[Weekend Drop] Grifters and Content Creation Traps

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I joined Maksim Ivanov's YouTube channel to talk about responsible/authentic content creation.
Welcome to Weekend Drops! Every weekend I drop one full length interview or conversation I had recently. This is for folks who want to keep up with me — if you came for the 5 minute mixtapes, I hope its easy enough to delete! Let me know how I can improve this for you.

Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL_uefhT51g

Share original tweet: https://twitter.com/swyx/status/1372013877731368961


Maksim Ivanov: [00:00:00] having a one today. We're going to be talking with Shawn Wang. Who is mostly known as Swyx and we're going to discuss, Oh Shawn, could you please introduce yourself first? 

swyx: [00:00:19] Hey everyone. I'm Shawn. I am also known as Swyx. I am head of developer experience at Temporal dot IO, but I'm also on Twitter a lot, and a general content creator.
And my principal capacity. So I'm here to talk about that. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:00:32] I mostly know about Shawn by reading his article learning in public, which is great. And also other essays. You probably know him as well. If you read this article, it's about we surely learning in public, actually showing your progress, sharing your progress putting out the material and learning by, by doing right.

swyx: [00:00:49] Yeah, exactly. It's something that when I reflect on my own career every time I've done it it's really been the determinant of the majority of my success. So that's when I went to do a speech for my bootcamp. That was the title of my speech. I wrote it down in like one afternoon and then I tweeted it and it just went viral.
I was like, okay, this is something that people want to hear about. And three years later I'm still doing it. It's it's still amazing. And I want to spread the word. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:01:14] Shawn has some great essays. So for sure, Shawn knows how to make some great content, but I would like to give some backstory to this call.
Let me share my screen. I want to show the tweet and what will be the matter of today's discussion. Share this screen. 

swyx: [00:01:29] It's always scary. It's always scary when people show you on three you're like, what am I going to say? Yeah. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:01:36] So there is this thing in Twitter, which I understand totally. And I also did it.
This is why we're doing this stream today. So their power is growing, the singularity approaches and then a bunch of tweet threads with five websites or whatever amount of websites that will save some amount of time. Per week or per day or per something you can see I'm here as well. One funny thing though, is that they have on the one, like, and retweet, but whatever, usually they get a lot of engagement and this is why people do it.

swyx: [00:02:06] It is even if ours, that's what this is a problem. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:02:10] That's a problem. So, as I understand, do you think that this is a wrong approach to create concentrate? And first of all, like to discuss. What is wrong with this thing? 

swyx: [00:02:20] Wrong is a strong word. I'm making fun. And it's okay to make fun is looking at me.
Funny things. That's all. That's all. So, what that team was doing was that what, if you took them seriously, right? Like, cause every tweet was like, I was, this tweet will save you two hours per week. And then the next day it was like four hours. And then she was taking five. It makes me think it's 10.
So I was like, why did you just edit it all up? Will you just not need to work anymore? 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:02:43] Yeah eventually this is why this is a tweet where I posted about this stream. I said eight hours a day, straight ahead. So we can skip the whole word. They be 

swyx: [00:02:51] free. Yeah. So it's obviously making fun of the exaggeration.
And I mean, I get why people do it, so yeah, that's, as far as I go, I don't call it out as like anything evil. I just think it's obviously not a very genuine, because nobody really thinks that you're saving any amount hours. So you're obviously lying to your own people just to get some clouds.
And it's also, I think that there's a Buzzfeed notification of Twitter where people are. Yeah, people are trying to turn their threads into listicles. Basically the promise, something absurd at the top, and then they'll list five or seven or 10 projects. Most of which they just saw when Googling around just before tweeting that they don't actually use.
Right. I see a lot of this as well on grifter Twitter with like, here are the top seven JavaScript projects ranked by a number of GitHub stars. Well, thank you very much. I didn't know that. And it's very clear that there's just no effort put into it now, but people just like it.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:03:45] Yeah. It's the path of the least resistance. And actually I was with my Twitter was actually even less genuine. I was actually. I didn't even care for the actual content or they wanted to see if does this technique work. So it was like double to let two layers of 

swyx: [00:04:01] uninjured equity, I guess nine is fine.
Yeah. I mean, monkey see monkey do we are all Twitter is partially a game and you're always trying to figure out what you're playing for. It turns out that every people have different rules and I'm trying to inspire people to have a higher level of. Quality or purpose for themselves than likes, because I think that is the lowest common denominator.
And I, that's not something I want to see in my life. I think my I've wasted enough of my own life on that. It's fine. If you want to do it, I. It's it's it's an open platform. Do whatever you want to do on your own account. It's I'm not telling you what to do on your own car. I also have the right to be fun, 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:04:43] even walking my next week that actually got some bitter tastes after doing it.
Just like when using Tinder, I got into some mode that they didn't really like when I was dehumanizing people who. I consider just as followers instead of like trying to make genuine connection, but I totally understand why I would continue doing it just because it's the path of least resistance and you eventually might get very good responses on that.
So this I would say platform or the platform itself encourages people to continue pushing out this sort of content to get likes and retweets. 

