Daily Archives: December 8, 2013

Doors are for people with things to hide

Jennifer Jeffrey in Surveillance State




When I was ten years old, my family moved to the country. The lot of us – we were seven then, on our way to becoming ten – squeezed into a crumbling three-bedroom, one-bath farmhouse with curling linoleum floors and plywood walls that buckled at the seams. My brothers and sisters and I took the upstairs rooms. One for the boys, one for the girls. There were many uncomfortable things about that house, but on that first day, one thing stood out: the bedrooms had no doors.

In the years that followed, I begged my father for a door, but he always gave the same answer: Doors are for people with things to hide. You don’t understand it now, but someday you will. Trust me.

Fast-forward more than two decades to San Francisco, hundreds of miles away from the farm. I had just ended an unhealthy relationship, and wanted nothing more than to put my life back together in peace.The man I left had different plans.

the door is open

the door is open (Photo credit: DorteF)

For the last six years, he has mysteriously shown up at the places I go. He sends messages to people quoting or referencing things I’ve said via text, email, or Facebook. Though I don’t know exactly how he manages to do it, his reasoning for why he does it seems to be: Because I can.

Two different men, at two different times in my life, decided that I didn’t get to have a door.

As the story has begun to unfold about the NSA’s activities with PRISM – allegedly a broad, sweeping surveillance program that gathers phone records, internet activity, and other data on American citizens – I’ve experienced an avalanche of feelings: Shock. Outrage. Grief.

I obsessively track down every story I can find on the subject, combing the reports and editorials for clues. To my government, I want to say: You, too?

I’ve wondered if I’m overreacting. I’ve tried to talk myself out of it. But the fact remains: My country has decided on behalf of its citizens that we aren’t entitled to doors. Never mind the official claim that they’re busy in another room – it seems fairly clear that we’re exposed, subject to inspection at any time.

Your phone, your self

Image representing medium.com as depicted in C...

Image by None via CrunchBase

I had a client a few years ago who was in the business of identity verification. One afternoon over iced tea, he schooled me on the richness of phone records. “I can tell who is having trouble in a particular relationship by seeing how frequently the two people call each other and how often one avoids the other’s calls,” he said. He sketched out several other scenarios, connecting call patterns to life situations. It suddenly seemed so obvious.

Phone records can show when people are worried about a health issue, or when they have a professional challenge, or when they’re going through any number of transitions. Who are you? What or who do you care about? What’s happening in your life? Your phone records contain part of the story. Your Google and Facebook and Skype records fill in the details.

For all the hasty assurances we’ve seen in the media that no one person is being watched per se, the fact remains that the government is made up of people. People and groups who may, at different times and for different reasons, be interested in the habits and proclivities of certain individuals or demographic segments. This data has tremendous value. If we think it will stay locked up, out of sight and out of touch, we’re kidding ourselves.

The importance of hiding

My father told me that doors are for people with things to hide, but I believe we all have things to hide. Not in the criminal sense, but in the human sense. We’re often working things out: How we feel about situations or people. Health matters. Family issues. Professional challenges. How will our capacity to grow and mature and work through things shift when we know we’re being watched?

I know this: living without a door changes a person. As a ten-year-old, I learned to be extremely circumspect. Today, I live with the knowledge that my conversations and exchanges are being monitored by someone else against my will. I’ve learned how to go inside myself, the only place that is – for me, right now – truly private.

Open the door!

Open the door! (Photo credit: motreo)

But going inside won’t help our journalists, or our medical doctors, or our therapists, or the millions of others who will likely be affected by this program in the months and years to come. We’ll have to find new ways to cope with living and learning without doors.

A higher standard

Throughout my life, whenever I’ve experienced situations that feel unfair or wrong, I’ve clung to the belief that there’s a higher standard. A more civilized, just, right way of dealing with others. But when my Twitter stream is filled with comments like: “Why is anyone suprised?” and “Haven’t we known we were being watched all along?” it’s tempting to give in to cynicism. If we always suspect the worst, they can’t hurt us. Isn’t that how it works?

I, too, want to smirk and shake my head, but this story feels personal. I realize we don’t know all the details yet. The topic is highly nuanced, but there’s a familiar whiff in the air, a scent that turns my stomach. Our elected officials have brazenly taken away our doors, and I want answers. Answers that are not some combination of: You don’t understand it now, but someday you will. Trust us. And: Because we can.

