Hi, I'm Allen Pike. I founded Steamclock, host Fun Fact and It Shipped That Way, and am working on something new.

At least monthly, I write an article and publish it here.


From Chatbot to Everything Engine

January 10, 2024

A curious design constraint signals an ambitious future.

This morning, OpenAI launched the GPT Store: a simple way to browse and distribute customized versions of ChatGPT. GPTs – awkwardly named to solidify OpenAI’s claim to the trademark “GPT” – consist of a custom ChatGPT prompt, an icon, and optionally some reference data or hookups to external APIs. In...

5 min read →


Splitting Services and Product

December 30, 2023

The story of a plan: take a break, and get focused.

Last year, I realized it was time to switch things up. In 2010, my co-founder Nigel and I started Steamclock. The vision was to build products for clients, and use those profits to fund our own product development. Which worked! Mostly. We’ve built a client business that’s been growing and...

6 min read →


You Should Have a Research Question

November 29, 2023

How to turn curiosity into a superpower.

Humans are naturally curious. We wonder about things. Seek answers. Read an unreasonable number of Wikipedia articles about the Roman Empire for no reason. Well, not for no reason. Our minds are wired to learn. However, without a bit of steering, this curiosity can get a little… time-wastey. Learning something...

5 min read →


Build a Deck of Heroes

October 31, 2023

A way to relate to inspiring people.

It helps to have heroes. Heroes are people whose stories inspire us. Steve Wozniak, in my mind, used curiosity and audacity to rewrite the rules of what technology can do. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pursues truth and change with clarity and tenacity. Marie Kondo systematically seeks joy and simplicity in the spaces...

4 min read →


The Curse of Dialup World

September 30, 2023

An acquisition gets weird.

A long time ago – at the turn of the century, as kids would call it now – my first job was at a dialup internet service provider. Officially, I was hired to be a sort of errand-boy. Instead, the role was more interesting: a front seat for one of...

7 min read →


Make the Thing a Link

August 31, 2023

A quick way to level up prose.

Links rock. An awesome habit when writing – for example, in a Slack message or doc – is to add a link to the thing you’re talking about. We’ve updated the Octopus Report, which you can find here. Feedback is due by Friday. Cool. Now people don’t need to hunt...

3 min read →


The Feedback Wizard

August 28, 2023

We had fun this month making a little experiment called The Feedback Wizard. It’s a tool that helps you (or your reports) take a problem you’ve seen and transform it into useful feedback. It’s been well received by our early users, both for its ability to phrase feedback in an...

30 sec read →


Do Something, So We Can Change It!

July 31, 2023

A habit for addressing two-way decisions.

Sometimes teams get stuck on a decision. My favourite trick for getting unstuck comes via Pixar’s Michael B. Johnson. In 25 years there, he helped Pixar build the production workflows they use to make and iterate their stories, and was tasked with helping teams “fail as quickly as possible.” To...

3 min read →


Going Way Beyond ChatGPT

June 30, 2023

Techniques for building products on LLMs today.

Modern instruction-tuned language models, or LLMs, are the latest tool in software engineers’ toolboxes. Joining classics like databases, networking, hypertext, and async web applications, we now have a new enabling technology that seems wickedly powerful, but whose best applications aren’t yet clear. ChatGPT lets you poke at those possibilities. You...

11 min read →


How Leaders Manage Time & Attention

May 31, 2023

Some findings on productivity.

Last month, I wanted to better understand into how leaders manage their time and attention. While this seems like a core leadership skill, a lot of the managers I know have a fractious relationship with productivity tools. Given this, I had two high-level questions: What are the popular approaches in...

8 min read →


Collect Stories, Not Generalizations

April 30, 2023

An approach for product interviewing.

Humans are unreliable narrators. Even the most honest interlocutors will confidently say untrue things. We recount false memories, accidentally imply speculation is fact, succumb to cognitive biases, misinterpret causal relationships, struggle with cognitive dissonance, engage in lossy paraphrasing, and kind of just say nonsense sometimes. It’s part of being human!...

5 min read →


32K of Context in Your Pocket

March 15, 2023

A wild large-context LLM appears.

One month ago, I wrote about on the limits of 4K-token AI models, and the wild capabilities and costs that large-context language models may one day have. Today, OpenAI not only debuted GPT-4 with a doubly large 8K token limit, but demoed and began trials of a version that supports...

2 min read →


Explore more articles →

© Allen Pike. 👋🏼 You can contact me, or check out Steamclock.