swyx: [00:05:17] Encourage is a strong word that you are, you have agency in your own choices and the kind of people that you wanted that connect with you based on those kinds of tweets are very low quality people.
Just quite frankly, in my opinion. And the, and I, there's no point engaging with those people. So yeah, I mean, th there, there are other games to play on Twitter, which is for example, networking with high value people. And I'm not saying like, of course every everyone is variable and everyone, every person has value.
There are just. Some people who don't value quality and it, they just respond to very like, okay. It's like the people who click on like the Buzzfeed articles. Right. And like the, here's the seven secrets to losing weight. You won't believe number five, that kind of, 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:06:08] so basically by taking a shortcut, I'm sorry, I interrupted you.

swyx: [00:06:12] No worries. It is a shortcut. It is very bottom tier content. And there are a lot of people who respond to that. In fact, probably the majority of the population. But you're saying that because Twitter gives you a lot of likes. Twitter is encouraging you to do it. I pushed back on. Yeah.
And push back on that because they're just not doing anything is all these people responding to what you're doing. And you don't have to, you don't have to respond to it. You don't have to accept it. You don't have to sink to that level. You can stand for something better that you can look back on in five, 10, 20 years and say like, I'm proud of that.
Hopefully, I'm trying to push people towards that because all these things, all these legs, it doesn't fucking matter. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:06:51] I would like to not to push back, but a little bit clarify my previous statement about Twitter, actually encouraging you to do this. First of all, a lot of people talk right now, a lot of articles exist about how growing on Twitter might help you with your career might just directly help you to earn money.
Might help you to launch products and so on. So people come to a lot of people come nowadays to Twitter, not to communicate, but just to earn money eventually. At some point in time. And then when you go there and first things you see, you follow a bunch of topics that's what the app encourages you to do.
It's the first thing that they ask follow some topics, and then it starts showing you the materials on those topics. And I, for example, followed the web development open source. Computer science and a bunch more related to programming. And what I saw then was mostly this sort of tweets, not only threads, but also repetitions of the same question.
Like, are you a programmer or a developer and things like that, or semi jokes that are basically repeated over and over and over again. And they're promoted by those topics. So I see your point. I don't necessarily agree that the platform doesn't encourage it. For instance, inside Twitter, there is right now, clubhouse Twitter spaces.
And at this moment, at least while clubhouse already became, at least in Russia SMM, a cement platform where people basically communicate to only promote themselves. So majority of interactions, there are about growth into the clubhouse. It's like Metta. Social network, where people connect for the sake of connection to gain something out of it.
And growing for the sake of growing in Twitter spaces, it didn't happen yet. At least I didn't see it. And there a while you're talking directly to other humans, it all feels much more genuine and they don't see, how could you make this kind of discussions even like, okay, I'm going to discuss top 10 articles would not, you can't even post links there.
So you see my point that plat platform and the medium that they're using actually matters. 

swyx: [00:08:47] And that. I agree. I agree that by pushing the topics and making the topics of a low quality I recommend they are pushing that onto you and encouraging that. So, yeah, I agree on that.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:08:57] It could be the right counteraction for this, so that when people join Twitter, they see good content because eventually, like at some point you get some traction and you get like on YouTube and posting videos. First 1000 followers was very hard to get. I think it took me more than one year or something.
Then second thousand was easier. And then now I'm getting a thousand a month I guess, single foot for the Twitter. How to start good because making materials that no one watches or reads is not fun, what would you recommend to people who okay. I want to make genuinely good quality content and we can talk about what is good quality content a bit later, but now if I'm starting out, how do I make it fun for myself?
I mean, get some engagement in this. So people actually react, communicate, discuss. What is the good way to get it? 

swyx: [00:09:46] Yeah. I have the blog posts about this, that I call pickup what you put down. And so I'm trying to offer an alternative where you're, don't evaluate the quality of your work by the numbers that you engage and usually evaluate the quality of your work by how well it.
Sorry, it's a conversation with people that you respect on topics that you're very keen on. So here's the difference, right? I'm trying to learn machine learning and I, this is an example I'm not doing machine learning is an example. But if Andre Carpathy, who is the head of. Machine learning at Uber puts out a new paper or a new library.
I can go write a blog post about that or contribute to the library or like, make a demo with a library and send it back to me. And he has a higher chance of reviewing that because it directly responds to something that he did, right. There's a social contract in creators where you're entitled, you're encouraged to respond.
And. If you become a frequent collaborator with him, you might start to get to work with him. You might become a peer. You might learn a lot more from him. And to me, one of those relationships with industry experts, where you start having a very sustainable long-term relationship with the people in the industry that is.
Much more valuable than 10,000 faceless names who you will never see. And who will don't really care about you. And the reason you do this is because that's how you avoid the content grind, right? I think you may have heard about this on YouTube as well, but it's the same in a lot of other platforms.
Not really. I 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:11:17] don't know. What does this term yeah. Could you please clarify? 

swyx: [00:11:20] Yeah, because the algorithm rewards consistent output that one, I'm sure. And if you couple that together with needing to boost the numbers on every single piece that you write, then you start doing very beginner posts, like how to get into development, how to, make six figures w in only six months of study stuff like that.
And that is something that is, is fun, is going to get a lot of numbers because it's a very beginner focus and there are always more beginners than there are experts. But it's not very fulfilling and it's not very genuine after a while. Right? Like you can start off doing it for sure. But everybody runs out of steam because that's not the level that you're at anymore.
You're always talking down to people. Not in none of the sense of like you don't think they're beneath you just in a sense of expertise, right? Like you're always like not pushing your comfort zone is what I'm thinking. And and you're not building industry relationships that are two way that are sustainable, that are helping you grow professionally as well.
You're just you presenting yourself as an expert and then you're like here's the content that YouTube seems to want me to create. I have no choice in the matter you do. So, so please. Try to push us off a little bit harder, try to make interesting content that engages with the relevant, industry topics and build a network rather than an audience.
Does that make sense? The difference? 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:12:36] Yeah, I see now, so instead of targeting people with a very few very small expertise in the topic and trying to please the beginners, your advice is to focus on people who you personally aspire, who get inspired with. Yeah. And to make content that would allow to connect with them and have interesting discussions.

