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Jari Roomer

Jari Roomer

1 year ago

After 240 articles and 2.5M views on Medium, 9 Raw Writing Tips

More on Personal Growth

Theo Seeds

Theo Seeds

1 year ago

The nine novels that have fundamentally altered the way I view the world

I read 53 novels last year and hope to do so again.

Books are best if you love learning. You get a range of perspectives, unlike podcasts and YouTube channels where you get the same ones.

Book quality varies. I've read useless books. Most books teach me something.

These 9 novels have changed my outlook in recent years. They've made me rethink what I believed or introduced me to a fresh perspective that changed my worldview.

You can order these books yourself. Or, read my summaries to learn what I've synthesized.

Enjoy!

Fooled By Randomness

Nassim Taleb worked as a Wall Street analyst. He used options trading to bet on unlikely events like stock market crashes.

Using financial models, investors predict stock prices. The models assume constant, predictable company growth.

These models base their assumptions on historical data, so they assume the future will be like the past.

Fooled By Randomness argues that the future won't be like the past. We often see impossible market crashes like 2008's housing market collapse. The world changes too quickly to use historical data: by the time we understand how it works, it's changed.

Most people don't live to see history unfold. We think our childhood world will last forever. That goes double for stable societies like the U.S., which hasn't seen major turbulence in anyone's lifetime.

Fooled By Randomness taught me to expect the unexpected. The world is deceptive and rarely works as we expect. You can't always trust your past successes or what you've learned.

Antifragile

More Taleb. Some things, like the restaurant industry and the human body, improve under conditions of volatility and turbulence.

We didn't have a word for this counterintuitive concept until Taleb wrote Antifragile. The human body (which responds to some stressors, like exercise, by getting stronger) and the restaurant industry both benefit long-term from disorder (when economic turbulence happens, bad restaurants go out of business, improving the industry as a whole).

Many human systems are designed to minimize short-term variance because humans don't understand it. By eliminating short-term variation, we increase the likelihood of a major disaster.

Once, we put out every forest fire we found. Then, dead wood piled up in forests, causing catastrophic fires.

We don't like price changes, so politicians prop up markets with stimulus packages and printing money. This leads to a bigger crash later. Two years ago, we printed a ton of money for stimulus checks, and now we have double-digit inflation.

Antifragile taught me how important Plan B is. A system with one or two major weaknesses will fail. Make large systems redundant, foolproof, and change-responsive.

Reality is broken

We dread work. Work is tedious. Right?

Wrong. Work gives many people purpose. People are happiest when working. (That's why some are workaholics.)

Factory work saps your soul, office work is boring, and working for a large company you don't believe in and that operates unethically isn't satisfying.

Jane McGonigal says in Reality Is Broken that meaningful work makes us happy. People love games because they simulate good work. McGonigal says work should be more fun.

Some think they'd be happy on a private island sipping cocktails all day. That's not true. Without anything to do, most people would be bored. Unemployed people are miserable. Many retirees die within 2 years, much more than expected.

Instead of complaining, find meaningful work. If you don't like your job, it's because you're in the wrong environment. Find the right setting.

The Lean Startup

Before the airplane was invented, Harvard scientists researched flying machines. Who knew two North Carolina weirdos would beat them?

The Wright Brothers' plane design was key. Harvard researchers were mostly theoretical, designing an airplane on paper and trying to make it fly in theory. They'd build it, test it, and it wouldn't fly.

The Wright Brothers were different. They'd build a cheap plane, test it, and it'd crash. Then they'd learn from their mistakes, build another plane, and it'd crash.

They repeated this until they fixed all the problems and one of their planes stayed aloft.

Mistakes are considered bad. On the African savannah, one mistake meant death. Even today, if you make a costly mistake at work, you'll be fired as a scapegoat. Most people avoid failing.

In reality, making mistakes is the best way to learn.

Eric Reis offers an unintuitive recipe in The Lean Startup: come up with a hypothesis, test it, and fail. Then, try again with a new hypothesis. Keep trying, learning from each failure.

This is a great startup strategy. Startups are new businesses. Startups face uncertainty. Run lots of low-cost experiments to fail, learn, and succeed.

Don't fear failing. Low-cost failure is good because you learn more from it than you lose. As long as your worst-case scenario is acceptable, risk-taking is good.

The Sovereign Individual

Today, nation-states rule the world. The UN recognizes 195 countries, and they claim almost all land outside of Antarctica.

We agree. For the past 2,000 years, much of the world's territory was ungoverned.

Why today? Because technology has created incentives for nation-states for most of the past 500 years. The logic of violence favors nation-states, according to James Dale Davidson, author of the Sovereign Individual. Governments have a lot to gain by conquering as much territory as possible, so they do.

Not always. During the Dark Ages, Europe was fragmented and had few central governments. Partly because of armor. With armor, a sword, and a horse, you couldn't be stopped. Large states were hard to form because they rely on the threat of violence.

When gunpowder became popular in Europe, violence changed. In a world with guns, assembling large armies and conquest are cheaper.

James Dale Davidson says the internet will make nation-states obsolete. Most of the world's wealth will be online and in people's heads, making capital mobile.

Nation-states rely on predatory taxation of the rich to fund large militaries and welfare programs.

When capital is mobile, people can live anywhere in the world, Davidson says, making predatory taxation impossible. They're not bound by their job, land, or factory location. Wherever they're treated best.

Davidson says that over the next century, nation-states will collapse because they won't have enough money to operate as they do now. He imagines a world of small city-states, like Italy before 1900. (or Singapore today).

We've already seen some movement toward a more Sovereign Individual-like world. The pandemic proved large-scale remote work is possible, freeing workers from their location. Many cities and countries offer remote workers incentives to relocate.

Many Western businesspeople live in tax havens, and more people are renouncing their US citizenship due to high taxes. Increasing globalization has led to poor economic conditions and resentment among average people in the West, which is why politicians like Trump and Sanders rose to popularity with angry rhetoric, even though Obama rose to popularity with a more hopeful message.

The Sovereign Individual convinced me that the future will be different than Nassim Taleb's. Large countries like the U.S. will likely lose influence in the coming decades, while Portugal, Singapore, and Turkey will rise. If the trend toward less freedom continues, people may flee the West en masse.

So a traditional life of college, a big firm job, hard work, and corporate advancement may not be wise. Young people should learn as much as possible and develop flexible skills to adapt to the future.

Sapiens

Sapiens is a history of humanity, from proto-humans in Ethiopia to our internet society today, with some future speculation.

Sapiens views humans (and Homo sapiens) as a unique species on Earth. We were animals 100,000 years ago. We're slowly becoming gods, able to affect the climate, travel to every corner of the Earth (and the Moon), build weapons that can kill us all, and wipe out thousands of species.

