## Wednesday, November 28, 2012

### mildly relevant: startup $\perp$ research?

Beware of research. If an undergrad writes something all his friends start using, it's quite likely to represent a good startup idea. Whereas a PhD dissertation is extremely unlikely to. For some reason, the more a project has to count as research, the less likely it is to be something that could be turned into a startup. I think the reason is that the subset of ideas that count as research is so narrow that it's unlikely that a project that satisfied that constraint would also satisfy the orthogonal constraint of solving users' problems.

~ from "how to get startup ideas" by paul graham.

well, in that case i'm set:
being a researcher, that means it's easy to leave the money-making to the mercenaries.

maybe i'm channeling cayley and hardy overmuch [1], but there is something relieving in doing work that is not immediately applicable to anything. for instance,
• you're not arming militaries with new, more dangerous weapons,
• you're not making poor people poorer and rich people richer,
• you're not coding an iphone app that just makes it more likely for tech-addicts to further ignore each other at the dinner table.
to do useless work is to do no harm; i can get behind that!

[1] “I have the highest admiration for the notion of a quaternion; but, as I consider the full moon far more beautiful than any moonlit view, so I regard the notion of a quaternion as far more beautiful than any of its applications.”