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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Orbiting the Giant Hairball

Jack Covert writes a good review of Gordon MacKenzie's Orbiting the Giant Hairball.

I agree.

I recommend this book.

It is on my top business books listing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cool Design Idea

Found this wonderful post in the BBC RSS feed today. An observant graduate student has crafted a new swimmer's goggle that will keep track of the lap count and time.

Ms Williams said the idea for the Inview goggles came out of her past experiences as a lifeguard at her local swimming pool.

Many keen swimmers rely on a wristwatch or wall-mounted pace clock to keep track of lap times but both change the way that people swim.

"If they have a watch on a lot of swimmers will move their left arm differently, just to see how fast they are going," she said. "It's wasting energy for them really."

Observation... the starting point for design.

Recognizing that there was an opportunity, then thinking about how to resolve it.

Nice work, Katie!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Your view and the world view

From Seth Godin at Seth's Blog

I don't think I'm being harsh... I’ve seen far too many great ideas fail to believe that I’m being cynical in this post. You may have the greatest thing ever, but if it doesn’t match a prevailing worldview in the market where you hope to tell your story, you’re invisible.

All Marketers are Liars was probably a dumb title for my latest book (if my goal was to sell a lot, fast). It doesn’t do a good job of matching the worldview of the people most likely to buy it or talk about it. Perhaps I should have called it, “The Orange Kangaroo: How Smart Marketers Tell Stories People Want to Believe.” Same book, different worldview. To be fair, my goal wasn't to write a sequel, though, it was to change minds--which is a very time-consuming and difficult thing to do.

If you don't have the energy or the time to change minds, though, what should you do? You need to realize that changing a worldview requires you to get your prospects to admit that they were wrong. This is awfully hard to do.

I think that tapping into a worldview almost always requires more than a new title or a new wrapper or a new ad. I think it requires rethinking the product itself, starting from scratch with the worldview in mind.

If you could start over, what story would you tell?

MIT Weblog Survey

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Interesting survey... I wonder what the results will tell us?

Follow the link to join the survey... the more the better the data

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Conversations vs. Information

I posted this as a comment on http://www.tmtd.biz/2005/06/23/conversations-vs-information/ today.

Yes, I like to blog and would love to converse more than currently does occur. I am struggling with how, why this is and what I (at least in my own way) can make a change. I had posted previously on a different way to count readership/audience. This generated some conversation but not enough to gain traction so I have put it aside for now.

Your posting (Keith's) connects to a quote I found this morning from Kathy Sierra

I don't want to read too much into this, but what the hell - I will anyway. I think it means that after years of being enamored solely with the technology itself, and the various methodologies and approaches to crafting it, the geek world is starting to look at the larger sphere around the use of the technology. In other words, not just the content but the context in which technology is created and used. That means caring about the quality of our lives, as developers, as well as the quality of our user's lives and the role we play in that.

And I don't want to get too excited about what that means, but what the hell - I will anyway. I think something important is happening, and it can only be good. Maybe we've finally stopped saying our secret stock option prayers at night (Please oh please God bring back the bubble and this time I won't piss it away I promise) and decided to focus on what we have, and what we can do to make things better. The whole idea of Getting Things Done is about being able to spend more time in flow, the very thing we believe leads to passionate users.

For all of Kathy's posting

So what does this mean? I think we must slow down. Instead of attempting to cruise through the RSS feeds of 200 or so blogs, we should focus on a select few, and have a conversation on topics within those blogs, amongst those folks.

Will the conversation stale over time? One hopes not. If the company is diverse enough there should be enough fodder for a goodly number of conversations. If it does stale, then one can always move along (and then come back).

If ones focus is generating readership, then that may preclude generating real conversations.

If ones focus is on conversations, then readership will be fully engaged and that is what matters to a good conversation.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Longtailer's Manifesto - First Principle

From Keep on Trying we get this
We see the world from inside our own heads, our own perspectives, our own needs first - we have no choice. It is also what makes our life unique and full of unlimited potential and greatness.
This harkens back to Maslow and for that I agree.

I struggle with the "no choice" statement.

I think we have a choice. What do you think?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Meaning of Life: Intro by Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina has a long posting on The Meaning of Life - Intro.

Well worth the patience to read through it all. Actually, when you are reading it, it takes you in and time passes.