Sapiens examines what makes Homo sapiens unique. Humans can believe in myths like religion, money, and human-made entities like countries and LLCs.

These myths facilitate large-scale cooperation. Ants from the same colony can cooperate. Any two humans can trade, though. Even if they're not genetically related, large groups can bond over religion and nationality.

Combine that with intelligence, and you have a species capable of amazing feats.

Sapiens may make your head explode because it looks at the world without presupposing values, unlike most books. It questions things that aren't usually questioned and says provocative things.

It also shows how human history works. It may help you understand and predict the world. Maybe.

The 4-hour Workweek

Things can be done better.

Tradition, laziness, bad bosses, or incentive structures cause complacency. If you're willing to make changes and not settle for the status quo, you can do whatever you do better and achieve more in less time.

The Four-Hour Work Week advocates this. Tim Ferriss explains how he made more sales in 2 hours than his 8-hour-a-day colleagues.

By firing 2 of his most annoying customers and empowering his customer service reps to make more decisions, he was able to leave his business and travel to Europe.

Ferriss shows how to escape your 9-to-5, outsource your life, develop a business that feeds you with little time, and go on mini-retirement adventures abroad.

Don't accept the status quo. Instead, level up. Find a way to improve your results. And try new things.

Why Nations Fail

Nogales, Arizona and Mexico were once one town. The US/Mexico border was arbitrarily drawn.

Both towns have similar cultures and populations. Nogales, Arizona is well-developed and has a high standard of living. Nogales, Mexico is underdeveloped and has a low standard of living. Whoa!

Why Nations Fail explains how government-created institutions affect country development. Strong property rights, capitalism, and non-corrupt governments promote development. Countries without capitalism, strong property rights, or corrupt governments don't develop.

Successful countries must also embrace creative destruction. They must offer ordinary citizens a way to improve their lot by creating value for others, not reducing them to slaves, serfs, or peasants. Authors say that ordinary people could get rich on trading expeditions in 11th-century Venice.

East and West Germany and North and South Korea have different economies because their citizens are motivated differently. It explains why Chile, China, and Singapore grow so quickly after becoming market economies.

People have spent a lot of money on third-world poverty. According to Why Nations Fail, education and infrastructure aren't the answer. Developing nations must adopt free-market economic policies.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is the world's richest man, but that’s not a good way to describe him. Elon Musk is the world's richest man, which is like calling Steve Jobs a turtleneck-wearer or Benjamin Franklin a printer.

Elon Musk does cool sci-fi stuff to help humanity avoid existential threats.

Oil will run out. We've delayed this by developing better extraction methods. We only have so much nonrenewable oil.

Our society is doomed if it depends on oil. Elon Musk invested heavily in Tesla and SolarCity to speed the shift to renewable energy.

Musk worries about AI: we'll build machines smarter than us. We won't be able to stop these machines if something goes wrong, just like cows can't fight humans. Neuralink: we need to be smarter to compete with AI when the time comes.

If Earth becomes uninhabitable, we need a backup plan. Asteroid or nuclear war could strike Earth at any moment. We may not have much time to react if it happens in a few days. We must build a new civilization while times are good and resources are plentiful.

Short-term problems dominate our politics, but long-term issues are more important. Long-term problems can cause mass casualties and homelessness. Musk demonstrates how to think long-term.

The main reason people are impressed by Elon Musk, and why Ashlee Vances' biography influenced me so much, is that he does impossible things.

Electric cars were once considered unprofitable, but Tesla has made them mainstream. SpaceX is the world's largest private space company.

People lack imagination and dismiss ununderstood ideas as impossible. Humanity is about pushing limits. Don't worry if your dreams seem impossible. Try it.

Thanks for reading.

Tom Connor

Tom Connor

1 year ago

12 mental models that I use frequently

https://tomconnor.me/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/10x-Engineer-Mental-Models.pdf

https://tomconnor.me/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/10x-Engineer-Mental-Models.pdf

I keep returning to the same mental models and tricks after writing and reading about a wide range of topics.

Top 12 mental models

12.

Survival bias - We perceive the surviving population as remarkable, yet they may have gotten there through sheer grit.

Survivorship bias affects us in many situations. Our retirement fund; the unicorn business; the winning team. We often study and imitate the last one standing. This can lead to genuine insights and performance improvements, but it can also lead us astray because the leader may just be lucky.

Bullet hole density of returning planes — A strike anywhere else was fatal…

11.

The Helsinki Bus Theory - How to persevere Buss up!

Always display new work, and always be compared to others. Why? Easy. Keep riding. Stay on the fucking bus.

10.

Until it sticks… Turning up every day… — Artists teach engineers plenty. Quality work over a career comes from showing up every day and starting.

Austin Kleon

9.

WRAP decision making process (Heath Brothers)

Decision-making WRAP Model:

W — Widen your Options

R — Reality test your assumptions

A — Attain Distance

P — Prepare to be wrong or Right

8.

Systems for knowledge worker excellence - Todd Henry and Cal Newport write about techniques knowledge workers can employ to build a creative rhythm and do better work.

Todd Henry's FRESH framework:

  1. Focus: Keep the start in mind as you wrap up.

  2. Relationships: close a loop that's open.

  3. Pruning is an energy.

  4. Set aside time to be inspired by stimuli.

  5. Hours: Spend time thinking.

7.

Black Box Thinking…..

BBT is learning from mistakes. Science has transformed the world because it constantly updates its theories in light of failures. Complexity guarantees failure. Do we learn or self-justify?

6.

The OODA Loop - Competitive advantage

OODA LOOP

O: Observe: collect the data. Figure out exactly where you are, what’s happening.

O: Orient: analyze/synthesize the data to form an accurate picture.

D: Decide: select an action from possible options

A: Action: execute the action, and return to step (1)

Boyd's approach indicates that speed and agility are about information processing, not physical reactions. They form feedback loops. More OODA loops improve speed.

5.

Know your Domain 

Leaders who try to impose order in a complex situation fail; those who set the stage, step back, and allow patterns to develop win.

https://vimeo.com/640941172?embedded=true&source=vimeo_logo&owner=11999906

4.

The Three Critical Gaps

  • Information Gap - The discrepancy between what we know and what we would like to know

  • Gap in Alignment - What individuals actually do as opposed to what we wish them to do

  • Effects Gap - the discrepancy between our expectations and the results of our actions

Adapted from Stephen Bungay

3.

Theory of Constraints — The Goal  - To maximize system production, maximize bottleneck throughput.

  • Goldratt creates a five-step procedure:

  1. Determine the restriction

  2. Improve the restriction.

  3. Everything else should be based on the limitation.

  4. Increase the restriction

  5. Go back to step 1 Avoid letting inertia become a limitation.

Any non-constraint improvement is an illusion.

2.

Serendipity and the Adjacent Possible - Why do several amazing ideas emerge at once? How can you foster serendipity in your work?

