Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Have you ever forgotten how to give up

This trip to Greece sounds like one of those stories to me.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Step outside and take a walk away from your opml

I do not know about you but I routinely open bloglines first thing in the morning. I have my 120 odd feeds to catch up on and I do enjoy well written posts first thing in the morning. Of course the best part of this whole deal is that these feeds are tailored to my tastes and preferences. My opml file reflects my priorities from a professional perspective (if not all my life) rather well.

Sometimes a little too well and that is not so good. I can use technology to try to create a reality in terms of what is important to me instead of letting reality define what is truly important. When push comes to shove reality always wins of course. Health, financial issues, relationship issues, etc., have the ability to bring reality back to the front with jarring abruptness.

I am talking about the other times when the world is going through big and interesting changes and my opml file does not do them justice. I am talking about
  1. A foundation created in the past 20 years. A foundation that doubled in size over the past few days when the world's second richest man decided to help the world's richest man. A foundation that has unprecedented potential in terms of impact across history. Pretty cool eh ;-)
  2. A 40 billion dollar international steel company potentially in the making. Apparently this also signifies a struggle between the old European forces and the new world economy. Forty billion, definitely not chump change.
  3. Japan under threat from N.Korea. Iran says 'whatever' to the west. A long awaited Hamas government in Palestine sits on a powder keg as a rogue group takes an Israeli soldier hostage. Interesting times indeed.
What is your opml file not doing justice to?

Btw, I purposely did not link to any of the news items. Maybe this will force you to take a stroll away from your blog reader ;-)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Is the rifle better than the shotgun

Rifle is the single shot should work approach, shot gun is the spraying pellets approach. FogBugz and Vault are examples of the rifle approach. Gmail was the rifle approach but the rest of the stuff from Google such as froogle, picasa, gtalk, ... seem to follow the shotgun approach. Now we have Zoho's product suite .. 60 products in 9 years. Is this a pure shot gun play?

I started working on this post a few weeks back and moved away from it. Recently I came across Dead2.0 and this scathing report on Zoho. I am by creation not that scathing or cynical but I sure did enjoy the write up :-)

Maybe this post is just because my intuition is refusing to deal with facts but something about building and releasing 60 products (yes they call them products not features and no apparently there were no acquisitions) over just 9 years seems a little too much to me. Craig talks more sense and reason in his latest post here.

I agree the cost of making mistakes is getting lower but that does not mean we should stop being intentional with our time and effort.

This is all I wanted to say

[This right here i.s. a.l.l. I wanted to say]. Thanks Jeff for putting words to my thought.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Be remarkable or not....

Seth Godin has a few books on it. The purple cow, the big moo, etc. Tom Peters thinks it is inevitably change or die. Guy Kawasaki has his own spin on it. They all speak their own version of the truth.*
They all have very specific ideas on how to build a lasting brand/product/company/legacy.

In the current incarnation of the technology industry it revolves a lot around ajax, folksonomies and few other terms lay people hardly use or think is rather silly**. The term "beta" has been redefined by Google to mean "non supported but feature rich product that will scale very well", specifically in the context of web based software and typically consumer software (as opposed to enterprise software).

This is all good. This is innovation and this is progress that is pushing the industry in new areas. But it is good to keep in mind that the core qualities of "being remarkable", "create/sustain/defend value in your customer's life through your product" and "either adapt to the changing market or die" are not about trying to join the herd and duplicating other's successes. Being remarkable is a lot about purposely not duplicating an older established success mechanism.

The bell curve is a ruthless arbitrator. Hang in there with me as I try to explain my thinking.

The nouveau management thought process is all about value on the edge (which i agree with btw). A lot of the speakers try to steer you away from the fat middle portion of the bell curve where all the products look identical and compete similarly. Seth Godin talks a lot about being bold, taking risks, not being afraid to fail, i.e. being in the 3rd standard deviation set apart from 95% of the population. He is right.

Which is why, it makes it all the more interesting when you run into success stories that fall into the outer 5% of people who are very successful and whose story line does not involve copy, paste and tweak. It does involve being remarkable but in an non obvious way. Here is a story about a single man who built a so-so dating site, watched it take of and is making 5-6 million/year on adwords.
The best part is, his website is not at all hip in the web2.0 sense of stuff. Isn't that sweet? Of course he rode a great wave, so trying to replicate him would be a foolish thing to do and that is exactly the point.

Being remarkable is not about studying remarkable people endlessly. It is about learning enough to realise that being remarkable is a lot about questioning things, taking risks and enjoying the essence of being remarkable more than the success it might bring.

* obviously there are a lot more names such as Tara Hunt, Kathy Sierra, Doc Searls, Umair Haque, Scoble, Jeff Jarvis who all tweak this theme a little differently.

** I work in a non software company and I had a hard time convincing my peers that a serious software could have the name 'wiki'

Thursday, June 15, 2006

If chaotic systems do not produce chaos what good are they?

I believe this is how a niche knowledge sector begins its path towards exclusivity. When a technology breakthrough leads to, a small group of people redefining the meaning of a word(s). Before you know it, the word has a different meaning that has spread through word of mouth communication. By the time the real world gets to hear about it, the space is filled with TLA's(three letter acronyms) and other only-members-of-the-club-dig-it jargon.

Case in point, this company Gainesville, FL working on a chip with reconfigurable circuits. What is so cool you ask,
Existing reconfigurable chips, called field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), contain programmable interconnects that can be rewired to perform different functions. But FPGAs are relatively slow to reconfigure, typically taking milliseconds for each rewiring, or about one million times slower than ChaoLogix's chips
Hey! bang up job. I really hope this works so I can have a toaster that is also a clock/radio/wifi receiver. All right so realistically the technology is far from proven and might not succeed as history can attest to. But to me what is most interesting is the statement below,
The common notion that chaotic systems are unstable and unpredictable is not accurate, says Ditto. Such systems can be extremely sensitive to changes, and it is possible to produce desired states reliably and reproducibly provided you ensure only minor changes are made to the inputs.
Can we maybe call it something other than chaos then?

Note: It turns out that this is a long standing disconnect between the popular usage of the term and its scientific implications. Wikipedia has more on it (as always *smile*)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How often do you question your assumptions

Talk about a marketing nightmare. This article refers to a hunting gathering tribe that lives in the forests of Brazil. They number about 310-350 in population. So far so good, nothing extraordinary here. Then it gets interesting, this is a tribe that does not have numbers in its language, they do not have a system of counting, they do not have a way to distinguish past from future, they always live in the present. Mothers do not pass on fairy tales to children and to me the most fascinating part is that they do not have a creation myth.

For all practical intents and purposes they seem to have curiosity, they just exist. They do not try to learn from their past, they do not seem to plan or build towards their future. Where do they fit in with our world view. Now the assumptions part, I assumed every human being was created with a burning desire to more the exist/survive, I am not sure anymore. Thoughts.... ?