swyx: [00:12:54] Right. And and I'm not, and this is not about hero worship, right? There's a lot of celebrity culture, especially in tech. And. Some of that is justified because some of these people have really accomplished a lot in their lives. But there's also not about hero worship. So, people who are near you, people who are like just a bit above you, just a bit to the side of you, you can collaborate with them.
And you're learning together and growing together and that's a genuine connection and your friends and you'll see each other, five, 10 years down the line. You've grown together into these great industry legends isn't that much better than being like. I don't know, a million subscriber, YouTube where you're just constantly training on tutorials.
That's partially the chat. That's the origin of novel.  Have you heard of it? 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:13:33] It's the venture investor, right? No, no. That's 

swyx: [00:13:37] Navarro, so right. So retro, we've always a YouTuber who had a machine learning YouTube and he was genuinely good for awhile. But you committed to doing two videos a week, every single week for like three years.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:13:52] I, I know real quick talking about yeah. With the gray Stripe of hair. 

swyx: [00:13:57] Great Stripe of hair, a very smooth talker, very high quality and high energy videos. The problem with that, he is spending most of the time, making videos, talking down to people who are beginners and spending zero time actually advancing his own skills.
So eventually he ran out of things to do so he started copying other people's work and presenting it as his own. People have caught him just changing, like. Copy and paste with what do you mean arising or plagiarizing? And it's just a really bad look. And then he started selling courses and he said, it's like a limited sale of like 200 seats.
And then he, it turns out he sold six courses, simultaneously fills 200 or something like that. And then of course, people call him because he cannot keep that up forever. And he apologizes and they say the YouTube algorithm made him do it. Did it, or did he just choose 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:14:43] removing your own responsibility and your own agency?

swyx: [00:14:47] You have a choice. And I'm not saying like, do whatever makes you happy? I don't think he was very happy. He's just a captivated by numbers and I'm sorry, it got to him, but like, that's not the way I want to live my life and I want to articulate another path for other people to follow because Yeah.
It's it can seem like it's a good deal, but you know, if you want, Hey, if you want to follow us, go and buy them. They're there. They're a bunch of bots and the New York times is, well, 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:15:15] no, I don't necessarily agree with the whole stance on this. Like when you're good at.
Teaching let's say even basic topics and you're just explaining them really well. So that beginners grasp them well. And then you do courses. I think it is still a nice lifestyle. If you like, there are some uni teachers who make a good amount of money, they can support sustain themselves and live a very decent life just by teaching people.
Very basic beginner stuff. 

swyx: [00:15:41] Yeah. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:15:42] The would they personally go through their courses? Not all of them. I saw a lot of people there who didn't ever have real production experience. Is it necessarily a bad course? I reviewed a bunch of them. No, actually not really. If you're just starting out, they might be really good over your view of the technology and just get you going initially.
So there are other people, like, I like the front-end masters, but from where they sell the. What is it? It's basically workshops recorded. They have really high quality ones with people who have some industry level practice, which is better. But I think there is a niche for 

swyx: [00:16:19] all of that. Yeah. I think there are multiple successful paths in life.
And I will never say that the path that I want to go is the only path that is valid for everybody. They should all listen to me. No, I'm just saying that this is the first half that I follow. Here's why 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:16:34] now we can slightly pivot and you could describe in a little bit more detail. What is the path you're talking about with these genuine connections and what should be the strategy and what is good content?
Like how you already covered it a little bit while talking about directing your writing or recordings towards people who you would like to connect with and network and trying to get at work instead of the audience. So, could we talk a little bit more about that? 

swyx: [00:17:02] Hm. To me that is the gist of it, try to form real relationships rather than game numbers on on some website.
Like here's a good measure, right? Like, can you Is it a two-way street? Are you getting as much out of them in terms of learning as they are out of you and other measures, for example, like, can you work off of the platform, you can work together off of the platform?
One of the ones that, yeah, hang on. One of the ways that I like to say one of, one of the goals that I like to talk about on Twitter is that Your Twitter is at his best when you take your, when you meet on Twitter and then you take it off the platform, you start to move into the DMS and then you're like, Hey, let's work together on a project.
That's actually you can, I want to hire you to come be my coworker or like something, whatever, right? Like the relationship blossoms into something real instead of transactional. Okay. And if I have to explain that, I don't know how to go further. Yeah. Yeah. Another thing I think that happens a lot on platforms is that there are a lot of one-offs.
So, it's like, I'll do a sprint and then I'll like put out something amazing. And then that's it. And then I'm moving on to something else. So, intro to reacts, intro to view, intro, to spots, intro to TensorFlow and whatever. That doesn't compound over time. And I think that people should try to compound things because that will deepen your relationship in your satisfaction and your expertise rather than spreading it out in a number of areas.
Just because you're planting a flag, right. Because intro to whatever is always like where people start And that's what you do when you get, when you go for numbers. Again, no hate on you, if you're very good at that, and that's your job but that is not intellectually fulfilling to me.
And that's all I want to say really about that. But I, if you can compound and like build a whole universe of like interconnected, Content articles. That probably is a very good content strategy in and of itself. But it's also very fulfilling for you personally, because you're built, you're exploring the map and going deep on topics that really peak your curiosity and people who are, who think like you can find you and go down a path together with you.
You're leaving a trail behind you of like, here's where I'm going. I'm sharing my journey as I go is a very authentic journey. And you can follow along with me and see where this ends. I think that's a lot more fun and fulfilling than intro to whatever for the, until the end of time.
I have another concept which is not very open for YouTube which is this idea of open source knowledge. That's another blog post that I've talked about. So, closed source open source code is, has helped to replace a lot of closed source code. And I think open-source knowledge.
We can do that for a sort of private learning versus public learning. Right. But not just public learning. It's also collaborative learning. For YouTube. YouTube is not a very collaborative place. Like you can do, I guess, chats like this, but you're not really ever collaborating with your, with their readers.
What about free code camp? What about it's 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:19:50] this sort of concept being on YouTube where people can contribute to this channel? Or are you mean something very different? 

