You're listening to Defective Detective, a podcast about using data to figure out your brain and body. So we can all do the things we want to. I'm your host Cakelin, a disabled and chronically ill founder and scientist. I'll be sharing my own journey towards "health" while interviewing other makers and self-scientists. Here's an introduction to what it's all gonna be about. Huzzah!
[00:00] Upbeat electronic music intro, fades to voice
Hiya.. Cakelin here. Yes, like a slice of Cake L-I-N. Please imagine me making a triangle with my hands, as that is how I introduce myself to most people.
You’re listening to Defective Detective, a podcast about figuring out your brain and body. So we can all do the things we want to. I’ll be sharing my own journey while interviewing other makers and self-scientists.
[00:36] Electronic music continues
[00:42] What’s a Defective Detective?
Fun fact, science recently showed gesturing changes the sound of your voice. Gesturing is not just visual. Yeah, that is also something I would say *right* when meeting someone..
I am a defective detective. Don't call me a person with defectiveness. Please and thank youuu. I just want to debug my drugs, experiment with merriment...
Please don't let me continue this list.
Society changes what it calls disabled people constantly. Because it's just uncomfortable with disability. Like "differently abled". No. So I am claiming defective, the same way disabled people have reclaimed crip or crippled. Or queer people have reclaimed queer.
In my case though, it's mostly my brain. I have ADHD and complex PTSD. My body gets tag-teamed in with autoimmune disorders, a collagen disorder, and chronic infections. Society and systems then join the party. Healthcare, disability, benefits, sexism, ableism...
It's heckin’ complex. And not at all like real parties, which I miss very much.
I’m constantly figuring out my brain and body so I can do the things I want to. It takes a lot to build some sort of “health” with chronic illness. And it doesn’t take much to *ruin* that careful balance.
I just want to run experiments on myself. To debug wtf is happening. Is this new treatment I’m trying helping? Do I really need to be on this restrictive of a diet? Are any of the self care activities I’ve carefully chosen actually doing the care for myself?
I've been calling this self-science. Which might be a legitimate research term. I can’t remember. I refuse to distract myself from finishing this podcast by going to look it up. Or I will accidentally spend 4 hours reading research articles.
Oh, I have a correction already! I don’t *want* to experiment. Because of issues with my body and issues with how my identities fit the world, I *need* to experiment on myself. Failure is a much higher risk for me and people like me.
[03:09] No productivity or inspiration porn
This is NOT a podcast about hacking your productivity to fulfill capitalism. Or to try to cover up low self-worth with accomplishments. Been there, done that.. and then quit my PhD. There will be no productivity or inspiration porn.
This is about making the most of the complex mush of life. With a complex mushy meatcage.
What's on the other side of all these obstacles? Fulfillment. Belonging. Probably other things that are good. I guess? I hope! We will find out together.
Also bad things, cause no matter what that will happen. I accept that tradeoff.
Like a lot of neurodiverse folks, I'm into a *lot* of things. At the end of the day, I need guidance on when to explore or exploit an interest or passion.
It's scary to commit to things on behalf of an *unruly* body. Will I have enough energy? Will I fall apart after? Will I disappoint other people and alienate everyone in my life?
Stay tuned for the next episode of Why Meatcage Why.
I want the same for others. Other chronically ill, neurodiverse, or otherwise marginalized people. People who are always swimming upstream. Because they weren't the ones who built the fucking stream.
[04:41] Why we need our data
I've kept coming back to the same thing - needing all my data. I've gotten into self-tracking like fitness wearables, journaling, and habit tracking. But nothing integrates or has the flexibility that I *need* to actually figure myself out.
And manual self-tracking? You need a lot of spoons to do that. If you're a healthy person, spoons is just a reference to how much energy you have.. chronically ill people have a lot less to start with and the amount fluctuates.
It's too much to track your life when you're trying to *live* your life. When so many are just trying to keep their heads above water. It's helped me in many ways, but it's frustrating to lose progress when I'm too sick. Too sick to do anything, let alone track what I did do or what happened. I have ways around this that I plan to share, but there needs to be something more.
