Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Little Things That Make A Big Difference

There was a man taking a morning walk at the beach. He saw that along with the morning tide came hundreds of starfish and when the tide receded, they were left behind and with the morning sun rays, they would die. The tide was fresh and the starfish were alive.

The man took a few steps, picked one and threw it into the water. He did that repeatedly. Right behind him there was another person who couldn’t understand what this man was doing. He caught up with him and asked, “What are you doing? There are hundreds of starfish. How many can you help? What difference does it make?”

This man did not reply, took two more steps, picked up another one, threw it into the water, and said, “It makes a difference to this one.”


Mike Monteiro: F*ck You. Pay Me.

Mike Monterio, co-founder of Mule Design, speaking at CreativeMornings San Francisco, has some good advice for those working in client services. Corresponding weblog post here.

Don’t start work without a contract.

You can’t retroactively create a contract. The same way you can’t slip on a condom after getting pregnant.

After the joyful climax of the business development process, everyone is excited to to get to work while there is still a lot of love and momentum. Negotiating the specifics of a contract can feel like a giant buzz kill that brings everything to a screeching halt. That’s too bad. That pressure to get started can provide leverage on negotiations.

Do NO work before signing. NONE. NEVER EVER. Not even a little.

Don’t blindly accept their terms.

(Most of the time they don’t know what’s in there.)

The larger and more established the organization, the more heinously skewed in their favor their terms are going to be. Always start from a strong position with your desired terms in mind and a good sense of what you are and aren’t willing to accept. There will always be other clients.

If you’ve done your work in the business development process, you have allies in the organization. You have convinced someone with some amount of authority that your work is indispensable to their success. That is influence and leverage. You might hear, “That’s just our policy with outside vendors,” but, as with the Geneva Convention, you’ll find that there is frequently more wiggle room in policy than you’ve been led to expect.

Simplicity vs. Choice – Joel Spolsky

Business of Software Conference 2009: Simplicity vs. Choice. Joel Spolsky

Ten Rules for Successful Products – Donald Norman

Business of Software 2009: Ten Rules for Successful Products. Donald Norman is an academic in the field of cognitive science, design and usability and a co-founder and consultant with the Nielsen Norman Group. He is most famous for his book “The Design of Everyday Things”.

  1. It’s all about the experience
  2. Design systems
  3. Everything is a service
  4. Everything is a product
  5. Don’t be too logical
  6. Memory is more important than actuality
  7. Complexity is good; complicated is bad
  8. Design for the real world
  9. Design for people
  10. It’s all about the experience

Everything Is a Remix Part 3

Reposted from Everything Is a Remix.

The act of creation is surrounded by a fog of myths. Myths that creativity comes via inspiration. That original creations break the mold, that they’re the products of geniuses, and appear as quickly as electricity can heat a filament. But creativity isn’t magic: it happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials.

And the soil from which we grow our creations is something we scorn and misunderstand, even though it gives us so much… and that’s copying. Put simply, copying is how we learn. We can’t introduce anything new until we’re fluent in the language of our domain, and we do that through emulation.

For instance, all artists spend their formative years producing derivative work.

Bob Dylan’s first album contained eleven cover songs.

Richard Pryor began his stand-up career doing a not-very-good imitation of Bill Cosby.


Seth Priebatsch: The game layer on top of the world

Seth Priebatsch: The game layer on top of the world. The Game Layer on Top of the World by Seth Priebatsch. At TEDxBoston, Seth Priebatsch presents the fact that Facebook and Twitter has already captured our social lives on the web – the “social layer” on top of the real world. He looks at the next layer in progress: the “game layer”, a pervasive net of behavior-steering game dynamics that will reshape education and commerce. The dynamics are:

  • Appointment dynamic – A dynamic in which to succeed, one must return at a predefined time to take a predetermined action. For example, Farmville, happy hour.
  • Influence and status – The ability of one player to modify the behavior of another’s actions through social pressure. For example, Xbox Achievement.
  • Progression dynamic – A dynamic in which success is granularly displayed and measured through the process of completing itemized tasks. For example, World of Warcraft.
  • Communal discovery – A dynamic wherein an entire community is rallied to work together to solve a challenge. For example, Digg.

Nicholas Christakis: The hidden influence of social networks

Nicholas Christakis: The hidden influence of social networks. We’re all embedded in vast social networks of friends, family, co-workers and more. Nicholas Christakis tracks how a wide variety of traits — from happiness to obesity — can spread from person to person, showing how your location in the network might impact your life in ways you don’t even know.

Nicholas Christakis: How social networks predict epidemics

Nicholas Christakis: How social networks predict epidemics. After mapping humans’ intricate social networks, Nicholas Christakis and colleague James Fowler began investigating how this information could better our lives. Now, he reveals his hot-off-the-press findings: These networks can be used to detect epidemics earlier than ever, from the spread of innovative ideas to risky behaviors to viruses (like H1N1).

Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team

Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team. Tom Wujec is a Fellow at Autodesk, the makers of design software for engineers, filmmakers, designers. He presents an interesting research into the Marshmallow Challenge – a simple team-building exercise that involves dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. Who can build the tallest tower with these ingredients in 18 minutes? And why does a surprising group always beat the average? What is the key to a successful product? Prototype often.

Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days

Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days. Is there something you’ve always meant to do, wanted to do, but just … haven’t? Matt Cutts suggests: Try it for 30 days. This short, lighthearted talk offers a neat way to think about setting and achieving goals.