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[SXSW2008] Day 2

Well, as you may have guessed based on Day 1, we slept in and were simply unable to make it to the early morning sessions. We were able to, as such, te head down and show Mike the Whole Foods mothership at 5th and Lamar.

We grabbed lunch there ( the MoPac Sandwich with Tomatoes ) and then headed over to the Austin Convention Center. The first presentation we saw the keynote presentation with Henry Jenkins and Stephen Johnson. Their discussion was most enlightening as they discussed the communication and behavior patterns of “the kinds today”.

In an interesting bit of political dialogue, Jenkins noted that the Hillary linguistic dynamic is very much rooted in the old-world style model of political power.

“I would like to do for you.”

Pay attention to how many times she uses the word “I”

Which, to me, is a relic from the Catholic modality of intercessor. The notion that strongmen (and women) are needed to organize political pawer and resources on your behalf. Contrawise, that would make tho Obamian linguistic method of discussion some sort of Reformation-style assertion of “together we can”. In the Lutheran or Wesleyan mold, Obama doesn’t assert that he knows any better than the rest, but that he can be the symbol, the steward of a movement that is so much larger than anything that could be reined-in and channeled by any one individual. That is:

“Yes we can.”

I wonder if anyone has contacted the Obama campaign, perhaps a successful tactic would be to characterize Hillary as out -of-touch, as being a person who is into power per se, for the thrill of conducting the bolt of lightning like the magus in Tarot Card 1.

Read about what I heard from 37Signals after the jump.

Stuff We’ve Learned at 37 Signals : Jason Fried

The Great Unknown

  • You don’t know if things are going to work. It’s OK. Go for it and see what happens.
  • What happens if you have 1Mil of this, 1Mil of that?
  • Who cares. Unless you deal with the now, you can’t focus on what may come.
  • Optimize for now; don’t worry about later

Red Flags

The words that indicate that something has gone wrong:

  • need: The need of obligation puts a barrier up, it ends discussion. Replace with “can we get away with”, “what do you think of”
  • can’t
  • easy: used to describe what other people do
  • only
  • fast

Worse when you string them together: “It’s only one more feature. We really need it. We can’t launch without it. It should be easy. Can’t you just do it real fast?”

Be successful and make money by helping other people be successful and make money

Spot chain reactions. Be the catalyst. By using Base Camp, they manage a project, which makes theim manage more projects, they bill, they make more money, the clients of the first users are happy and do more.

Target nonconsumers and nonconsumption

  • Innovator’s dilimma
  • Innovator’s solution

Products too hard, too inaccessible, more affordable, bu tthe existing players aren’t serving this market.
Minimize the chance for competition from entrenched players

Question your work regularly

  • Why are we doing this
  • what problem are we solving
  • is this actually useful
  • are we adding value
  • will this chaneg behavior
  • is there an easier way
  • what’s the opportunity cost
  • is it really worth it

Read your product

Too much focus on pixels, not enough on words. Rewrite first, redesign second.

Err to the side of simple

Get three things done in one week instead of one thing done in three week

The longer it takes to develop something the less likely you are to launch it

  • Interest wanes teh more things drag on and on

Resist the urge to try to do more the next time around

Do what’s working for you

Invest in what doesn’t change

  • Nobody will ever want search results to be slow and inaccurate, thus GOOG invests there
  • Nobody will want they stuff they buy to take a long time to get there, thus AMZN invests in reginal distro centers

Follow the chefs

  • Build your empire through sharing
  • Who they are is they build the empire
  • They give away the recipe that draws you to their restaurant, makes you buy their pans
  • Figure out your cookbook

Interruption is the enemy of productivity

  • After DHH moved to Chicago, they were less productive
  • Hey check this out, calling name, distraction, etc.
  • Passive communication reduces interruption

Roadmaps send you in the wrong direction

  • Road maps lock you into the past; past thinking; methodologies
  • Set expectations
  • It’s OK to think about the future, just don’t write it down
  • Ricardo Sembler (Seven Day Weekend) *Do the right thing at the right time

Be clear in a crisis

  • Be honest, open, public, and responsive
  • The web doesn’t shut up just because you have

Make tiny decisions

  • Break problems down to the atomic level
  • Knock one little thing off at a time
  • Celebrate little launches
  • Morale feeds off progress
  • When you make tiny decisions, you can’t make big mistakes
  • We socialize crap so much because it’s just one big CYA session

Everything you do should matter

Hire curiosity, don’t hire prima donnas

  • You can have people who rock become rockstars, a rock star may be a prima donna.
  • Be careful of which one you’re courting
  • But, no solution to the question of how you can

Fried predicts the end of IT departments, he’s wrong IMNSHO due to the way money is accounted for in large-scale orgaizations


Coudal Partners ( Jim Coudal )

Posted online

  • Design counsultancy

General Theory of Creativity ( day to day creativity )

Let’s discuss bookband, a game where you combine the name of a book with the name of a band. “Horton hears a hoobastank”

There is a variable and a constant. And that the actual work is finding the relationship between the two.

How do you value creative acts

  • Sometimes a creative idea flows
  • Sometimes it doesn’t and the client is a jackass

The initial moment of passion about an idea MUST BE OBEYED

  • This amplifies the known and the unknown
  • This is the c2 in e=mc2, it’s the accelerator that can turn the very TINY idea into the very powerful result that is the resultant force sufficient to destroy nagasaki.
  • This is the moment that people say “I live for that”

Evaluate the result, do you like it?

Coudal proposed a ‘spnning wheels’ model of cognition.

When you’re trying to match “horton hears a who” you’re trying to map a CONSTANT to a spining wheel of variables: in this case, “the police”, “metallica” etc. until you come across “hoobastank” which matches your expectation. What was that expectation? Mirth, irony, alliteration? Who knows, but that result is compared against the goal emotional response. If it comes through, then great! Else we try again, this is how we create.

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