Uses This

1236 interviews since 2009

A picture of Devon Zuegel

Devon Zuegel

Writer, developer

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, 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 do you use?

And what software?

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
  • Postach.io for publishing my blog from Evernote
  • VSCode 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.town for hosting online events in a way that's more fun than Zoom
  • Zencastr for recording podcasts
  • Google Sheets for quickly analyzing data + creating graphs
  • Figma for all sorts of things
  • Mailspring for email
  • Pocket Casts for podcasts
  • Lupa for practicing Spanish
  • Intelligent Translator as a menu bar app for translation
  • 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 "devonzuegel@gmail.com")
  • Blender for 3D modeling (though I'm not very good at it yet)
  • Otter.ai 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 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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