swyx: [00:19:57] That's fine. That's okay. I mean, obviously it's a nice resource to have and it's it's a really good learning platform.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:20:03] That's open source learning. 

swyx: [00:20:04] Sure. I mean, 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:20:05] how would it look like, okay, let's say open source learning on YouTube. How would it look like? 

swyx: [00:20:09] Sure. Who's the guy who read for you, friends. The FICO can eat you. Bill cartons, 
both Heinz runs the free YouTube. They post something like four to seven hour videos, every week or every day.
Do you think he watches all those videos 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:20:22] or everything that they post? I don't know. 

swyx: [00:20:24] Absolutely not. Come on. Are you serious? 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:20:27] He personally might be not, but they probably have editors. Do you think they don't watch it 

swyx: [00:20:31] pretty much
because I submitted 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:20:36] it. And what did you have some Easter eggs there or how would you 

swyx: [00:20:43] it's just like he just comments on the intro and the ending. That's it like the middle he doesn't really see is some QC for like engagement and stuff like that. He's not learning, he's running a TV network.
Okay. And that's a different thing. Is that open-source knowledge to you? I don't know. To me it's a form. It's a, it happens to be a nonprofit, a public charity, TV network, but it's still a TV network. And that's fine. You know what I'm trying to say here is for example like what is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is the first most successful. Example of source knowledge, where we used to have this printed, exactly PDs, where we do hire experts and you have to buy it every single year. Like here's the new stack of 26 books or something. And it just completely got destroyed, right? Because people just collaborated on updating the one resource on, on, on I guess encyclopedic knowledge.
What if we could do that for anything that we were just added, right. Hey, I'm learning reacts type scripts. Let me just throw up a, get a repo and there's no code in here, but there's there's every everything that I learned about it organized in a way that makes sense to me and people who come along and see what I'm doing.
And once it helps. Also on that they can be a bit behind me. They can ask questions or they can be a bit above me and they can contribute advice or fixes. And that's build this into a good resource that's collaborative and long-term I think that's a fundamentally. Awesome thing.
And that's actually what happened to me by the way. So two years ago I did react to tactical cheat sheets and that's become the de facto community documentation for reactance associates, because people from Uber and Airbnb and Microsoft and wherever, it just came by and added content. And that's open source knowledge, right?
It created a long-term long running thing I've been taught for free by all these very high value people. And that's a wonderful way to do this. So instead of like a top-down like here I'm the content creator. I will do a bunch of work and then I'll put out the finish product at the end.
And once I'm done, I'm going to move on to do some other random thing. That's completely unrelated to the previous thing. There's an ongoing growth. Right. And there's a built in network effect. And people can see that there's a, they have a part to play as well. That's pretty cool. So, so if you when you asked me all the way back, I don't know about like five or six minutes ago, about what forms of content I find.
Interesting. I think that's pretty interesting. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:22:57] I also wanted to ask how would you envision open-source content on YouTube or any other video platform? How would the collaboration look like? Because the accent is nice. It's editable videos, not so much. Yeah, 

swyx: [00:23:10] well, I'll be honest. I haven't figured it out.
You can let me know when you do. Cause YouTube is very final format when you upload a video, that's it? Well, you can collaborate on the streams, I think Twitter channels and stuff like that, but I hate it when people. And content creators. So, I used to work in developer relations and development marketing, and people are like, Oh, you can use YouTube or Twitch.
And like, come on. Like YouTube is a hundred times bigger than Twitch, right? Like in terms of audience size, especially for developers. So, sure. You can do collaborative work on your Twitch channel with like 20 people watching. It's not the same thing as you. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:23:43] With open source, there comes another question about earning money.
And if you don't like this question, we can skip it. But With, when you make materials videos, courses, books, articles, you can just earn money with this and then making beginner targeted materials is just more profitable because you have more people who are beginners. And with I'm trying to ask a very complex question.
I probably should just ask a bunch of questions instead. So let's go with first. 