I still hope there’s a higher standard. So much depends on hope.

Read more – > https://medium.com/surveillance-state/5888e4343b45




What is strategy?

Mike Arauz in on management


This post was originally published on medium.com – > https://medium.com/on-management/79d9a039f5dc


In the world of business and marketing, “strategy” is frequently used, yet rarely useful. For all of our strategy statements, strategic roadmaps, corporate strategies, launch strategies, innovation strategies, and on and on and on, the ideas that we label as strategy fail to affect meaningful change. The problem is not that strategy as a concept fails us, but rather that we don’t really understand what strategy is.

As a student of strategy, I’m trying to figure out what strategy means to me, and how I practice it in my work. My hope is that by being able to explain it (or at least understand it clearly myself), I will be better able to develop strategies for others that are clear, insightful, and effective. I want to become a master at creating strategies that inspire action.

Here’s where I’m starting…

Cover of "The Art of War (History and War...

Cover of The Art of War (History and Warfare)

Strategy is the practice of figuring out the best way to get from here to there.

Imagine that you are standing on one side of a body of water and you want to get to the other side. If the body of water is a puddle on the sidewalk you’d probably choose to hop over it. If it’s a small lake, you may choose to hop in a canoe and paddle your way across, or maybe if it’s a warm summer day, and you’re 16-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps then you might choose to swim across. If you are standing on the California shore of the Pacific Ocean, and thinking about how to get to Japan, you might consider some sort of mechanized assistance.

In all of these examples, there are several key aspects that are fundamental to all forms of strategy. There’s 1) an understanding of where you are now, 2) a clear sense of where you want to end up, 3) an assessment of what stands in between, 4) a decision about how to approach the challenge, and 5) a specific course of action to undertake.

The core elements of any sound strategy

Developing a good strategy, one that really propels you forward and, as Sun Tzu, master of the Art of War would admire, enables you to win without even fighting, isn’t easy. There are a lot of questions to answer. And in an age where our problems are increasingly digital in nature, the questions become dauntingly complex very quickly. Creating successful strategies requires rigor, homework, effort, hard thinking, assessment, and analysis. It’s hard work.

It’s easy to understand why we let each other get away with substituting a cheap imitation for the real thing.

In his excellent book Good Strategy Bad Strategy(I highly recommend!), Richard Rumelt identifies these common strategy FAILs.

  • Fluff: Fluff is a form of gibberish masquerading as strategic concepts and arguments.
  • Failure to face the challenge: When you cannnot define the challenge, you cannot evaluate a strategy or improve it.
  • Mistaking goals for strategy: Many bad strategies are just statements of desire rather than plans for overcoming obstacles.
  • Bad strategic objectives: Strategic objectives are “bad” when they fail to address critical issues or when they are impracticable.

Sound familiar?

If your strategy doesn’t address these aspects of the challenge at hand in some way – 1) where you are now, 2) where you want to end up, 3) what stands in between, 4) a chosen approach, and 5) a specific course of action – then you don’t really have a strategy.

I’m on a mission to conquer bad strategy wherever I see it. Who’s with me?

(This is a re-post from: http://undercurrent.com/blog/what-is-strategy)




Why do startups fear their idea?

Caleb Elston in Design + Startups


Startups are about potential. The potential to build something great, the potential to make people’s lives better, the potential to change the world. However, I often see this potential get in the way of the present with some of the early stage startups I meet. They let their vision for the future invade their present too soon.


SproutBox (Photo credit: kmakice)

The most obvious symptom is a bloated and unfocused product. I believe founders are afraid that their core idea isn’t smart enough, isn’t big enough, isn’t useful enough — so they add. It is this fear that leads to the rationalization for adding feature after feature in the hope that the sum will be greater than the parts. Founders are very good at convincing themselves that users will need this feature or that feature without actually knowing as such. Expecting to stumble upon a killer feature is a fools errand, that results in a product riddled with half-baked features collecting dust.

A good product is not a bucket of features, a mere bulleted list of things users can do. A good product is an exercise in exclusion. A good product is defined as much by what it doesn’t do as by what it does. This is especially true at the start. At the onset, people don’t care about you, they don’t know what you do, and they certainly won’t put up with a confused product. This apathy must be acknowledged and combated in a product that does one thing extremely well; otherwise it won’t stick.

