The Jobsian fallacy
October 31st, 2011, 4 comments
I’m sad Steve Jobs is gone. I’m sadder still to see the vultures of shallow thinking circling his name. There is a fallacy around great men, a notion we can learn best from their behavior on how we ourselves can achieve. But that’s only true if we study them with an honest eye. When writers are clouded by mythology and hero worship, they do more harm than good, as sloppy thinking is often the mortar used to put men on pedestals.
Out of Curiosity Comes Everything
October 5th, 2011, 1 comment
“I’m a big believer in boredom,” [Steve Jobs] told me. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, he explained, and “out of curiosity comes everything.” The man who popularized personal computers and smartphones — machines that would draw our attention like a flame attracts gnats — worried about the future of boredom. “All the [technology] stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too.”
—Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011
Our Mobile Planet (by Google) offers a ton of data about global smartphone usage and tools to chart it every which way you'd like. The chart above shows how many smartphone owners don't mind advertising in return for freebies or special offers, split by gender and age. (I created this chart assuming 50+ users would be more interested in special offers, but I was wrong.)
October 5th, 2011, 1 comment
Joe Moon on Facebook’s New Timeline Feature
September 27th, 2011, 3 comments
...what I find jarring about this formulation is the same thing that bothers me about the alarming trend of weddings in which the photographers and videographers have free reign, even during the ceremony, in order to get the best, most cinematic record of the event, at the expense of the event itself and everyone participating. It’s a conflation of the record of the event with the event itself, or even a privileging of the record over what gives the record its meaning and power. At the same time it ingeniously adds to the pressure to record all meaningful events on Facebook in order to make sure it becomes part of your identity.
I've been thinking along these lines myself lately.
Automattic’s Company Creed
September 21st, 2011, 1 comment
I will never stop learning. I won’t just work on things that are assigned to me. I know there’s no such thing as a status quo. I will build our business sustainably through passionate and loyal customers. I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague, and I’ll remember the days before I knew everything. I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. I will communicate as much as possible, because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company. I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of another every day. Given time, there is no problem that’s insurmountable.
Four tips for learning how to program
September 20th, 2011
Solid advice here for those of you embarking on a programming project without knowing the language or spec. "Divide and Conquer" using test-driven development is exactly the approach I advocated a programmer who wants to build a new ThinkUp plugin just yesterday.
ifttt (If This Then That)
September 13th, 2011, 1 comment
Nifty tool automates recipes for reactions to events across web services. Popular ifttt recipes include "if someone tags me in a photo on Facebook, then save it to my Dropbox" and "if someone follows me on Twitter, then automatically tweet a greeting."
September 12th, 2011, 2 comments
Zach Holman's free command line app is like TextExpander for the Terminal. Likin' it.
On Solitude and Leadership
September 7th, 2011, 1 comment
Solitude and leadership would seem to be contradictory things. But it seems to me that solitude is the very essence of leadership. The position of the leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one. However many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. And at such moments, all you really have is yourself.
September 7th, 2011, 1 comment
A brand new book with the highest purpose launched today on Amazon: End Malaria. The title doesn't tell you that it's a fantastic collection of business and productivity essays by people like David Allen, Kevin Kelly, Steven Johnson, and my TWiG co-host Jeff Jarvis. I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to contribute a short piece, too.
The best part is that $20 of every copy sold goes to Malaria No More to purchase mosquito nets which prevent the spread of malaria.
In short, the book saves lives. It's also a great read.
My favorite essays include Kevin Kelly's piece on shedding the work you shouldn't be doing, Steven Johnson on how focus is overrated, Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice, David Allen on clearing space to make a mess, Jeff Jarvis on beta-think, and Chris Brogan on getting to the "escape velocity" you need to move on from a bad situation.
Thanks to Michael Bungay Stanier for inviting me to be part of the project. I'm buying several copies of the book to give to friends and family. You should, too. Buy yours now.
Update: Not convinced? Read Seth Godin: That buzzing in my ear didn't mean I was about to die.
Why we crave creativity but reject creative ideas
September 6th, 2011, 1 comment
Truly creative ideas are novel, and things that are different and unfamiliar scare people.
Marc Andreessen: Software Is Eating the World
September 6th, 2011, 3 comments
People in the U.S. and around the world lack the education and skills required to participate in the great new companies coming out of the software revolution. This is a tragedy since every company I work with is absolutely starved for talent. Qualified software engineers, managers, marketers and salespeople in Silicon Valley can rack up dozens of high-paying, high-upside job offers any time they want, while national unemployment and underemployment is sky high. This problem is even worse than it looks because many workers in existing industries will be stranded on the wrong side of software-based disruption and may never be able to work in their fields again. There's no way through this problem other than education, and we have a long way to go.
Related to this point about education, here's a CNN piece on why would-be engineers end up as English majors.