Metamuse is a podcast about tools for thought, product design & how to have good ideas.

Hosted by Mark McGranaghan and Adam Wiggins
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41 October 14, 2021

Local-first software with Martin Kleppmann

Local-first is a set of principles that enables collaborative software without the loss of data ownership associated with the cloud. Martin is a computer scientist on the frontier of this movement, and he joins Mark and Adam to discuss how creative people put their souls into their work; a vision for a generic AWS syncing service; and why local-first could be a breakthrough for indie app developers.

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40 September 30, 2021

Filmmaking with Maximilian Becht

The Muse team worked with Max and his film crew on the pilot episode of a new documentary series. Max joins Adam and Mark to talk about how making films compares to making software; why creative trust is the core of a great team; and why we should hire based on networks, portfolios, and auditions instead of CVs and interviews. Plus: 40 people stuck on a film shoot in the forest due to a forgotten shovel.

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39 September 16, 2021

Expressive tools with Weiwei Xu

Why are we driven to create, and to express ourselves online? Weiwei is the founder of Sprout, a collaborative creation space. She joins Mark and Adam to talk about how tools influence group communication and our sense of belonging; why we should make our online spaces feel more like bedrooms than stadiums or hotel lobbies; and why children’s tools have a special magic. Plus: Nintendo’s withered technology, Winamp skins, and cursor waves.

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38 September 02, 2021

Calm companies with Tyler Tringas

As the world’s economy is remade via software, some founders are finding the one-way ratchet of venture capital too restrictive. Tyler Tringas is working to expand funding options available to entrepreneurs via the Calm Fund. He joins Mark and Adam to talk about a return to classic good business practices; how founders can maximize their optionality; building an investment thesis out in the open; and how to be long-term ambitious.

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37 August 19, 2021

Visual programming with Maggie Appleton

Creating software is typically done in text-based environments—but would programming be more accessible with graphical programming tools? Maggie joins Mark and Adam to talk about the relative success of Scratch, Shortcuts, and Zapier; how to make the abstract visible; embodied metaphors; and the false duality of artistic versus logical thinkers. Plus: how to make blinking lights for your Burning Man art installation.

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36 August 05, 2021


Text blocks are a new beta feature for Muse. Mark and Adam use the opportunity to discuss the origins and philosophy of text in computing, including text as a datum in environments like wikis, REPLs, and social media; the writing workflow of collapsing spatially-arranged ideas down to a linear text buffer; and company memo culture. And Mark shares his vision for how the Pencil could become the X-Acto knife for fast text editing on a tablet.

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35 July 22, 2021

The future of iPad

It’s been over a decade since Steve Jobs introduced Apple’s tablet as a “third device” between Mac and iPhone. Mark, Adam, and Lennart discuss iPad’s potential as a creative platform; multitasking, filesystem, and scripting/extensions; multimodal inputs; and the background process problem. Plus: why Apple should build its own pro apps for iPad to demonstrate their vision for the platform.

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34 July 08, 2021

Bring your own client with Geoffrey Litt

In today’s world, apps and their data are tightly coupled—but what if each person could pick and choose their own tool for use in a collaborative project? Geoffrey Litt is a researcher working on this problem at MIT. He joins Mark and Adam to talk about email as the original BYOC case study; how shared protocols enable niche software; whether it’s possible to design software for someone other than yourself; and how to accidentally become an expert.

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33 June 24, 2021

Cities with Devon Zuegel

Tech product designers could learn from the immense challenges of designing cities. Devon joins Adam and Mark to share her knowledge and passion on urban design and economics. They discuss how open source communities compare to cities; historical preservation versus growth and change; the messy middle of public and private goods; wi-fi spectrum ownership; and what to do when the neighbor’s new building puts shade on your vegetable garden.

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32 June 10, 2021


Pricing a product is one of the most difficult and high-stakes part of running a software business. Adam, Mark, and Lennart discuss the latest pricing updates for Muse; the pros and cons of selling through the iOS App Store; concerns with subscription payments for software; and why it’s important to be experimental and iterative with your prices.