This nugget appears along the way:

Our beliefs act as lenses. These lenses can help us see things we can't otherwise see, but they can also block us from seeing parts of reality. I see a huge part of personal development as the study of these lenses' these belief systems. There are an infinite number of lenses, so the quest never ends, but the more lenses you examine personally, the more you understand about the nature of reality and your role within it.

I have not experienced any organized belief system that is not disempowering in some way. The problem is that they all have a fixed perspective. If you look at reality from any single perspective, you are only perceiving the projection of reality onto your belief system, not reality itself. The more rigid your perspective, the more detail you miss (detail which doesn't fall upon your projection but does fall upon others), and the less of your true potential you're able to tap.

Have you thought about your belief system?

How does it empower or hinder your progress?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

How you can help!

Dave Pollard has a great posting on his blog, How to Save the World.

Now this is a big topic.

Kind of overwhelming.

Where does one begin?

Well, Dave says:
Last week I listed forty actions -- technological, social, entrepreneurial, political -- that could create a new 'tipping point' to restore our planet's, and our, health, and replace the thirty thousand year old, well-intentioned but fatally flawed and unsustainable culture called civilization. These forty actions would undermine civilization and render it obsolete, not by taking us back to hunter-gatherer culture, but by taking us forward to a post-civilization culture in balance and harmony with nature.

This transition to a new culture --which I have called Relater-Sharer culture -- could, I argued yesterday, take decades or even centuries to accomplish. It will start slowly, as more and more of us abandon the existing political, educational, economic, business, religious and media systems and institutions, and build a new culture
Great stuff! Read the full post here.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Rethinking the Production/Delivery Process

Andrew has provided another lead (twice this week) via his posting on "Rethinking the Production/Delivery Process".

SuperFastPizza, from that well known hot bed of pizza (Font du Lac, Wisconsin), is redoing their production and delivery process.
Mobile Pizza Kitchens: Our high-tech Mobile Kitchens are licensed restaurants. We outfit them with Custom Ovens that can cook your pizza at a speedy 600 degrees. Our Mobile Pizza Kitchens utilize the latest in wireless internet technology, and produce enough electricity to power your home. (And they look pretty sporty too!) Remember, we cook your pizza while we drive to you. “30 seconds from our oven to your door” insures your pizza arrives hot every time.

Now that is thinking out of the box!

What can you do to improve your production or delivery process?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Problem - Creatively Addressed with Design

Thanks to Andrea Learned for this posting.

Dieting can be addressed with portion control.
How do you provide portion control easily?
Design some bowls that nest, are attractive, and measure portions.

Hence Mesu. Wonderful design!

PS - I like the possible extension for these already mentioned in the comments; the capability to teach youngsters fractions. What was I saying about idea creation the other day? This is a good example.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Making Connections

Found this posting on The Artful Manager talking about why we should care about podcasting as rather insightful.

Found this posting on The Vision Thing talking about "process predators" as if they were evil things.

Actually, the process predators are probably just as creative as the originator of the idea.

They recognize it, and are able to apply it to something else. No small matter.

Are they always lurking around? Some may be but I would not caste all process predators in the same lot.

The fact that you can put one and one together and get a two that is different from someone else's two, I think is good. This is learning. This is adapting.

The fact that an a-ha moment can come at any time (and usually does) may create a perception that some were lurking. It may just be that after a series of so-so days, they had a good day, hit the a-ha moment (finally) and made some progress.

Andrew has come up with a number of extension of podcasting to artistic organizations. I would propose that this listing can be extended to any number of businesses.

In a competitive market, is this an evolutionary step or the result of a predator?

What do you think?

Ego Strength

Bob Mankoff, one of the GEL 2005 presenters, said this:
When I talk to audiences like this, I basically have one goal, if it’s one young person in the audience that I can prevent from becoming a lawyer or a doctor ... But one of the things about the creative enterprise is you must accept rejection. The people who can succeed in it have to have that ego strength. There are actually many people with talent – talent in these fields, but the talent wilts under rejection. So often the kids who were very, very talented, whose parents kvelled over them night and day are the ones who can’t succeed. My parents ignored me and made this gift.
So do we as parents ignore our kids? I think not.

I think we create the environment for them to be challenged and supported in a healthy manner and let them go.

