Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Pinboard Turns Five
July 14, 2014 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Five years ago, a new bookmarking service called Pinboard was launched. To commemorate the occasion Maciej Cegłowski, the creator and sole caretaker of the 24,000 subscriber service, ruminates:
"Avoiding burnout is difficult to write about, because the basic premise is obnoxious. Burnout is a rich man's game. Rice farmers don't get burned out and spend long afternoons thinking about whether to switch to sorghum. Most people don't have the luxury of thinking about their lives in those terms. But at the rarefied socioeconomic heights of computerland, it's true that if you run a popular project by yourself for a long time, there's a high risk that it will wear you out."
Pinboard featured on the blue previously, here, here, and here. posted by Doleful Creature (30 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

I really like Pinboard and have an account there, though I'm not an especially regular user and mostly use it to catch up on Hockey Hugs.

I gotta say I disagree with him on the burnout issue, though. Burnout's only a "rich man's game" because that's who can afford to do something about it easily. The rest of us feel the same way and glare balefully at [tedious work task] and wish it would spontaneously combust but don't have a whole lot we can do about it.

If Pinboard's allowed Maciej to take breaks to stave off the burnout, more power to him, I'm happy to have contributed to that, and I wish we all had that option.
posted by asperity at 3:12 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]

Burnout is a rich man's game. Rice farmers don't get burned out and spend long afternoons thinking about whether to switch to sorghum.

Of course poor people get burned out. Nancy Scheper-Hughes and others have written about the debilitating mental health effects of poverty and the ways people cope and escape.

I guess maybe it's a minor point but it's the kind of basic, unthinking wrongness about poor people that really grates on me.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:16 PM on July 14 [15 favorites]

The good news is, as you get older, you gain perspective. Perspective helps alleviate burnout.

The bad news is, you gain perspective by having incredibly shitty things happen to you and the people you love. Nature has made it so that perspective is only delivered in bulk quantities. A railcar of perspective arrives and dumps itself on your lawn when all you needed was a microgram.
This, though, rang particularly true for me considering the last few months.
posted by mhoye at 3:27 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]

Of course rice farmers get burned out.

But they probably don't get the special kind of burnout that comes from running an internet service -- strangers screaming insults from the side of the road while enjoying a huge bowl of your rice, making you reconsider the whole question of whether rice and even digestive systems are things human beings are sufficiently mentally competent to possess.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:29 PM on July 14 [17 favorites]


I think that having options with regard to burnout is a rich man's game, certainly.

I am glad that Pinboard has gone pretty well for him, on his terms. I've never regretted moving to it, and as a very tiny company seems to be cruelty-free in a way that a lot of the apps I use probably are not.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:34 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]

I'm glad I'm so enlightened that I know how rice farmers feel: pretty much like a guy with a web site does.

I guess everything is analogous.
posted by General Tonic at 3:44 PM on July 14

Lesson learned, should have used a different pullquote. I didn't read it as "poor people don't get burnout full stop" and that actually isn't even what the text says. It says "Rice farmers don't get burned out and spend long afternoons thinking about whether to switch to sorghum"*

I think the "and" is sort of important here, which is, as Lyn Never pointed out, that wistfully discussing burnout on the internet and contemplating some new career change is absolutely the privilege a very select few, a group in which Ceglowski now finds himself. It seemed like something that he feels conflicted about.

*Which is to say, I'm sure that they do spend long afternoons thinking about doing anything other than rice farming...but they probably also have to do it while still farming rice. For someone running a website that clears 200k per year in revenue this is a good perspective to keep in mind, i.e. "hmmm maybe I'm being a bit entitled when I think about how burned out I am", considering 95% of the rest of the world doesn't even get the option in the way that I have been given the option.
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:53 PM on July 14 [8 favorites]

But they probably don't get the special kind of burnout that comes from running an internet service

The entire knowledge economy came about because, by and large, farming is a fucking, backbreaking drag.

