Tom MacWright



Having a clear, public drop-dead date (which we set at four years) for U.S. Open Data has been a gift. It’s informed my work on a daily, even hourly, basis.

Term-limiting your organization can be a gift to future you by Waldo Jaquith. Waldo is an inspiration in the technology-government space, and is heading to 18F from his previous role at U.S. Open Data.

Working together with our startups in a sprint, we shortcut the endless-debate cycle and compress months of time into a single week. Instead of waiting to launch a minimal product to understand if an idea is any good, our companies get clear data from a realistic prototype.

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. This has been making the rounds in the tech/UX world. Like most books in its group, it could be half as long and contain the same information - every concept is repeated at least three or four times, and every buzzword-able role is assigned a name. But it contains some true nuggets of brilliance, many of them via Michael Margolis, a highly experienced UX researcher and interviewer.

Two fundamental ideas run through this book. The first is that it is possible to design computers so that learning to communicate with them can be a natural process, more like learning French by living in France than like trying to learn it through the unnatural process of American foreign-language instruction in classrooms. Second, learning to communicate with a computer may change the way other learning takes place. The computer can be a mathematics-speaking and an alphabetic-speaking entity. We are learning how to make computers with which children love to communicate.

Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas. This book had been on my list for quite a while. Most recently I saw it as one of Eve’s many inspirations. Like Eve, reading Mindstorms gives me an appreciation of how people are trying to fundamentally improve the role of computers, but with a heavy dose of pessimism: so many people have failed at this task. I mention this book to my friends with ‘you know, Turtle’, and only a few recognize it. And reports from my teacher friends indicate that the mission of improving education with technology is still in the experimental phase.


I can’t make you love me, If you don’t

Romantic Comedies - Foozle is one of my current favorite DC bands. They perfectly balance indifference and attachment. “TV Screen” is my favorite out of the album so far: the outro chorus gets me.