What do you think?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

GEL 2005 - Russell Shorto & Charles Gehring

Russell Shorto and Charles Gehring shared the stage in this session. Charles has spent many years translating the original Dutch documents of New Amsterdam (New York). His work enabled Russell to write The Island at the Center of the World.

While this was some dry material compared to what had transpired earlier, it was none the less insightful and interesting. What Charles enabled Russell to do was to tell a good story by providing the raw historical material. The documents had amazingly survived the years, although in some cases less well than others. Some comparisons between the document in Albany and The Hague were clear and distinct.

Bottom line, the research shows that New York is the metropolis it is today due more to its Dutch origins than to its English and ultimately American heritage. For more details, we'll need to read the book.

The book should be a good read. I have added it to my list for the summer.

GEL 2005 - Dee Breger

Dee Breger explores a world where the eye normally can not go, the area of electronic microscopes. The images she shared with the conference were art in a magnificent sense. They are views we normally would not see but are found in the natural world. The natural world of course, that is only available when viewed in the electronic microscope.

Her work is available on her web site.

Mark Hurst
interviewed Dee before the conference here. Note, you will need to scroll down past the Ron Pompei portion of the interview to read what Dee and Mark talked about but it is worth it.

Dee tells Mark:
I want to excite people both visually - the images have to stand on their own as art - and by the fact that they are exotic. These are photographs of real things taken by an exotic scientific technology, which presents us with a view of an otherwise invisible world. I first want my images to be beautiful. Some people say they see a spirituality in my work.
The images are indeed amazing.

GEL 2005 - Charlie Todd

Charlie Todd creates a uniquely good experience in a planned for but live manner and then they melt away into the crowd. Improv Everywhere is both the name of the group and the location of their recent missions which are fully documented.

I liked the annual No Pants mission. The reaction of the girl in the subway car was amazing to see.

The Look Up More mission was simple and effective.

Since GEL 2005, they have struck again by taking advantage of the U2 phenomenon.

Mark Hurst interviewed Charlie and talked about his urban pranks before the conference here.

Harmless fun that makes one ask the question: What is reality?

GEL 2005 - Bruce Shapiro

Bruce Shapiro is the artist in residence at Science Museum of Minnesota. He creates art and artistic patterns with computer controlled simple motors.

Mark Hurst interviewed Bruce before the conference here.

Bruce says:
I'm most interested in doing experiments with the simplest machines possible, like with a single motor. I'm not sure anyone's done it, simply because people have assumed there's nothing that interesting to do, in that protozoan level of robotics. I'm continually amazed by the behaviors I see in very simple motion control systems. I go out of my way not to use the term robotics, because once you do, it's hard for people not to think of anthropic machines.
Bruce brought a simple machine with him to demonstrate the concept. You have perhaps seen ribbon dancers. They have a short wand with a long thin and colorful ribbon attached to it. As you twirl your arm, the ribbon moves in waves. You can move your body and the ribbon will move accordingly. The machine had a simple arm to replicate this twirling. Turned on it created wonderful patterns until its end got caught on the base. A minor problem some tweaking would fix but in the short demo time Bruce had was not available. This did not detract from the demo however. It seemed to further engage the audience as we watched and tried to anticipate if the ribbon was going to get stuck.

Visit Bruce's web site for more pictures and some video samples of his work.

Wonderful stuff. Simply done.

Expert or User? Michael has his say.

Michael Pollack at smallbusinessbranding has this good posting on the expert versus the user. I had tagged it to write about but one thing lead to another and I didn't ... until now.

Read the whole thing. Well worth it!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Fast Food - Good or Not?

This posting on Boing Boing reminds me of Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. My daughter had that as required reading as an incoming freshman to start her college studies. I read three-quarters of it before putting it aside to finish later. I had earlier in life read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and was appalled. Fast Food Nation was more disturbing and that maybe part of the reason why I have not gone back to finish it. I could only read so much at a time.

Is it just because I am older, more aware of life's physical requirements (as in a healthy life style)?
Because I am a parent with two young daughters concerned as well for their well being? Especially after Allison returned from her freshman year having put on a few pounds?

All of the above I guess.

