- Solitude and Leadership — an amazing essay on the value of managing one’s information diet. Far more than yet another Carr/Morozov “the Internet is making us dumb!!” hate on short-form content, this is an eloquent exposition of the need for long-form thoughts. I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing. (via Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011)
- Building The Perfect Data Repository (Cameron Neylon) — in which Cameron talks about solving problems for the people with the data. One of the problems with many efforts in this space is how they are conceived and sold as the user. “Making it easy to put your data on the web” and “helping others to find your data” solve problems that most researchers don’t think they have. [...] A successful data repository system will start by solving a different problem, a problem that all researchers recognize they have”
- Macaulay on Copyright — periodically someone rediscovers how the the 1841 debate on copyright mirrors our own, but that it was discovered before does not mean it is not worth reading again. At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men.[...] Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot.
- ALAC — Apple Lossless Audio Codec is now open source by Apple.
Kate Matsudaira, co-chair of O'Reilly's first Cultivate Conference, shares her take-aways from the event
Last week I had the pleasure of co-chairing Cultivate. The conference was one-day event focused on technology and leadership.
The original idea for the conference came from my co-chair, Eli Goodman, who wanted a place where like-minded folk could discuss some of the challenges, successes, and experiments that come along with leading technical teams. I have been super passionate about this topic since I started my career as a bad manager, and I have had to work hard to build the skills necessary to lead groups of highly intelligent and opinionated people.
When we were planning the conference, we thought about all sorts of ways we could shake things up with format – panels, structured networking sessions, or even shorter/longer talks. In the end, though, we decided it was most important to have fabulous speakers with compelling messages, so we stuck to a typical conference format (45-minute slots) and just let people do their best work. The only thing we did differently was adding a closing networking event and morning yoga session to get things started, both of which were quite positively received.
I was so worried our speakers would overlap with one another’s topics, but thankfully each person had a clearly different message, style, and, when put together, they all added up a day where you couldn’t leave without learning something new.
A Conversation with Svpply's Greg Leppert
I was lucky enough to have a chance to talk with Greg Leppert, co-founder of the awesome website Svpply. He’s always had a unique and eloquent perspective on what makes organizations stay grounded and do good work, so I was really excited to talk with him.
Our conversation went in some really interesting directions: we talked about how best to set guidelines for employees, dealing with uncertainty as a leader, and making sure that you know what’s going on on the front lines.
Talking with Greg made me think harder about how to set up a hiring process, and how I know what’s really going on with my reports.
Eli Goodman is director of engineering at Etsy and program chair for Cultivate, a new O’Reilly Media event focusing on leadership issues at technology companies and best practices for managing tech teams.
An interview with Shipping Greatness author Chris Vander Mey.
Chris Vander Mey, CEO of Scaled Recognition, and author of a new O’Reilly book, Shipping Greatness, lays out in this video some of the deep lessons he learned during his years working on some very high-impact and high-priority projects at Google and Amazon.
Chris takes a very expansive view of project management, stressing the crucial decisions and attitudes that leaders need to take at every stage from the team’s initial mission statement through the design, coding, and testing to the ultimate launch. By merging technical, organizational, and cultural issues, he unravels some of the magic that makes projects successful.
Thoughts on the scarcity of great leaders.
From the moment he got sick in 2003 to when he died in October of this year, Steve Jobs was never fully healthy again. Yet, Jobs led his team to a series of triumphs that have no equal in the annals of business. Mark Sigal explores what this says about Jobs as a leader and the price that greatness demands.
Solitude and Leadership, Data Repository, Copyright History, and Open Source Audio
Are IT decisions building the business or hurting it?
While I believe we recognize the limiting qualities of IT decisions, I'd suggest we've insufficiently studied the degree to which those decisions in aggregate can have a large influence on organizational culture.
Understanding why an IT leader operates a certain way can net better results for everyone.
It can often appear there is only one type of person leading IT. That's not the case. Understanding an IT leader's motivations and needs will ultimately benefit all involved.
IT governance is bureaucratic and tough, but it's also essential to every organization.
IT governance requires that the scarce resource of technology capacity be diligently distributed to meet collective, organizational goals.
The best IT managers have a background in IT and general management.
Being a good IT manager is hard. Being a great business leader is harder. What separates them is not just the ability to continually and uniquely inspire, but to also be a well-informed and skilled business manager.