Translation: “It’s Not Going to Be What You Want it To Be”

  • generally
  • prospectively
  • in essence
  • ideally
  • basically
  • potentially
  • probably
  • technically
  • categorically
  • in theory
  • sort of

Translation: “It’s Not Going to Happen The Way You Want it to Happen”

  • straightforward
  • easy
  • automatically
  • at some point
  • ultimately
  • try

Translation: “Do it Yourself.”

  • That’d be great.

Quick Recap: In my last post, I showed a livejournal error message that referenced the words “style” and “fashion.” For me, it posed the question, “Could this be a subliminal branding technique used to appeal to cutting-edge user groups?” Fortunately, Jenks pulled me off my overly-theoretical soapbox by responding with a healthy degree of skepticism:

“unless the fashion tips came with instructions that people who spend more time with vogue than with code could understand, it’s doubtful.”

I have a great deal of respect for this woman and her work as an expert on identity marketing. I also happen to not be an expert on identity marketing, which means I would now be stepping way out of line if I were to pursue this argument.

But that’s never stopped me before.

Here’s my point: I don’t think we’re talking about fashion tips here — I think what we’re seeing is boring technodribble presented in language that’s familiar to a hip crowd. It’s a subtle way of acknowledging that their users aren’t all geeks, and tipping their hats to the voguers.

Do I think Livejournal did this on purpose? No (although, if they did, someone please let me know). Do I think we should learn a lesson from the coincidence? Yes. What’s the lesson? There are plenty of ways that we can communicate to our users, “We are one of you; we speak your language.” Plenty.

Let’s break these down into three levels: the big ways, the basic ways, and the subtle ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Count the clothing references in this livejournal page load error:

Error running style: Style code didn't finish running in a timely fashion. Possible causes:

  • Infinite loop in style or layer

Primary Question: How many do you see?

Silly Subquestion: Is this a subliminal branding technique to appeal to cutting-edge user groups?

Followup Question: Could it be?

When I got off the train for work yesterday, I was already on the verge of tears with anger. I had spent the ride rolling work frustrations around in my head, and it had only made things worse. I couldn’t pinpoint the problems, and my entire job just felt impossible.

But I’ve learned a few things as a trial-by-fire project manager, and one is that my attitude affects my team’s ability to work. So I made the call: it’s better to show up late than to show up angry. I went to Target instead of the office, and called them to say I had errands to run.

At Target, I picked out a new notebook and a good pen. My plan was to go from there to a cafe and write until my situation looked less like an amorphous blob of insurmountable problems and more like a plan to get through it. On my way to the checkout line, though, I passed something bright that caught my eye.

They were only four-for-a-dollar.

I just couldn’t resist…

Read the rest of this entry »

BarCampBlock was inspiring and enjoyable. I reconnected with some key grapple-points in my work — business intention, project management, outsourcing, copyright, and market bubbles. The hallway conversations have been useful and relevant, and I even got interviewed for ATT’s Tech Channel
show with Hugh Thompson. What surprised me, though, is that more than once (including on camera), I hopped onto a soapbox that I didn’t know I had: The Internet is about anarchy.

Apparently I am very passionate about this idea. Who knew?

What do I mean by this? I mean that the Internet is about freedom, personal empowerment, self-organization, and lack of government. It’s a medium where people come together from all over the world and create their own experiences and communities. It is freeform, evolving, and self-directed. It is passionate. It is a collection of user-generated content that is localized, globalized, focused, far-reaching, and important.

It cannot be controlled.

I’m excited about BarCamp because it’s modeled after this energy. People show up, create their own sessions (I led one on “Project Management for Multi-Taskers”), and migrate toward what really matters to them. There is no profit to be had, no corporate structure to accomodate, no government to adhere to. Every attendee is a participant, and every participant is a volunteer. There is a culture of respect, but all structure and values are self-imposed and in constant evolution.

It has a life of its own.

So, there’s this little thing going on this weekend called BarCampBlock. Liz Henry from Socialtext is co-planning it, and sent me an invite a few weeks ago. When I signed up, there were less than 25 people on the list. I figured we were looking at WoolfCamp-style intimate gathering for discussions about new trends in technology and its social implications.

As I write this, there are now 583 people registered for the event. Holy Cow, people. Check out all these fancy folks.

So what the heck is BarCampBlock? It’s a BarCamp, of course. On a Block. Duh.

Okay, no, seriously. BarCamp is one of those renegade grassroots un-conference phenomena that pulls a whole bunch of brilliant independent socialtech-minded thinkers together into the same space for a day or two and lets them organize their own discussions. It’s free to attend (although you can buy a donor ticket for $100 or $300 if you’re feeling philanthropic), and it’s guaranteed to inspire the heck out of you. You can read more about the concept here at its wikipedia entry: BarCamp.

And the Block? The block is the Center of the Tech Universe in Palo Alto, including such office as Social Text, IDEO, Searchspark, and maybe Facebook… BarCamp is spilling out into the streets.

And I will be there.

Come along!

I’m an independent contractor at my current job, which means I get to set my own hours. No one holds me to a schedule, and no one is concerned if I stroll in at noon some days (or don’t stroll in at all). More often than not, though, I show up to work at the exact same time every morning. I do this regardless of how I’m feeling — whether I want to or not. This means I’m more likely to be productive, and less likely to fall into that “later and later every day” temptation funk. The rest of my team may be less consistent, but they’ve learned to trust my schedule, and have naturally started to align theirs around it.

So what’s my magical secret? I meet my neighbor for coffee at the same time every day, and she has to be at work by 9am. It’s a standing date; if I want to cancel, I have to do extra work to let her know I won’t be there, lest she wait around for me and be late to work. I know that if I’m only answering to myself, I can control the expectations and make adjustments for my own comfort levels. But if I arrange my life so that I’m answering to someone else, at least on a simple but consistent level, I’m held accountable enough to be reliable. And then everything else can fall into place around that.

Lifehacker had an article recently about Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret: To accomplish something consistently every day (for him it’s writing), put up a big calendar on your wall and draw a red X over each day that you accomplish the task. Soon a chain will development, and you will enjoy adding to it. Your motivation becomes simple: don’t break the chain.

It’s the same concept as the morning coffee (although, i think mine is better). We need a backup motivation for those days when “this matters” just isn’t enough of a reason to get us out of bed. It’s the same reason as why ambitious New Year’s Resolutions tend to fail. We are too sensitive to our own needs to be our own strict disciplinarians.

I’m sure there are more tricks for self-imposed consistent action out there. I’d love to hear what’s working for you.