what's next?

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sophie, Squeak, Croquet

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2007 at 9:47 am

There seems to be more and more instances of platforms appearing which raise the level at which people can create, manipulate and share rich content in a rich context.

Sophie appears to be another interesting entry, in addition to Croquet and the etoys work in Squeak.

Startup enthusiasm (not) versus pragmatism

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2007 at 9:32 am

I love the start-up environment – in part because of what happens when we ‘drink the kool-aid’, but at the same time I also value ‘fail-it-fast’ pragmatism.

I haven’t found an eloquent way to think about or express this conflict – until I randomly came across an interview with Scott Brave from Baynote Inc. on folksonomy.org (quoted below without permission):

On the topic of discussion we had last week Scott regarding how do entrepreneurs draw the line between the “never give up” philosophy and “cut your losses short” philosophy, can you share your insights?

I don’t think they are mutually exclusive, actually. You want both, but at different levels. If your high-level goal is to create a successful company or express a particular vision that excites you, then you should always keep a “never give up attitude” in working toward that goal. But at the level of implementation or tactics, you may find yourself taking the wrong approach at some point—that’s the time to “cut your losses short.” But you don’t give up on your high-level goal. You just find a new, better approach to achieve it.

It’s similar to the difference between the “just go for it” attitude and taking a “more considered” stance: also not mutually exclusive. You want the “just go for it” attitude at the level of your goals, but a more careful attitude toward the specific approach you take to achieve those goals. You don’t want to over think things either, though. You collect all of the information you can and analyze it carefully, but in the end you may just have to trust your gut.

Different levels: strategic versus tactical – that’s the missing piece!

Parsing it out according to these distinctions will improve my response to the chaotic enthusiasm that sometimes happens in start-ups. Channel the wild-eyed enthusiasm to the strategic level & use it to create the context for pragmatic/realistic execution. They both inform each other.

Want a community of people passionate about product design

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2007 at 6:38 am

Passionate about products & want to be part of a community of similarly passionate people?

Works Like It Should – post examples and feedback about products that work well and don’t work well, what should be different, what you would want different, gather together to get changes so things work like it should

Next Steps Towards a “Common Language”

In Uncategorized on December 9, 2004 at 5:51 pm

With experience, I have come to realize that is not sufficient to gather a diverse group of people to solve problems, no more so than a pile of sticks is sufficient for a fire.

In part, I think there is a “common language” missing that represents the shared patterns, processes, structures, templates, metaphorical structures, relationships, etc. across a variety of disciplines and domains.

As with any language, agents are required to bring the language alive. In the case of a “common language,” I think the effort to practically capture and utilize is too high without the support of tools to assist. Just as spreadsheets such as Excel and tools such as Mathematica augment reasoning with various forms of math, a “common language” will need supporting tools as well.

To create an organization that intends to reason across disciplines, the language and tools must exist. Without them, it’s unlikely that such an organization could emerge.

Specialists and generalists

In Uncategorized on December 9, 2004 at 5:41 pm

I think it’s pretty easy to convince ourselves that in many contexts, especially work, we are becoming more specialized, moving away from being generalists. As an evolutionary process, it allows us to better fill more niches. However, with this specialization, the complexity of communicating across contexts is increased. With a decrease in communication, the opportunities for leverage are similarly decreased.

For as long as I remember, I’ve been convinced that the only way to solve the “really big problems” is with multi-disciplinary teams. Like most things, my conception and understanding of the “really big problems” has evolved as I’ve changed. Over time, they’ve included the academic (how to access enough knowledge to be a true generalist, not a specialist), the serious (how to resolve conflict between radically different cultures) to the silly (how can I fly away from home with my own personal space plane).

No doubt influenced by some optimistic science fiction, the way I saw it as a child is, at it’s essence, the way I see it today: that a group of people from different, diverse backgrounds and interests will solve problems no one else can and will do things others say can¿t be done. Sometimes intentionally (and sometimes not) I continue to return time and again to act on that conviction.

As part of that conviction it seemed obvious to me that there must be a discipline which represents the common foundation underlying the many other domains, i.e. a “common language.” However, I¿ve never found a discipline which quite seemed right, i.e. no university program which teaches quite what I’m thinking of. While some disciplines had a piece which I was interested in, certainly some aspects of the humanities & liberal arts speak to this, other pieces were missing and I could never imagine specializing in that discipline – the results seemed too narrow.

Independent of situation, the interest and conviction has remained. Today it manifests in my education and profession, I have ample experience in the specifics, yet a passion for the general that spans the boundaries of many disciplines.