Progress on TimelineGPT, Emergent Mind missteps, finding balance

Photo by Lucas Favre

Hey all 👋! It’s been a minute since my last post (for reasons I’ll get into below) so here’s periodic update on what I’ve been up to:


About two months ago I launched an in-app tool for Preceden that provides GPT-powered event suggestions to users to help them build out their timelines faster. The tool has been fairly successful in terms of adoption: about 15% of new users try it and add content to their timelines using the tool. It might not sound like a lot, but getting 15% of new users to use a secondary feature is pretty difficult in my experience.

For the next phase of it, I’ve been working on a stand-alone tool that anyone can use even without an account:

Imaging landing on Preceden’s homepage and being presented with a search field (along with lots of examples) that you can use to generate a timeline about any topic, ranging from World War II to a startup marketing plan, to an upcoming trip to Iceland, to a hypothetical zombie apocalypse next month. You’ll be able to download or share that timeline and optionally create an account on Preceden to edit it (which would also require upgrading to a paid plan).

Here, for a fun example, is what you get if you searched for “Billing Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire”:

This project is about 80% done functionality wise, but only 10% done design-wise. Probably will launch it in 2-3 weeks. TBD on its impact on the business, but I’m optimistic (as always) about its potential.

Emergent Mind

Two weeks back I announced a new design and new direction for Emergent Mind: instead of a site focused on sharing ChatGPT examples (which is how it started as LearnGPT), it would be an AI news and discussion site:

In retrospect, trying to create a competitor to HackerNews or Reddit, even one niched down to focus on AI, is not realistic. At least not for me. There are many problems with it:

  • While I like browsing HackerNews and Reddit, I hardly ever comment. Trying to kickstart an AI discussion site is much harder if you as its founder are not active in those discussions.
  • And even if I was open to being active in the discussions, it’s very difficult actually getting anybody to participate in a new online community. The whole chicken and egg problem.
  • I don’t have a big audience online, which makes it even more difficult.
  • And I don’t aspire to be some Twitter AI influencer and build a big audience.

Taken together, the whole AI news and discussion direction for Emergent Mind was ill-conceived.

It took launching it to really internalize that for me, so I’m glad I did, but I quickly felt silly for even trying to go that route.

That said, I do very much like the AI news and education direction that I’ve shifted towards since that launch.

Here’s the idea:

  • In case you haven’t been paying attention, there’s an overwhelming amount of things happening in the world of AI right now
  • With Emergent Mind, I’m going to try to surface the most important news each day, and help educate people about that news.
  • And it will be 99% automated, thanks to a deep integration with GPT.

Executed well, I think it has the potential to be 10x better than most other AI news sources. It’s gonna take some time to get there, but I’m pretty excited to take it on.


Part of the reason I haven’t blogged much lately is because I’ve been heads down coding for the last few weeks and didn’t want to lose an hour of progress by taking that time to write. Needless to say, that kind of mentality is not a healthy, long-term approach and unsurprisingly has left me neglecting other areas of my life and feeling burnt out.

I took some time off last week to rest and reflect and have decided to be a lot more deliberate about moving at a slower, more relaxed pace. Not just jumping into VSCode and coding all day, every day, like I have been recently. Giving myself space to relax and learn and tinker and not feel rushed all the time. Easier said than done for me, especially with the pace of things in the AI world right now, but essential if I’m going to do this long term.

Hopefully it won’t be months again before my next post :)