not too long ago, i
the last edition of summing up. but i also announced that this series will live on,
as there was a lot of positive feedback over the years, encouraging me to continue and to
look out for different formats. today, after lots of experimentation, i'll
continue summing up. it will be a bit shorter, a bit more unsteady and
will feature less unicorns (sorry!). thanks a lot for your support and your
feedback, it was heavily appreciated. you're very welcome to
subscribe to this little series
and get it directly in your inbox along with some cool stuff that you won't
find anywhere else on the site. now, without further ado...
i am trying to build a jigsaw puzzle which has no lid and is missing half of
the pieces. i am unable to show you what it will be, but i can show you some of
the pieces and why they matter to me. if you are building a different puzzle,
it is possible that these pieces won't mean much to you, maybe they won't fit
or they won't fit yet. then again, these might just be the pieces you're
looking for. this is summing up, please find previous editions
The Website Obesity Crisis, by Maciej Cegłowski
These comically huge homepages for projects designed to make the web faster
are the equivalent of watching a fitness video where the presenter is just
standing there, eating pizza and cookies.
The world's greatest tech companies can't even make these tiny text sites,
describing their flagship projects to reduce page bloat, lightweight and fast
I can't think of a more complete admission of defeat.
amen. macej cegłowski is one of my favourite speakers,
are always very insightful, charming and funny. but most importantly he hits
the nail on the head. every single time. his talk is about why the modern web
is so bloated and slow, and why it matters. i've found this true with my own
clients, many of them come to me with ridiculous large websites and few results
to show for it all. i've found though, that along with relevant content, the
speed of websites is one of the most important factors of success. once, a
client told me - after we've finished the project - that their website was the
only one which came up when she entered the metro. i liked that.
5 Steps To Re-create Xerox PARC's Design Magic, by Alan Kay & John Pavlus
We live in a world full of hype. When I look at most of the Silicon Valley
companies claiming to do invention research, they're really selling pop
culture. Pop culture is very incremental and is about creating things other
than high impact. Being able to do things that change what business means is
going to have a huge impact - more than something that changes what social
interaction means in pop culture.
to me, xerox parc is still one of the greatest legends and success stories in
computing of all time. so many concepts, like the graphical user interface, the
mouse, the laser printer, object oriented programming and ethernet were
invented and incubated there. along that, great minds like doug engelbart or
alan kay had their heyday there. on the other hand, there are so many companies
out there trying to do "innovation", be it r&d labs, startup incubators and
similar. this article is a great summary on how you can implement the main
points in your organization as well. after all, if your business does not
evolve, it'll die.
1,000 True Fans, by Kevin Kelly
Young artists starting out in this digitally mediated world have another path
other than stardom, a path made possible by the very technology that creates
the long tail. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of
platinum hits, bestseller blockbusters, and celebrity status, they can aim for
direct connection with 1,000 True Fans. It's a much saner destination to hope
for. You make a living instead of a fortune. You are surrounded not by fad and
fashionable infatuation, but by True Fans. And you are much more likely to
actually arrive there.
this article has been around for quite some time and it is certainly famous in
certain circles. with good reason. if you're an artist, an entrepreneur or
think about launching your own product, it is a must-read. but it also applies
to small to medium businesses. the kernel is this: to be successful you don't
have to be hugely famous. it is in fact much easier to be important to a
selected group of people.
gerald jay sussman
compares the adaptability and robustness of biology with the fragility of our
I'm only pushing this idea, not because I think it's the right answer. I'm
trying to twist us, so we say, "This is a different way to think". We have to
think fifty-two different ways to fix this problem. I don't know how to make a
machine that builds a person out of a cell. But I think the problem is that
we've been stuck for too long diddling with our details. We've been sitting
here worrying about our type system, when we should be worrying about how to
get flexible machines and flexible programming.
Knowing more than your own field is really helpful in thinking creatively. I've
always thought that one of the reasons the 1960s was so interesting is that
nobody was a computer scientist back then. Everybody who came into it came into
it with lots of other knowledge and interests. Then they tried to figure out
what computers were, and the only place they could use for analogies were other
areas. So we got some extremely interesting ideas from that.
