summing up 56

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 here.

  • what the theory of "disruptive innovation" gets wrong, the logic of disruptive innovation is the logic of the startup: establish a team of innovators, set a whiteboard under a blue sky, and never ask them to make a profit, because there needs to be a wall of separation between the people whose job is to come up with the best, smartest, and most creative and important ideas and the people whose job is to make money by selling stuff. disruptive innovation is a theory about why businesses fail. it's not more than that. it doesn't explain change. it's not a law of nature. it's an artifact of history, an idea, forged in time; it's the manufacture of a moment of upsetting and edgy uncertainty. transfixed by change, it's blind to continuity. it makes a very poor prophet. highly recommended
  • five things we need to know about technological change, by neil postman. in the past, we experienced technological change in the manner of sleep-walkers. our unspoken slogan has been "technology über alles," and we have been willing to shape our lives to fit the requirements of technology, not the requirements of culture. this is a form of stupidity, especially in an age of vast technological change. we need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we many use technology rather than be used by it. highly recommended (pdf)
  • how children what? and so in the twenty-three years since the creation of the world wide web, "a bicycle for the mind" became "a treadmill for the brain". one helps you get where you want under your own power. another's used to simulate the natural world and is typically about self-discipline, self-regulation, and self-improvement. one is empowering; one is slimming. one you use with friends because it's fun; the other you use with friends because it isn't. our tools and services increasingly do things to us, not for us. and they certainly aren't about helping us to do things with them
  • "all our inventions are but improved means to an unimproved end", henry david thoreau
  • a developer's responsibility, even though developers sometimes love to put on their headphones and crank out some piece of software wizardry, it's important to occasionally step out of the office and engage with your customers. regularly seeing the daily work-life of your users first-hand helps establish that sense of responsibility to the end-user, and it makes the software better for it
  • how the rainbow color map misleads, despite its importance for perception and visualization, color continues to be a surprisingly little understood topic. people often seem to be content with default colors, or with an arbitrary selection that just happens to look good. but without great care when picking colors, you can do a lot of damage to your visualization

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My letters are about long-lasting, sustainable change that fundamentally amplify our human capabilities and raise our collective intelligence through generations. Would love to have you on board.