swyx: [00:24:09] Just lay it all out and met up with we'll chat. You don't have to break it up. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:24:13] All right. First of all, making content for the beginners is easier. Second is that when you make open source, and this is a very, let's say popular problem for open source is that open source often struggles finding getting funding or getting money, earning money.
So what is your take on that? How would you earn money? Let's call it the ethical way of earning money or like how, what is the good way to do it without this sort of putting out ju I don't know what to say. Cheap material, cheap materials is just not necessarily true, but you know what I'm talking 

swyx: [00:24:46] about.
It's a tricky topic. First of all, I applaud making anything and trying to sell it for money on the internet is very difficult and don't let any criticism get in the way of you trying. Okay. So, just go and try whatever you try. And as long as it works good for you.
Okay. This is for people who have some experience and can. Are smart enough to do whatever and have some responsibility for their for their choices. So, that's one thing I should mention the other thing, I think that your question that I don't like about the question or that I want to push back on the question is that you said there's a there's, there's like two things that are pulling in opposite.
Directions. So one is like, you want to make money. And the best way to make money is to make intro courses. And the other is you want to fund open source, right? 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:25:29] Another one was about your let's. See you write the book. If you write it alone, you can just get revenue by selling it. If you make an open source, let's say book or cheat sheet or whatever you won't be able to sell it.

swyx: [00:25:41] I see sure. So 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:25:42] that's not 

swyx: [00:25:45] okay. Like, first of all, you don't have to monetize everything. Second of all a lot of open source like is a means to an end, right? It's not about the code is about the knowledge and coded inside the code. And you can monetize that a bunch of different ways.
Like, you can use that as part of your CV for hiring, right? If the company already uses your. You call it they're much more likely to hire you because you're the betaine or something that they use. That's fantastic. But then also you can sell consulting services. So my friend Tanner Linsley made react query at reacts table and a bunch of other popular, which is a main library.
Yeah. Consulting hours. And that's a perfectly fine to, we don't monetize. And you can keep the open source free because code is only a part of the overall value of software. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:26:23] I like this answer. It's very good that you don't necessarily need to make the direct sales. 

swyx: [00:26:29] Well, the different, the slightly different answer, which I thought you were going in slightly different directions because you were saying, okay, I definitely see a lot of people making intro, intro tutorials and courses, and they make a lot of money from it.
And then you're trying to link that to like how can that, how can I use that to fund open source? Well, not 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:26:45] the way of the questions. What's really two different questions and I got. Confused. 

swyx: [00:26:50] I just wanna make the point that teaching is his own valuable skill and source is a different skill.
That is, that tends to be monetized in a very different way. So the people, the kind of person who like works on Redux and it like isn't the issues every single day is probably. I know, cause he's a friend of mine is not a very good self promoter and teacher of intro introductory courses, because they're just not at that level.
And they don't enjoy that kind of work. And it's it's it is a stent, it is a good skill to to be able to teach beginners. So, these are all, these are both specializations and they monetize in different ways. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:27:20] Okay. That's a good answer. Overall throughout the discussion, I got the point that there are things more important than money.
It's more important to do things that fulfill you. It's more important to make connections, that, to try to gain the audience. And what else did we, 

swyx: [00:27:37] can I, can I want to, I also want to share this. Money is very important to me. Okay. I I do expect a lot and I think people should try to make the most out of the limited time that they have for available for it.
But I think that you can both be more fulfilled and make more money by going deep. Okay. Rather than broad and shallow. So, this is not a choice between either, either I want money happy to do deep work and 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:28:02] don't money shovel. 

swyx: [00:28:04] I have a lot of money. It just needs to be more patient. Okay. Don't go for the near-term rewards of likes, go for the long-term rewards of like here's a productive working relationship where it spins off like job opportunities, like collaboration efforts, like whatever, and like mutual learning, stuff like that.
And. And to me, I think that will probably open to you opportunities that most of the other people, because they are playing a completely different game. They're just playing the likes game. Those opportunities will not be open to them because are, they're not even caring about relationships. They're not even caring about like collaborations and learning.
So, I'm simplifying things. Greatly. Okay. And so, take this with a lot of caveats. But I think that you can make money and you can have deep relationships at the same time. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:28:46] I think a good example is Josh Camille with his CSS course, he's worked for a long time for saw him on rec Europe.
And then I was amazed by the depth and the quality of his articles. Tutorials, it's just amazing animating react overall working with CSS. And now I, as far as they've heard, the launch of the CSS course was very successful. 

swyx: [00:29:09] Yes. Half a million dollars. That's very good. Yeah, but he spent 10 years making educational tech platforms and just being extremely passionate about them and meeting basically everybody in that space.
Right. And then whenever you want to monetize sure. Just put out a course, people buy it because they trust you and you are going to have the skills to back it up. Right. It's just so much easier than like. Trying to start out hunting for likes and like going into the content grind and during the intro stuff and like not really having a purpose or a goal that he stat Josh stands for something he stands for.
I guess, animation he stands for is for CSS. It's like yelling. There are a lot of CSS developers who like just yell at JS developers. Hey, you should learn CSS. You suck at CSS. He's not like that. He's a GS for that really understands CSS and wants to just share it with you because he thinks that it can be beneficial for you.
And he just genuinely embraces that and has gone deep on it. So that's the kind of thing where there's a class of YouTube content creators or Twitter content creators that will just never get there. Never because they're just focused on the wrong thing and I feel sad for them and I don't judge them in a sense that they can do whatever they want, but I think that maybe they might not know that there's another way.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:30:18] Okay. We have, I think just five minutes left and I want to ask a very specific question about concentrate creation is what is the. Purpose of like what kind of, what to post on Twitter because yeah I connect easily with people in Twitter spaces but they have no idea what to tweet about. I do a lot of different things, but it feels like it's not, it's just tweet format is just not for me.
I ended up just using it to announce my stream sense 

