Stephen Malina

This is my blog. There are many others like it but this one is mine.

Beware silver bullets

Note: This post was co-written with Uri Bram of The Browser, who deserves all credit for the good parts and no blame for the bad parts and inevitable mistakes (which things fall into which category is at your, the reader’s, discretion). A recurring problem I, and I think people similar to me, face is letting my excitement about something new transform from being based on curiosity and a sense of usefulness into viewing the thing as a Fully General Solution to All Problems.

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Crazy ideas for future synthetic biology & bioengineering

One thing I like about the synthetic biology community is that, from the early days, its participants have been willing to entertain “wild” ideas like building dragons. While this willingness comes with all of the risks associated with building a lot of hype around a nascent technology, against the backdrop of cultural indefinite pessimism, I still prefer it. In that vein, inspired by Milan Cwitkovic’s legendary listicles on Things you’re allowed to do and Market failures in science, I decided to make my own listicle of cool ideas for future synthetic biology & bioengineering projects.

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Energetic Aliens

Reading biographies and observing friends, family, and colleagues has led me to become interested in what factors drive the variance in cognitive stamina and observed levels of energy between individuals. Identifying the biological, environmental, or motivational factors which produce this difference seems important and neglected. Understanding this is a research agenda’s worth of work, so my contribution will be to draw a conceptual boundary around the idea of an “energetic alien” and explore some (not selected i.

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Book Review - A World Without Email

A World Without Email (AWWE) is Cal Newport’s new book arguing for an overhaul in our workplace communication and project management style. This topic is a natural follow up to Newport’s previous two books – Deep Work and Digital Minimalism. These books focused on the individual benefits of hard focused effort and deliberate technology reduction respectively. This book applies a similar lens to the modern frenetic knowledge economy workplace. According to Newport, priortizing responsiveness and heavily relying on general purpose communication tools in the workplace is making us miserable and unproductive.

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A personal post-mortem on almost giving very misleading advice

I recently had someone ask me what I felt helped me grow the most in my first few years working as a software engineer. Upon them asking me this, I initially drafted an answer that looked something like the following: A combination of building systems and seeing how they failed and then reading lots of code and books including: (list of programming books I’ve read). However, upon writing this – and before sending it thankfully – I realized I was almost entirely misrepresenting the things that actually helped me grow.

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