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Four short links: 9 May 2012

Version Control for Real Stuff, Educators on Food Stamps, Gestural Exploration, and Book Marketing

  1. We Need Version Control for Real Stuff (Chris Anderson) — This is pointing us toward the next step, a GitHub for stuff. If open source hardware is going to take off like open source software, we need this. (via Evil Mad Scientist)
  2. Graduates and Post-Graduates on Food Stamps (Chronicle of Higher Education) — two points for me here: the inherent evil of not paying a living wage; and the pain of market signals that particular occupations and specialisations are not as useful as once they were. I imagine it’s hard to repurpose the specific knowledge in a Masters of Medieval History to some other field, though hopefully the skills of diligent hard work, rapid acquisition of knowledge, and critical thought will apply to new jobs. Expect more of this as we replace human labour with automation. I look forward to the software startup which creates work for people outside the organisation; the ultimate “create more value than you capture”.
  3. Explore Exoplanets with Gestural Interfaces — uses John Underkoffler’s Oblong gestural interface. Underkoffler came up with the Minority Report interface which has fed the dreams of designers for years.
  4. Book Marketing Lessons Learned (Sarah Milstein) — I really liked this honest appraisal of how Baratunde Thurston marketed his “How to be Black” book, and am doubly chuffed that it appeared on the O’Reilly Radar blog. I was fascinated by his Street Team, but knew I wanted to bring it to your attention when I read this. Start with your inner circle. I had an epiphany with Gary Vaynerchuk. I asked: “Did I ever ask you to buy my book?” He said, “Yeah, I bought it yesterday.” I talked about his book, but cash on the table — it didn’t happen. He wished he had identified everyone he knows, sending a personal note explaining: “A) buy the book; B) this means a lot to me. You owe me or I will owe you. Here’s some things you can do to help: If you have speaking opportunities, let me know. For instance, I would love to speak at schools.” Make it easy for people who want to help you. Everything else is bonus. If you haven’t already converted the inner circle, you’ve skipped a critical step. “Let the people who already love you show it” is the skill I feel like I’ve spent years working on, and still have years to go.
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  • Miguel Marcos

    Nat, on the graduates on food stamps bit: I haven’t read the article yet but I wanted to contribute an anecdote.

    I worked for quite a few years in the 90s at JPMorgan in NYC. During that period of time, JPM’s HR department actively pursued smart people who didn’t necessarily have bachelors degrees in Economics or Business Administration. They often had an MBA, though. I can vouch for the richness and productivity of that time period in the bank. I worked with people who had bachelors degrees in history, mechanical engineering, even a PhD in astrphysics. I think companies miss out on a lot of talent if their HR department maintains too narrow a profile of potential candidates.