swyx: [00:30:45] and such. I see that's fine as well. I, I don't really think I figured it out. And I think as long as you're working on interesting things and you're sharing Cool findings, sometimes storytelling really works, like telling a personal story or something that you just learned that like, you just have to tell people, it's the kind of thing that like, when I read about something and I'm like, Hey, I want to tell my sister that's the kind of thing that you can share and just write it up in an entertaining way because people want to learn, but they also want to be entertained, right?
Like, Twitter's kind of like a. Semi-professional place. So, if you can balance the bars of an education and entertainment, I think you'll go pretty far and also making it witty. I think it's something that's pretty pretty key witty like, Some something insightful that someone has never thought about or has never been crazed quite that way.
And after you think, after you hear that, you're like, okay, shit like that. That is the way to think about it. So quotes are really good. Unfortunately that gets you into this territory of what it's called fortune cookie Twitter, where everyone, every, the, some of the really high follower accounts, basically you have sharing.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:31:50] I put it in the same thing as the threads with ours. The same thing. Why not? 

swyx: [00:31:54] Because there is some genuine belief in that when they, when you treat that they're just trying to minimize they're trying to compress their insights into the smallest. Amount of characters and words as possible.
But they genuinely believe in it. Whereas those engagement and listicle posts are literally just listing Arctic listing projects and then writing absurd number of hours, which nobody believes. So there's a difference. Anyway. So yeah, I mean, I don't, I have a guide for I have a developer's guide to Twitter in the, in a book that I wrote it basically covers like a bunch of these topics.
It covers like, Healthy Twitter versus a unhealthy Twitter. But yeah, and I think my advice, so people just getting started is that try to keep it professional, 90% professional, 10% personal is something that I think about a lot basically because people don't know who you are as you grow over time and people know your brand, they trust you.
You can let loose a little bit. I definitely play a lot of letters by myself, but when people don't know who you are, you can try to focus and try to connect with the people in that particular part of the Twitter audience. And physically, sometimes it's like responding with helpful links sharing or riffing off of somebody else's work.
Like sometimes people will publish a code pen and you can fork that code pen and then build something else with it. And that will be really cool. And they'll share your work as well. And it's a long game. I've been doing this for, I've been serious about Twitter for about three years.
And it's really it's definitely helped me, but the people that I don't remember, like, I don't. My, my growth doesn't scale with my follower account. My girls' scales with the number of high quality people that, in my industry that I really want to connect to.
And sometimes they can be industry legends, or sometimes they can be people new to Twitter, but who already have really good skills that wants to learn from, and I work with them already. So try to use it as a guide, but don't be ruled by your life. Don't rule your life by likes basically.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:33:36] Yeah, for me, the great example was rancor NATO, who, with whom we made a stream about a solid and what is different, the difference between solar. 

swyx: [00:33:44] Holy shit. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:33:46] He's so, I then asked him to send me an article who apparently he wrote, it turned out that he wrote that article about history of hooks. I perceived hooks as something that appeared in reacting 2019, but.
Actually it was, yeah, exactly. It is. This pattern existed since 2010 and actually you can backtrack it in other languages even further than that. Like in JavaScript, it was not called JS. That hasn't this sort of thing that was, who cooks 

swyx: [00:34:12] like sort of Ryan, Ryan has an interesting, so there are smart, there are some developers who are very well intentioned and very knowledgeable, but they're very self-focused.
And I think Ryan has genuine intention to want to share but he ends up plugging his own stuff too much. And. He plugged a lot of JS a lot. And sometimes like people would want to learn about SaaS. Yes. They're like, ah, here's this guy talking about solid JSM. I mentioned again, there 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:34:36] is a limit to what should be the ratio between plugging your own style?
I don't know. I dunno. 

swyx: [00:34:41] Like, no. So hang on. So I wanna let me finish my thought, which is basically, I think that you should try to help others before you serve yourself. Right. Like, give, give, give, take, give, give, give, give, give. No, it's not tick. It's like ask, give you, give me something like that.
Right. Gary V has a jab jab, jab, right. Hook, something like that. Right. Whatever it is. At least build that relationship by like offering something of value to the other person. And then they'll be like, okay, check out your thing now. Right. Like instead of like constantly like here's my medium article.
Here's my library. Other people exist and like promote them or like help them. And then they'll enter in, in return. There'll be interested in you, not not as shocking,

Maksim Ivanov: [00:35:23] really bad. It's just something that you see that he could do better to promote himself by. 

swyx: [00:35:28] Yeah, I guess I always like, there's another guy as well. Who's one of the maintainers of Webpack and he's very smart, but like he, he has trouble getting people to To notice the stuff that he does basically, cause he doesn't portray, he doesn't seem to give back, in in caring about what they do.
So yeah.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:35:44] Good point. 

