How to improve your focus in a world of distraction with Readup founders Bill Loundy and Jeff Camera
Feb. 4, 2020, 9 p.m.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Bill Loundy and Jeff Camera, co-founders of Readup. Jeff is the sole developer on the team, and Bill handles everything else. Readup is a social reading platform designed to help you track and improve your online reading habits.
In this episode they talk about...
How they came up with the idea for Readup and how it has evolved over time
“Pick a problem that’s personal for you, because otherwise how can you care and keep working on it?”
Bill and Jeff are longtime collaborators and have actually been friends since preschool — when they’re not working on Readup, they also like to work on motorcycles together. They explain to Aba how the original spark of an idea for Readup evolved into what it is today. They were frustrated with social media and were lamenting the quality of the comments on online articles, so they got together to build a Chrome extension that would measure the amount of time that you spent on a page, in order to determine whether a person had actually read the article or not. It has since turned into a new take on community and led to the creation of a tool that is like “Fitbit for online reading.” They also discuss the design of the site and why they’ve taken a minimalist approach to it.
How you can have a more peaceful existence on the web and the problems with the current state of social media
“What we’re doing is measuring very precisely the amount of time and engagement that you have on an article and tying that to your reputation and experience, so in some ways we are actually a true attention economy.”
They explain why social media is broken today and why we are perpetually distracted online. They say that social media has become like a slot machine, but that there is no reason that we should have to navigate a slot machine to find someone else’s baby pictures. They point out that we need tools to help us have a better relationship with the web, because we can’t exercise the immense amount of self-control that we would need to block out all the distraction out there on the web. They also talk about some of their favorite books about how the internet has evolved and the unhealthy trends that have sprung up from it.
The challenges of being a maker and how they have overcome them
“Sometimes things are really dark and like it doesn't feel like things are connecting and making sense. For me, the way to survive that experience is to always remember how big the need is for what we're building.”
They talk about the immense effort that went into getting something out there — not just in building the site but also in overcoming the self-doubt they felt to finally release what they’d been working on into the world.
“The extreme indifference that the rest of the world has to your ideas has kind of helped. The first time we put it out there it was crickets. When we posted it again, we would start to get more feedback and it was helpful. I don’t know what we were afraid of.”
They talk about how they overcome the dark days that they sometimes encounter when working as indie makers, and why being reminded of the magnitude of the problem they’re solving helps them persevere through them.
They also talk about why books are still their favorite products of all time.
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