Read more – > https://medium.com/design-startups/f32d13d34058




Why I Left Facebook

Social versus parasocial



I was an early adopter of Facebook. Well, as early as I could be ~ for ages in the UK, it wasn’t open to everyone. But I did join asap and I was glad to because Rupert Murdoch had just bought MySpace. I even had a little strapline on my Last.fm page which said “I boycott MurdochSpace, I’m on Facebook!”


As bizarre as it may seem now, Facebook then was the underdog. I had to prod friends to join me on there, so denuded was it of actual social activity compared to MySpace (kind of like Google+ currently…). As far as I knew, I’d joined yet another social network that would flounder and then fail, initial engagement tailing off and then friends’ updates slowly becoming more sporadic before approaching zero. Another Friendster, Hi5, Everyone’s Connected or all the other social networks that existed pre-Facebook.



facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)


Wind forward many years to 2013. Facebook rules the planet. Its reach is enormous, so much so that new websites know they’ll garner more users if they offer Facebook login. Your Facebook identity has become the key to large swathes of the web.


Read more – > https://medium.com/this-happened-to-me/6a5bb90f5112


Source Medium



The term “social media” is way overused

Ev Williams in I. M. H. O.


This post was originally published on Medium by Ev Williams – > https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/bbf6a7b81c8


Just because it’s on the Internet or created by a single person doesn’t make it social.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Within the last couple years, everything that individuals created on the Internet was reclassified as “social media.” It used to be called user generated content (UGC for short), which was often disparaging. So social isn’t necessarily worse—except that it’s misleading.

Here’s my definition of social media:

Media for which the consumer’s relationship with the creator is relevant for understanding or value.

For example, a status update—“feeling sad”—or a snapshot from last night’s party is social media. Stuff you wouldn’t care about unless you knew the people involved.

Image representing Evan Williams as depicted i...

Image by The Economist via CrunchBase

If you don’t know the people, or don’t care, it’s probably not social media. It’s just media. It doesn’t matter if it’s created by an individual or a corporation.

What’s more, when companies use social media…well, they’re not. They may be using platforms that are primarily used for social media (like Facebook) or platforms that are used for social media, among other things (like Twitter), but that doesn’t make the companies—or their media—social.




Why You Should Do What You Love

Tina Schomburg in Peaceful Combat


What do you do?”

When someone asks you this, you probably switch on autopilot and answer the way you always do. But have you ever encountered someone who was truly offended by this seemingly straight-forward question?

“What do I do? Who cares, don’t you want to know about me?”

To them, occupation and identity are at odds.


Intense (Photo credit: Chiceaux)

Naturally this creates a division between work and leisure. And as far as we know, this dichotomy was first invented in the mid-1800s, likely as the result of the Industrial Revolution. During this period, bare hands were replaced with robot arms to create more with less. Quantity over quality, speed over accuracy, and numbers over people.

In this process of dehumanization, an epidemic called Lack of Gumption started to spread expeditiously. You, too, have been exposed to Lack of Gumption but don’t worry, it’s not contagious although mild symptoms may appear after an episode of overexposure.

You may also recognize Lack of Gumption by its street name: The I Don’t Give A Fuck Attitude. Walk into any given bank and there is a good chance that at least 2 of the 4 tellers suffer from Lack of Gumption. The only reason why the two of them are still sitting there is because they have bills to pay and that on its own is a very unreliable source of motivation.

They will leave at 5:00 PM sharp, take their full lunch break, and never want to talk about their job outside the workplace. They will give you the least informative answers and spend double the time to perform any given task. You can recognize them by the dead facial expression, which is a direct reflection of their overt apathy. They just don’t care.

They are zombies. They don’t identify with what they are doing and that’s a problem because this lack-lustre attitude produces poor quality. A society that is infected with Lack of Gumption is unable to thrive due to its paralyzing effects on quality output. When you force people into labour for the sake of paying bills, you are fostering this type of disadvantaged society.

Switzerland has been in discussions over a contrast model that intends to cultivate gumption: the basic-income society. “Every month, every Swiss person would receive a check from the government, no matter how rich or poor, how hardworking or lazy, how old or young.” A basic-income policy would mean that people would no longer be forced into a job that “just pays the bills” — instead people could pursue their interests without the overcast shadows of bills and debt.

