Chip Koziara

You want to separate the creative process of seeing that the geometry is there for a fork from the editing process of analyzing whether the fork can be made profitable.

Originally quoted in Predator at the Chessboard by Ward Farnsworth.

I think this quote can be distilled into a more broadly applicable form:

"You want to separate the creative process of ideation from the editing process of analyzing whether or not an idea is possible."

Too often I’ve found myself shooting down ideas before they have been given a fair chance to take root and develop. I need to work on this.

Schneier on Security: More on Heartbleed

I have a lot to say about the human aspects of this: auditing of open-source code, how the responsible disclosure process worked in this case, the ease with which anyone could weaponize this with just a few lines of script, how we explain vulnerabilities to the public — and the role that impressive logo played in the process — and our certificate issuance and revocation process. This may be a massive computer vulnerability, but all of the interesting aspects of it are human.

In addition to being an excellent reference for all things Heartbleed, Bruce Schneier’s post captures this important takeaway from the fiasco.

Shout out to Andrew Drozdov (@mrdrozdov) for sharing the article with me.


  You’ll see the entire cities of Boston and San Francisco, as well as the borough of Manhattan fit into the land area of the City of Detroit.
  
  Those three areas mentioned are over 3,000,000 people; where the city of Detroit has 844,993.


This is from 2008. Six years later, Detroit has less than 700,000 residents.

You’ll see the entire cities of Boston and San Francisco, as well as the borough of Manhattan fit into the land area of the City of Detroit.

Those three areas mentioned are over 3,000,000 people; where the city of Detroit has 844,993.

This is from 2008. Six years later, Detroit has less than 700,000 residents.

A Denser Detroit

Detroit has a density problem. The city is spread out over one hundred thirty-nine square miles with a total population of less than seven hundred thousand. The land areas of San Francisco, Boston and Manhattan fit inside Detroit’s geographic footprint with room to spare. In simpler terms, it’s a very big city with a rapidly declining population. At its zenith in 1950, Detroit contained over one million eight hundred thousand residents. Due to a myriad of factors, most of Detroit’s residents at this time lived in single-family homes. Macroeconomic conditions played a major role in this trend, such as the rise of the automobile as well as national policy incentives such as the home mortgage interest deduction.

High-density living was discouraged at the local level too, with General Motors and other companies purchasing Detroit’s streetcar lines and replacing them with bus lines. While this was not necessarily a nefarious act by General Motors, the bus system afforded residents the ability to live in even lower densities further from the city’s core, as it was substantially cheaper to add more bus routes than to add additional streetcar rail lines. All of these factors contributed to Detroit’s population density decline from a peak of approximately thirteen thousand three hundred fifty persons per square mile in 1950 to less than five thousand seventy persons per square mile in 2014. It is important to note 1950 Detroit is not the ideal model for high-density living. In comparison, Manhattan’s population density in 2014 is well over seventy thousand persons per square mile, over five times denser than Detroit’s maximum population density in 1950.

After establishing Detroit’s low-density from a population perspective it is worth exploring why the City of Detroit is unable to remain solvent. In Michigan, city budgets are funded almost entirely through taxes levied on its residents. These residents fund the city services everyone expects a city to provide. These city services are a necessary responsibility of a municipality. Detroit, despite its declining population, still needs to support the services for a one hundred thirty-nine square mile city. One hundred thirty-nine square miles of physical infrastructure is needed, including sewer infrastructure, water infrastructure, and electrical infrastructure, infrastructural systems in need of substantial upgrades and replacement. One police force is required to service residents living in a city spread out over one hundred thirty nine square miles. One firefighting force is required to service residents living in a city spread out over one hundred thirty nine square miles. One public transportation service is required to transport residents living in a city spread out over one hundred thirty nine square miles. Detroit’s responsibilities are larger than most other great American cities, literally. The city’s population, and therefore its tax base, is shrinking while its obligations to support its residents are largely staying the same.

All of this is an oversimplification, but that’s okay. I purposefully did not discuss the city’s ongoing bankruptcy, blight, racially charged history, violent crime, graduation rate, employment rate, or many other important problems the city faces. At a fundamental level, the City of Detroit needs to figure out how to increase the money flowing into its budget, or how to reducing the obligations it must fulfill. There are two main variables affecting each of these issues. Increasing the money flowing to the city requires increasing the city’s tax base. This could be accomplished by addressing the city’s nearly 50% level of employment, or it could be addressed by adding residents. I believe either effort is futile in the near future if addressed in isolation. All indicators point to Detroit continuing to lose residents and the non-working population of the city not possessing the means to contribute to the current workforce in and around the city. One of the issues facing the non-working population is lack of reliable transportation, required for any full-time job. Therefore reducing the financial liabilities of the city as the only near-term variable to address.

As Detroit (hopefully) nears the end of its bankruptcy, reducing financial liabilities seems to be spoken for. How could the City of Detroit shed any more of its liabilities post-bankruptcy? As discussed previously, the City of Detroit is supporting a geographically gigantic infrastructure.1 If the city filled up with a million more residents overnight, dispersed evenly, the physical infrastructural requirements would largely be the same. The relationship between the costs associated with maintaining a city with seven hundred thousand residents versus one million seven hundred thousand residents is not linear in a one hundred thirty-nine square mile city. In fact, the City of Detroit’s infrastructure allocation is terribly inefficient due to its low population density. If, somehow, the city were able to physically shrink, it could reduce these cost inefficiencies substantially. If, somehow, the city were able to replicate the population density of Manhattan at roughly seventy thousand persons per square mile, the residents of Detroit could fit into a ten square mile area of the city. The City of Detroit is currently managing services spanning nearly fourteen times that geographic area.

It is unrealistic to imagine a Detroit with Manhattan’s density, but a geographically smaller, denser Detroit should be considered. A smaller geographic footprint will result in the opportunity for drastically faster police and firefighter response times. Further, reliable public transportation will be viable for all city residents, opening up access to jobs for many of the city’s population lacking employment. The City of Detroit will be positioned to support its residents with the basic services all city residents are entitled to. Detroit will be positioned to avoid slipping back under the control of a financial manager or back into bankruptcy. Detroit Future City lays out an achievable strategic framework for the transformation of Detroit, much of it based on clustering development in the city. These ideas are not pie-in-the-sky or speculative. The City of Detroit and its residents must consider moving the city towards a much higher population density to position Detroit for long-term viability in the coming decades.



  1. If I’ve learned anything from playing Civilization V, it’s large empires are costly to maintain. The roads, rail, and units necessary to support these “wide” empires are enormous and only sustainable when your empire is generating equally enormous amounts of wealth. 

This is how you sell a product’s vision. Very impressive.

I’m testing out Beats Music over the next couple of weeks and I’m interested to see how it stacks up against Spotify. I hope it can deliver on the message pushed in this video.

YC-Backed Gbatteries Launches BatteryBox, A 50Whr Backup Battery For MacBooks & Other Gadgets | TechCrunch

I will definitely get one of these. But the power doesn’t lie in the BatteryBox product.

The BatteryOS technology behind the BatteryBox seems revolutionary. If the company’s claims about batteries charged with this product never degrading hold, watch out.

Don't drown in email! How to use Gmail more efficiently.

klinger-io:

I usually I blog about Angellist, Startups, Founders, the Future and especially Metrics but I have shown this “lifehack” to so many people that I thought it’s worth it’s own blogpost. Hope it’s useful.

If you struggle with keeping on top of your emails in Gmail you want to maybe…

Where has this been over the past four years of college?! Seems like the perfect email workflow for me. I’m giving it a spin now.

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