You need specialized abilities to reach to the edge of possibilities, where you can pursue exciting tasks that will change the world. Few people do it since it takes a lot of hard work. You'll stand out if you do.

Most people simply lack the comfort with discomfort required to tackle really hard things. At some point, in other words, there’s no way getting around the necessity to clear your calendar, shut down your phone, and spend several hard days trying to make sense of the damn proof.

1.

Boundaries of failure - Rasmussen's accident model.

Rasmussen’s System Model

Rasmussen modeled this. It has economic, workload, and performance boundaries.

The economic boundary is a company's profit zone. If the lights are on, you're within the economic boundaries, but there's pressure to cut costs and do more.

Performance limit reflects system capacity. Taking shortcuts is a human desire to minimize work. This is often necessary to survive because there's always more labor.

Both push operating points toward acceptable performance. Personal or process safety, or equipment performance.

If you exceed acceptable performance, you'll push back, typically forcefully.

Samer Buna

Samer Buna

1 year ago

The Errors I Committed As a Novice Programmer

Learn to identify them, make habits to avoid them

First, a clarification. This article is aimed to make new programmers aware of their mistakes, train them to detect them, and remind them to prevent them.

I learned from all these blunders. I'm glad I have coding habits to avoid them. Do too.

These mistakes are not ordered.

1) Writing code haphazardly

Writing good content is hard. It takes planning and investigation. Quality programs don't differ.

Think. Research. Plan. Write. Validate. Modify. Unfortunately, no good acronym exists. Create a habit of doing the proper quantity of these activities.

As a newbie programmer, my biggest error was writing code without thinking or researching. This works for small stand-alone apps but hurts larger ones.

Like saying anything you might regret, you should think before coding something you could regret. Coding expresses your thoughts.

When angry, count to 10 before you speak. If very angry, a hundred. — Thomas Jefferson.

My quote:

When reviewing code, count to 10 before you refactor a line. If the code does not have tests, a hundred. — Samer Buna

Programming is primarily about reviewing prior code, investigating what is needed and how it fits into the current system, and developing small, testable features. Only 10% of the process involves writing code.

Programming is not writing code. Programming need nurturing.

2) Making excessive plans prior to writing code

Yes. Planning before writing code is good, but too much of it is bad. Water poisons.

Avoid perfect plans. Programming does not have that. Find a good starting plan. Your plan will change, but it helped you structure your code for clarity. Overplanning wastes time.

Only planning small features. All-feature planning should be illegal! The Waterfall Approach is a step-by-step system. That strategy requires extensive planning. This is not planning. Most software projects fail with waterfall. Implementing anything sophisticated requires agile changes to reality.

Programming requires responsiveness. You'll add waterfall plan-unthinkable features. You will eliminate functionality for reasons you never considered in a waterfall plan. Fix bugs and adjust. Be agile.

Plan your future features, though. Do it cautiously since too little or too much planning can affect code quality, which you must risk.

3) Underestimating the Value of Good Code

Readability should be your code's exclusive goal. Unintelligible code stinks. Non-recyclable.

Never undervalue code quality. Coding communicates implementations. Coders must explicitly communicate solution implementations.

Programming quote I like:

Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live. — John Woods

John, great advice!

Small things matter. If your indentation and capitalization are inconsistent, you should lose your coding license.

Long queues are also simple. Readability decreases after 80 characters. To highlight an if-statement block, you might put a long condition on the same line. No. Just never exceed 80 characters.

Linting and formatting tools fix many basic issues like this. ESLint and Prettier work great together in JavaScript. Use them.

Code quality errors:

Multiple lines in a function or file. Break long code into manageable bits. My rule of thumb is that any function with more than 10 lines is excessively long.

Double-negatives. Don't.

Using double negatives is just very not not wrong

Short, generic, or type-based variable names. Name variables clearly.

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things. — Phil Karlton

Hard-coding primitive strings and numbers without descriptions. If your logic relies on a constant primitive string or numeric value, identify it.

Avoiding simple difficulties with sloppy shortcuts and workarounds. Avoid evasion. Take stock.

Considering lengthier code better. Shorter code is usually preferable. Only write lengthier versions if they improve code readability. For instance, don't utilize clever one-liners and nested ternary statements just to make the code shorter. In any application, removing unneeded code is better.

Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight. — Bill Gates

Excessive conditional logic. Conditional logic is unnecessary for most tasks. Choose based on readability. Measure performance before optimizing. Avoid Yoda conditions and conditional assignments.

4) Selecting the First Approach

When I started programming, I would solve an issue and move on. I would apply my initial solution without considering its intricacies and probable shortcomings.

After questioning all the solutions, the best ones usually emerge. If you can't think of several answers, you don't grasp the problem.

Programmers do not solve problems. Find the easiest solution. The solution must work well and be easy to read, comprehend, and maintain.

There are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. — C.A.R. Hoare

5) Not Giving Up

I generally stick with the original solution even though it may not be the best. The not-quitting mentality may explain this. This mindset is helpful for most things, but not programming. Program writers should fail early and often.

If you doubt a solution, toss it and rethink the situation. No matter how much you put in that solution. GIT lets you branch off and try various solutions. Use it.

Do not be attached to code because of how much effort you put into it. Bad code needs to be discarded.

6) Avoiding Google

I've wasted time solving problems when I should have researched them first.

Unless you're employing cutting-edge technology, someone else has probably solved your problem. Google It First.

Googling may discover that what you think is an issue isn't and that you should embrace it. Do not presume you know everything needed to choose a solution. Google surprises.

But Google carefully. Newbies also copy code without knowing it. Use only code you understand, even if it solves your problem.

Never assume you know how to code creatively.

The most dangerous thought that you can have as a creative person is to think that you know what you’re doing. — Bret Victor

7) Failing to Use Encapsulation

Not about object-oriented paradigm. Encapsulation is always useful. Unencapsulated systems are difficult to maintain.

An application should only handle a feature once. One object handles that. The application's other objects should only see what's essential. Reducing application dependencies is not about secrecy. Following these guidelines lets you safely update class, object, and function internals without breaking things.

Classify logic and state concepts. Class means blueprint template. Class or Function objects are possible. It could be a Module or Package.

Self-contained tasks need methods in a logic class. Methods should accomplish one thing well. Similar classes should share method names.

As a rookie programmer, I didn't always establish a new class for a conceptual unit or recognize self-contained units. Newbie code has a Util class full of unrelated code. Another symptom of novice code is when a small change cascades and requires numerous other adjustments.

Think before adding a method or new responsibilities to a method. Time's needed. Avoid skipping or refactoring. Start right.

High Cohesion and Low Coupling involves grouping relevant code in a class and reducing class dependencies.

8) Arranging for Uncertainty

Thinking beyond your solution is appealing. Every line of code will bring up what-ifs. This is excellent for edge cases but not for foreseeable needs.