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31 May 27, 2021

Social media with Tobias Rose-Stockwell

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have transformed how we come to a shared understanding about our world. Tobias has been writing about social media for half a decade. He joins Mark and Adam to discuss velocity and virality in information dissemination; how to train your YouTube algorithm; rage tweeting; and how to improve the internet we all inhabit.

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30 May 12, 2021

Computers and creativity with Molly Mielke

Great tools can enable co-creation between humans and computers. Molly Mielke joins Mark and Adam to talk about her thesis on the subject. They discuss product design as a fusion of creative and analytical; how consumer preferences may conflict with the Engelbart/Kay vision of computing; the emerging social norms of collaborative software; and why we should bring back skeuomorphism.

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29 April 29, 2021

Thinking in probabilities with Taimur Abdaal

Probabilistic modeling is useful for answering all kinds of questions, from assessing financial risk to making engineering time estimates. Yet spreadsheets are poor at this job, which is why Taimur and his colleagues are building Casual. Taimur talks with Mark and Adam about ranges as an intuitive way to estimate; the usefulness of Monte Carlo simulations; and the role of math in dating cave paintings.

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28 April 15, 2021

Learning from games

Video games are often on the leading edge of technical, design, and social innovation in the software world. Mark and Adam discuss what productivity tools can learn from games including the culture of performance; tools like Twitch and Discord; and end-user programming via scripting and modding.

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27 April 01, 2021

Playful software with Rasmus Andersson

Design and engineering polymath Rasmus Andersson joins Mark and Adam to talk about his new project, Playbit. Play as a means of discovery and learning; virtualization as an underexploited technology for making safe playspaces for programming; and whether macOS will still exist in ten years.

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26 March 18, 2021

No data moat with Balint Orosz

When you pay for software, are you paying for the data storage or the interface? Balint is the founder of Craft, a writing app designed for iPad. He chats with Adam and Mark about design conventions for multimodal input; why import/export is so important; and how to have humility about how your product fits into your customer’s life.

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25 March 04, 2021

Time-based notes with Alexander Griekspoor

Agenda is software that encodes an unusual philosophy for note-taking. Alex of Agenda joins Mark and Adam to talk about being an indie developer; note-taking as a technique for calming the mind; and the benefits of community and learning tools socially.

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24 February 18, 2021

Small Giants

A “small giant” is a company that chooses to optimize for mojo instead of growth. Mark and Adam describe how Muse was inspired to follow this path, designing the business model, team makeup, and funding source accordingly. Plus: a digression into tender offers and the fine points of US tax law.

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23 February 04, 2021

Collaborative creativity with Nikolas Klein

Tools for collaboration are changing team culture. Nikolas Klein has been a part of this shift in his academic work and on the product design team at Figma. He joins Mark and Adam to discuss creative collaboration including how guardrails can increase comfort with working collaboratively; changing mindset from “my ideas” to “our ideas”; and screensharing as an intimate act.

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22 January 21, 2021


Brand is not just a name or a logo—it’s the character of a company and its products. Adam and Mark discuss the memetic and emotive elements of branding; brand as tribal identity; and Muse brand values like thoughtfulness and curiosity.

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21 January 07, 2021

Listener questions

How to prototype advanced gestures; how to organize your Muse boards; and how to spot good ideas. Plus, a peek at the long-term Muse roadmap.

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20 December 24, 2020

Thinking in maps with Anne-Laure Le Cunff

Maps can visualize space, time, biological processes, social graphs, and much more. Anne-Laure of Ness Labs talks with Mark and Adam about the multi-thousand-year history of map-based thinking, and how we can use maps in our own creative work today.

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19 December 10, 2020

Progress with Jason Crawford

Jason Crawford writes about the history of technology and the philosophy of progress. He joins Mark and Adam to talk about technologies like messenger RNA vaccines, nanotech, and supersonic jets. Plus society-level questions like whether we are in a period of stagnation, how we fund maverick ideas, and why we need hubris.

