Crowd Clout

[via Thejo] TrendWatching writes:

The power of groups, the clout that crowds can exercise to get what they want, is nothing new. What is new, however, is the dizzying ease with which likeminded, action-ready citizens and consumers can now go online and connect, group and ultimately exert influence on a global scale. Call it group power, call it CROWD CLOUT:

CROWD CLOUT: Online grouping of citizens/consumers for a specific cause, be it political, civic or commercial, aimed at everything from bringing down politicians to forcing suppliers to fork over discounts.

Three Types of Ideas

Paul Buchheit writes:

Product ideas can be divided into three categories:

1. Obviously good ideas that are very difficult to implement. Efficient cold-fusion, flying cars, and a lot of other sci-fi ideas fall into this group.
2. Obviously “good” ideas that seem possible but haven’t happened yet. Video phones and HDTV were in this category for a long time. I think this happens when people get excited about technology and overestimate the benefits (and possibly underestimate the cost). I just don’t care that much about having a video phone.
3. “Bad” ideas. Many of these ideas are truly bad, but some of them will in hindsight turn out to have been very good ideas. I put them in the same category because they are difficult to distinguish without the benefit of hindsight.

Here’s my point: The best product ideas are often found in the “bad ideas” category!

Names

David Beisel writes: “From appearances, one of the most difficult decisions that a set of founders make about their early stage company is what to call the company and/or first product (often one in the same). The name game appears to be so difficult because, at the end of the day, the rationale for each choice is largely subjective. For this reason, the process often becomes one that antagonizes the company for too long. But it shouldnt be that way…I think the only rule that matters in a naming process is that founder(s) should listen to all advice but then absolutely trust their own gut as to what runs parallel to their vision.”

Usability Lessons

[via Rick Segal] Matt from Truition writes: “First, small changes can make a big difference. Not all small changes will result in a positive effect on a system, but well thought out changes can. In my case, upside-down coffee lids made a marked improvement on the overall coffee experience. The wood stir sticks were more effective too.”

The Information Economy

Techdirt has a post by Mike Masnick: “The ‘information economy’ is not about selling information — it’s about using information to make everything else more valuable. The problem is that many in the US believe that the information economy is about selling information, and that mistake explains many of the strategic mistakes made over the past few decades that we’ve been describing here. Unfortunately, as we’ve been noting, the US has bet so strongly on the idea of the information economy being about selling information that it’s pushing other countries to put laws in place that support the US’s position on this — and doing so under the false banner of “free trade.” The purpose of real free trade is that it’s beneficial to both parties through the efficiencies afforded by comparative advantage. In this case, however, these new protectionist policies are only beneficial to the US — and, as Cory notes, this means they’ll eventually be ignored. The benefit is too strong not to ignore them.”

The Attention Crash

Steve Rubel writes: “We are reaching a point where the number of inputs we have as individuals is beginning to exceed what we are capable as humans of managing. The demands for our attention are becoming so great, and the problem so widespread, that it will cause people to crash and curtail these drains. Human attention does not obey Moore’s Law.”

Speaker Presentation

Jon Udell writes about how he prepares for giving a talk:

My process used to be…composing slides but now its turned into something completely different and quite surprising to me. As I discussed here, Ive finally trained myself to use dictation effectively. Ill go out for a long walk, like two or three hours, and dictate a rough draft of the talk. Im not able to do that continuously, I have to stop and think and start again, but I turn the recorder off during the think time so when Im done Ive got something approximating what the talk will be. Then I go for another long walk and listen to what I recorded, making notes about what slides to use. For last weeks talk I didnt take those notes in audio form, I scribbled them down while walking, but next time Im going to go back to audio capture. If you distill the long narrative down to short titles or phrases, its quick and easy to listen to a spoken distillation and write down the titles which become the armature for the slides.

The obvious reason why this works is that speaking out loud is good practice for speaking out loud. One of the subtler reasons is that exercise and fresh air really help. Another is that when Im away from my office and cant fiddle with a computer or look things up on the web, I have to literally think on my feet.

Steven Johnson Interview

PopMatters features an interview of Steven Johnson by Jason Jones:

This idea of the long zoom, a perspective that shifts back and forth from the macro- to the microcosm, organizes each of Steven Johnsons five books of cultural criticism and science journalism. As he explains below, Johnson deploys concepts borrowed from contemporary science and from literary theory, using these in particular to understand the way informationbiological, cultural, or otherself-organizes as it moves along networks. Its not that he has one idea and applies it indiscriminately; rather, the long zoom is a kind of method: He focuses attentively on what happens at the moments when one shifts between scalesthose moments, that is, when an explanatory vocabulary that makes sense from one point of view appears to break down. Johnson consistently shows how scientific and cultural progress happens when consilient thinkers are able to translate observations and data at one level of experience into another, making visible what had been hidden.

