Daily Archives: December 14, 2013

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Count Down Who Will Be Soshitech’s Three Millionth Visitor and What Will They Win?


We are about to hit a milestone here at Soshitech with our three millionth website visitor for the year 2013. In the new year of 2014 we would like to see this number more than double (Ten Million + visitors) with YOUR help of course.

If you are one of the three million + people who currently visits Soshitech on a regular basis and are reading this right now our team would like to personally say THANK YOU for all of your support. You are AWESOME!

We get a ton of emails through our contact form on our homepage each week from freelance journalists asking if we will publish their work as well as advertising agencies interested in purchasing ad space for their clients. What we do not get enough of is FEEDBACK.

So why not tell us. What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? What would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less of? And so on and so forth.

“Good things happen when people communicate” – Wells Fargo Billboard In Los Angeles, California.

By the way, our 3,000,000 visitor does not actually win anything. The title was meant to grab our readers attention.

Thanks. :)

@Soshitech

Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s 43-Day Assault On The Patent Troll


Posted 8 hours ago by David A. Boag (@boagip)
Next Story

Editor’s note: David A. Boag is the founder of BOAG | LAW, PLLC, a boutique intellectual property law firm based in SoHo. Follow him on Twitter @boagip.

Just over a week ago, the House passed the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309), an innocuous-sounding bill that contains sweeping changes to U.S. patent law motivated in large part by “the troll problem.”

Source Tech Crunch Read more – > http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/13/rep-goodlattes-43-day-assault-on-the-patent-troll/

 

Sharing my learning from Stanford and IDEO


A sharing post turned to a ramble about the power we have in our ability to affect people’s lives

Sharing some of learnings at Stanford University & IDEO
It’s been mostly about failing ironically.


Personally and professionally, understanding that when you try to be a perfectionist you risk whirling out of control when things just don’t fit your ideal. Better the person who can fail over and over again, learning why each time, and iterating to a better place.

The most difficult part is to not build walls of protection every time you fall, like a mother to her son, but to forensically look back only for causality and not to incessantly and emotionally ruminate on your failure, you have to begin to see the fall as a necessary part of getting back up. If done correctly every time you get back up you will see the world a little bit clearer.

Let’s admit it, we fail daily. We cheat on our diets because we really wanted ice cream, we watch tv when we should be studying, we procrastinate to do things we know need doing, we project ourselves in a nature that doesn’t represent us as well as we’d like, we workout and then have a cupcake after. The pinnacle point is not failure itself, it’s to say that failure is not the choosing point of a successful life, it’s what we do when we fail that is.

So how we observe ourselves to improve is key. Our habitual thoughts and behaviours WILL create our reality. You may even feel powerless to your mind and it’s seemingly impulsiveness. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you truly start observing who you are and what makes you move and what make you stand still, you can start to change things. We need to measure our baselines.


My ethnographer side of me has to ask people questions about why they do things like “eat ice cream while on a diet”. The funny thing is, most people don’t know the answer; but as humans we are resilient in coming up with ways to explain ourselves, “well I really really wanted ice cream, and I felt I deserved it”. My job is to provoke deeper insights, into their why, I care less about the ice cream and more about how this ladies principles are guiding her to do this. By looking at their thresholds, I say “why did you deserve it?”, and after some time you start to understand how their person works, their stance on the world, and what tools they use to wade through it.

Gaining great amounts of empathy. I go with a patient on one of their dates, in to their homes to understand how they deal with their medical conditions, I want so badly to become that person, because if I do, not only will it help my client, but also because I want to see their worldview and understand them, how they have come to see the world.

What I’ve learned is much more about myself.

Because in qualitative research you learn that you can’t go in “objectively” as the data would say. I go in with my worldview, and I mute it, you can not peel it away, so embrace it as a baseline. Now embrace them. Embrace their lives. Truly listen.

These learnings have taught me to broaden my worldview, embrace the ambiguity and listen to my own feelings. Sure I help clients create products and services that match users needs after research, but I don’t believe that’s the point anymore. I learn how to open up my worldview and truly empathise.

Ender’s game has a fantastic quote that resonates so well with me:

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them –” -Ender

Although he is talking about defeat this is much more about empathy. At least from my worldview. When you look at a beaten child, you feel instinctual empathy. Some can even feel the physical pain, that is what Ender is talking about here, becoming that person. Standing in their shoes, and when you can do that, you can love. When you accept them you can love them. Not only love them but you are able to help them or in Ender’s case defeat them.

The democrats and the republicans are all just people. You hate them? But you do not know them. You hate the president? But yet you do not know him. The foreigners and the party kids are all just people. Finding ways to live this very weird life. If you cannot become them by empathising with them first, then how can you move to hating or disliking them? Some of us stand on our world views firmly and contrast others worldview and decide that as the basis to right and wrong. But we have only lived for 1 small life, the basis to me is to understand before I move forward. And to continuously understand.

