The Fourteenth Book

“What hope can there be for mankind,” I thought, “when there are such men as Felix Hoenikker to give such playthings as ice-nine to such short-sighted children as almost all men and women are?”

And I remembered The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon, which I had read in its entirety the night before. The Fourteenth Book is entitled, “What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?”

It doesn’t take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period.

This is it:


—Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle (1963)

Education vs ads

Almost all of our marketing and sales was educational. We just thought, “We’ll teach people stuff, and some tiny fraction of those people will become our customers.” It seemed to work just as well as running ads, which were a hard sell and kind of empty and a waste of people’s time. In this case, nobody could ever say that we wasted their time.

—Philip Greenspun, interviewed by Jessica Livingston, Founders at work : stories of startups’ early days, 2008.