Your what-ifs must fall into one of these two categories. Write only code you need today. Avoid future planning.

Writing a feature for future use is improper. No.

Write only the code you need today for your solution. Handle edge-cases, but don't introduce edge-features.

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. — Edward Abbey

9) Making the incorrect data structure choices

Beginner programmers often overemphasize algorithms when preparing for interviews. Good algorithms should be identified and used when needed, but memorizing them won't make you a programming genius.

However, learning your language's data structures' strengths and shortcomings will make you a better developer.

The improper data structure shouts "newbie coding" here.

Let me give you a few instances of data structures without teaching you:

Managing records with arrays instead of maps (objects).

Most data structure mistakes include using lists instead of maps to manage records. Use a map to organize a list of records.

This list of records has an identifier to look up each entry. Lists for scalar values are OK and frequently superior, especially if the focus is pushing values to the list.

Arrays and objects are the most common JavaScript list and map structures, respectively (there is also a map structure in modern JavaScript).

Lists over maps for record management often fail. I recommend always using this point, even though it only applies to huge collections. This is crucial because maps are faster than lists in looking up records by identifier.

Stackless

Simple recursive functions are often tempting when writing recursive programming. In single-threaded settings, optimizing recursive code is difficult.

Recursive function returns determine code optimization. Optimizing a recursive function that returns two or more calls to itself is harder than optimizing a single call.

Beginners overlook the alternative to recursive functions. Use Stack. Push function calls to a stack and start popping them out to traverse them back.

10) Worsening the current code

Imagine this:

Add an item to that room. You might want to store that object anywhere as it's a mess. You can finish in seconds.

Not with messy code. Do not worsen! Keep the code cleaner than when you started.

Clean the room above to place the new object. If the item is clothing, clear a route to the closet. That's proper execution.

The following bad habits frequently make code worse:

  • code duplication You are merely duplicating code and creating more chaos if you copy/paste a code block and then alter just the line after that. This would be equivalent to adding another chair with a lower base rather than purchasing a new chair with a height-adjustable seat in the context of the aforementioned dirty room example. Always keep abstraction in mind, and use it when appropriate.

  • utilizing configuration files not at all. A configuration file should contain the value you need to utilize if it may differ in certain circumstances or at different times. A configuration file should contain a value if you need to use it across numerous lines of code. Every time you add a new value to the code, simply ask yourself: "Does this value belong in a configuration file?" The most likely response is "yes."

  • using temporary variables and pointless conditional statements. Every if-statement represents a logic branch that should at the very least be tested twice. When avoiding conditionals doesn't compromise readability, it should be done. The main issue with this is that branch logic is being used to extend an existing function rather than creating a new function. Are you altering the code at the appropriate level, or should you go think about the issue at a higher level every time you feel you need an if-statement or a new function variable?

This code illustrates superfluous if-statements:

function isOdd(number) {
  if (number % 2 === 1) {
    return true;
  } else {
    return false;
  }
}

Can you spot the biggest issue with the isOdd function above?

Unnecessary if-statement. Similar code:

function isOdd(number) {
  return (number % 2 === 1);
};

11) Making remarks on things that are obvious

I've learnt to avoid comments. Most code comments can be renamed.

instead of:

// This function sums only odd numbers in an array
const sum = (val) => {
  return val.reduce((a, b) => {
    if (b % 2 === 1) { // If the current number is odd
      a+=b;            // Add current number to accumulator
    }
    return a;          // The accumulator
  }, 0);
};

Commentless code looks like this:

const sumOddValues = (array) => {
  return array.reduce((accumulator, currentNumber) => {
    if (isOdd(currentNumber)) { 
      return accumulator + currentNumber;
    }
    return accumulator;
  }, 0);
};

Better function and argument names eliminate most comments. Remember that before commenting.

Sometimes you have to use comments to clarify the code. This is when your comments should answer WHY this code rather than WHAT it does.

Do not write a WHAT remark to clarify the code. Here are some unnecessary comments that clutter code:

// create a variable and initialize it to 0
let sum = 0;
// Loop over array
array.forEach(
  // For each number in the array
  (number) => {
    // Add the current number to the sum variable
    sum += number;
  }
);

Avoid that programmer. Reject that code. Remove such comments if necessary. Most importantly, teach programmers how awful these remarks are. Tell programmers who publish remarks like this that they may lose their jobs. That terrible.

12) Skipping tests

I'll simplify. If you develop code without tests because you think you're an excellent programmer, you're a rookie.

If you're not writing tests in code, you're probably testing manually. Every few lines of code in a web application will be refreshed and interacted with. Also. Manual code testing is fine. To learn how to automatically test your code, manually test it. After testing your application, return to your code editor and write code to automatically perform the same interaction the next time you add code.

Human. After each code update, you will forget to test all successful validations. Automate it!

Before writing code to fulfill validations, guess or design them. TDD is real. It improves your feature design thinking.

If you can use TDD, even partially, do so.

13) Making the assumption that if something is working, it must be right.

See this sumOddValues function. Is it flawed?

const sumOddValues = (array) => {
  return array.reduce((accumulator, currentNumber) => {
    if (currentNumber % 2 === 1) { 
      return accumulator + currentNumber;
    }
    return accumulator;
  });
};
 
 
console.assert(
  sumOddValues([1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) === 9
);

Verified. Good life. Correct?

Code above is incomplete. It handles some scenarios correctly, including the assumption used, but it has many other issues. I'll list some:

#1: No empty input handling. What happens when the function is called without arguments? That results in an error revealing the function's implementation:

TypeError: Cannot read property 'reduce' of undefined.

Two main factors indicate faulty code.

  • Your function's users shouldn't come across implementation-related information.

  • The user cannot benefit from the error. Simply said, they were unable to use your function. They would be aware that they misused the function if the error was more obvious about the usage issue. You might decide to make the function throw a custom exception, for instance:

TypeError: Cannot execute function for empty list.

Instead of returning an error, your method should disregard empty input and return a sum of 0. This case requires action.

Problem #2: No input validation. What happens if the function is invoked with a text, integer, or object instead of an array?

The function now throws:

sumOddValues(42);
TypeError: array.reduce is not a function

Unfortunately, array. cut's a function!

The function labels anything you call it with (42 in the example above) as array because we named the argument array. The error says 42.reduce is not a function.

See how that error confuses? An mistake like:

TypeError: 42 is not an array, dude.

Edge-cases are #1 and #2. These edge-cases are typical, but you should also consider less obvious ones. Negative numbers—what happens?

sumOddValues([1, 2, 3, 4, 5, -13]) // => still 9

-13's unusual. Is this the desired function behavior? Error? Should it sum negative numbers? Should it keep ignoring negative numbers? You may notice the function should have been titled sumPositiveOddNumbers.

