Issue 26: Product management for modest growth, steel men vs. straw men, how Dream Market got taken down

Also, CHVRCHES made a song for a video game and it’s really good.

Resources to create better products

Should you product manage for rocket-ship growth or modest growth? →

I appreciate this counter-cultural viewpoint from the folks at Feature Upvote, on avoiding the need to “grow at any cost”:

For us, we realised success means running a growing company (profitable with customers in 30+ countries) that we enjoy working for but doesn’t dominate our lives. We want to have time for friends, families and fun, and to make sure work doesn’t negatively impact how we feel while at work or elsewhere.

This is very similar to our approach at Wildbit. See, for example, our 4-day work-week experiment.

Don't Let the Backlog Drive Your Product →

Speaking of counter-cultural, I always enjoy when the Postlight team writes about product management:

Backlog-driven products are everywhere. They’re confounding and frustrating. Stepping back from the backlog is true product advocacy. This will feel like friction between product leaders and stakeholders. It’s just the process. It’s how you get to great product. You have to wade through all that pushback and debate to get to something great. And in the end that’s what everyone is after: Great product.

How to Make Product Decisions With Transparency and Trust →

Some very helpful, practical tips here from Ellen Gottesdiener. For example, on defining “decision rules”:

A decision rule is a mechanism to reach closure. It tells participants in the decision-making process when a decision has been made, something many product teams are not explicit about. When a decision rule is not explicitly defined, there is often too much discussion and debate. People are left unsure when and if a decision has been reached and what the decision is. They delay taking action and often act without commitment. The team loses energy and valuable time.

Resources to work better together

The soul of the steel man →

Robin Sloan’s newsletter is always a delight, but this week I can’t stop thinking about the concept of the “steel man” as the opposite of a “straw man” argument:

The opposite is the “steel man.” That’s when you articulate the absolute strongest version of your opponent’s position—potentially even stronger than the one they presented. One of the key characteristics of a steel man is that it must satisfy your opponent. Upon hearing your version of their position, they must say: “Well… yes. That’s it exactly!”

Google's .New Shortcuts Are Now for Everyone →

This is neat:

Want to start a new Spotify playlist? That’s List a widget on eBay? Try Github repository? Welcome to And in a lightly recursive touch, you can make new shortened links with Bitly at the very short new link


This looks really interesting. “GitBook is a modern documentation platform where teams can document everything from products to internal knowledge-bases and APIs.”

Technology news

Stealing Amazon Packages in the Age of Nextdoor →

When a longtime resident started stealing her neighbors’ Amazon packages, she entered a vortex of smart cameras, Nextdoor rants, and cellphone surveillance. This story starts off as one thing, and quickly morphs into a much larger critique of Silicon Valley life:

So, Fairley told me two years later, sitting in an orange sweatsuit in a county-jail interview room, that was the real acceleration of the epic feud of Fairley v. Neighbors of Potrero Hill, a vortex of smart-cam clips, Nextdoor rants, and cellphone surveillance that would tug at the complexities of race and class relations in a liberal, gentrifying city. The clash would also expose a fraught debate about who is responsible, and who is to blame, for the city’s increasingly unlivable conditions. As Fairley says, “It just got bigger and bigger and bigger.”

👉 See also Are neighborhood watch apps making us safer?

‘Nearly All’ Counter-Strike Microtransactions Are Being Used for Money Laundering →


Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players will no longer be able to trade container keys between accounts because the trade was part of a massive worldwide fraud network. 

What Would Happen If the Internet Went Down ... Forever?

How long could society carry on without the internet? However implausible, it’s nonetheless a scenario that futurists, economists, and IT workers spend considerable time contemplating.

I tracked everything my baby did until nothing made sense any more →

James Temperton answers the important questions, like “Has a baby really pooped at all if it can’t be viewed as part of a Poop Frequency Trend Chart going back three months?”

Case in point: farts. Shortly after our child was born, we spent weeks worrying about abnormal air quality in our bedroom. We had been tipped off to the presence of concerning-sounding volatile organic compounds by a small, rabbit-like creature that lurks in the corner: our feature-packed Arlo Baby. Unlike most baby monitors that merely provide an audio and or video feed of your baby sleeping, the Arlo Baby can also monitor temperature, humidity and even detect levels of methane, hydrogen, carbon monoxide and ethanol in the air.

Turns Out™ their baby was just really really gassy 🤷‍♂️

Random things I like

🎸 YES to all of this. “The best way to support musicians you care about is to buy their albums on CD or digitally from Bandcamp, go to their concerts, buy their merchandise, join their fan clubs, follow them on Instagram, subscribe to their Patreons, and so on.”

😂 How did feeling good become a matter of relentless, competitive work, a never-to-be-attained goal which makes us miserable?

🤖 The rise of microchipping: are we ready for technology to get under the skin?

🕵️‍♂️ If you’re really diligent, you can now get access to your secret consumer score.

👮‍♀️ A really interesting overview of how Dream Market (a dark web drug marketplace) got taken down.

Final thoughts

📖 I started reading Wanderers and I’m really enjoying it:

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

🎵 CHVRCHES has a new song called Death Stranding and it’s amazing. It’s fascinating to me how video game soundtracks are starting to get the same treatment as movie soundtracks. As games become more immersive, it seems natural to spend more time on the music as well. I guess this why you can now buy things like The Music of Red Dead Redemption 2 on vinyl.

🐦 Shout-out, parents.

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Elezea is a newsletter with links, resources, and commentary to help you create better products, work better together, and understand the broader impact of technology on our work and our lives. It’s written by Rian van der Merwe, who is a product manager, author, speaker, and person who would be very grateful if you shared the newsletter’s sign-up page with people you like.