which doesn’t seem like a bad list of actions, not at all. I think I like this. I think I really do. Thank you!

  2. Wow, that is so cool!
    I am happy you found your cause, it sounds like a good one too! I especially like “Support my friends that don’t have a manager at all but actually has the need for one.”

    I guess you found the video if you wanted to, but just for the record and for the convince of our other reader:

    Still in the process of distilling my cause down to words… not quite there yet but soon I hope :).

  3. That was an amazing talk, he very nicely articulates things I have felt for a long time. So, it’s only been a few minutes since I watched the video, not a lot of time to reflect on my cause, but, I have been doing so anyway a lot lately. I don’t think my cause is “actionable” yet, or even very specific. But I will talk about it a bit anyway.

    I have chosen to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to the principles on continuous improvement. Why? you may ask…

    Well, I have been thinking a lot about that lately, and I have decided that it is merely an articulation of something I have felt my whole life. That we should strive to make everything better all the time. I have always been appalled by the attitude of “this is the person I am, and the world is going to have to live with it!” Or “that’s just the way the world is”… I have always felt there was something wrong with that attitude. Even as a child I refused to accept when my parents said “because I said so”

    So, when I found the concepts of continuous improvement they really spoke to me. They were a articulation of things I have always felt. So, I would love some ideas about how to translate that in to an actionable principle. What I have been doing so far:

    1) Spreading the word to whoever will listen. This means trying to get people to stop making the statements above, and to understand there is a better way to live.

    2) I have chosen a more specific field in which to practice these ideas, software development. This gives me practical tools to work with, so people can see results rather then just hear philosophy.

    3) Created an actual performance plan for improving myself. I now have a system of reading 1 book for enjoyment, and 1 book for learning/improvement. I am also thinking about a other ways to improve myself.

    Now that I have written this down, perhaps I do have an actionable principle… I don’t know, what do you guys think?

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