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18 November 26, 2020


Thinking and creativity require privacy. In this data-intensive age, what does “privacy” mean for a tool for thought? Mark and Adam discuss product decisions in the context of digital privacy for the tech industry and society overall.

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17 November 12, 2020

Rethink the OS with Jason Yuan

Jason Yuan believes that we all should feel empowered to think about ways to improve our computer's operating system. He joins Mark and Adam to talk about stage design, dreaming big versus delivering practical products, and why software should be fun.

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16 October 29, 2020

No more boring apps with Andy.Works

Andy.Works believes in design-forward products, as seen in his work on Paper for iPad to a handmade analog clock for his young kids. Mark, Adam, and Andy discuss products as vector for culture; maverick game designers; innovation budgets; and pushing back against the idea of scale in software.

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15 October 16, 2020

Leaving San Francisco

It's a new world: many creative professionals can now choose where they live, independent of where their employer is headquartered. Mark and Adam discuss the implications of this. Plus: the magic of Silicon Valley, cities that feed your creative soul, and strategies for making big life decisions.

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14 October 01, 2020

Onboarding with Jane Portman

Jane Portman of Userlist joins Julia and Adam to share her expertise with onboarding. Why guided tours don't work, the legacy of Clippy, and drip campaigns that are more personal and considerate.

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13 September 17, 2020

Interface innovation with Josh Miller

Josh Miller from The Browser Company joins Mark and Adam to discuss how to make a better web browser in 2020. The conversation ranges from user agency in software to architecture to social capital to end-user programming.

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12 September 03, 2020

Growing ideas with Andy Matuschak

Andy Matuschak joins Mark and Adam to talk about rituals for deep thought, how to develop an inkling over time, and the public goods problem of research.

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11 August 20, 2020

Authentic marketing with Lisa Enckell

Lisa Enckell joins Mark and Adam to talk about picking a category, aspirational creativity, and the purpose of product launches.

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10 August 07, 2020

Tools for thought

The rich history of tools for thought stretches back to the 1960s. Adam and Mark talk about how today’s computing, from iPads to Twitch to AI, might help us gain knoweldge and develop novel ideas.

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09 July 23, 2020

The Information Age

This modern Information Age can make it challenging for a creative professional to keep their focus. At the same time, there are many benefits to being plugged in. Mark and Adam discuss.

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08 July 11, 2020

Principled products with Max Schoening

Max Schoening of GitHub joins Mark and Adam to talk about principled design, authentic marketing, tools for thought, and more.

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07 June 24, 2020

From prototype to product with Lachlan Campbell

Lachlan Campbell of Hack Club joins Mark and Adam to talk about path from research prototype to released product.

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06 June 12, 2020

Human-Computer Interaction

HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) studies how people relate to their digital tools. Mark and Adam discuss their journey into HCI, how others can get into the field, and its influence on Muse.

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05 May 26, 2020

Gesture programming for the iPad

Developing an iPad app with a rich gesture space and unique spatial-zooming visual model is technically challenging. Julia joins Mark and Adam to break down the software engineering behind Muse.

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04 May 11, 2020

Partnership, freedom, and responsibility

The company behind Muse is structured as a small partnership. Mark and Adam talk about why the team wanted this unusual approach and how it's working so far.

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03 April 29, 2020

Read the fabulous manual

Professional tools need a manual to explain how they work, but not all manuals are created equal. Mark and Adam discuss their mutual love of manuals, what makes a manual great, and why we chose video as the primary medium for the Muse Interface Handbook.

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02 April 16, 2020

Having good ideas

Ideas are foundational for creative and knowledge work. Mark and Adam talk about fodder, making time to ideate, and the value of fresh surroundings.

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01 March 24, 2020

Tool switching

Muse has a modeless interface with no onscreen toolbars. Mark and Adam talk about the long research journey that led us here.

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