From the monthly archives:

December 2007

Resolve

by Mike McGrath on December 31, 2007

A year ago I made just one New Year’s resolution…to start this blog. I tried a few times before, but was lacking a theme. The first post of my current blog was dated 1/1/07. It took a while to filter the personal from the informative, but by and large I’m pleased with the result.

What has blogging done for me in the last 12 months? I felt at home at the blogger events I attended, made a few new friends, promoted my BlogTalkRadio show and have developed a small but growing readership.

Blogging has allowed me to qualify for press passes at industry conferences, get free sodas and in general be treated a little better than the conference attendees. Finally, I got a freebie copy of Seth Godin‘s Meatball Sundae. I’m not sure if that’s because the book isn’t doing so well or because someone thinks I’ll write about it. Either way, it was a nice way to close out the year.

Was one year of blogging worth it? Without doubt it is an unqualified yes in my book. Blogging opened doors, created an aura of legitimacy around my work and forms an archive of what caught my attention in 2007. It put me in the swim of conversation about the things I care about. I’m hooked and there’s no turning back. 2008 is going to rock, get ready!

{ 0 comments }

Demo or die

by Mike McGrath on December 28, 2007

flickrfan.jpg

Last night Robert Scoble demoed Dave Winer’s latest thing, FlickrFan. FlickrFan is a cute software trick that taps Twitter and Flickr’s API in order to feed tweets and pics to your home entertainment center via Apple’s MacMini. While many a good man has been humbled by a software demo gone bad (this writer included) the way the demo was delivered only compounded the muddle.

qik-logo.jpg

Robert used Qik to webcast the demo via cell phone. The Qik page displays the video feed and hosts a chat window. The fact that all of the chatters were anonymous (Qik is alpha and I’m sure many like me were using it for the first time last night.) meant that the chat room was more than a little boisterous. Maybe it was the holiday spirit.

qik-sm.gif

On the surface, Qik appears to be a great mobile solution. Simply use your cell phone to upload live video. Unfortunately, the quality of the video was awful. If Loren Feldman has a problem with Seesmic, he’d be apoplectic over Robert’s attempts to show FlickrFan running on a large HDTV display. The image was worthless, and the software remained a buggy mystery. Such is the life of an unscripted demo god.

Dave Winer called in mid-demo. Rather than use a mixing board or some other way to capture phone audio, Robert just put his iPhone on speaker and held it up to the cell phone that was taking the video. Oy, even for telephony, the audio quality was painful to listen to. Dave didn’t stick around very long. I’m not sure if the chat comments put him off or the overall slapdash nature of the demo wasn’t comfortable, but after a brief chat he said “I really don’t need to be here right now” and hung up.

The chat room was baffled, Scoble scrambled to fill air time and I was left wondering why Dave didn’t at least stick around to describe his vision, talk about the opportunities with the current crop of APIs, discuss how media companies might use his Radio 8 based FlickrFan. Dave is a very articulate guy I just wish he stayed around long enough to tell us why we should care about it.

As far as Qik is concerned I’m very forgiving of alpha software. It appears to be a useful tool but as with all media, production values must be paid attention to. Better lighting, better audio and less hand held camera work. Still I applaud Robert for using alpha software to demo alpha software. It really takes brass balls to do that.

{ 5 comments }

Smart and lazy

by Mike McGrath on December 21, 2007

“Finally, there are the intelligent, lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office.”

General Erich Von Manstein (1887-1973) on the German Officer Corps

I have an affinity for the smart and lazy lifestyle but never considered it an asset until this evening. Jim McGee’s post about balancing diligence and laziness ends with an appeal to consider the following:

  1. What alternate terms than diligence and laziness could we use to better frame the issue?
  2. How important is it to carve out times and places to engage in visible laziness within organizations?
  3. Is this a problem that needs to be solved at the organizational level? For which types of organization?
  4. What barriers to innovation, if any, does a bias toward diligence create?

macintosh-team.jpg

The most vibrantly creative team I’ve ever been a part of was the one that flew the pirate flag on Bandley Drive, the original Macintosh team. Steve called us the A players, while the Apple II crew were the B players. Nevermind that the money was flowing from the B team’s side and we were still a money pit. That didn’t matter, we were Steve’s folks.

The hallmark of the B player was diligence. They worked in a larger and more structured environment that needed reliable processes and repeatable results. Diligence got the job done.

The hallmark of the A player wasn’t laziness. It was the confidence that comes from knowing you’re doing something the B player could never do. You were going to change the world. It was a higher calling than just shipping product.

1) The diligent – lazy continuum doesn’t work for me because of the negative value that our part of the world puts on “lazy” behavior. I prefer framing the discussion in terms of the organization’s objectives. Do the objectives call for a structured or less structured environment? After the Macintosh and Apple II divisions merged it became painfully apparent that the B player managers were counting heads at 9am while the A player managers may make it in by noon, unless they were sleeping under their desks again. It was a very confusing time as the less structured met the more structured organization. And not one of the A or B players could be called lazy.

2) It’s important to let people nap. Studies have shown (and life in Italy proves) that napping is very beneficial. If any “laziness” is on display then it should be introduced as a personnel policy regarding napping.

3) It’s a problem to be solved in the context of the job to be done. Some jobs do not require much creative thought yet demand constant attention. They are unlikely to find beds installed in their worksites. Other jobs come with a license to wool gather. Certain editorial posts in the publishing industry come to mind.

4) Overbearing diligence can be a barrier to innovation. Yet having a diligent process for brainstorming, wool gathering, whiteboarding, workshopping, et. al., is a very good thing. There’s nothing like a diligent facilitator in a room full of smart people.

Some of the best results come from mixing up the diligent and the lazy provided they’re all smart.

{ 0 comments }