Aaron Irizarry on Nasdaq’s journey to embrace product design

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Getting a seat at the table is one thing; understanding what to do with it is way more important.

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In this week’s episode of the Radar Podcast, O’Reilly’s Mary Treseler chats with Aaron Irizarry, director of user experience for Nasdaq product design, about Nasdaq’s journey to become a design-driven organization.

Irizarry also talks about the best ways to have solid conversations about the designs you’re working on, and why getting a seat at the proverbial table isn’t the endgame. He’ll be speaking about these topics and more at the O’Reilly Design Conference, January 19-22, 2016, in San Francisco.

Here are a few snippets from their conversation:

It’s really interesting to see an organization that didn’t have a product design team as of, what, 2011, I believe, see the need for that, bring someone in, hire them to establish a team, which is my boss Chris, and then see just the transition and the growth within the company, and how they embraced product design.

The more we delivered, the more we built equity within the company to be able to kind of have more of a say. … What has really helped us is that we didn’t just focus on getting a seat at the table. We focused on what to do when we have that seat, and how we keep that seat and bring others to the table as well. Read more…


Building systems for massive scale data applications

The O’Reilly Data Show podcast: Tyler Akidau on the evolution of systems for bounded and unbounded data processing.

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Many of the open source systems and projects we’ve come to love — including Hadoop and HBase — were inspired by systems used internally within Google. These systems were described in papers and implemented by people who needed frameworks that could comfortably scale to massive data sets.

Google engineers and scientists continue to publish interesting papers, and these days some of the big data systems they describe in publications are available on their cloud platform.

In this episode of the O’Reilly Data Show, I sat down with Tyler Akidau one of the lead engineers in Google’s streaming and Dataflow technologies. He recently wrote an extremely popular article that provided a framework for how to think about bounded and unbounded data processing (a follow-up article is due out soon). We talked about the evolution of stream processing, the challenges of building systems that scale to massive data sets, and the recent surge in interest in all things real time:

On the need for MillWheel: A new stream processing engine

At the time [that MillWheel was built], there was, as far as I know, literally nothing externally that could handle the scale that we needed to handle. A lot of the existing streaming systems didn’t focus on out-of-order processing, which was a big deal for us internally. Also we really wanted to hit a strong focus on consistency — being able to get absolutely correct answers. … All three of these things were lacking in at least some area in [the systems we examined].

Read more…


Yancey Strickler on Kickstarter and public benefit corporations

The O’Reilly Solid Podcast: Kickstarter’s CEO on different models for viewing a company’s success.

Subscribe to the O’Reilly Solid Podcast for insight and analysis about the Internet of Things and the worlds of hardware, software, and manufacturing.


Kickstarter is one of just a handful of large companies that have become public benefit corporations — committing themselves legally to social as well as financial goals.

In making the transformation, Kickstarter’s leaders have taken a pragmatic, active position in promoting social good — neither purely philanthropic nor purely profit driven.

In this episode of the Solid Podcast, David Cranor and I talk with Kickstarter’s co-founder and CEO, Yancey Strickler, about his decision to take the company through the public benefit process and his promise not to go through an IPO.

Strickler will be among the speakers at the Next:Economy summit, November 12-13, 2015, in San Francisco.

Discussion points:

  • Kickstarter’s reasoning behind its decision not to go public. Why not just sell the company and devote the proceeds to charity?
  • The difference between a B corp and a public benefit corporation
  • The “public good” principles in Kickstarter’s Benefit Corporation charter
  • Determining metrics that can quantify public benefit goals
  • Strickler’s thoughts on how Kickstarter’s PBC designation might influence a corporate model “different than hyper-growth, hyper-capitalist models that aren’t good for anyone other than people investing money”

Read more…


Do one thing…

I don't want barely distinguishable tools that are mediocre at everything; I want tools that do one thing and do it well.

350px-Pudu_jail_west_wallI’ve been lamenting the demise of the Unix philosophy: tools should do one thing, and do it well. The ability to connect many small tools is better than having a single tool that does everything poorly.

That philosophy was great, but hasn’t survived into the Web age. Unfortunately, nothing better has come along to replace it. Instead, we have “convergence”: a lot of tools converging on doing all the same things poorly.

The poster child for this blight is Evernote. I started using Evernote because it did an excellent job of solving one problem. I’d take notes at a conference or a meeting, or add someone to my phone list, and have to distribute those files by hand from my laptop to my desktop, to my tablets, to my phone, and to any and all other machines that I might use.

But as time has progressed, Evernote has added many other features. Some I might have a use for, but they’re implemented poorly; others I’d rather not have, thank you. I’ve tried sharing Evernote notes with other users: they did a good job of convincing me not to use them. Photos in documents? I really don’t care. When I’m taking notes at a conference, the last thing I’m thinking about is selfies with the speakers. Discussions? No, please no. There are TOO MANY poorly implemented chat services out there. We can discuss my shared note in email. Though, given that it’s a note, not a document, I probably don’t want to share anyway. If I wanted a document, even a simple one, I’d use a tool that was really good at preparing documents. Taking notes and writing aren’t the same, even though they may seem similar. Nor do I want to save my email in Evernote; I’ve never seen, and never expect to see, an email client that didn’t do a perfectly fine job of saving email. Clippings? Maybe. I’ve never particularly wanted to do that; Pinboard, which has stuck to the “do one thing well” philosophy, does a better job of saving links. Read more…

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Signals from the 2015 O’Reilly Velocity Conference in Amsterdam

Key insights from DevOps, Web operations, and performance.

People from across the Web operations and performance worlds came together for the 2015 O’Reilly Velocity Conference in Amsterdam. Below, we’ve assembled notable material from the event.

The Physical Web: A bridge between the Web and physical devices

The app-for-everything approach doesn’t scale, but the Web does. Scott Jenson, project lead for Physical Web at Google, outlines a vision for the Physical Web — an open approach to design and implementation that brings Web interaction to the physical world. “Let’s take the URL bar and bring it in the future,” Jenson says.

Read more…


The first rule of management: Resist the urge to manage

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick on leadership, teams, and culture.

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In this week’s Radar Podcast, I sit down with Google engineering site lead Ben Collins-Sussman and Tock founder and CTO Brian Fitzpatrick.

The two have just released a new book, Debugging Teams, a follow-up to their earlier book, Team Geek. We talk about the new edition, how managing is a lot like being a psychotherapist, and how all their great advice plays out in their own lives. Enjoy the show.

Here are a few snippets from our conversation:

Collins-Sussman: The first rule of management is resist the urge to manage. … a manager’s main job is not to bark commands, but to actually aid the team and provide cover, do whatever it takes to remove roadblocks and make them more efficient. Really, being a manager is about getting out of the way and trying to figure out what they need.

Fitzpatrick: Another thing is, when you become a leader, people will come to you and ask questions. They’ll come to you and ask you for advice, and the best thing you can do is ask them questions right back. It’s not being dishonest, or disingenuous, or evasive … If you ask them questions like, ‘What do you mean by this?’, or ‘What are you thinking of?’, or ‘What do you like to do?’ or, ‘How do you feel about this?’, you can gently guide them a little bit by the questions you ask, but really make them think. After a few minutes of questioning, they’ll come up with their own answer.

Read more…