Essays of Paul Graham
I have been geeking out a little bit lately over Paul Graham's Essays. He's a programmer and writer who also works with startups and on Lisp. I'm guessing he doesn't have time to watch a lot of Netflix. My favorite essay so far is this one on finding your passion in the workplace. Although I am not 100% convinced that people should do what doesn't feel like work as their job. I found out the hard way with cake decorating that making one cake at home per hour is a lot more pleasant than making 40 cakes at work per hour. I definitely think he's on to something though.
There are overlaps between his thoughts about how to assess the viability of startups that parallels aspects of the UX Design process. In this article he says:
"For example, a social network for pet owners. It doesn't sound obviously mistaken...The danger of an idea like this is that when you run it by your friends with pets, they don't say "I would never use this." They say "Yeah, maybe I could see using something like that." Even when the startup launches, it will sound plausible to a lot of people. They don't want to use it themselves, at least not right now, but they could imagine other people wanting it. Sum that reaction across the entire population, and you have zero users."
That's the kind of thing you want to find out through rigorous user testing before you spend a million dollars making a product that people don't want. Also a good reason why you should vet people in User Testing who aren't just telling you what you want to hear. Pets.com lost $147 million within nine months because of this lack of market interest, ouch.