Everything posted here is worth thinking about. On the other hand, the ideas and opinions put forth may not be right.
Curated by Timoni West.
Most of all, don’t let decisions get pushed up. “A lot of times you see decisions get kicked up to the more senior level, and so they get made by people who happen to be sitting around a certain table, not the people who know the facts. Don’t let this happen.”
From a summary of a talk and interview with Kim Scott: My Management Lessons from Three Failed Startups, Google, Apple, Dropbox, Twitter and Square
I post this because it’s a novel technique, and I don’t know of any companies that use it. It’s generally accepted, at the companies I’ve worked for, that managers gather input but have final say, in order that a decision might be made.
I’m very curious to hear from anyone who works at a company where managers and more senior roles don’t make the decisions. Does it work in practice? Does it mean people more carefully choose whether to be a manager, since it’s coupled with a loss of power?
Breaking Through Mental Blocks & Learning New Things, by Jenn Vargas.
I post this because Vargas is one of those rare people capable of independently executing ideas, which she does on a regular basis. This post not only has good advice, but some interesting insight into her process, and how she remains capable of constantly learning and producing new things.
I almost always have my phone set to “silent” mode. The reason is simple: I don’t want to annoy those around me with a basically never-ending barrage of push notifications.1 But the past couple of days I’ve been trying out a new device, the latest Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset, and now I feel rather ridiculous given all the audible wonders I’ve been missing.
You see, with the Era in-ear and tethered to my phone, any sounds that would normally go through the speaker of the phone go right to the device. So I no longer feel bad about leaving the sound on. And now that means I get to hear not only push notification sounds, but all sounds being put to clever usage within apps. And some of them really do alter the way an app feels.
To some of you, this will be the most obvious thing in the world. But I know a lot of people are like myself and almost always have their phones set to silent. And we’re all missing a big component of many apps and the overall mobile experience.
We Don’t Sell Saddles Here, by Stewart Butterfield.
I post this because, frankly, it is an exceptional piece of writing about product making, covering the gamut from core functionality to marketing and positioning and the larger, philosophical motivations behind trying to make something excellent.
I have no counterpoints; I agree with this entire piece. I recommend you read it, too.
John: What were you expecting from the characters?
Alec: I was expecting the boy, Shay, to be brash and go-getting, whereas he’s resigned and hesitant and weak, and entirely dependent on children’s items. Vella I’d expected to be cute and inquisitive and helpful, whereas she’s brash and go-getting. Even though her oddly subdued (and indeed cute) voice acting works against that.
John: I actually found Vella’s side to be problematic. It’s great that the female lead is independent, and wants to find rather than concede. That’s all good. But then absolutely every other woman or girl in the game is either a controlling mother, or a vain idiot. The message becomes, “Look how she’s not like the rest of women”. Which is a pretty gross message.
I just finished Act 1 of Broken Age, a cute little game from Double Fine. Speaking directly to this quote, I disagreed with all of it: I found Shay’s behavior typical ‘guy’ behavior, was charmed by a hard-working, rational mother in Vella’s world, and loved Vella’s voice. But that is not why I quote this piece.
I quote it because loved Vella, the feisty heroine of the game. I didn’t find it problematic that she is the lone voice of reason in a cast of idiots, both men and women; that is her role in her world, in which the entire population is happy to sacrifice their most beautiful maidens every year to a hideous monster.
The game’s narratives—there are two—are not tales of one woman being exceptional; they are tales of one person being exceptional. It’s unfortunate these reviewers are discussing Vella in this way, as if women could only be compared to other women.
Hero narratives usually emphasize how special they are: male heroes are not like other men, and that is why we tell their stories. Female heroes should not be expected to be like other women.
This is something I’ve noticed, but from from another direction: discussions around popular apps losing younger users.
Younger users are quick to jump onboard with trending apps. But they are not the biggest online spenders—that’s baby boomers—and they are likely to discard an app once it’s perceived as less cool. (Just a guess here, but likely it gets ‘less cool’ when the older, financially solvent user segments come along.)
In short: apps are currently evaluated and funded based on their popularity with a cash-poor, fickle user segment. VCs and financial analysts are not only aware of this, but have decided those are ideal metrics on which to base their investments.
Clearly it is to their advantage to invest in a briefly popular app rather than an app with a smaller, more stable user base. Which begs the question: why even pretend most popular apps have a future?
From William James’ essay, The Will To Believe
I post this because The Will to Believe is one of my favorite essays, and one of my first introductions to pragmatism. However, after fourteen years in the fold, I’m starting to wonder how best to avoid the very perils James describes here. The fact is, I will never be a Scientologist, Tea Party member or jihadist. The very idea that I could genuinely learn from and improve my life by following their principles seems very wrong. How, then, can I really learn from them?