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!


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.”