swyx: [00:35:45] I think one of the ways I think it's Dale Carnegie to win friends and influence people. That's just like a rule of human nature. So even though it's like 70 years old, it's still relevant. One of his causes that to be interesting, be interested, the interested in other people being interested in what they do, what they're what their priorities are, what they're.
I guess their personal job whatever they share online that they're happy to engage with. Right. So it's like a, it's like, Hey, like, I'm really going through something in my job. And it's like, Oh no. Okay. Tell me more about that. And like, just being genuinely interested in what's going on in their lives.
And like, if you're not, and don't fake it, right. Like if you're not then that's fine. But like when you do like engage in the story, help out and they'll start to care about you as well. Like it's just a fundamental, like reciprocity principle that just always works in human connections.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:36:31] But then something that you said is very important that you need to really be genuinely interested. You can't force it. You cannot make yourself be interested in other people. It's just, and I think the core lesson here is just to really know what you like, and we can come, go back to the beginning of our canvas conversation where you said to create material targeted to people who you admire and aspire and Then steal you first need to know what do you like personally?
What are you interested in instead of chasing the likes that are, of course is a dopamine kick and yeah. Everyone likes it, but there is some deeper liking that needs to be found, right? Yeah. Yeah. The reason, one question that I would like to answer before we finish. It's the first question that we've got today is like, what is a grifter?
And maybe, and I've like, overemphasized it, but w would you like, is it really called grifting or is it is my English bed? I think I've heard that a couple of things.

swyx: [00:37:29] If you if you're not in this world, don't feel bad. I, it's a term that I think it's popular in like the very extreme liberal parts of the us. And they just expect everyone to know it. Right. And it's just, you see, I 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:37:40] Get it. What does it mean concept contextual contextually?

swyx: [00:37:44] No, I don't. I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about this, so I don't have a. A good definition, but I'll try for you. And so grifting is a negative connotation. It's a labeled for someone who's trying to get by not doing very much and trying to do, trying to, I guess, profit off of other people's work that's drifted in a nutshell.
So a grifter is someone who just does that constantly. Right. And that's the only thing that they do, essentially, someone who doesn't have any interesting value themselves and just. Profits off of other people. And to be fair, there are a lot of those in the U S and that are sometimes I see them a lot when I was very young I was involved in charity work in Africa.
And, Oh my God, there's so much Griffs in Africa. Like when you give money to charities, please double check where your money's going. Because a lot of it is just going to people who are already pretty rich and they're just, taking it and acting like they're angels. They're not angels. But in tech it often is people like, like, like the, like that list of people, like here are the top seven libraries of JavaScript.
They didn't, they did not contribute to any of the libraries didn't even use it. But they're just doing it for the likes. And that's a form of grift. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:38:48] Sorry. So thing is that people will ask me about the VAs called extensions that I use, but probably means that I don't really use any except for VIM and just two extensions.
That's it. And most of the extensions that you will find, yeah. They might make you more effective, but that's not the effectiveness that you should strive for. Anyway, usually that's a few minutes. They don't really matter in a big way. Oh, 

swyx: [00:39:14] that's great. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:39:14] What I mean? 

swyx: [00:39:15] That's great. So you have a unpopular opinion as they call it.
And you should just, try to share that because I think that's something that will get people's attention. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:39:23] Wait a second. It is an unpopular opinion you think? 

swyx: [00:39:27] Yeah. The escort is like 50 something percent of the developer market and all of them use the sanctions. So the fact that you use something else is something interesting.
And you can say like, yeah, you can have this, I don't know, like the YouTube where terminology, cause I'm not a big user, but you can go like, like something in your top, in your alumni and go like, vs code is overrated. Here's why. And then.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:39:49] Yeah, but you leave, you really believe in it. That's great. Yeah. I truly believe, I don't think it really matters. I think it does. Exactly. Even more than that, my work set up is very similar to my streaming setup and it has everything turned off or a completion, whatever, because I'm just lazy. Well, honestly, I don't like switching back and forth between two set up, sets up.
It's easier for me to get used to one without any sort of hints. And then your brain does it automatically at some point, that's it. All right. 

swyx: [00:40:17] I don't agree but night good for you. Whatever works. The beauty of code is like, you can call it your way. I can go my way. As long as the code runs, like I can work with you.
That's fine. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:40:27] Yeah. That's that is true. Even though naturally we tend to be very defensive about the tools that we are used opinions and whatever. 

swyx: [00:40:34] Yeah, it is. So there's a, this is a side tangent, but there's an interest for it. I think on hacker news a few, the two days ago where it's like, okay, code is a very interesting, like intermediate representation because at the end of the day, every developer has their own like unique little ID setups and they view code differently.
Right. But how come when it comes to the web? We just feel the final product. Like I have to see the CSS and I have to see the topography and whatever choices that you made. And I don't have a say in it. Like, what would be, what would it be like to have an ID for the web? Right. That'd be better.
Be pretty cool. I'm just sharing that. The interesting thought that's an interesting 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:41:07] thought. I have 

swyx: [00:41:08] so much personalization. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:41:09] Yeah. And I have seen different thought in the same direction that the code is not only the tool or a scaffold to create a product that you will serve, but it is also a product on its own because when you use it with your colleagues, they're also consumers, and your code has consumer qualities itself, not as a.
Are scaffold or a blueprint. One thing that I've noticed is that at some point I start to sense, like when you work with people for several months, you might start sensing who wrote specific line of code, even without looking at the different style. And you see, okay, this pattern is from this person and whatnot.
But also I think it emphasizes the importance of clarity, which I put on top of everything when I write my code, because if it's clear, you can easily fix it. It's unrelated to all the previous discussion, but I think it's related to what you were saying about the code being its own sort of thing.

swyx: [00:42:03] Yeah. Yeah. It's a tangent, but like the, yeah. See, this is what a casual conversation where we were both passionate about programming and that's what it happens. If you're here to like, make like, are you a grifter of content? Like we'd be a lot more focused, but I think this is how real conversations work.