Like it or not, we are close to having all of our behavior tracked. A ton of data already exists about us. It’s just siloed in the different apps and devices we use. Since the pandemic, even *more* of our lives are online. Smart home equipment that records video or audio will take us the rest of the way.
We are on a choose your own data adventure. Yay.
So. You can throw your smartphone in a lake and live in a cave. Become some sort of hacker that knows everything companies are doing. Or pretend it isn't happening. That way you can continue to embrace convenience above privacy. And ignore any twitches of that "something creepy" vibe.
I'd love a data bill of rights for all humans, but we ain't there yet. Right now companies nudge me and I have no idea how they are influencing me. Or what they know about me.
I'm a web developer who's worked on tracking people on the internet. And I still have barely a clue what's happening.
It's tempting to want to disengage from the online world entirely. But there's neat things happening if you could cut through the noise. If you could actually find whatever it is you're looking for.
[07:05] A data example
Here’s just one example. I can't even see my full Spotify play history in their app. Or get it any other way. Unless I build something. They remove podcasts from your list after you've played them. I can't remember what I listened to recently. Not with this brain. There’s always the option of a stale ass data download days later. You know, when I can no longer remember why I even wanted that information? UGH.
What's the difference between writing down when I did an injection versus finding it because I already texted a friend that I was doing it?
There’s so much potential when you start seeing the online world and your data this way.
[07:51] Upbeat electronic music.
[08:03] Who am I?
Like I said earlier, I do the code thing. And the no code thing. I build web apps with a data focus. I'm also a former computational biochemist. And a heavily engaged progressive social justice warrior. Although I think I'd like to just call myself an advocate.
I've always had a wee bit of a fuck-you streak, so why not me? Just out here being Robinhood for people's data 😂
Ohhh hello there, icky "definitely not me" imposter feeling...
Okay. Do one of those positive affirmations Cake:
"This is worth doing and I am the one to make it happen". I can’t prove it with my data *yet*, but I swear affirmations help.
[08:58] No technical background required
If you don't have a technical background (whatever the fuck that means).. I'm not going to shy away from tech in this podcast. I'd rather try to make it approachable. By which I mean, I'll drop the bullshit tech gatekeeping. Convincing people that tech requires special abilities allows power and wealth to be concentrated. Mostly in the hands of white men. Sound familiar?
Most of us who work in tech just know a couple of things. Like most humans we barely know one piece of the knowledge pie. Depending on what is being built, a collective is sometimes required. This is even more true for intractable, wicked problems. Like climate change. If we want to solve those problems.. We need to break down the barriers between so-called technical and non-technical people.
I really hope you agree that we want to solve those problems.
[10:01] What’s an MVP? I'm working on nudges.io
I'm a solo entrepreneur, so part of this podcast is finding my collective or community. I’m working on an MVP for my first product nudges.io. MVP is not a sports thing. It’s minimal viable product. It’s the smallest amount of what you want to build that will fulfill the value you’re bringing. Trying to get people from point A to B? Your MVP might be a skateboard or a bike, but it won’t be a wheel. Unless it’s a unicycle, it’s not going to get you where you’re going.
I saw someone walking their dog while riding a unicycle once. Madison is definitely the Berkeley of the Midwest. We weird over here.
Back to the script.. I stopped coding nudges in January or February this year. One part fear, one part dealing with illness and capitalism, one part having a hard time deciding what it would be. So now I'm a bootstrapper who is looking to build community first. Or join an existing one? Basically, I'm not interested in building a product in a vacuum that no one wants to use.
[11:21] What’s bootstrapping?
Bootstrapping is funding your own company, instead of taking investment. I’m building something that will have access to all of a person’s data. I’m not willing to sell anyone’s data or build a product with ads. That is not compatible with the priorities of most investors. Ie money. And I’m not looking to compromise on my values, I’ve done that enough at other people’s startups.
