They Say I’m Extreme

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/11/16

Went to Barnes & Noble over at U-Village a couple of days ago (near the University of Washington here in Seattle). Had been having a bad day and needed some time to clear my head — decided to wander the store and explore — which usually does the trick.

These days I’ve got so much past due (on every front, all the time), that I rarely wander aaround and shift gears to discovery mode — so it was a nice couple of hours.

Came across a cool little ‘explode your world’ book by Seth Godin called “The Big Moo”.

It’s a collection of essays by 30 people who would best be described as ‘change catalysts’. Godin serves as editor for the collection and it’s chocked full of nuggets (all of which are not credited to a particular contributor — that’s interesting).

One of the essays is called “They Say I’m Extreme” and it knocked me on my ass.

It was exactly what I needed to hear on that particular afternoon. I’m passing a few quotes of it along here (you can find the full version around if you google) — hope the copyright police don’t mind (and if they do, I hope they recognize the attention exchange as worth it).

If this inspires you, replicate the DNA by passing it along and buying the book (it’s a non-profit thing and all proceeds go to charity — bulk orders info available on The Big Moo site).

Here’s the first exceprt that got me…

They Say I’m Extreme They say I’m extreme. I say I’m a realist. They say I demand too much. I say they accept mediocrity and continuous improvement too readily. They say, “We can’t handle this much change.” I say, “Your job and career are in jeopardy; what other options do you have?” They say, “What’s wrong with a ‘good product’?” I say, “Wal-Mart or China or both are about to eat your lunch. Why can’t you provide instead a fabulous experience?” They say, “Take a deep breath. Be calm.” I say, “Tell it to Wal-Mart. Tell it to China. Tell it to India. Tell it to Dell. Tell it to Microsoft.”

Here’s another…

They say, “Happy balance.” I say, “Creative tension.” They say they favor a “team that works and lives in harmony”. I say, “Give me a raucous brawl among the most creative people imaginable.” They say, “Peace, brother.” I say, “Bruise my feelings. Flatten my ego. Save my job.”

And another…

They say, “We see Harvard M.B.A.s.” I say, “I seek certificate-free ‘Ph.D.s’ from the School of Hard Knocks.” They say they want recruits with “spotless records”. I say, “The spots are what matter most.” They say, “Integrity is important.” I say, “Tell the unvarnished truth, all the time…or take a hike.”

Last one…

They say, “Zero defects.” I say, “A day without a screw up or two is a day pissed away.” They say, “Think about it.” I say, “Try it.” They say, “Plan it.” I say, “Test it.”

Very nice bit of inspiration. A bit of googling this AM turned up an earlier version in a compelling visual form (.pdf). Amazing how Google can lead you right to the source with just a few bits of info.

Good stuff…

Cox on “Don’t Make Me Think” CMS litmus test

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/11/14

A couple of weeks ago, Jon Cox, of Xaraya fame, picked up on this post comparing Sharepoint to increasingly robust open source technologies (like Xaraya).

Jon noted that he did not think that Xaraya would pass the “Don’t Make Me Think” (DMMT) litmus test I referenced.

It was great to continue the conversation through comments to his post — I was able to clarify what I was saying and make a connection with folks I greatly respect and admire.

My main point there is — I think Xaraya can pass the DMMT test because developers/implementers can configure the various public and editorial facing interfaces into just about any presentational look and feel they want — which is not the case with the current version Sharepoint (though, I get the impression that this is going to change in upcoming versions).

This makes Xaraya much more powerful in my book — because usable interfaces can be slapped onto it when necessary.

Cox’s point is well taken though —

Xaraya is not very DMMT out of the box for the site implementer — it takes time to get your head around the way the system works — which makes sense for developers (where much power is possible, much training is usually required) — but this should never be the case when we are talking about the end users like anonymous site visitors or editorial contributors.

Best quote today from 43 Folders

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/11/08

Best quote today comes from Merlin over at 43 Folders in the post “Five email tics I’d love for you to lose” —

Friend: I love you, but you must evolve.

Seattle Mind Camp 1.0 highlights

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/11/07

Went to Seattle Mind Camp this Weekend and it was a blast. Cannot recall a time where I’ve had 24 hours of such great discussions.

Got to talk with so many interesting people who provoked me with cool ideas — Even now I’m having a hard time slowing my brain down (woke up at 3 this AM with my usual insomnia — only this time I had at least three viable business / project ideas the minute I opened my eyes — is that a good thing?)

Here’s some of my big highlights in chron order —

Highlight 1: The Saturday morning session by Julie Leung called “Making Masks: Blogging as Social Tool and Family Lifestyle” was stunning.

She read an essay set to pictures on how blogging has changed and challenged her as a woman, wife, mother, sister.

It was exciting to be at a stereotypically geek event and be provoked by such a thoughtful intelligent display of femininity — I thanked her afterward for a session that my blogging wife would have thoroughly enjoyed (somehow I imagine that my wife’s newfound affinity for Maryam Scoble is just the beginning of us discovering some very cool feminine blog voices).