This decision is simple. The more essential point is that if you don't write a test case to document your decision, future function maintainers won't know if you ignored negative values intentionally or accidentally.

It’s not a bug. It’s a feature. — Someone who forgot a test case

#3: Valid cases are not tested. Forget edge-cases, this function mishandles a straightforward case:

sumOddValues([2, 1, 3, 4, 5]) // => 11

The 2 above was wrongly included in sum.

The solution is simple: reduce accepts a second input to initialize the accumulator. Reduce will use the first value in the collection as the accumulator if that argument is not provided, like in the code above. The sum included the test case's first even value.

This test case should have been included in the tests along with many others, such as all-even numbers, a list with 0 in it, and an empty list.

Newbie code also has rudimentary tests that disregard edge-cases.

14) Adhering to Current Law

Unless you're a lone supercoder, you'll encounter stupid code. Beginners don't identify it and assume it's decent code because it works and has been in the codebase for a while.

Worse, if the terrible code uses bad practices, the newbie may be enticed to use them elsewhere in the codebase since they learnt them from good code.

A unique condition may have pushed the developer to write faulty code. This is a nice spot for a thorough note that informs newbies about that condition and why the code is written that way.

Beginners should presume that undocumented code they don't understand is bad. Ask. Enquire. Blame it!

If the code's author is dead or can't remember it, research and understand it. Only after understanding the code can you judge its quality. Before that, presume nothing.

15) Being fixated on best practices

Best practices damage. It suggests no further research. Best practice ever. No doubts!

No best practices. Today's programming language may have good practices.

Programming best practices are now considered bad practices.

Time will reveal better methods. Focus on your strengths, not best practices.

Do not do anything because you read a quote, saw someone else do it, or heard it is a recommended practice. This contains all my article advice! Ask questions, challenge theories, know your options, and make informed decisions.

16) Being preoccupied with performance

Premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming — Donald Knuth (1974)

I think Donald Knuth's advice is still relevant today, even though programming has changed.

Do not optimize code if you cannot measure the suspected performance problem.

Optimizing before code execution is likely premature. You may possibly be wasting time optimizing.

There are obvious optimizations to consider when writing new code. You must not flood the event loop or block the call stack in Node.js. Remember this early optimization. Will this code block the call stack?

Avoid non-obvious code optimization without measurements. If done, your performance boost may cause new issues.

Stop optimizing unmeasured performance issues.

17) Missing the End-User Experience as a Goal

How can an app add a feature easily? Look at it from your perspective or in the existing User Interface. Right? Add it to the form if the feature captures user input. Add it to your nested menu of links if it adds a link to a page.

Avoid that developer. Be a professional who empathizes with customers. They imagine this feature's consumers' needs and behavior. They focus on making the feature easy to find and use, not just adding it to the software.

18) Choosing the incorrect tool for the task

Every programmer has their preferred tools. Most tools are good for one thing and bad for others.

The worst tool for screwing in a screw is a hammer. Do not use your favorite hammer on a screw. Don't use Amazon's most popular hammer on a screw.

A true beginner relies on tool popularity rather than problem fit.

You may not know the best tools for a project. You may know the best tool. However, it wouldn't rank high. You must learn your tools and be open to new ones.

Some coders shun new tools. They like their tools and don't want to learn new ones. I can relate, but it's wrong.

You can build a house slowly with basic tools or rapidly with superior tools. You must learn and use new tools.

19) Failing to recognize that data issues are caused by code issues

Programs commonly manage data. The software will add, delete, and change records.

Even the simplest programming errors can make data unpredictable. Especially if the same defective application validates all data.

Code-data relationships may be confusing for beginners. They may employ broken code in production since feature X is not critical. Buggy coding may cause hidden data integrity issues.

Worse, deploying code that corrected flaws without fixing minor data problems caused by these defects will only collect more data problems that take the situation into the unrecoverable-level category.

How do you avoid these issues? Simply employ numerous data integrity validation levels. Use several interfaces. Front-end, back-end, network, and database validations. If not, apply database constraints.

Use all database constraints when adding columns and tables:

  • If a column has a NOT NULL constraint, null values will be rejected for that column. If your application expects that field has a value, your database should designate its source as not null.

  • If a column has a UNIQUE constraint, the entire table cannot include duplicate values for that column. This is ideal for a username or email field on a Users table, for instance.

  • For the data to be accepted, a CHECK constraint, or custom expression, must evaluate to true. For instance, you can apply a check constraint to ensure that the values of a normal % column must fall within the range of 0 and 100.

  • With a PRIMARY KEY constraint, the values of the columns must be both distinct and not null. This one is presumably what you're utilizing. To distinguish the records in each table, the database needs have a primary key.

  • A FOREIGN KEY constraint requires that the values in one database column, typically a primary key, match those in another table column.

Transaction apathy is another data integrity issue for newbies. If numerous actions affect the same data source and depend on each other, they must be wrapped in a transaction that can be rolled back if one fails.

20) Reinventing the Wheel

Tricky. Some programming wheels need reinvention. Programming is undefined. New requirements and changes happen faster than any team can handle.

Instead of modifying the wheel we all adore, maybe we should rethink it if you need a wheel that spins at varied speeds depending on the time of day. If you don't require a non-standard wheel, don't reinvent it. Use the darn wheel.

Wheel brands can be hard to choose from. Research and test before buying! Most software wheels are free and transparent. Internal design quality lets you evaluate coding wheels. Try open-source wheels. Debug and fix open-source software simply. They're easily replaceable. In-house support is also easy.

If you need a wheel, don't buy a new automobile and put your maintained car on top. Do not include a library to use a few functions. Lodash in JavaScript is the finest example. Import shuffle to shuffle an array. Don't import lodash.

21) Adopting the incorrect perspective on code reviews

Beginners often see code reviews as criticism. Dislike them. Not appreciated. Even fear them.

Incorrect. If so, modify your mindset immediately. Learn from every code review. Salute them. Observe. Most crucial, thank reviewers who teach you.

Always learning code. Accept it. Most code reviews teach something new. Use these for learning.

You may need to correct the reviewer. If your code didn't make that evident, it may need to be changed. If you must teach your reviewer, remember that teaching is one of the most enjoyable things a programmer can do.

22) Not Using Source Control

Newbies often underestimate Git's capabilities.

Source control is more than sharing your modifications. It's much bigger. Clear history is source control. The history of coding will assist address complex problems. Commit messages matter. They are another way to communicate your implementations, and utilizing them with modest commits helps future maintainers understand how the code got where it is.

Commit early and often with present-tense verbs. Summarize your messages but be detailed. If you need more than a few lines, your commit is too long. Rebase!

Avoid needless commit messages. Commit summaries should not list new, changed, or deleted files. Git commands can display that list from the commit object. The summary message would be noise. I think a big commit has many summaries per file altered.