If we don’t follow our true passions that motivate us to produce high quality output, then we will continue to live in just a mediocre world. Of course you may think that we live in a fantastic world that is flawed, but is anything but mediocre. And this may be true on a superficial level, but emotionally speaking, we live in an unfulfilling world of glorified zombies in which self-fulfillment is a dream, not a goal.

Switzerland is entertaining a bold move that could conceive a new generation, one that thrives on gumption. Imagine a society where everyone had a chance to pursue their sincere interests, think of all the hidden talent that would come to light. It could very well be a model to build truly exceptional and productive societies. No more horrible customer service!

Book Cover Design. Author: Paula Caligiuri PhD

Isn’t it time that we allow ourselves to identify with what we do again?

Have we not been told enough times that life is too short to spend it on doing things that we don’t care about?

Don’t force yourself to love the job you’re in, but find the job you love.

Happiness is having “as little separation as possible between your work and your play.” The two should be simply interchangeable.

This post was originally published on Medium.com – > https://medium.com/peaceful-combat/b2ba33b6befb



The Design Community is the new Fox News.

and why you should focus on your own stuff



The grating pundits on Fox News are always hasty to react, judge, shoot down, mock, “correct”, and whine loudly and incessantly about anything and everything. Sound familiar?

The gold iPhone has to be one of the worst things I’ve seen Apple create… in a long time. —via Twitter

I have an idea… Don’t buy it. Or go design, engineer and manufacture a better phone. Just stop whining on the Interwebs — it doesn’t change anything.

I’m constantly amazed (and disappointed) at how the design community has become a group of self-serving, know-it-all, egomaniacs with an opinion on every refresh, redesign and product launch.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — I’ve seen it coming. I’ve been doing design for over 16 years (my career launched the same year Google.com was registered — 1997). We’ve been building up to this, letting it happen — encouraging it. We’re all to blame.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I’m not pretending I’m immune. I’ve found myself in communal bash sessions thinking how I could have done better, or how I would never have chosen that palette or that typeface.

But, it doesn’t matter what I’d do differently—it’s not my project.

Whether it’s the London Olympics branding, iOS icons, the new Yahoo! logo, or the iPhone 5 (S and/or C) — the design community is exceptionally quick to shoot it all down. Within minutes you’ll find countless reactionary negative tweets, blog posts picking apart every minute detail, and dribbblers with too much time on their hands posting their versions of how it should have been — and it happens every time.

Just like Fox News, we don’t care about context or history. We’re just loud, obnoxious and self-promotional. Zero critical thought. Very little rational dialogue.

Here’s the thing. Unless you work at Apple, Yahoo! Google, or their respective design agencies, you don’t have access to the big picture. The market, context, history, vision, brand, goals, team, audience, roadmaps, strategy, company, brand guides, technology, timelines, etc. These are the parameters that their team(s) had to work within. You simply aren’t privy to this information — which is an integral and critical part of every design project.

Let’s change.

Let’s be critical thinkers and innovative producers of our own stuff, our own projects and our own ideas. Put our skills to work in a positive way—on our own ideas and let everyone else focus on theirs.

Make your own thing(s) awesome.





Beats Music Streaming Service Launches January 2014, Fires Up Username Reservations

The new Beats Music streaming music service will launch January 2014, according to CEO Ian Rogers. The service also launched a ‘name claiming’ site today that lets you snag a primo username early.

The project has been in private alpha for a while under the code-name Project Daisy, and has been garnering some heated attention.

“If you’ve spent any time around me in the past six months you’ve surely seen me buried in my phone making playlists, poking, prodding, and testing our forthcoming service,Beats Music,” said Rogers in a blog posting today. “When I joined Beats Music in January I’d expected we’d get this out the door before the end of the year. Thankfully I work with people who have patience and are more concerned about getting Beats Music right than pushing it out the door. In retrospect we’ve accomplished far more this year than I’d imagined possible.”

Read more – > http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/04/beats-music-streaming-service-launches-january-2014/

source TechCrunch

Verizon Is Acquiring Content Delivery Network EdgeCast For More Than $350 Million

Image representing TechCrunch as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase


Source TechCrunch


Verizon is looking to get deeper into the content delivery business with the acquisition of Los Angeles-based CDN provider EdgeCast Networks, TechCrunch has heard. Owning EdgeCast, and combining it with the carrier’s global network backbone COMMA, will give Verizon access to EdgeCast’s big-name CDN clients while also extending its reach.