Julie’s presentation gave me so much hope to see that geek slumber parties like this really do have the potential to be more balanced and diverse instead of stereotypical (and yes John — I’m with Liz and Tara — the quote could have been contextualized much better).

Highlight 2: Got to talk for 30 minutes with Scoble and Bill McCoy (Adobe’s director of Product Management) about the state of web development, Microsoft, Macromedia, Adobe, Google, and husband vs wife debates on wood stoves vs. plasma TV’s — quite a bit of fun — tried hard not too come off as too much of a fanboy.

Then, this AM, I opened up Todd Bishop’s Seattle PI post on “Notes from Mind Camp” and found this photo of the conversation (picture 7 in the photo gallery that accompanies the post — I’m the geek in the yellow shirt). All I could think yesterday was — it would’ve been cool to have some shots of the impromptu moments that happened, then, blam, there one emerges.

Talking with Scoble and Adobe's Bill McCoy at Mind Camp 1.0

Coolest takeaway here, aside from the geek discussion, was that Scoble really is as approachable and good willed as rumor has it — glad he is influencing the industry (and culture at large) in that direction on so many fronts.

Highlight 3: About 15 or so folks (including 1 woman — which I count a diversity victory) hung out for the discussion I led on “Neo vs. Samwise in a fight? And what does this have to do with the attention economy?”

Conversation was really great and hit me with things I hadn’t thought of before.

My friend Mike Wilkerson took notes on a tablet PC that we projected live as we talked. I will do more of a write up on this later and post a PDF and HTML file of the notes. Hope to one day write a book with this as a chapter (Tim O’Reilly — get in touch with me if you are interested in new kinds of offerings — seriously).

My session from Mind Camp is the 4th one down under the 5-6 PM timeslot

Picture of the session description from the Mind Camp schedule was also in the Todd Bishop’s Seattle PI photo gallery. In photo 3, my session is the 4th one down under the 5-6 PM timeslot.

Highlight 4: Got to meet Buzz Bruggeman of Activewords.

Wilkerson and I pulled him into our orbit during Saturday night’s dinner to get the direct buzz on his product — we ended up talking for about an hour about everything from that to how a lot of people want Jesus to save them from his followers.

(Wilkerson has the blue crayola diagram of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that Buzz drew — it was one of the coolest conversations I’ve had in a long time — and Mind Camp was one of those extremely rare eclectic mashups where it somehow did not seem out of the ordinary)

Highlight 5: Shelly Farnham presented on the use of a peer to peer filesharing technology called Groove during the response to hurricane Katrina.

Very interesting conversation. Nancy White had lot of other experiences she shared from an international perspective on use of technology in relief work.

This one went late (1:15 AM according to Nancy) and at midnight I had to excuse myself to get some sleep.

Highlight 6: I got up at 5 AM and loaded a bunch of the sound equipment that had been donated for use on Saturday. We didn’t publicize it too much, but all of the PA gear used at Mind Camp was donated by two Seattle churches — Mars Hill in downtown Ballard (where Wilkerson is a pastor) and Harambee in downtown Renton (where I am a volunteer marketplace pastor).

That’s very cool to me.

I really identify with that “Jesus save us from your followers” sentiment most of the time. When I heard that Mind Camp needed a PA system, it was a blast to jump in and “bless the geeks” — no matter their race, creed, culture, politics, sexual orientation.

It’s quite a kick to see what everyone at the event is doing and to bless it with no strings attached — it’s a bit of a cultural disruption, if you ask me — a sort of culture hack — I like it — I like it a lot.

Highlight 7: After returning the sound gear, I continued a conversation thread with Justin Martenstein (whose wife is an RN) that had started the night before about our shared passion of using technology to solve real world problems.

We talked a lot about Berkun’s people centric pragmatic approach to tech projects in “The Art of Project Management” and I gave him a copy of “Why software sucks (and what to do about it)” that I happened to have with me.

I love spreading Scott’s work around — he and I had a chance to catch up a few times on Saturday but I missed his sessions (because I was talking with the folks from Highlight 2 above — oh that there were more hours in the day). Hoping to hear about his takeaways from the event soon.

Highlight 8: As Justin and I rambled on to other topics, I mentioned a story from a book a friend of mine named Don Miller wrote called Blue Like Jazz (man I wish I hadn’t been too busy to do the cover design on that book!).

Ted Leung (husband of Julie from Highlight 1 above and XML programming afficonado) was nearby and it turned out he had read the book and was intrigued by what we were talking about.

Was a great discussion that again had me thinking of those Inkling conversations that Tolkien, Lewis, etc. had so many years ago. Looking forward to more of that sometime soon.

Highlight 9: As Wilkerson and I left, we thanked Andru Edwards who spearheaded the event with the help of family and friends. Noted to him our sincere thanks for putting the whole thing together and that we are both ready to help with Mind Camp 2.0 in any way we can.