Google’s New China Logo

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/01/28

I haven’t quite digested what I think about the whole Google censoring China results thing, but I just saw this icon treatment and, well, thought it was pretty powerful —

Google\'s New China Logo

Image surfaced in the thread here and is by Paul Bubel. Thanks to Jeff Nolan for surfacing it and tech.memeorandum for signaling it up through the noise to my Saturday afternoon attention span.

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…

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.

If software lived in meatspace

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/10/24

Great post on Signal vs Noise over at 37signals the other day proposing that “If software was physical you’d have to look away”.

It’s not only funny, but thought provoking as well (always a powerful combination in my book).

The idea came to mind again yesterday as I was talking with a friend who is a tech leader at a large healthcare organization in the Seattle area.

We were on the topic of content management systems (or knowledge management systems, if you prefer) and why the big expensive enterprise ones, like Microsoft’s Sharepoint products, result in so much suckage.

In reflecting on our discussion, I realized there are several ways to make the case — here are a few for instances —

For Instance 1: I can talk about how these types of systems don’t follow baseline “Don’t Make Me Think” usability principles — which works really well if the folks you are talking with are aware of Steve Krug’s work (and better still if they agree with it).

Even if they haven’t heard of “Don’t Make Me Think”, I’ve found that I usually sound smarter than I am (often the case — ha ha ha) because the title is funny and my sound bite description of Krug’s thesis often gels with folksy conventional wisdom — even if you don’t spend your free time studying human interaction and user interface design best practices.

(For the record, my soundbite synopsis of Krug’s thesis goes like this — “We think people use computers with much thoughtfulness, like many of us tech folks do — but, the research is showing they don’t — most folks actually go to a screen and just start clicking on stuff — often getting confused really fast and then giving up, or, alternately, settling into a process of smoldering frustration if they can’t accomplish the task at hand” — my colleague Christian Watson has posted this great picture of this point from the back cover of the book in his review of the second edition)

For Instance 2: I can describe how inflexible a Sharepoint system is when compared to some of the open source solutions that are quickly reshaping this business space.

For those of you that don’t know, there are a lot of free tools out there that are hands down kicking Sharepoint’s ass — examples include Xaraya (customer facing implementation of which can be seen via these sites from Sacred Heart Medical Center of Spokane, WA and The Schwab Foundation), Drupal, WordPress, Moveable Type, Mambo, Writeboard, etc.

For example — I can make most of the open source tools look like this or this or this (if it makes usability sense) but I can only make the Sharepoint site look like an ugly stepsister of this even if it is, to put it politely, not optimal for my users.

For Instance 3 (The Closer): I could take the 37signals cue and just say, “If Sharepoint existed in meatspace, you’d have to look away”.

The folks with good visualization skills would immediately feel nauseated, say “Yep — you’re right” and we’d all be moving on to the next topic.

This third method, in my book, is a noteworthy and cost effective method of rapid systems prototyping — ha ha ha

Get Well Soon

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/10/21

Get well soon — you know who you are — I am sorry this is happening to you — I am also praying for you (seriously, despite what follows).

This is an off topic post but frankly, I’m pissed, so here goes.

I just found out a couple of days ago that a friend I work with is sick — really sick — sudden onset of leukemia over 40 years old sick.

It has me quite angry — shaking my fist at the universe on his behalf (or God for the misery coping theists like me out there).

It’s the kind of angry where I have no capacity to write warm fuzzy get well notes on Hallmark cards (you know those cards – the ones with the flowers and the sunsets and the bad poetry written in flowing script).

On the card that came around the office on Friday I couldn’t bring myself to write the things that social propriety tells me belong on cards like that. Call it a lack of composure if you want, I really don’t care.

I think I started out by saying “What you are going through completely sucks.”

And this is the space I’m still stewing in.

He’s a great guy (I don’t know how he feels about blogging etc. so I’m not going to mention names). We’ve worked together for about 2 years now. Some of the anecdotes that come to mind —

…whenever I pass him in cubeville he’s zinging some funny quip that takes the edge off of things — and God knows we need less edges — I love him for that.

…he’s got two teen daughters who sound like they are pretty smart – so much so that I’ve been asking him how I can raise my kids (infant and toddler) to be so smart.

…he works so hard with the teams around him to keep impossibly lame systems up and running — and he does a great job of it.

(and, yes, that is an open shot at vendors who make non robust systems and then expect other folks to spend their lives picking up the slack — lamer than lame, in my not so humble opinion – for God’s sake, please cowboy up and make great shit that works).

This is the friend of mine who is really sick and I am heartbroken.

All I can think about is how angry I am and how much my guts are screaming, “This ain’t the way things are supposed to be – why is this chaos, this illness, this system crashing bug — why is this ripping into our systemized orderly bit driven lives?”

“There are a lot of other guys in the universe who deserve shit like this –” (we’ve all got our lists, don’t we?) “– but not this guy, not my friend.”

And the only comfort coming to mind as I write this is a piece of ancient commiseration that goes like this –

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

While I completely agree with this notion on an intellectual level (and what follows it in the original text), my heart is still saying —


          This is completely fucked.

          Why is this happening to my friend?

Ambrose Bierce on Zeal

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/10/03

Picked up a nice quote on zeal from David Allen’s blog this AM. Great note to folks like me who, shall we say, brew over with passion from time to time.

It’s by Ambrose Bierce —

Zeal, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.      When Zeal sought Gratitude for his reward      He went away exclaiming: “O my Lord!”      “What do you want?” the Lord asked, bending down.      “An ointment for my cracked and bleeding crown.”      — Jum Coople — Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911

David posted part of the quote. I was able to google the full thing and the source.

(Have I mentioned that I’m a huge fan of David Allen and that I’d stalk him if I had the time?)

One Hand Raised in Favor of Openness

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/09/29

Met Scoble in this webinar on tech blogging for business the other day. Big takeaway for me was ‘The Corporate Weblog Manifesto’ he pointed to that he posted back in February 2003.

It really serves as a definitive scope document for the revolution he has helped lead – the one that’s changing the very nature of corporate communication, product evangelism, and software development.

It’s my current blog policy until something better (read — more corporate and sanitized) comes along.

Here’s some highlights (more to follow on more of his 21 points as time allows) —

1) Tell the truth. The whole truth. Nothing but the truth. If your competitor has a product that’s better than yours, link to it. You might as well. We’ll find it anyway.

Wow — tell the truth even if it doesn’t flatter you because people will find out anyway.

2) Post fast on good news or bad. Someone say something bad about your product? Link to it — before the second or third site does — and answer its claims as best you can. Same if something good comes out about you. It’s all about building long-term trust. The trick to building trust is to show up! If people are saying things about your product and you don’t answer them, that distrust builds. Plus, if people are saying good things about your product, why not help Google find those pages as well?

Warts and all honesty actually has a huge, often undocumented ROI, and it’s called customer trust.

Anyone familiar with Microsoft’s corporate history (especially from a technical or business perspective) knows full well the huge level of mistrust they have earned during their recent lifespan.

Whoever hired Scoble to do what he’s doing where he’s doing it should really be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize – from a cultural change perspective, the work is extremely significant, and will ultimately make the world a much better place.