Limits of Peer Production

Nicholas Carr writes: “Peer production works well for manifold, time-consuming tasks that don’t require a lot of coordination among workers but that it’s not going to help you come up with a great new idea or give a product the kind of polish that often creates a hit in the market.”

Newspapers Future

Andy Kessler wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “Rather than just charge for content, I’d be licensing every type of newfangled software and Web service until I could come up with a tight community of interest around my newspaper, local or national. Don’t just start the discussion, keep it. This means comments, reviews, personalized newsfeeds, social networks of like-minded readers, whatever. Give advertisers a little “link love” so they don’t stray to generic search engines. Google, Microsoft and others dropped over $10 billion to buy online ad-delivery companies in the last few weeks alone. The value is there: Newspapers aren’t in the printing business, they’re in the ad business.”

The 4-Hour Workweek

A new book by Timothy Ferriss promises:

* How to outsource your life and do whatever you want for a year, only to return to a bank account 50% larger than before you left
* How blue-chip escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs
* How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the principles of little-known European economists
* How to train your boss to value performance over presence, or kill your job (or company) if it’s beyond repair
* How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and frequent mini-retirements
* What automated cash-flow “muses” are and how to create one in 2-4 weeks
* How to cultivate selective ignoranceand create timewith a low-information diet
* Management secrets of Remote Control CEOs
* The crucial difference between absolute and relative income
* How to get free housing worldwide and airfare at 50-80% off
* How to fill the void and creating meaning after removing work and the office

The Future

Forbes has an essay by Nassim Taleb:

It’s impossible for the editors of Forbes.com to predict who will change the world, because major changes are Black Swans, the result of accidents and luck. But we do know who society’s winners will be: those who are prepared to face Black Swans, to be exposed to them, to recognize them when they show up and to rigorously exploit them.

Things, it turns out, are all too often discovered by accident–but we don’t see that when we look at history in our rear-view mirrors. The technologies that run the world today (like the Internet, the computer and the laser) are not used in the way intended by those who invented them. Even academics are starting to realize that a considerable component of medical discovery comes from the fringes, where people find what they are not exactly looking for.

Cities as Biological Organisms

Steven Johnson points to an article in PhySorg: “What they found were some general correlations of size and resource consumption that more or less fit the biological organism metaphor, meaning as the city grew in size it required less energy (resources) to sustain it in a proportion called sublinear scaling. What was surprising to the team was when they measured creative output (jobs, wealth generated, innovation) as cities grew, the scaling of this output was not sublinear, but superlinear, meaning as the city grew its creative output grew faster and faster.”

Teens Online

AlwaysOn features an interview with Anastasia Goodstein, author of “Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are Really Doing Online.”

Teenagers are connected to each other, lots more information, and media 24/7. They need parents and adults to set limits on this use and act as guides as to whats credible as well as to help them be more media and marketing savvy. It means that there is a new way of communicating that adds an element of distance, the possibility of anonymity, and the reality of much of this communication is public or can easily be made public.

Teens put the social in social networking. Being a teen is all about individuating from your parents and spending more time with peers. We did this by hanging out in malls, parks and parking lots. Todays teens are much more scheduled and structured, and todays parents are more reluctant to let teens hang out unsupervised.

Global Bull Market

WSJ writes:

Just seven years after the great bull market of the 1990s thudded to a halt, a small group of seasoned investors — including some with no vested interest in selling stock — believe the U.S. market is in the midst of another long period of gains.

This group of extreme optimists believes that global economic strength will keep shares rising for much longer than has been common in previous eras. Not only China and India, but also Japan, Western Europe, Latin America and other parts of Asia are feeding on one another.

Spare Cycles

Chris Anderson writes:

pare cycles are the most powerful fuel on the planet. It’s what Web 2.0 is made up of. User generated content? Spare cycles. Open source? Spare cycles. MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Second Life? Spare cycles. They’re the Soylent Green of the web.

Web 2.0 is such a phenomena because we’re underused elsewhere. Bored at work, bored at home. We’ve got spare cycles and they’re finally finding an outlet. Tap that and you’ve tapped an energy source that rivals anything in human history. Solitaire Players of the World Unite!