So after creating an LLC in February, I quit my startup job. And thennn.. a pandemic happened. Have you heard of it? I canceled a flight for a neat bootstrapper summit in Mexico City. AS the flight was boarding. Get this - the goal of the summit was just to make friends with other founders. I love Earnest Capital for that.
Anyways, everything got more difficult in my life afterwards. 2020 blah 2020 blah. It seems to *finally* be chilling out now. But who knows? That's the adventure.
As I was researching things people have already done in the self tracking world, I realized it was too important for this to just be a product. VC invests in a range of companies looking for an ultra successful unicorn. They expect most companies to fail. Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy when you invest in companies that don’t have traction or profit. And then force them to grow way too rapidly.
As a bootstrapper, I don't think most companies need to fail.. but mine still could. And the problem would persist - people wouldn't have the products or data they *need* to control their life.
[13:24] Do something so important..
Reminds me of this quote "Do something so important the world would be better off even if you failed". How can I make things better even if I fail? By sharing everything I do and learn along the way. This is sometimes called working in public. I prefer learning in public. I have a way better relationship with learning than working.
That quote was Tim O'Reilly by the way. Yeah, he’s the guy with all the coding books and such. The ones that have animals on the covers. I have a Designing Data-Intensive Applications book with a boar on the front. I have not and probably will never finish reading it. It was too boar-ing.
I don’t mean to put the cart before the Database Reliability Engineering horse, but there's a *bigger* underlying theme here.
We need every person and discipline to solve the challenges ahead.
[14:33] A business card story
Or at least that's what my business cards say.. remember when those were a thing? Am I the only person who has a tagline on their business card?
When I give people a card, I offer them a choice of which logo color they want. This actually came from an accident with my first business cards. The printer did such a shitty job. The cards were grey but the edges were white and not cleanly cut. Sooo I colored all of the edges differently with highlighter. Took forever. It was a hit with people though. It makes total sense, I am building a personal data tool after all. And people usually like expressing themselves.
I’m gonna do things slower, but do it my way. And hopefully embrace happy accidents. I don't want to disappoint the legacy of Bob Ross.
[15:30] Diverse Experiences ‘R Us
On Twitter, venture capitalists talk about hiring 10x engineers for your startup. These are people who apparently code 10x as much or 10x as fast. And drive the rest of their team batty with unreadable code. I’m guessing.
I’m more like a one tenth engineer. Always asking if we even need to write that code or add that feature. Does this even solve the problem? Is it even the right problem? This pre-dates becoming a scientist.
So yeah, I'm a big ole advocate for diversity and inclusion. I'm the walking, talking, often rambling case for it.
Not wanting to keep that rambling to myself, I decided to share the user interviews for my company. Instead of notes kept somewhere in a dark basement, it is becoming a podcast. This podcast! So any creator can learn about diverse experiences.
[16:32] Indie Hackers
Shout out to Courtland Allen of Indie Hackers for the idea. Indie Hackers is a bootstrapping community. Courtland interviews successful bootstrappers at different stages. I'm addicted to the podcast. Before I got into other podcasts my Spotify year in review just showed 5 thumbnails of IH 😂 Hearing the stories of other Indie Hackers was one of the first times I thought “maybe I can have a business and live my values”.
So in summary this podcast will be:
- Stories of people who've figured their shit out (or tried to) with their own data
- Stories of people who are building user-centered data products or content
- Smol updates on Nudges cause I need the fucking accountability. I. am. sorry.
- Bad jokes, probably. Some oversharing. Swearing, definitely.
If you're interested, I'm @thecakelin with an i pretty much anywhere. My business accounts are @nudgesio.
[music fades in]
Heads up, I'm terrible at keeping up with them as a solo entrepreneur. My business Instagram is mostly memes so far.
Feel free to tell me what I'm doing wrong [laugh]. Or reach out if you want to be a guest or something.. I don't know how to ask for what I need. [inhale] please reach out if you know the secret to asking for what you need.
Thank you so much for listening, I appreciate y’all so much. Until next time, detfectives? Too much? 😂
[18:15] Electronic music