You don't get burnout when you're a farmer, you just die.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:00 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]

I have my suspicions about whether people latching onto the pull quote made a whole lot of effort to read the piece in question, or are particularly familiar with the author's intellectual priors.
posted by brennen at 4:00 PM on July 14 [13 favorites]

Here's what I would have used:
My strategy of pre-emptively antagonizing anyone who might possibly have an interest in acquiring or funding the site has worked wonderfully. In five years, I haven't received a single email from an investor or potential acquirer. The closest I came was a few months ago, when the new Delicious owners reached out to me about providing "vision", but I think they were just unfamiliar with my oeuvre. They learned quickly.
Maybe with a link to this tweet.
posted by kenko at 4:05 PM on July 14 [8 favorites]

Oh my god Metafilter, your concern is noted.
posted by gwint at 4:06 PM on July 14 [31 favorites]

Yeah, it seems like an awfully weird (and out of touch) conversation to be having about a social bookmarking service.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:07 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]

Metafilter derailed by rice farming again, damn.
posted by Jimbob at 4:09 PM on July 14 [15 favorites]

TIL Delicious still exists.
posted by axoplasm at 4:16 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]

…But srsly, I’ve been a Pinboard fanboy since Delicious was sunsetted ca 2011. I think I paid $6 for my lifetime subscription and imported something like 5000 Delicious bookmarks. I have Instapaper and Twitter routed to dump links into Pinboard.

Pinboard is genius, love the Pinboard.
posted by axoplasm at 4:18 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]

Avoiding burnout is difficult to write about, because the basic premise is obnoxious. Burnout is a rich man's game. Rice farmers don't get burned out and spend long afternoons thinking about whether to switch to sorghum.

no, they get drunk or stoned or whatever, their bodies give out, they go crazy - whatever

he's right though - burnout is a rich man's game - for many of the rest of us, it's just life
posted by pyramid termite at 4:28 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]

I'm fond of this bit of the post:
It is pleasant to work on something that people draw benefit from. It is especially pleasant to work on something lasting. And I enjoy the looking-glass aspect of our industry, where running a mildly profitable small business makes me a crazy maverick not afraid to break all the rules.
And if you like a LOT of snark in your Twitter, he runs an excellent account for that.
posted by epersonae at 4:29 PM on July 14 [9 favorites]

I also wanted to say that I love Pinboard, especially the tag subscription part. I have discovered some really, really cool things by doing two things:

1. Maintaining my tag subscription list
2. When I notice a particular username showing up in my tagsubs page a lot, I will Pinboard-stalk them for a while in order to gain further tasty new links

Here is my current tag list, btw (each word is a tag, separated by spaces):

2d 8bit 1980 activities aesthetics ambient american analysis analytics animation apocalypse app arcade art audio awesome b&w bacon badass bags BAMF bbq beatcharles beatles beer bicycling biggreenegg blog boardgames book books bread buildingstuff c64 canada canes canvas career chaucer chess children china chiptunes Christianity clothing coding cologne comics comparison compressor concerts cooking cookware cool cooltools covers creative creativity criticalthinking criticism CRT css culture d&d dadness dataconversion datavisualization daw death demoscene design desk development diy drawing drone drummachine drums dumb ebay electronicdrum email expensive fantasy fashion fiction fighting fileconversion film finale font fonts food found frd free freeware fun funnies funny gain gamedesign games gaming gear gifs gift graphicdesign graphics guns handy hd healthy history hoboes hong ideas illustration imagination inspiration Internet ios ipad jazz johncarpenter kong kontakt language learning lego liberal lighting literary literature logic logicpro mac magazine maps markdown marktwain master mastering mefi mehldau metafilter midi mindblowing mixing money monitor mormonism movies museum music musical netflix nice npr oldfolks one ost painting pans patterns pd pen&paper pens philosophy photography photoshop pixelart plugin png podcast podcasts poetry politics popmusic portability potsnpans presentation presonus production productivity programming puredata quirky raspberrypi reading recipes recording religion retro review RGB rifle rockin rpg rpi samples science scifi screen scripts selfdefense sf shanghai shopping silly singing slideshow smoker SNES software sound sounddesign sounds storytelling strange streaming studio subtle suitcases summer survivalism synthesis synthesizers synths tabletopgames talking techsupport textures thanksgiving theory thething tiny tobuy tool tools toys translation travel tutorial TV typography Uncategorized vegan via:bug138 via:coffeebucket via:dominomaster via:fogonwater via:GaryGreen via:georgemandis via:johnke via:kevindeleon via:lordryan via:maw via:miles via:PBR via:popular via:pyrmont via:rerunx5 via:robcee via:robotpukeko via:sneak via:ste via:tenenmatt via:tlockney via:tomtt video videogames vimeo vst web webcomic webcomics webshopping weirdcool wishlist woodcraft work writing youtube zombies
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:30 PM on July 14