Maksim Ivanov: [00:42:19] Exactly. This is why I like Twitter spaces. And I don't really like Twitter. That's the thing. It's the same with the tap on some Twitter spaces. You talk to the person you're genuine, that's it with tweets? No idea what to do. 

swyx: [00:42:32] Yeah, it's a mix of like public broadcasting, a bit of a meme and joke a platform.
And then some like, actual education going on. And sometimes people teach really important stuff. And like, for example, I follow what's his name? Eddie as money. And he has money is the engineering manager and he only tweets Chrome updates. So he's the Chrome update, Twitter account accounts.
And I follow that and I learned about Chrome from him. That's great. That's fine. He's already given up on like, sharing too much personal stuff. I think, cause he's there's a cost of that, which is people think that they know everything about you and they want to, they have opinions about how you should live your life.
And sometimes you need to just turn it off. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:43:07] I can imagine. Yeah. Well, that's really all that I wanted to discuss. If you have anything else that you'd like to discuss, 

swyx: [00:43:14] I, this is an unusual chat for me. Usually I'm talking about like, the basics of learning in public. So, actually you get me a chance to really go deep on this grifting and like, thank you so much.
Yeah. No, I'm really glad. I'm sorry. I made fun of you, but like, I think you agreed with, it was pretty funny anyway, 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:43:28] Was, what's really sucks. There is that I was exposed as a grifter and among them, I was like a loser with one line.
Yeah. I think

swyx: [00:43:42] here's the way I spin it positively. Right. It didn't work because you don't have a brand for grifting. Like the people who follow you don't follow you for that. So they, they don't want to encourage you. So they don't like it. So the people who have been doing it for a while, they build up an audience of like people who want me to do that.
And that's what they want 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:43:58] very hard to then chip, to pivot and change your direction. When you get a, already a lot of engagement, a lot of support, and a lot of people who like your content that is that. 

swyx: [00:44:08] And then you get this irritable bowel problem. Yeah, so, so, I have a post on this called the medic creator ceiling just Google metal creator ceiling.
W where, w we're basically, I say like, if you're a smart and ambitious, you end up wanting to win rather than more than you want to solve problems. So winning to us seems like you have no direction in life. You're like, well, okay. Winning like, Oh let's make the number go up. That's winning to me.
Try to have a deeper definition of winning. For you because you have, a limited number of years in life, like try to work on something more substantial than than just numbers on a screen. So, so the line that I end with is assume that you will be successful at whatever you do.
Are you playing a game that you want to win, right. Assume that you're going to win. Are you playing a game that you want to win?

Maksim Ivanov: [00:44:46] I actually read this article and I really liked the points of it. 

swyx: [00:44:50] Yeah. So, so, whatever it is, and it's not for me to tell you what, to, what, to, what you want to play and what you want to win at life in. There's another article by clay Christensen called how will you measure your life when you look back after like 50, 60 years, what will you be proud of?
Right. It's probably not the Griffin tweets. That's all. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:45:05] Yeah, yeah. Good point. Well, thank you so, so much for joining the stream. It was very fruitful. 

swyx: [00:45:11] Yeah, probably 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:45:15] about the tweets. Yeah. Thing is with Twitter and with tweets is that you get only a tiny little picture of what the, yeah.

swyx: [00:45:24] I saw that people have gotten upset with me. I've gone on set with people and then we've patched it up. It's fine. Yeah. The only 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:45:31] reason why I didn't get upset is that I'm not really attached. To this sort of thing. So I was like, yeah, it's wrong. I also don't like it. So let's yeah. 

swyx: [00:45:41] That's another principle I have as well.
Don't attach your identity to your work because if people criticizing you, sorry. If people criticize you, they're criticizing a past version of you, right. And you always have a chance to improve. 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:45:51] Yeah. That's true. I, when I was reading your essay about learning in public, you said there that people criticize you, you good?
You agree. And you move on. I personally dislike criticizing because I honestly think it can be done by much better if the person has 

swyx: [00:46:09] a nice about it. Yeah, 

Maksim Ivanov: [00:46:10] exactly. Because. When you criticize people? Well, the most likely thing that will happen is that they will get defensive. This is just how we operate.
You also mentioned that totally agree we're animals by the biggest percentage. 

swyx: [00:46:25] So, so don't get defensive, turn the other cheek and say like, okay, I agree with you. Can you tell me more? Right. Because there are a lot of people who will never be nice to you when they criticize. They just think they're very smart, whatever, and they are very smart.
They're just not very nice. If you can turn those people into your mentors I've done that. Many many times. And that's what I think you have more teachers than, what to do with and that's great. So, it's definitely, you have to swallow your ego a bit and just go like, okay.
Yeah. I, I want, I'm willing to listen to you. And sometimes when the, when you show that you're willing to listen, they also back down and they become nice. So instead of telling them, Hey, you should be nice before you talk to me easily. You just go like, Hey, I'm willing to listen. And then they become nice.
You know what I mean? Like don't tell them to be like, invite them to be nice.
Good point. Yeah. I do have to go but thank you for so much for having me. And this was a really great chat. I'm really I'm going to get as much watch back on this one. All right, bye. 
[Weekend Drop] Grifters and Content Creation Traps
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