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Why I think Howstr will change the world

Howstr is a system that makes it really easy to find out how to do things.¬†In simple terms, Howstr considers writing and reading overrated. They’re great for sharing stories, but not great for getting work done.

what are books good for? Reading: yes. Flying a plane: no.

Howstr replaces a simple story about a project with a complex model of what an expert knows about the project.¬†Knowledge, not words. (okay, it uses words, but they’re used better)

The expert explains everything to Howstr. Howstr explains it to everyone else.

Howstr will literally walk you through the project, step by step, telling you exactly what you need to know next. Howstr does what an expert would do if they could stand over your shoulder.

robot explaining how to make tea
Robot “…and then you drink the tea.” Stock photo model “Thanks robot. You saved me a lot of time.”

But Howstr scales a lot better than experts or books.

Unlike a book, Howstr gives you all the details you need while hiding all the details you don’t need.¬†An expert could do that, but they can’t do it for everyone everywhere all the time, like Howstr can.

The system behind Howstr is a network, not a library.¬†All of the knowledge in Howstr can be related together so none of the vital context is lost. Instead of creating a bigger pile where it’s harder to find things, adding stuff to Howstr makes things easier to find and understand.

information vs knowledge

Once a project has been modeled correctly it never needs to be explained again.

The experts can spend their time improving and everyone else can refer to Howstr when they need answers.¬†If it’s been done before, you’ll know about it, but you don’t have to study it.¬†Howstr will explain just the parts you need to know. A little, or a lot.

Whenever someone figures something out they just add it to Howstr and no one ever has to figure it out again.

Imagine never being unsure about how to do anything. Imagine not having to spend any time researching or waste any time on mistakes. Imagine everyone gets this option whenever they need it.

easy button
You mean I just press this button and everything gets easier?

It will be just plain easier to get things done. Important things. Difficult things. Valuable things. Slow, effortful exchange of knowledge adds friction to the world. Removing the friction will free up a lot of time and money.

If you share something that saves a person $1, that’s a dollar they still have.¬†What’s more, that’s a dollar they never¬†needed in the first place!

Wealth is the difference between what a person has and what they need. When you reduce what a person needs you make them wealthier, even if they still have the same amount. When you reduce what everyone needs you make the whole world wealthier.

everyone giving a thumbs up

Howstr; making everything as easy as the laws of physics will allow.

So…what do you want to do?

The only thing is that Howstr can’t do all of that yet. I’m working on it. Drop me a line if you want to help. Or go here to check out the prototype.

Published inHowstrknowledge digitalizationNotionAlloutlineUncategorized


  1. Interesting concept. I spent years as a project controls manager in the construction industry, which means I’ve done shedloads of GANTT charts using several different platforms. I downloaded the OSX version of Howstr though and couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Specifically, I couldn’t quickly figure out how to add, delete, or change items. Admittedly, I didn’t try very hard or read any instruction manuals, but it wasn’t intuitive. I get your concept though and find that more interesting to talk about at this point. Who do you see using this? Everyone for everything? Who will actually author the instructions? Mostly a dedicated group of enthusiasts like wikipedia? How do conflicts between “my method” and “your method” get resolved? On a more abstract level, isn’t too much expertise contingent on variable conditions to get their knowledge from tacit to explicit? For example, I worked at the Secret Service, so, “How do you protect a President?” I don’t think it’s literally impossible to model that, just incredibly, incredibly difficult. Not that Howstr needs to solve that problem, but I’m just wondering roughly what your goals are for it.

    • admin admin

      Hmmm, yeah I had to get creative with how the mouse is used to manipulate the graph elements. Do you think I should add a big warning to review the controls or would you have ignored that no matter what?

      There are a lot of smart, productive people in the open source hardware (OSHW) community who are trying really hard to share their projects but none of the tools are up to the job. I think they’ll find that Howstr is the channel they’ve been looking for. Eventually the input/output will be intuitive enough for everyone to use.

      It’s good to think of it like a next-level Wikipedia for now. This early version needs people in the “author” role.

      At the moment, disagreements about how to do things can be thought of as “alternatives.” As in, there can easily be more than one way to do the same thing. As long as they’re linked by the same model the algorithm or the reader can select the alternative that makes the most sense for them.

      Knowledge like “how to protect the POTUS” is a highly summarized label for a huge network of more specific tasks, many of which require extensive practice. Howstr will get there, but first we have to build up all of the little pieces. For example, “how to buy a well-fitted suit” might be a good start that will contribute to the much larger goal of being a Secret Service agent. That’s why I’m focusing on discrete projects, not skills, at first.

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