I have loved idlewords for some time but have never really known what to do with the pang of envy for his lifestyle that reading his blog inspires in me. Fuck he gets to travel a lot! Wish I was traveling! He seems like a neat guy.
posted by beefetish at 4:31 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]

Count me as another Pinboard fan. I migrated from Delicious in the great Fandom Migration of 2011, and Pinboard was so welcoming to the wave of fans who had run away from Delicious wailing and rending their garments over the redesign and breaking of the / character in tags. I happily forked over my $10 or so, and I've loved using Pinboard ever since.
posted by yasaman at 4:50 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]

Thank you for your very nice words, thread people! Beefetish, I hope you get to travel more, and I get to envy you.
posted by idlewords at 5:03 PM on July 14 [29 favorites]

I just went through my settings for Pinboard, I've been using it for a while but never really looked. Wow there's a lot of stuff there. I miss the days when software I used had lots of settings like that.
posted by ElliotH at 5:17 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]

And if you like a LOT of snark in your Twitter, he runs an excellent account for that.

"Where lesser forums fail to get offended, Metafilter finds a way"
posted by good in a vacuum at 5:24 PM on July 14 [20 favorites]

Hi Maciej! I've been reading Idle Words for at least 10 years (I remember the Wright Bros post when it went up, and I'd been reading awhile at that point), and it's one of the few feeds that doesn't get dropped from my reader semi-regularly. I signed up for Pinboard when died, although I haven't used it as much as I probably could. Anyway, thanks!
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:26 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]

"'Elon Musk says running a startup is like eating glass and staring into the abyss' For me, like eating Dippin' Dots and watching Lifetime"
posted by michaelh at 6:08 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]

Pinboard is an example of what the tech industry derisively calls "lifestyle businesses". As in a business that's successful enough to pay for the lifestyle of its owner and employees, but will never be worth the $100M+ that a company needs to get to to be of interest to a venture capital. Like that's a bad thing. I like lifestyle businesses, our own beloved Metafilter is basically one. Has its ups and downs, but comes with its own particular freedom and joy.

Pinboard is fantastic and I'm so grateful to Maciej for running it. It's way better than ever was, a great example of how a small company can do better than some lumbering behemoth like Yahoo. I feel lucky that Maciej's willing to run this as a good small service; I use it heavily for my linkblog.

If you haven't read Maciej's travel writing, his recent post on Sana'a, Yemen is a good place to start.
posted by Nelson at 6:10 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]

I guess maybe it's a minor point but it's the kind of basic, unthinking wrongness about poor people that really grates on me.
Taken on its own, the "poor people don't get burnout" comment is certainly untrue on the face of it. He goes on, though, to clarify what he's talking about: living in a world with sufficient options that when you Get Tired Of A Thing You Can Change To A Shinier Interesting Thing.

From the post it's clear that he wasn't saying poor people just happily labor at whatever shit work they're given, rather that deciding to switch what you're working on because you're tired or bored is a unique kind of privilege, high on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
posted by verb at 7:26 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]

I don't know if the pull quote got edited since the initial wave of comments but it seemed pretty clear the intent wasn't to say poor people are preternaturally happy and fulfilled by their days of mundane manual labour, but that many people don't have the option of avoiding burnout, and even contemplating such marks you as unusually privileged.

Back on topic: I have a definite fondness for any business or proprietor who doesn't make growth at all costs their #1 priority. Maybe I should check out this Pinboard thing.
posted by chrominance at 8:53 PM on July 14

Thanks for Pinboard, idlewords!

And thanks for the FPP, Doleful. It was a much-needed palate cleanser after that Comcast post.
posted by whuppy at 7:14 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]

Mefites, where is your sense of identity? We should be over-thinking the plight of bean farmers!
posted by srboisvert at 1:12 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]

« Older Rikers: Where Mental Illness Meets Brutality in Ja...   |   X-Rays of Toy Robots... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments