Generosity Day

Norms, tipping, generosity and scarcity:

My bet is that breaking these norms feels totally outrageous, that your heart races a little when you do it.  That’s the feeling of acting differently.  Then, when the rush passes, your head has the chance to process how glib you often are with that extra $20, but right here and right now, at the hot dog stand, handing over a $20 bill for your $5 hot dog – and not getting the change back – feels ludicrous.  Let the introspection begin.

One reason to give this whole thing a try is as an exploration of the norms and limits you’ve set around your life and your actions.  They may be just right for you.  Or your generosity experiment might afford a glimpse into how you could behave differently all the time – whatever “differently” means to you.

[Generosity Day is about the practice saying yes to every request for help and by being generous. Not something to be locked up into a single day, but not a bad start either.]

Source: Sasha Dichter’s Blog

The Corner: How Amazon’s KDP Select Saved My Book

The Corner: How Amazon’s KDP Select Saved My Book:

I learned that the Internet is a very, very noisy place, and that just about everyone is selling something. I learned that people aren’t sitting around thinking about your book as much as you think and hope they are. I learned that all this time we worry about social media is probably best spent worrying about something else — like writing books.

Much like I will never quite understand why my So You Want to Go to Law School video went viral the way it did 16 months ago, I don’t know exactly why my book finally took off the way it did.

[Finding a large enough audience is clearly the number #1 problem. I doubt this will ever change. Which leads back to this. Be true to yourself first. ]

Source: Daring Fireball

Path Design

Path Design:

This is the best thing I’ve read about Path, and it perfectly articulates something I’ve thought not only about Path, but also a lot of other exemplars of the fussy, post-Apple wave of “high design” in tech products.

Then Brent says:

Read both, and then the Khoi Vinh article article Buzz links to.

So I did:

It’s difficult to say exactly how much design is “too much,” but finding that middle ground may be the most important job that an interaction designer has. Negotiating an equilibrium between the user’s ability to roam free and the system’s desire to funnel activities into specific directions is tricky business. This is a challenge that requires not only imagination and skill, which the best designers always have, but also perseverance and insight — the ability and willingness to work in an iterative, responsive fashion, with the understanding that the job is never really done. Even among the best designers, that’s rare.

[But I don’t agree. There is no room to breathe in Facebook, or really in Flickr either. Flickr feels a bit more “mine” because in my use it’s mainly about me and people I know or know of. So it feels personal that way. Facebook, you’re thinking is as well. But I rarely really use Facebook per se. My tweets publish there for the sake of folks I know who inhabit that space. And I “like” a few things here and there. But that’s about it. So not only is my use limited, but I find the page jammed with alerts, ads, and junk about which I haven’t the slightest interest.

I think the “tricky” cases are where you want a clean and clear design for the main case, but make less used and more compacted flows available. to me that’s tricky. The other case for tricky smacks of trying to herd users into an action, or gaming. I’m not a fan of either tactic.

And while I’m railing about stuffs… notice how many sites have started demanding that you sign up before you can even see anything on it? I refuse to join any of them. If I visit a site with commerce on my mind, you darn well better be able to show a pretty picture and maybe some lovingly crafted text before I give you anything.]


The Chef and the Critic

The Chef and the Critic:

We’re hoping to succeed; we’re okay with failure. We just don’t want to land in between. The app idea, which came first, was a way we were hoping to make TV without going through all the TV hoops. The magazine came later. Of course you want your peers and the public to engage with something like this, but I don’t have any idea of who the people are or what they really think of it. I’m always prepared for people to be like, “This is just f—ing too ridiculous,” and then it will all be over.

[snip -Ed.]

The first audience I think about is us: Can we make something we don’t hate? Then it’s my friends: Can I create something they will think is cool even though they have to listen to me bitch all the time? Then it’s people out in the world. And my secret hope is that a certain aspect of the magazine leads them down an unexpected alley—reading more Junichiro Tanizaki, or chasing down a Bill Orcutt record, or seeking out Kay & Ray’s potato chips.

I think Dave is incapable of stopping himself from following ideas that interest him. He doesn’t have a brand he’s worried about; he’s not worried about a message; he’s not interested in trying to create something that’s going to be a blockbuster. Failure is an option, but only when you’ve done something that says, “This is the most honest thing we can put out there.” So that allows us to make it as weird as we want because we believe in what we’re doing.

I can’t speak to how he runs his businesses, but he has just scores and scores of talented people, and he is creating scenarios where they run this restaurant and this restaurant—Dave Chang is not the chef of it. I’m probably in a much more stoney-baloney sort of way into that idea, but, also just creatively, that’s exciting to me. You find people and let them really go out on their own with it and then shape it as much as it needs to land on its feet.

[The bold bits (added by myself) are a model I’ve followed for years.]

Apple’s size is breathtaking.

Amazon determined to continue its assault on Apple or something – MacDailyNews – Welcome Home:

MacDailyNews Take: Elevating Amazon to the level of an equal with Apple is a joke. Apple could buy Amazon outright, with cash, and still have $15 billion left over. Apple’s market value is rapidly approaching 5 times that of Amazon’s. Five times. Amazon’s net income for calendar Q311 (they don’t report Q4 until tomorrow) was $63 million. Apple’s calendar Q311 net income was $6.62 billion. Apple made 105 times more than Amazon did last calendar Q3. Calendar Q4 will likely be a worse comparison for Amazon as Apple generated an astonishing net profit of $13.06 billion.

[Apple’s current size is mind boggling.]

d: Suffering we mutually endure

You can often a read a line like this

“Get on my wheel, buddy,” I urged. He gurgled something, latched on, and I dragged him over the top.

And every time a read a line like this I think “Really?” because I’ve been offered wheels as I hack my way up a climb, and I never feel latched on, and I never feel like I’ve been dragged over the top. For the times where I’ve been the stronger rider (Um, ok, let it pass.) and offered my wheel… I don’t feel any additional resistance if they do grab on. Where does this language come from?

I once thought this must be the difference between the racers and pros and us recreational types. Maybe they climb the hills fast enough for these words to have meaning? Maybe you can feel the reduction in effort created by the aerodynamic suction of the rider in front? Yeah. I’ll bet it doesn’t feel that way to those riders either. As Greg Lemond famously said “It doesn’t get easier, you get faster.”

To understand we must remember the essence of cycling as a sport. The suffering we mutually endure, regardless of level, when we point our bikes upward. It is a gesture of hope, commiseration and understanding. It is an act of kindness. An offer to share the pain and misery. I see you. I feel you pain. Do not quit. Do not give the hill your soul. Join with me and we will climb this together. A contract that eases the grade—sooner or later we all are on the front or the back. And it is the respect for this that brings us the language.