And of course, the reason being educated is important is simply because you
don't have any orthogonal contexts if you don't have any other kinds of
knowledge to think with. Engineering is one of the hardest fields to be
creative in, just because it's all about optimizing, and you don't optimize
without being very firmly anchored to the context you're in. What we're talking
about here is something that is not about optimization, but actually about
rotating the point of view.
and finally steve jobs:
Ultimately it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself
to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in
to what you're doing. I mean Picasso had a saying he said good artists copy
great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great
ideas and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people
working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and
historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.
i think there might be something to it...
So, I still have a dream that the web could be less of a television channel,
and more of a sea of interactive shared knowledge...
The "World Wide Web" program, the original browser/editor, was in fact an
editor, and you could make links as easily as you could follow them. And that
was fundamental. There are two things which seem to me to be totally bizarre:
One of them is the fact that you can't do that, that we've lost that. So in
fact the thing is not interactive. I don't know if I can think of any hypertext
experiments in research where you haven't been able to make links just as
easily as following them. Authorship has always been right up there. And now,
for some historical quirk, which I could go into, I have gone into, I won't go
into, we have a whole bunch of things out there which are "browsers".
So that's the first thing I'm a little embarrassed about. And the second thing
I'm embarrassed about is when you made the links, and you edited the text on
the screen, you didn't see any of these URLs and HTML and all that stuff. The
weirdest thing for me, if you can imagine, is to see an advertisement in the
"help wanted" of the Boston Globe, saying they want HTML writers, HTML
programmers. I mean, give me a break! That's like asking somebody to come along
with the skills to write a Microsoft Word file in binary. The whole thing is
funny, how different the vision of inventor of the world wide web was and is
compared to what we have now.
i recently found this superb analogy by mike booth which i want to
quote in full:
This guy has gone to the zoo and interviewed all the animals. The tiger says
that the secret to success is to live alone, be well disguised, have sharp
claws and know how to stalk. The snail says that the secret is to live inside a
solid shell, stay small, hide under dead trees and move slowly around at night.
The parrot says that success lies in eating fruit, being alert, packing light,
moving fast by air when necessary, and always sticking by your friends.
His conclusion: These animals are giving contradictory advice! And that's
because they're all "outliers".
But both of these points are subtly misleading. Yes, the advice is
contradictory, but that's only a problem if you imagine that the animal kingdom
is like a giant arena in which all the world's animals battle for the Animal
Best Practices championship, after which all the losing animals will go
extinct and the entire world will adopt the winning ways of the One True Best
Animal. But, in fact, there are a hell of a lot of different ways to be a
successful animal, and they coexist nicely. Indeed, they form an ecosystem in
which all animals require other, much different animals to exist.
And it's insane to regard the tiger and the parrot and the snail as "outliers".
Sure, they're unique, just as snowflakes are unique. But, in fact, there are a
lot of different kinds of cats and birds and mollusks, not just these three.
Indeed, there are creatures that employ some cat strategies and some bird
strategies (lions: be a sharp-eyed predator with claws, but live in communal
packs). The only way to argue that tigers and parrots and snails are "outliers"
is to ignore the existence of all the other creatures in the world, the ones
that bridge the gaps in animal-design space and that ultimately relate every
known animal to every other known animal.
So, yes, it's insane to try to follow all the advice on the Internet
simultaneously. But that doesn't mean it's insane to listen to 37signals
advice, or Godin's advice, or some other company's advice. You just have to
figure out which part of the animal kingdom you're in, and seek out the best
practices which apply to creatures like you. If you want to be a stalker, you
could do worse than to ask the tiger for some advice.
next to the story of
the blind men and the elephant
i think i just found my new favourite analogy when giving advice.
Hugh MacLeod's cartoon is a pitch-perfect symbol of an unorthodox school of
management based on the axiom that organizations don't suffer pathologies;
they are intrinsically pathological constructs. Idealized organizations are
not perfect. They are perfectly pathological. So while most most management
literature is about striving relentlessly towards an ideal by executing
organization theories completely, this school would recommend that you do the
bare minimum organizing to prevent chaos, and then stop. Let a natural, if
declawed, individualist Darwinism operate beyond that point. The result is
the MacLeod hierarchy. It may be horrible, but like democracy, it is the best
you can do.
the gervais principle is furthermore defined as:
Sociopaths, in their own best interests, knowingly promote over-performing
losers into middle-management, groom under-performing losers into sociopaths,
and leave the average bare-minimum-effort losers to fend for themselves.
if you have ever worked in or with a big company, this is a must read.