- Cycles of Invention and Commoditisation (Simon Wardley) — Explosions of industrial creativity rarely follow the invention or discovery of a technology but instead its commoditisation i.e. it wasn’t the discovery of electricity but Edison’s introduction of utility services for electricity that produced the creative boom that led to recorded music, modern movies, consumer electronics and even Silicon Valley. However, utility provision of electricity did more than just create a new world, it disrupted existing industries (both directly and through reduced barriers of entry), it also allowed for new practices and methods of working to emerge and even resulted in new economic forms – such as Henry Ford’s Fordism. This isn’t a one off pattern. The cycle of invention/commoditisation repeats throughout our industrial history, following a surprisingly consistent pathway. Understanding this pattern is critical to anticipating the changes emerging in our industry today – whether that’s the web, cloud computing or the future changes that 3D printing will bring. Simon explains the Business of the Internet in one blog post. Simon is king.
- Why Are Software Development Task Estimations Regularly Off By A Factor of 2 or 3? — never a truer word spoken in parable.
- Using the Full-Screen API in Browsers (Mozilla) — useful! The older I get, the more I like full-screen mode. I found myself wishing my email client had it, then someone pointed out that was called “mutt in a shell window”. Fair ’nuff.
Clay Johnson on info overload vs. info overconsumption.
Clay Johnson, author of "The Information Diet," says information consumption, not the information itself, is what needs to be managed.
Getting Feedback, Colour Design, Discovering Musicians, Weather Prediction App
- Feedback Without Frustration (YouTube) — Scott Berkun at the HIVE conference talks about how feedback fails, and how to get it successfully. He is so good.
- Americhrome — history of the official palette of the United States of America.
- Discovering Talented Musicians with Musical Analysis (Google Research blgo) — very clever, they do acoustical analysis and then train up a machine learning engine by asking humans to rate some tracks. Then they set it loose on YouTube and it finds people who are good but not yet popular. My favourite: I’ll Follow You Into The Dark by a gentleman with a wonderful voice.
- Dark Sky (Kickstarter) — hyperlocal hyper-realtime weather prediction. Uses radar imagery to figure out what’s going on around you, then tells you what the weather will be like for the next 30-60 minutes. Clever use of data plus software.
Elegant Boxes, Dashboard in PHP, Management Theory Disparaged, and Obsolete Technology
- Lines (Mark Jason Dominus) — If you wanted to hear more about phylogeny, Java programming, or tree algorithms, you are about to be disappointed. The subject of my article today is those fat black lines. Anatomy of a clever piece of everyday programming. There is no part of this program of which I am proud. Rather, I am proud of the thing as a whole. It did the job I needed, and it did it by 5 PM. Larry Wall once said that “a Perl script is correct if it’s halfway readable and gets the job done before your boss fires you.” Thank you, Larry.
- PHP Clone of Panic Status Board (GitHub) — The Panic status board shows state of downloads, servers, countdown, etc. It’s a dashboard for the company. This PHP implementation lets you build your own. (via Hacker News)
- The Management Myth (The Atlantic) — a philosophy PhD gets an MBA, works as management consultant, then calls bullshit on the whole thing. Taylorism, like much of management theory to come, is at its core a collection of quasi-religious dicta on the virtue of being good at what you do, ensconced in a protective bubble of parables (otherwise known as case studies). (via BoingBoing)
- Obsolete Technology — or, as I like to think of it, post-Zombie-apocalypse technology. Bone up on your kilns if you want your earthen cookware once our undead overlords are running (or, at least, lurching) the country. (via Bruce Sterling)
IT must fill the void when insufficient attention is being paid to business process optimization.
Technology forces organizations to better understand and agree on processes — and that's often well before the subject of supporting technology is even relevant to the conversation.
Culture, Wifi, Emotion, and Piracy
- Making or Breaking Culture — I’d never thought of HR as something that requires courage, but these stories clearly illustrate that if you want to put your people first then you must do so when it would be easier to buckle. (via Richard Hulse on Twitter)
- Lightpainting Wifi Signal Strength in Urban Neighbourhoods (Vimeo) — I’m a junkie for concept videos of exhibitionist information like this. (via Courtney Johnston’s Instapaper Feed)
- What Makes a Great Speech? (Guardian) — my quest to understand how software can be passionate, opinionated, quirky, persuasive, and generally bypass reason and shoot straight for our emotional pattern-matching apparatus means that I end up reading articles like this. (via Courtney Johnston’s Instapaper Feed as well)
- Piracy is the Future of Television (PDF) — paper that plainly lays out just how much better an experience it is to be pirating your TV than watching it.
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.
Implementing REST, Teaching Exploration, reMAKEing the Enterprise, and Printing Titanium
- Implementing REST — This is a place for exploring aspects of implementing applications using the REST architectural style. This may include statements about existing frameworks and libraries, general discussions about the nature of the style and how it may be expressed and/or encouraged via a programming framework, etc.
- When Teaching Restrains Discovery — read about this research (short story: the more specific the skills taught, the less exploratory students were) and think about how we teach people to program, how we teach them the company culture, how we teach them to succeed.
- The Maker Generation in the Enterprise (JP Rangaswami) — We have to get away from the idea that knowledge work is smooth and stable and uniform and assembly-line in structure and characteristic. Knowledge work is lumpy. Period. There will be peaks. And there will be troughs. The current thinking appears to go something like this: “If we have troughs it will look like we don’t have enough work to do, so we need to pretend to work. Let’s fill our days up in advance with things that don’t depend on market or customer stimulus, things we can plan well in advance. And let’s call these things meetings. Then we can look busy all the time.” Such thinking has produced some unworthwhile consequences.
- i.materialise 3D Printing in Titanium — Titanium’s high heat resistance, high accuracy and unparalleled strength lets designers now make things that before now could only be made by the research and development departments of only the largest corporations in the world. By putting this technology in the public’s hands were democratizing manufacturing and giving you the opportunity to, design and order something this is exactly as you want it to be. (via Chris Anderson on Twitter)
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.
With few exceptions, good data is the best way to make great decisions.
We make decisions with data and we measure performance with metrics. It's letting the data and metrics — the evidence — tell the story and then taking some form of action on it.