Source control involves discoverability. You can discover the commit that introduced a function and see its context if you doubt its need or design. Commits can even pinpoint which code caused a bug. Git has a binary search within commits (bisect) to find the bug-causing commit.

Source control can be used before commits to great effect. Staging changes, patching selectively, resetting, stashing, editing, applying, diffing, reversing, and others enrich your coding flow. Know, use, and enjoy them.

I consider a Git rookie someone who knows less functionalities.

23) Excessive Use of Shared State

Again, this is not about functional programming vs. other paradigms. That's another article.

Shared state is problematic and should be avoided if feasible. If not, use shared state as little as possible.

As a new programmer, I didn't know that all variables represent shared states. All variables in the same scope can change its data. Global scope reduces shared state span. Keep new states in limited scopes and avoid upward leakage.

When numerous resources modify common state in the same event loop tick, the situation becomes severe (in event-loop-based environments). Races happen.

This shared state race condition problem may encourage a rookie to utilize a timer, especially if they have a data lock issue. Red flag. No. Never accept it.

24) Adopting the Wrong Mentality Toward Errors

Errors are good. Progress. They indicate a simple way to improve.

Expert programmers enjoy errors. Newbies detest them.

If these lovely red error warnings irritate you, modify your mindset. Consider them helpers. Handle them. Use them to advance.

Some errors need exceptions. Plan for user-defined exceptions. Ignore some mistakes. Crash and exit the app.

25) Ignoring rest periods

Humans require mental breaks. Take breaks. In the zone, you'll forget breaks. Another symptom of beginners. No compromises. Make breaks mandatory in your process. Take frequent pauses. Take a little walk to plan your next move. Reread the code.

This has been a long post. You deserve a break.

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Erik Engheim

Erik Engheim

2 years ago

You Misunderstand the Russian Nuclear Threat

Many believe Putin is simply sabre rattling and intimidating us. They see no threat of nuclear war. We can send NATO troops into Ukraine without risking a nuclear war.

I keep reading that Putin is just using nuclear blackmail and that a strong leader will call the bluff. That, in my opinion, misunderstands the danger of sending NATO into Ukraine.
It assumes that once NATO moves in, Putin can either push the red nuclear button or not.
Sure, Putin won't go nuclear if NATO invades Ukraine. So we're safe? Can't we just move NATO?

No, because history has taught us that wars often escalate far beyond our initial expectations. One domino falls, knocking down another. That's why having clear boundaries is vital. Crossing a seemingly harmless line can set off a chain of events that are unstoppable once started.
One example is WWI. The assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand could not have known that his actions would kill millions. They couldn't have known that invading Serbia to punish them for not handing over the accomplices would start a world war. Every action triggered a counter-action, plunging Europe into a brutal and bloody war. Each leader saw their actions as limited, not realizing how they kept the dominos falling.

Nobody can predict the future, but it's easy to imagine how NATO intervention could trigger a chain of events leading to a total war. Let me suggest some outcomes.
NATO creates a no-fly-zone. In retaliation, Russia bombs NATO airfields. Russia may see this as a limited counter-move that shouldn't cause further NATO escalation. They think it's a reasonable response to force NATO out of Ukraine. Nobody has yet thought to use the nuke.
Will NATO act? Polish airfields bombed, will they be stuck? Is this an article 5 event? If so, what should be done?

It could happen. Maybe NATO sends troops into Ukraine to punish Russia. Maybe NATO will bomb Russian airfields.

Putin's response Is bombing Russian airfields an invasion or an attack? Remember that Russia has always used nuclear weapons for defense, not offense. But let's not panic, let's assume Russia doesn't go nuclear.

Maybe Russia retaliates by attacking NATO military bases with planes. Maybe they use ships to attack military targets. How does NATO respond? Will they fight Russia in Ukraine or escalate? Will they invade Russia or attack more military installations there?
Seen the pattern? As each nation responds, smaller limited military operations can grow in scope.

So far, the Russian military has shown that they begin with less brutal methods. As losses and failures increase, brutal means are used. Syria had the same. Assad used chemical weapons and attacked hospitals, schools, residential areas, etc.
A NATO invasion of Ukraine would cost Russia dearly. “Oh, this isn't looking so good, better pull out and finish this war,” do you think? No way. Desperate, they will resort to more brutal tactics. If desperate, Russia has a huge arsenal of ugly weapons. They have nerve agents, chemical weapons, and other nasty stuff.

What happens if Russia uses chemical weapons? What if Russian nerve agents kill NATO soldiers horribly? West calls for retaliation will grow. Will we invade Russia? Will we bomb them?

We are angry and determined to punish war criminal Putin, so NATO tanks may be heading to Moscow. We want vengeance for his chemical attacks and bombing of our cities.
Do you think the distance between that red nuclear button and Putin's finger will be that far once NATO tanks are on their way to Moscow?

We might avoid a nuclear apocalypse. A NATO invasion force or even Western cities may be used by Putin. Not as destructive as ICBMs. Putin may think we won't respond to tactical nukes with a full nuclear counterattack. Why would we risk a nuclear Holocaust by launching ICBMs on Russia?

Maybe. My point is that at every stage of the escalation, one party may underestimate the other's response. This war is spiraling out of control and the chances of a nuclear exchange are increasing. Nobody really wants it.

Fear, anger, and resentment cause it. If Putin and his inner circle decide their time is up, they may no longer care about the rest of the world. We saw it with Hitler. Hitler, seeing the end of his empire, ordered the destruction of Germany. Nobody should win if he couldn't. He wanted to destroy everything, including Paris.

In other words, the danger isn't what happens after NATO intervenes The danger is the potential chain reaction. Gambling has a psychological equivalent. It's best to exit when you've lost less. We humans are willing to take small risks for big rewards. To avoid losses, we are willing to take high risks. Daniel Kahneman describes this behavior in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

And so bettors who have lost a lot begin taking bigger risks to make up for it. We get a snowball effect. NATO involvement in the Ukraine conflict is akin to entering a casino and placing a bet. We'll start taking bigger risks as we start losing to Russian retaliation. That's the game's psychology.

It's impossible to stop. So will politicians and citizens from both Russia and the West, until we risk the end of human civilization.

You can avoid spiraling into ever larger bets in the Casino by drawing a hard line and declaring “I will not enter that Casino.” We're doing it now. We supply Ukraine. We send money and intelligence but don't cross that crucial line.

It's difficult to watch what happened in Bucha without demanding NATO involvement. What should we do? Of course, I'm not in charge. I'm a writer. My hope is that people will think about the consequences of the actions we demand. My hope is that you think ahead not just one step but multiple dominos.

More and more, we are driven by our emotions. We cannot act solely on emotion in matters of life and death. If we make the wrong choice, more people will die.

Read the original post here.

