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Devon Zuegel nerdybio: The Nerd Community

Devon Zuegel

Interviewed on
July 18, 2022 in Developer Mac Writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hello, world! My name is Devon. I'm a writer, of code and words. The thing that matters most to me is unlocking human potential, so I think a lot about incentive design, tools for thought, and cities.

What keeps me busy these days:

  • I'm working with Pronomos, a seed stage fund that invests in startup cities.
  • I interview computing pioneers for a video series called Tools & Craft.
  • I write about incentive design, land use policy, tools for thought, placemaking, and more on this blog.

Previously, in reverse chronological order:

  • I founded [GitHub Sponsors][github-sponsors], a tool for funding open source software. This stemmed from research I did about coordination problems, market design, and anthropology in open source.
  • I hosted a show for a16z about crypto, and I built identity attestation protocols on the blockchain at [Bloom][].
  • I was a software engineer on the Identity team at [Affirm][].
  • In college, I was Editor in Chief at The Stanford Review.

In my free time I read weird blogs, build side projects, take public transit, and ride my bike. I love reasoning about, improving, and designing systems and infrastructure.

What hardware(tools) and software do you use?

  • [MacBook Pro][macbook-pro] (16")
  • Second monitor
  • [HP OfficeJet Pro 8030][officejet-pro-8030] series - It's important to put things you're thinking about on your walls! I can't say I recommend this particular printer though
  • [Blue Yeti microphone][yeti] for podcasts
  • A globe that sits on my desk, which I refer to more often than you might expect
  • [Treadmill for under-desk][sf-t7945] gives me a few thousand extra steps per day

Oh dear, so much. I'm probably going to miss a few, but here goes:

  • [Logseq][] for thinking
  • [Evernote][] for quick-access + archiving articles I've read
  • [Notion][] for a shared workspace with other people
  • [Planta][] for caring for my plants
  • iCalendar, but not quite how you'd expect
  • [][] for publishing my blog from Evernote
  • [VSCode][visual-studio-code] as my primary text editor
  • [Anki][] for memorizing things I want at my mental fingertips
  • [SelfControl][] for blocking websites I want to avoid for a period of time
  • [][gather] for hosting online events in a way that's more fun than [Zoom][zoom.2]
  • [Zencastr][] for recording podcasts
  • [Google Sheets][google-sheets] for quickly analyzing data + creating graphs
  • [Figma][] for all sorts of things
  • [Mailspring][] for email
  • [Pocket Casts][pocket-casts] for podcasts
  • [Lupa][] for practicing Spanish
  • [Intelligent Translator][intelligent-translator] as a menu bar app for translation
  • [iStat Menus][istat-menus] for menu bar widgets like weather, laptop temperature, CPU usage, etc
  • [Alfred][] as an application launcher and general productivity tool
  • Text expansions to make my typing faster (e.g. "d@" expands to "")
  • [Blender][] for 3D modeling (though I'm not very good at it yet)
  • [][otter] so I can record voice notes which I transcribe into essays later
  • [Screenotate][] for making screenshots more useful
  • [Typescript][] and [Clojure][] as my primary programming languages, though I used to do a code lots [Ruby][] and [Python][] in the past too

What would be your dream/dream setup?

I wish I could have everything laid out on surfaces all around my space, like you can with physical objects. It bums me out that everything is constrained to my computer screen. I want to think more spatially, but computers don't lend themselves to that very well.

One step towards that would be for my entire wall to be a high-resolution screen that is on all of the time, and then I can just throw stuff on there for later and come back to it when I walk up to it. Even that is more limiting than I'd like, but it'd be a step forward.

I also wish that all the different places I take notes and clip articles were more connected. I use different tools for different types of tasks, but it's too bad that comes with the tradeoff that those things are then siloed from each other.

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