Discover more from Pete Lead’s startup updates
Pete's February-March 2023 update
Old stories, new tech, cheerful TV, and a couple of takedowns.
This update is 100% human. Well, 90% human and 10% dog. But written by a human. (Me.)
I’m already kind of sick of ‘articles about AI using AI to write the article about AI’ schtick. Or the ‘people tested [crochet patterns / recipes / how to dispose of a body instructions] created by AI and they’re kind of weird’ angle. On the other hand, serve me more ‘a kid drew this monster and I, a 3D artist, rendered it in glorious detail’ posts and ‘we asked people to draw a [bicycle / logo / etc] from memory and the results are hilarious’ listicles, please. That’s goooood content.
We escaped the crazy weather and earthquakes up north, but earlier this week we were blasted with a day of strong wind and heavy rain. One of the young trees next to the house developed a bit of a lean. I’ve just been down to see if I can encourage it to stand up straight again but the roots are partly out of the ground. I got a rope around it and pulled it as much as I could but this might be a multi-step process.
Nutmeg is doing well. Loving life, and (very) slowly improving her ability to cope with dogs and people. It’s a long road. Her ability to cope when we have food (and she doesn’t) leaves a bit to be desired. Our dinner is the only meal we eat that she doesn’t expect something as well.
Last year was all about creating the products; this year we’ve shifted into the post-launch phase. Onboarding, user testing, iterating. Documenting! It’s a very different space.
I’ve hosted a few virtual workshops the past month and I’ve been able to invite (and pay) some amazing people to share their story with our cohort. Milly from Generalist World wanted to get more experience doing public speaking, so it was great to offer her that opportunity. And wonderful to reconnect with Lana Weal from Market Mindfully (ex-BlueChilli) from who I learned some new things about marketing and partnerships.
More exciting news on work stuff next month.
In the meantime: We’re on the hunt for some new team members! Do you know someone (based in Australia) who loves teaching or facilitating, and/or loves startups or design thinking? Remote team, open to part-time. Tell them to get in touch at email@example.com
As well as the cohort of young entrepreneurs I’m working with through Young change Agents, I advised 4 or 5 startups on the side. A bit more of this coming up later this year, too.
I’ve been mentoring through the Blackbird Giants program but I haven’t given any availability for this current program. Just don’t have the headspace right now, which is a shame because I very much enjoy it. Next time.
By the way, a couple of amazing Aussie startups are looking for angel investors right now. LMK if you want more info.
I’ve been writing a bit of short fiction. Since December I’ve submitted three stories to competitions — one brand new story, and two old (like, written in 2013-4 kind of old) stories that I got to read with fresh eyes and edit the heck out of. It’s been nice to carve out some time for that and make stuff.
Part of this process has been swapping stories with other writers and providing feedback, as part of a spec fic writers group I joined last month. Critiques, or “crits” as they’re known, have been helpful on both sides for learning. And I’ve had some very lovely praise for the feedback I’ve given. Which, once I think about it, shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve been doing this kind of thing for a long time, in various ways: teaching and coaching improv, directing shows, collaborating on comedy and show writing, teaching entrepreneurship, leadership coaching, pitch coaching, advising startups. It’s been interesting to reflect on how well these different experiences can apply to writing (and critiquing) science fiction and fantasy stories.
I saw an interesting product called Rewind, which records everything that happens on my screen and microphone and be a magic genie for recalling things. I thought it would be amazingly useful — can’t remember where I read something? Type in a keyword and find the answer! I’ve had it running on and off the past month-and-a-bit and have tried to use it once to find an answer, failed. Otherwise I’ve just… not needed to go back and jog my memory on something that I said or read a month ago. So I guess I’ll be uninstalling it soon.
Oh no, it’s reading my screen right now. It knows!
Wait, stop! Ple—
Read / watch / listen
Fun shows and movies: We had a good run of shows and movies. The characters were nice to each other, and they were uplifting as well as engaging.
Cafe Minamdang: One of the most unusual openings in a TV show I’ve ever seen. The premise of the show is: what if a criminal profiler and his crew used their skills to set up a guru business? The tone and energy feel very quirky in the first half of the episode, but stick with it and it levels out.
The Uncanny Counter: Another weird premise: An injured teenager is inhabited by a spirit, given powers, and joins a ragtag group of heroes (who also run the local noodle shop) to fight evil. Great interactions between the characters, so it’s fun as well as a good story.
Bigbug: There’s some relationship to the crew that made City of Lost Children etc, so you’ll recognise some of the cast. Super quirky. Set in a future where robots and smart devices can run your whole house and life; what happens when they turn on you, and your dinner party gets trapped inside the house with an AI that wants to kill you all?
Petite Maman: A sweet movie. A young girl visits her grandmother’s house, and brefriends the young girl who lives next door in an exact replica of her grandmother’s house.
[Watch: 1 minute] This is so weird. A deepfake of Jerry Seinfeld into a scene from Pulp Fiction. The weird mix of soundtracks. The scene backgrounds. Jerry acting!
[Read: 20 minutes] Who Is Still Inside the Metaverse? Searching for friends in Mark Zuckerberg’s deserted fantasyland. A long read about the bleakness inside the Metaverse. Let’s be real, we all want this thing to fail, right?
[Listen: 50 minutes. Podcast episode] Speaking of takedowns, the excellently-named podcast If Books Could Kill looks at (and tears apart) Malcolm Gladwell’s popular sciency book Outliers. (That’s the one that invented the “10,000 hours rule”, which says that you can still eat something if you pick it up within 1.14 years of dropp— no, wait, it’s that thing about becoming an expert.)
[Read: 10 minutes] Using GPT-4 to measure the passage of time in fiction. Way back in September I wrote a message on our work platform that “Just last week I saw a great example of a new digital business that a young person could start today. Being a "prompt engineer", using AI image generators like DALL-E to create artwork for blog posts. This “using GPT-4” post shows how far things have come in the 6 months since then. The level of skill and knowledge required to get AI to do your bidding is getting rather advanced. Also, the post is about a super niche and interesting subject: trends in how much time passes in novels.
“Bach stabber” — John DeVore, from 150 Word Review: ‘Tár’ (2022)