I have a fascination for mechanical gadgetry. Maybe it’s due to the fact that they are inherently imperfect, and that we’ve been trying to make things work correctly and more precisely for centuries. I collect automatic, mechanical watches. I still listen to vinyl at home, from The Beatles to Marvin Gaye to Mutantes. One of my hobbies is to use old film in my Hasselblad, Mamiya and even plastic cameras. Film has grain, it ages and needs a lot of work to make it record images properly. And although I like electric cars, I marvel how timed explosions turn reciprocating motion into circular motion with manual gear-shifting and how this propels an internal combustion engine vehicle forward.
Recently I listened to a Neil Gaiman interview with Tim Ferriss that inspired me to write this. For a good chunk of the interview, Neil spoke about writing with pens and paper instead of using a computer, because it restrains you. You need to think, and think ahead, because you probably want to minimize how much you correct yourself without the aid of backspace and delete keys.
Because I work with technology, code, algorithms, a calling that I truly love, I believe I have a need to counterbalance the impulses and speed that exist in my industry with my finite resources. Like ink on paper, film photography is rare and expensive, so I really spend time focusing and framing the picture, and I double-check the exposure. It happens almost subconsciously; there are only so many rolls you can carry around, plus you need to change the roll every 12 frames or so. I like 1 in 3 film photos, on average. From my some 90,000 digital pictures I’m pretty sure I will only like 1 in 50.
Scarcity demands focus. Our most rare resource is human talent, that’s why at Bureau Works we are so invested in automation. I know, it sounds ironic, crazy, but it’s true. We believe that by allowing mundane, repetitive and boring tasks to be taken on by computers, we will free our most valuable resources—people—to develop their skills and learn new ones, to bring more value to the company with new ideas and to challenge conventions. We expect everyone who works with us to look outwardly instead of burying themselves in tasks that will bring a sense of being busy, but not necessarily of accomplishment.
Our push towards full automation in many areas of the company stems from our need to create more collaboration. We are at our best when we talk, share experiences and explore creative paths to solve problems and define strategies. It takes effort for people to perform, it’s imperfect and we learn from our missteps. Machines are precise and reliable, that’s why we need them to crunch the boring stuff. This combination is what makes me come to work everyday with a smile on my face.
Written by Henrique Cabral
Henrique is a partner at Bureau Works as well as the CTO. He also speaks code and loves racing cars.