Dustin Curtis

Villain. Founder of Svbtle.

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I want

The best way to predict the future is to think about desire. The problem with desire is that it tends to be bounded by what’s actually possible; as we grow older, our imaginations seem to develop artificial caps that limit our ideas to things that are reasonably achievable in the short term. But who cares about what is reasonable? Here’s what I want.


I want a system that continuously scans my body and tells me if I have actionable disease, like cancer or a contagious flu. I want this device to tell me if I have a higher than normal risk of a heart attack, and, if so, which steps I should take to prevent one.

I want to take a pill every morning that restricts my body’s ability to process more calories than it needs during the day. I want this pill to enable my body to dispose of any junk chemicals or excess calories that exceed the ideal, healthy amount.

I want to think of the trip

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What I would have written

I’ve been thinking about this damn essay for about a year, but I haven’t written it because Twitter is so much easier than writing, and I have been enormously tempted to just tweet it, so instead of not writing anything, I’m just going to write about what I would have written if Twitter didn’t destroy my desire to write by making things so easy to share. I’ll give you a minute to let that sentence soak in. Also, I’m not going to re-read any of this, or copyedit it. It’s raw.

Twitter takes complex ideas and destroys them by forcing my brain to compact them into little 140-character aphorisms, truisms, or jokes. For every great tweet, there could have been four insightful paragraphs, but there aren’t, and never will be, because Twitter removes my desire to write by killing my ideas. Once I tweet something, I stop thinking about it; it’s like an emotional release of idea liability. If I

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5s

The iPhone 5s is a minor update to the iPhone, but it feels surprisingly significant after just a couple of days of use. The speed increase of the A7 is far more important than I had expected; the camera, interface effects, and overall experience are dramatically improved because of the increased speed.

Below are some of my initial thoughts and observations about minor details of the 5s update that I haven’t seen explicitly mentioned elsewhere. Some of the points below relate only to the Space Gray iPhone 5s, and all of my experience is in comparison to a black iPhone 5.

For the first two points to make sense, you should know that the new home button has two parts: the inner area, which is where the touch ID sensor is, and then an outer area which is a small chamfered metal border that connects the inner area of the button with the external case. You can see the structure here.

  1. The

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“Work like hell”

If other people are putting in 40-hour workweeks, and you’re putting in 100-hour workweeks, then, even if you’re doing the same thing, you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.

– ELON MUSK

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Learning how to think

The most profound thought from a recent Inc. Magazine interview with Paul Graham was his response to a question about bad habits shared by YC founders:

They don’t realize how independent they can be. When you’re a child, your parents tell you what you’re supposed to do. Then, you’re in school, and you’re part of this institution that tells you what to do. Then, you go work for some company, and the company tells you what to do. So people come in like baby birds in the nest and open their mouths, as if they’re expecting us to drop food in. We have to tell them, “We’re not your bosses. You’re in charge now.” Some of them are freaked out by that. Some people are meant to be employees. Other people discover they have wings and start flapping them. There’s nothing like being thrown off a cliff to make you discover that you have wings.

The single largest difference I’ve noticed between

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The Life of Dustin Curtis

For years, I’ve taken photos as memory markers. Whenever I want to remember a moment, place, or feeling, I pull out my phone and snap a photo of whatever I’m currently looking at. There’s no art involved, and I don’t try to make the photos look good; I just try to make sure there is enough information in the frame to give a good understanding of the exact moment I’m trying to record. For example, here is Sunday, April 14th 2013 at 15:08:30 EST, as I write this sentence at The Standard hotel in Manhattan:

apr14_1510ny.jpg

Without even realizing it, I’ve taken at least one photo every day for the past five years. In total, I’ve snapped the shutter on my iPhone or DSLR at least 28,000 times. The photos have formed a profound and very high resolution timeline of my life. They are my story. But more than that, for me personally, the experience of scrolling through the pictures and seeing them whip by in a

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Seven Years

Despite being the cheapest usable tablet on the market, and although the Kindle is already one of its best selling items, Amazon cut the price of the Kindle Fire HD today from $199 to $169. At that price, it’s almost impossible to imagine any profit at all; when it was released in late 2012, some speculated that the cost of materials and manufacturing alone amounted to more than $185.

It’s easy to imagine the strategy here–that Amazon expects to make money on digital content sales–but, historically, the numbers behind that strategy haven’t panned out. With billions of dollars in content sales, Apple still claims to run the iTunes store at “practically break even.” What makes Amazon think it can pull a profit when even Apple can’t?

While trying to figure out what Jeff Bezos is thinking, I remembered something he told the New York Times in 2011:

“If everything you do needs to work on a

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Glass

The hardware looks much better in person than I expected. In fact, I would even say it looks good. The industrial design is solid, and though it is being manufactured in small batches, it has the build quality you might expect from something being mass-produced. I found this pleasantly shocking, especially considering Google’s history of lackluster attention to detail. Before you even turn it on, Glass feels like something from the future that is worth at least $1,000.

Glass is very clearly an early “alpha” product, and it’s only being sold to very few developers and invitees, so my thoughts below will focus mainly on the design challenges facing ambient computing in general and to point out some things I hadn’t thought about before actually wearing Glass. Overall, I think Glass is a great first step for wearable computers and I hope that what I saw was simply a taste of things to come.

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Bucket List

An incomplete, living list.

  1. Visit space
  2. Meet Barry Sternlicht
  3. Meet Ray Dalio
  4. Meet Elon Musk
  5. Meet Tim Cook
  6. Meet Bill Gates
  7. Meet Marc Andreessen 2012
  8. Shake the hand of the President of the United States
  9. Eat at Eleven Madison Park April 24, 2017
  10. Eat at Alinea 2017
  11. Get published in a nationally-distributed print publication
  12. Be on the cover of a major magazine
  13. Stay in one place for a full year
  14. See a total solar eclipse
  15. Work on something that touches a hundred million+ people 2015, Gawker Media
  16. Create from scratch something that is used daily by a hundred million+ people
  17. Get pilot’s license
  18. Visit Necker Island
  19. Own a genuine Picasso
  20. Live in Japan for 6+ months
  21. Live in Bangkok for 6+ months
  22. Live out of a backpack alone for 6+ months 2015
  23. Skydive May 25, 2013
  24. Wine tasting in Napa May 26, 2013
  25. Wine tasting in France
  26. Run a marathon
  27. Sleep on a yacht
  28. Own a yacht
  29. Learn to cook well

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What a stupid idea

For some cruel reason, I keep finding myself in the position of being introduced to things in their infancy (often before they are even launched), dismissing them as stupid, and then watching them become unbelievably popular. This has happened to me at least four times. Each time I vow never to call anything stupid again, and then, invariably, it happens again.

I’m not sure if there’s any lesson here other than a warning against arrogance, but I have two stories to share.


In late 2009, I received an email from a guy asking to meet about his new project. I was a designer at the time, and he was looking for some advice, so I agreed to meet with him at the quintessential startup meeting place in San Francisco, The Creamery.

“I want to make an app for browsing catalogs. It’s like a fashion catalog, but you can organize and share outfits,” he said. He pulled out his iPhone and showed me

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