According to a source, the deal for EdgeCast — which provides CDN services to the likes of Twitter, Pinterest, and Hulu — is expected to be announced in the coming days, and will be worth more than $350 million. Both EdgeCast and Verizon declined to comment on the matter.


While Verizon has seen success in its wireless practice, growth in the company’s enterprise business has lagged. With the enterprise division expected to remain flat over the next year, adding EdgeCast to the mix could add a profitable new revenue stream.


Read more – > http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/07/verizon-edgecast/



When Good Design Isn’t Enough

Over the years, I’ve seen designers get discouraged because they worked hard to create a better-designed competitor to an incumbent’s product, and yet failed to get traction. The result can be the demoralizing, erroneous conclusion that design doesn’t matter.

If design does matter, then what went wrong?

These startups may be launching a social network, marketplace, auction system, classified listing site, advertising network, or payment system. The common element between these products is that they have complementary network effects. This is a situation where a product is more valuable as more people use it, and in many of these examples, you also have a two-way marketplace. For example, buyers want to go to where the sellers are, and sellers want to go to where buyers are posting things for sale. Merchants want to accept payments from as many buyers as possible, and customers use payment methods accepted by merchants.

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

The designer may work tirelessly to create an elegant, highly-crafted auction site, but that isn’t sufficient for success when the incumbent you are competing against has strong network effects in their favor. In addition to having a great product, you need a distribution strategy that can solve your “chicken and egg” or “cold start” problem.

Looking back over the last 15 years, we can see companies using various techniques to solve this distribution problem against incumbents with strong network effects in their favor:

1. Start on the supply side, then use supply to generate press to create demand

Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, described how they went about getting their marketplace for home rentals off the ground. Having a site that was nicer than Craigslist was not sufficient. To get distribution, they started on the supply side, finding supply for housing in situations where there was a supply/demand imbalance, e.g. when a conference was coming to a town. Then, they used this supply to generate press, which in turn stimulated demand. Airbnb continues to do this today by getting unique locations, and then having press write stories about them.

Airbnb became infamous for a focus on distribution  — there was speculation that the founders even hired offshore contract employees to methodically reach out to potential customers on Craigslist.

2. Start with a niche, then expand out from there

Chris Dixon lists several examples of companies that used the technique of starting small and focused, then using that momentum to expand. He called this a Bowling Pin strategy:

Image representing PayPal as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Facebook executed the bowling pin strategy brilliantly by starting at Harvard and then spreading out to other colleges and eventually the general public.

Yelp also used a bowling pin strategy by focusing first on getting critical mass in one location – San Francisco – and then expanding out from there.

Stack Overflow chose programmers as their first niche, presumably because that’s a community where the Stack Overflow founders were influential and where the competing websites weren’t satisfying demand.

PayPal also focused on a highly viral community early on — eBay power users.

Peter Thiel discusses this strategy in a lecture on distribution:

The first high-growth segment was power buyers and power sellers on eBay. These people bought and sold a ton of stuff. The high velocity of money going through the system was linked to the virality of customer growth. By the time people understood how and why PayPal took off on eBay, it was too late for them to catch up. The eBay segment was locked in. And the virality in every other market segment—e.g. sending money to family overseas—was much lower. Money simply didn’t move as fast in those segments. Capturing segment one and making your would-be competitors scramble to think about second and third-best segments is key.

Deutsch: Peter Thiel. Français : Peter Thiel e...

Deutsch: Peter Thiel. Français : Peter Thiel en 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An advantage to this strategy of starting with a niche is that the incumbents tend to ignore you, rather than compete with you directly.


Many designers want to launch a well designed product and have it spread by word of mouth. It feels like the best product should just win. But in situations where the product is facing an incumbent and there are complimentary network effects, it’s simply not enough to launch a well designed product. Peter Thiel, again, in his lecture about distribution: “[People talk about] the product is so good it sells itself. That is simply wrong.” There is a lot to learn from how companies like Facebook, Airbnb and Yelp got their start.

You need to think about a distribution strategy as carefully as everything else.

Source Medium- > https://medium.com/design-startups/503f75428f7f