Interview with Kyle Baxter...

Yes sir it is finally the weekend and thanks to my new speed cube, and a great interview I think this will be a great Saturday. Kyle Baxter is a blogger at TightWind.net. There he writes about technology and really anything that interests him. He has a lot to say, and is great at saying it.

Q. What are you currently working on?

A. Today, I'm primarily working on two things: writing TightWind and further developing my new iPad app, Basil. I'm still doing what got me started four years ago, writing TightWind (http://tightwind.net/). Regrettably, between graduate school and working on Basil, I've had to cut back a bit on writing for the last six months. Writing TW is incredibly rewarding, because I get to think about and explore so many things that are meaningful to me, like technology, business and the web, and I get to talk with wonderfully thoughtful and smart people as a result. Starting TightWind back in 2008 was the best decision I've made. Basil (http://basil-app.com) makes it really easy to save recipes from the web, organize and cook them. I taught myself how to develop iOS apps so I could build it, and sort of learned as I went. I launched Basil in March and the response has been terrific. People seem to get it—it's a really simple way to save recipes and cook them, with no extraneous features, and focused on cooking, so the recipe text is large and easily readable at a glance. There's a few pain spots that I'm working on fixing, and a couple new features that I'm adding that I think users are going to like. It's a lot of fun working on Basil because it's a personal project to me. I built it because I wanted something like it, but it didn't exist. It's a joy to get to work on something that's personally meaningful to you and that people really love.

Q. Why do you design websites?

A. I haven't really done web design in a few years, so I'm probably not the best person to ask. :) I need to update my colophon.

Q. In your opinion, when/how/why will Apple fail?

A. That's a difficult question. Even if Apple loses their dominance today, they could coast on momentum for a while because they're in nascent industries and are doing so well, so I don't think they're at any risk of "failing" any time soon. But they are certainly at risk of gradually losing their dominance. Apple's success has depended on, among other things, very talented people working on very focused strategies. When Apple released the iPod in 2001, their product line-up was exceedingly simple. They sold consumer and pro notebooks and consumer and pro desktops. This allowed them to focus all of their effort on making those products as good as they could possibly be, and that's precisely what they did. They maintained this level of focus up until 2007 when they released the iPhone, but something important happened that year: they had to shift engineers working on the new release of Mac OS X, Leopard, to iOS to finish it before its release. Apple added a new operating system that year, and with it, a new platform. As a result, their resources were stretched and they had to begin adding new employees rather rapidly. If I were Apple, I would have two concerns:

- With two platforms and expanded product lines, they could lose focus in their overall strategy, and product quality could diminish as a result.
- As they expand their workforce, the quality of employees could diminish if they aren't careful. Once this process starts, it's difficult to stop, because it will begin to affect product quality and cause smart employees to leave. That's what concerns me most about Apple's future. They're doing a lot, and it's difficult to do a lot of things with the highest quality.
Q. What advice would you give to your eighth grade self if you could talk to him?
A. Oh boy. I would probably say, first, work a little harder in school. It's mostly boring, but it's also very beneficial, and you're much better off having done well in school than you are trying to overcome mediocre grades. Second, I would say keep reading all that stuff you read—fiction, history, religion, politics, science. Having not only a good basis in a variety of fields, but being naturally curious about all kinds of things will serve you well. Third, I would say to start writing fiction and non-fiction, if only privately. It helps develop critical thinking, the ability to form logical arguments, and creativity. Last, I'd say join the debate team in high school your freshman year rather than sophomore. It turned out to be an incredibly rewarding and expanding experience, and I wish I started from the very beginning of high school. It's one of those things that if you're high school has it, and you're interested in doing debate, I would absolutely try it. It's a wonderful activity.
Q. What is your greatest strength and weakness?
A. My greatest weakness is I can sometimes procrastinate on things rather than hit it head-on. A part of me is fundamentally very lazy and I have to work to make sure it doesn't prevent me from accomplishing what I want to. My greatest strength is that I have a such a variety of interests. So many different things interest me, and I love learning about all kinds of things. I'm naturally a curious person, and I'm happiest when reading a great book on something I'm not that well informed on but that's fascinating and meaningful. That tendency has taken me from studying Islam, world politics and political philosophy throughout high school to learning how to develop software now. In some ways, though, it can be limiting, because I've ended up learning about a lot of things rather than specializing in a single field. But I think that's worth the benefits.
For Kyle's background I wanted to incorporate one of his favorite hobbies, cycling. You can purchase it here.
Thanks Kyle,
instantbight