Abhimanyu Bhargava

Abhimanyu Bhargava

1 year ago

VeeFriends Series 2: The Biggest NFT Opportunity Ever

VeeFriends is one NFT project I'm sure will last.

I believe in blockchain technology and JPEGs, aka NFTs. NFTs aren't JPEGs. It's not as it seems.

Gary Vaynerchuk is leading the pack with his new NFT project VeeFriends, I wrote a year ago. I was spot-on. It's the most innovative project I've seen.

Since its minting in May 2021, it has given its holders enormous value, most notably the first edition of VeeCon, a multi-day superconference featuring iconic and emerging leaders in NFTs and Popular Culture. First-of-its-kind NFT-ticketed Web3 conference to build friendships, share ideas, and learn together.

VeeFriends holders got free VeeCon NFT tickets. Attendees heard iconic keynote speeches, innovative talks, panels, and Q&A sessions.

It was a unique conference that most of us, including me, are looking forward to in 2023. The lineup was epic, and it allowed many to network in new ways. Really memorable learning. Here are a couple of gratitude posts from the attendees.

VeeFriends Series 2

This article explains VeeFriends if you're still confused.

GaryVee's hand-drawn doodles have evolved into wonderful characters. The characters' poses and backgrounds bring the VeeFriends IP to life.

Yes, this is the second edition of VeeFriends, and at current prices, it's one of the best NFT opportunities in years. If you have the funds and risk appetite to invest in NFTs, VeeFriends Series 2 is worth every penny. Even if you can't invest, learn from their journey.

1. Art Is the Start

Many critics say VeeFriends artwork is below average and not by GaryVee. Art is often the key to future success.

Let's look at one of the first Mickey Mouse drawings. No one would have guessed that this would become one of the most beloved animated short film characters. In Walt Before Mickey, Walt Disney's original mouse Mortimer was less refined.

First came a mouse...

These sketches evolved into Steamboat Willie, Disney's first animated short film.

Fred Moore redesigned the character artwork into what we saw in cartoons as kids. Mickey Mouse's history is here.

Looking at how different cartoon characters have evolved and gained popularity over decades, I believe Series 2 characters like Self-Aware Hare, Kind Kudu, and Patient Pig can do the same.

GaryVee captures this journey on the blockchain and lets early supporters become part of history. Time will tell if it rivals Disney, Pokemon, or Star Wars. Gary has been vocal about this vision.

2. VeeFriends is Intellectual Property for the Coming Generations

Most of us grew up watching cartoons, playing with toys, cards, and video games. Our interactions with fictional characters and the stories we hear shape us.

GaryVee is slowly curating an experience for the next generation with animated videos, card games, merchandise, toys, and more.

VeeFriends UNO, a collaboration with Mattel Creations, features 17 VeeFriends characters.

VeeFriends and Zerocool recently released Trading Cards featuring all 268 Series 1 characters and 15 new ones. Another way to build VeeFriends' collectibles brand.

At Veecon, all the characters were collectible toys. Something will soon emerge.

Kids and adults alike enjoy the YouTube channel's animated shorts and VeeFriends Tunes. Here's a song by the holder's Optimistic Otter-loving daughter.

This VeeFriends story is only the beginning. I'm looking forward to animated short film series, coloring books, streetwear, candy, toys, physical collectibles, and other forms of VeeFriends IP.

3. Veefriends will always provide utilities

Smart contracts can be updated at any time and authenticated on a ledger.

VeeFriends Series 2 gives no promise of any utility whatsoever. GaryVee released no project roadmap. In the first few months after launch, many owners of specific characters or scenes received utilities.

Every benefit or perk you receive helps promote the VeeFriends brand.

Recent partnerships are listed below.

  • MaryRuth's Multivitamin Gummies

  • Productive Puffin holders from VeeFriends x Primitive

  • Pickleball Scene & Clown Holders Only

Pickleball & Competitive Clown Exclusive experience, anteater multivitamin gummies, and Puffin x Primitive merch

Considering the price of NFTs, it may not seem like much. It's just the beginning; you never know what the future holds. No other NFT project offers such diverse, ongoing benefits.

4. Garyvee's team is ready

Gary Vaynerchuk's team and record are undisputed. He's a serial entrepreneur and the Chairman & CEO of VaynerX, which includes VaynerMedia, VaynerCommerce, One37pm, and The Sasha Group.

Gary founded VaynerSports, Resy, and Empathy Wines. He's a Candy Digital Board Member, VCR Group Co-Founder, ArtOfficial Co-Founder, and VeeFriends Creator & CEO. Gary was recently named one of Fortune's Top 50 NFT Influencers.

Gary Vayenerchuk aka GaryVee

Gary documents his daily life as a CEO on social media, which has 34 million followers and 272 million monthly views. GaryVee Audio Experience is a top podcast. He's a five-time New York Times best-seller and sought-after speaker.

Gary can observe consumer behavior to predict trends. He understood these trends early and pioneered them.

  • 1997 — Realized e-potential commerce's and started winelibrary.com. In five years, he grew his father's wine business from $3M to $60M.

  • 2006 — Realized content marketing's potential and started Wine Library on YouTube. TV

  • 2009 — Estimated social media's potential (Web2) and invested in Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

  • 2014: Ethereum and Bitcoin investments

  • 2021 — Believed in NFTs and Web3 enough to launch VeeFriends

GaryVee isn't all of VeeFriends. Andy Krainak, Dave DeRosa, Adam Ripps, Tyler Dowdle, and others work tirelessly to make VeeFriends a success.

GaryVee has said he'll let other businesses fail but not VeeFriends. We're just beginning his 40-year vision.

I have more confidence than ever in a company with a strong foundation and team.

5. Humans die, but characters live forever

What if GaryVee dies or can't work?

A writer's books can immortalize them. As long as their books exist, their words are immortal. Socrates, Hemingway, Aristotle, Twain, Fitzgerald, and others have become immortal.

Everyone knows Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night.

We all love reading and watching Peter Parker, Thor, or Jessica Jones. Their behavior inspires us. Stan Lee's message and stories live on despite his death.

GaryVee represents VeeFriends. Creating characters to communicate ensures that the message reaches even those who don't listen.

Gary wants his values and messages to be omnipresent in 268 characters. Messengers die, but their messages live on.

Gary envisions VeeFriends creating timeless stories and experiences. Ten years from now, maybe every kid will sing Patient Pig.

6. I love the intent.

Gary planned to create Workplace Warriors three years ago when he began designing Patient Panda, Accountable Ant, and Empathy elephant. The project stalled. When NFTs came along, he knew.

Gary wanted to create characters with traits he values, such as accountability, empathy, patience, kindness, and self-awareness. He wants future generations to find these traits cool. He hopes one or more of his characters will become pop culture icons.

