Four short links: 7 October 2010

Managing Mistakes, Paying for APIs, Gaming Gmail, and Classy Twitter Engineering

  1. How to Manage Employees When They Make Mistakes — sound advice on how to deal with employees who failed to meet expectations. Yet again, good parenting can make you a good adult. It’s strange to me that in the technology sector we have such a reputation for yellers. Maybe it’s business in general and not just tech. […] People stay at companies with leaders who rule like Mussolini because they want to be part of something super successful. But it does tend to breed organizations of people who walk around like beaten dogs with their heads down waiting to be kicked. It produces sycophants and group think. And if your company ever “slips” people head STRAIGHT for the door as they did at Siebel. I’d love to see a new generation of tech companies that don’t rule through fear. (via Hacker News)
  2. Information Wants to be Paid (Pete Warden) — I want to know where I stand relative to the business model of any company I depend on. If API access and the third-party ecosystem makes them money, then I feel a lot more comfortable that I’ll retain access over the long term. So true. It’s not that platform companies are evil, it’s just that they’re a business too. They’re interested in their survival first and yours second. To expect anything else is to be naive and to set yourself up for failure. As Pete says, it makes sense to have them financially invested in continuing to provide for you. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s a damn sight better than “build on this so we can gain traction and some idea of a business model”. Yet again, Warden reads my mind and saves me the trouble of finding the right words to write.
  3. 0Boxer — Chrome and Safari extensions to turn gmail into a game. (via waxy)
  4. Twitter’s New Search Architecture (Twitter Engineering Blog) — notable for two things: they’re contributing patches back to the open source text search library Lucene, and they name the individual engineers who worked on the project. Very classy, human, and canny. (via straup on Delicious)
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  • Alex Tolley

    Re; Information Wants to be Paid
    Warden is looking at only part of the equation. It is equally important, if not more so, that the ecosystem is profitable too. As O’Reilly say, add more value to the ecosystem than you extract.

    I know that Autodesk didn’t do this. I’m also very suspicious of Apple in this regard to Apps. I would just love to see Ben Lorica actually do a useful analysis on whether overall the AppStore creates net value after costs or not.

  • Quoted from Warden’s post: “In the real world, it’s not normal for this sort of business relationship to work through this sort of bartering.”

    I think that’s extremely narrow-minded. Certainly, Warden is right to focus on sustainability, but a for-profit venture is only one path to the sort of sustainability needed to ensure a service continues to be available, and web crawling is only one example of a for profit venture relying on a quid-pro-quo for value exchange instead of explicit payment. There are enough examples in the wild to be able to say that it actually *is* normal.