Phoebe Bridgers

Not much to say for this year. Overall, I didn’t fall in love with anything (but I also didn’t listen to as much as I’d have liked to either).

1. Phoebe Bridgers — Punisher
Came to this late, but it’s fantastic.

2. Taylor Swift — Folklore
Thank god the Reputation era is behind us.

3. Haim — Women in Music Pt. III
The songs here are a bit hit or miss, and the production is criminal. But Haim are still awesome, and the highs are very high. Top song of the year:

4. The Regrettes — How…

★★★★★ Insightful, honest, and funny

Goodreads, Amazon

I’m not a fan of Stephen King’s books. I believe the last King book I read was Christine in the mid-90s, and I still shudder to think about it. It’s just not my genre. But On Writing is brilliant, and I’m glad to get to appreciate the craft without the horror.

This book is about half memoir — how King came to writing and became the writer he is — and about half advice for aspiring writers. That structure works better than you’d think: the backstory provides context for the practice, and the book’s various…

It struck me that I’ve never really read any books specifically about product management, but I get asked for recommendations pretty frequently. So I figured I’d rectify that, and picked a few books that show up commonly on lists of books for PMs: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Inspired by Marty Cagan, and Hooked by Nir Eyal. In particular, all 3 of these are on Ken Norton’s list of Books for Product Managers, which you know is excellent because (a) it’s from Ken (b) it’s very broad, covering a bit of PM methodology but also topics like thinking, writing…

Having led goal-setting processes with teams of 1 to 500 people, at all stages of product maturity, I find I get more or less the same questions, and the same pushback, every time. This is my answer to those questions. While you can easily find lots of tactical advice online about goal-setting processes, here I want to focus on the spirit of what we’re actually trying to achieve and how to know if we’ve done it well. …

★★★★★ A vivid retelling of the birth of modern computing

Goodreads, Amazon

The Dream Machine traces the birth of modern computing, primarily focusing on the 1940s through the 1970s, but reaching back all the way to the 1920s and looking forward into the 1990s. (It was written in the late 90s.) It’s central scaffolding is the story of J. C. R. Licklider, a visionary psychologist and computer scientist who played a key role in evangelizing, funding, and realizing interactive computing. In particular, through his work at ARPA, he funded development of many of the critical components of computing as we know it…

Like 2019 and 2018, rather than define a set of resolutions, I’m using the OKR framework and publishing my goals as a commitment mechanism. (Posting was a bit delayed this year due to uncertainty on the work front.)

As always, these are meant to be priorities, not a comprehensive list. By the way, I really like Strides for tracking these kinds of goals on iOS.

The last two years were very focused on personal growth given my work situation. …

★★★★★ A monumental work. Sheer brilliance.

Goodreads, Amazon

As the book that created the field of modern economics, the Wealth of Nations is generally regarded as one of the most influential books ever written. It’s for that reason that it’s been on my bucket list for a while now, but I was happy (and somewhat surprised) to find that it’s also quite an engaging read, for the most part. I am not an economist, and I understand that most of the concepts here have roots before Smith, but I found stunning the degree to which Smith derives the key ideas of economics…

Better late than never.

1. Vampire Weekend — Father of the Bride
For some reason, I can never listen to Vampire Weekend without picturing Connecticut prep schools. But the music is undeniable. Just timeless, Beatles-esque pop sensibilities. Frustratingly, as on Modern Vampires of the City, the production is occasionally spot on (as in Harmony Hall), but often borders on malpractice. They have a maddening tendency to ruin songs by throwing in strange effects right at the end — for example, the atrocious vocal effects on the last verse of Bambina. And the “boy” sound effect completely ruins the otherwise-gorgeous 2021 for…

★★★ An authoritative account of an important historical figure. But I felt after reading this book that I had neither perceived the mind of the man nor fully grasped his impact on history.

Goodreads, Amazon

Douglass is an interesting figure: an escaped slave, a generationally-talented writer and orator, a man who dedicated his life in all aspects to a single cause: abolition, or more generally black rights. He was remarkably driven, courageous, and unwavering when it came to this cause, and he inspired wherever he went. Traveling constantly in service of his work, he was also an absentee father to a dysfunctional…

I get asked a lot about how I like to do product planning. While it’s a bit inside-baseball, I find having a solid planning framework reliably helps to improve outcomes. So here’s how I do it. The focus here is on what kind of plans you need and why, not the processes you’d use to develop them. While we could spend a lot of time on that, it’s a separate topic, and there are many ways of driving good outcomes.

As I wrote about in The Role of a Product Manager, PMs are responsible for ensuring there is a sound…

Michael Siliski

products, software, data, cities, housing, mobility, San Francisco, Boston sports, minds, music, coffee, spirits, funny stuff, beautiful stuff, amazing stuff

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