These emotional skills aren't taught in schools or colleges, but they're crucial for business and life success. I love that someone is teaching this at scale.

In the end, intent matters.

Humans Are Collectors

Buy and collect things to communicate. Since the 1700s. Medieval people formed communities around hidden metals and stones. Many people still collect stamps and coins, and luxury and fashion are multi-trillion dollar industries. We're collectors.

The early 2020s NFTs will be remembered in the future. VeeFriends will define a cultural and technological shift in this era. VeeFriends Series 1 is the original hand-drawn art, but it's expensive. VeeFriends Series 2 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at $1,000.

If you are new to NFTs, check out How to Buy a Non Fungible Token (NFT) For Beginners


This is a non-commercial article. Not financial or legal advice. Information isn't always accurate. Before making important financial decisions, consult a pro or do your own research.


This post is a summary. Read the full article here

Dung Claire Tran

Dung Claire Tran

1 year ago

Is the future of brand marketing with virtual influencers?

Digital influences that mimic humans are rising.

Lil Miquela has 3M Instagram followers, 3.6M TikTok followers, and 30K Twitter followers. She's been on the covers of Prada, Dior, and Calvin Klein magazines. Miquela released Not Mine in 2017 and launched Hard Feelings at Lollapazoolas this year. This isn't surprising, given the rise of influencer marketing.

This may be unexpected. Miquela's fake. Brud, a Los Angeles startup, produced her in 2016.

Lil Miquela is one of many rising virtual influencers in the new era of social media marketing. She acts like a real person and performs the same tasks as sports stars and models.

The emergence of online influencers

Before 2018, computer-generated characters were rare. Since the virtual human industry boomed, they've appeared in marketing efforts worldwide.

In 2020, the WHO partnered up with Atlanta-based virtual influencer Knox Frost (@knoxfrost) to gather contributions for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Lu do Magalu (@magazineluiza) has been the virtual spokeswoman for Magalu since 2009, using social media to promote reviews, product recommendations, unboxing videos, and brand updates. Magalu's 10-year profit was $552M.

In 2020, PUMA partnered with Southeast Asia's first virtual model, Maya (@mayaaa.gram). She joined Singaporean actor Tosh Zhang in the PUMA campaign. Local virtual influencer Ava Lee-Graham (@avagram.ai) partnered with retail firm BHG to promote their in-house labels.

Maya and Tosh Zhang in PUMA Rider campaign. Credits to Vulcan Post

In Japan, Imma (@imma.gram) is the face of Nike, PUMA, Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo SpA, and Valentino. Imma's bubblegum pink bob and ultra-fine fashion landed her on the cover of Grazia magazine.

Imma on Grazia cover. Credits to aww.tokyo

Lotte Home Shopping created Lucy (@here.me.lucy) in September 2020. She made her TV debut as a Christmas show host in 2021. Since then, she has 100K Instagram followers and 13K TikTok followers.

Liu Yiexi gained 3 million fans in five days on Douyin, China's TikTok, in 2021. Her two-minute video went viral overnight. She's posted 6 videos and has 830 million Douyin followers.

Liu Yiexi’s video on Douyin. Credits to Ji Yuqiao on Global Times

China's virtual human industry was worth $487 million in 2020, up 70% year over year, and is expected to reach $875.9 million in 2021.

Investors worldwide are interested. Immas creator Aww Inc. raised $1 million from Coral Capital in September 2020, according to Bloomberg. Superplastic Inc., the Vermont-based startup behind influencers Janky and Guggimon, raised $16 million by 2020. Craft Ventures, SV Angels, and Scooter Braun invested. Crunchbase shows the company has raised $47 million.

The industries they represent, including Augmented and Virtual reality, were worth $14.84 billion in 2020 and are projected to reach $454.73 billion by 2030, a CAGR of 40.7%, according to PR Newswire.

Advantages for brands

Forbes suggests brands embrace computer-generated influencers. Examples:

  1. Unlimited creative opportunities: Because brands can personalize everything—from a person's look and activities to the style of their content—virtual influencers may be suited to a brand's needs and personalities.

  2. 100% brand control: Brand managers now have more influence over virtual influencers, so they no longer have to give up and rely on content creators to include brands into their storytelling and style. Virtual influencers can constantly produce social media content to promote a brand's identity and ideals because they are completely scandal-free.

  3. Long-term cost savings: Because virtual influencers are made of pixels, they may be reused endlessly and never lose their beauty. Additionally, they can move anywhere around the world and even into space to fit a brand notion. They are also always available. Additionally, the expense of creating their content will not rise in step with their expanding fan base.

  4. Introduction to the metaverse: Statista reports that 75% of American consumers between the ages of 18 and 25 follow at least one virtual influencer. As a result, marketers that support virtual celebrities may now interact with younger audiences that are more tech-savvy and accustomed to the digital world. Virtual influencers can be included into any digital space, including the metaverse, as they are entirely computer-generated 3D personas. Virtual influencers can provide brands with a smooth transition into this new digital universe to increase brand trust and develop emotional ties, in addition to the young generations' rapid adoption of the metaverse.

  5. Better engagement than in-person influencers: A Hype Auditor study found that online influencers have roughly three times the engagement of their conventional counterparts. Virtual influencers should be used to boost brand engagement even though the data might not accurately reflect the entire sector.

Concerns about influencers created by computers

Virtual influencers could encourage excessive beauty standards in South Korea, which has a $10.7 billion plastic surgery industry.

A classic Korean beauty has a small face, huge eyes, and pale, immaculate skin. Virtual influencers like Lucy have these traits. According to Lee Eun-hee, a professor at Inha University's Department of Consumer Science, this could make national beauty standards more unrealistic, increasing demand for plastic surgery or cosmetic items.

Lucy by Lotte Home Shopping. Credits to Lotte Home Shopping on CNN

Other parts of the world raise issues regarding selling items to consumers who don't recognize the models aren't human and the potential of cultural appropriation when generating influencers of other ethnicities, called digital blackface by some.

Meta, Facebook and Instagram's parent corporation, acknowledges this risk.

“Like any disruptive technology, synthetic media has the potential for both good and harm. Issues of representation, cultural appropriation and expressive liberty are already a growing concern,” the company stated in a blog post. “To help brands navigate the ethical quandaries of this emerging medium and avoid potential hazards, (Meta) is working with partners to develop an ethical framework to guide the use of (virtual influencers).”

Despite theoretical controversies, the industry will likely survive. Companies think virtual influencers are the next frontier in the digital world, which includes the metaverse, virtual reality, and digital currency.

In conclusion

Virtual influencers may garner millions of followers online and help marketers reach youthful audiences. According to a YouGov survey, the real impact of computer-generated influencers is yet unknown because people prefer genuine connections. Virtual characters can supplement brand marketing methods. When brands are metaverse-ready, the author predicts virtual influencer endorsement will continue to expand.