The temptations are great. Fast food is readily available. Good (healthy) food is not so. Even in a healthy environment, i.e. road race finish lines, you need to be careful. The Corporate Challenge did not have fruit this year, they had yogurt, Propel, a new M&M candy bar, and grain bars. Both the Hollis race (orange quarters and bananas) and the Norfolk race (bananas and orange juice) had fruit.

And then you read this posting and it raises all kinds of questions.
The five why's would be a good start!

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Learn to Love Constraints - Barry Schwartz

From the closing chapter of The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz:
As the number of choices we face increases, freedom of choice eventually becomes a tyranny of choice. Routine decisions take so much time and attention it becomes difficult to get though the day. In circumstances like these, we should learn to view limits on the possibilities we face as liberating not constraining. Society provides rules, standards, and norms for making choices, and individual experience creates habits. By deciding to follow a rule (wear a seat belt, never drink more than two glasses of wine in one evening), we avoid having to make a deliberate decision again and again. This kind of rule-following frees up time and attention that can be devoted to thinking about choices and decisions to which rules don't apply.

In the short run, thinking about these second-order decisions --- decisions about when in life we will deliberate and when we will follow the pre-determined paths --- add a layer of complexity to life. But in the long run, many of the daily hassles will vanish, and we will find ourselves with time, energy, and attention for the decisions we have chosen to retain.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Service Opportunities While Traveling

Successfully flew Southwest Air from Providence, RI to BWI, obtained a National rental car to drive to Baltimore, MD on Friday then to Sheperdstown, WV on Saturday, staying at a Days Inn before returning on Sunday.

Multiple customer service experience opportunities along the way and most of them were just fine. The people were pleasant and focused on the business at hand.

The McDonald's in Shepherdstown on Saturday night had a small crew and the register person was glossy eyed. The kind of glossy eyes from working too long, too hard. She hardly heard what was ordered, had to repeat the questions and answers aloud to herself. I felt bad for her. I hoped she had a break coming or even better that her shift would end soon.

One change I would make would be to the menu at the Bavarian Inn, a fine dining and resort establishment in Shepherdstown. The breakfast menu advertises their special German breakfast and offers a Bloody Mary for an additional $2.50. The trouble with that offer is that on Sunday, they can not serve the Bloody Mary until 1:00 PM and breakfast is only served until 10:30 AM.

Now the waitress was charming about it all, but come on folks, the menu should be changed. You know you only serve breakfast from 7:00 AM to 10:30 AM, you can at least mark an asterisk for Sunday's exception.

Learning Programs - Redux (from BrandSoul)

Felix writes:

If you want to look at the phenomenology of learning you will find that:

* There are some people who have always the need of learning things. Remember all those people who have a hobby. Whatever it is, collecting stamps, reading comics, watching chinese movies or playing the piano. They take their hobby to the extreme, they know all the history of football players, they can tell you by heart the actors of a movie filmed in the 1930´s or they know the ten different adaptations of a popular song.

* These people really learn because they like it. Learning for them is not something taugh or requiring an additional effort in their lives.

* They enjoy while they learn. In fact none of them consider they are learning, they just think they are enjoying their time.

Yes, I can identify with this. The best work I do I would not call work but rather play. The best happens when you are not conscious of time or of punching a clock but just doing what you feel is right.

Maybe if all work was play (yes, an idealistic dream),
then we would not need to talk about achieving a work-life balence?

Friday, June 03, 2005

Cathedral Experience

Steve Griffiths writes at ?IC@TomorrowToday.biz:
The layout of these Cathedrals are the same in London, LA, New York and – I guess – everywhere else in the world. All intriguingly designed to create not so much an opportunity to shop but an Experience, an Event, a Religious Moment. Product Marketing - Brand Marketing - at its most ingenious.

If you get the opportunity, come worship with me. We may be on different Continents but that doesn’t matter: we will be united across time and space by our common Faith. Try it - your life will never be the same again.

I won't spoil your reading by revealing the story behind this but suffice to say it is not a real church that inspired this writing. Well not a religious church but a commercial one.

Read on and enjoy the good experience.

And if you get a chance to visit one, please let me (and Steve) know what you thought about it. It sounds like quite the place.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Think Sexy

Some eye candy, some provocative writing (as in thought provoking)
good thoughts about creating passionate users,
by understanding passion from Kathy Sierra here.

Enjoy the reading!