Your motivations are not the same as theirs. Their cultural group has a different view on values. The boyfriend that seems to not care because he does not speak much verbally, may be a non-verbal person. Any number of possibilities. If we don’t open up our world views to the possibilities, and dare to ask about theirs, we might as well become selfish robots in cults.

I dare you to challenge yourself when someone like a “Fresno meth head” asks you for money, I dare you to empathise with him/her, to ask him/her about their life. Truly try to understand. Hold back your judgements. The same way you binge Netflix when you are stressed out could be the same triggered feeling he gets just before he decides to do meth. I’m not saying give them all your money, I’m saying we are escalating the problem by being judgemental.

“Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but contrary extreme positions” — Friedrich Nietzsche

If you take an extreme position on people and that becomes the norm, “these people do this”, say underprivileged “culturally” considered Mexican American families, and they pick up on it, their behaviours can begin to just reconfirm that “norm” out of being expected to act that way.

Paulo Andre Nino — posted a video about Worst Behaviour that exemplifies that in a great way. Confirmation bias, “because you expect me to be this way, I will be even more extremely this way”. It’s a rubber band effect of being repressed or stereotyped. In our history the only way to truly change is to be opposite. The democrats and the republicans, the have and have nots, democracy or communism, the civil and the uncivil, moving forward I believe we must learn to hold 2 seemingly opposing thoughts in our head and take the best from both sides and put it together.

We have a drastic effect on people and we should be more responsible on how we use that.

These aren’t lessons in ethnographic research, business design, or innovation, these have been life changing lessons, and I’d thought I’d share them. I would have never thought a school and a company would teach me these types of things, but then again it’s all about perspective.

I am still learning about what we have come to know of people and organised groups of people called companies, and I wanted to share with you on the journey thus far.
Have a splendid day.

source medium – > https://medium.com/what-i-learned-today/ec2d173da057

 

How we tripled our revenue by adding one button


Or the secret of the “Unlock All” button

Bilingual Child was supposed to be an experiment. We built it in 6 weeks, working on it nights & weekends.

The app was free to download with one available book, including ten vocabulary words, and two additional books offered as an in-app purchase of $1.99.

For the first two months after releasing it we let it sit. We had never released an iOS application and had little idea what to do to market it. To our surprise, it slowly picked up steam. $5 a day. $10 a day. Then $15 a day.

We played around with the keywords and categories it was listed in and it settled in around $20 per day.

For the first year the sales were steady, the reviews were good and we were already a year into the development of the followup project — the ‘real’ app that we wanted to build in the education space.

Increased pricing from 1.99 to 2.99 per book.

Right around Christmas we optimized our keywords and increased the price from $1.99 to $2.99. We saw a slight decrease in purchases per user, but we saw a big jump in our revenue.

The increase in revenue moved us into the top grossing education chart.

We were excited.

The discovery process

Throughout the first year we realized 3% of our customers were purchasing the first book. Of those 3%, 70% would purchase both books.

Which meant that of our paying customers 70% percent were purchasing everything we had to offer.

We were losing sales from not having enough content.

We got to work putting together seven more books which would round the app to an even ten books (one given away for free). For each book we included 10 vocabulary words. In order to do this we needed to find a native speaker to record the audio at a local recording studio. We then had to design the 70 new icons for the game and put it all together in the app.

With the release of the next seven books we assumed most users would drop off purchasing around the fifth book resulting in a max purchase of $14.95 for less than 20% of our purchasing clients.

Then came the magic weapon.

We had been talking to the CEO of an E-commerce platform for high school apparel about their pricing model targeting parents and grandparents. They build online stores allowing families to purchase school branded apparel for their children. The secret sauce was on the first page after the buyer landed on the store.

There was simply a button that read ‘Buy All.’

This is where the majority of their revenue was generated. Parents, and especially grandparents, couldn’t resist it.

The results

In April we added seven more books. Each book was still priced at $2.99 leading to a total available purchase amount of $26.91 if parents bought all ten books. That would require them to click on each book and spend $2.99 for the ten vocabulary words inside.

On the landing page we also included an ‘unlock all’ option for 12.99. Our theory was that more people would purchase the ‘unlock all’ option than would have purchased the first four books and we’d convert those that would have purchased just one or two books into customers spending $12.99 instead of $5.98.

Added an ‘unlock all’ option

To date — the ‘unlock all’ has been our highest grossing option.

From the time that we launched the seven additional books there is a steep drop-off after the first two books (Colors & Numbers) in the number of purchases.

Unlock all books is the clear top revenue generator.

Though the number of purchases is less — the ‘Unlock All’ button generated approximately $4.5k more than the previous top seller.

I attribute this to the convenience of buying all, the realities of our target audience and the perceived value of receiving 1/2 off.

Parenthood & The Convenience Option

Parents are busy & have too much on their plate as it is. We know our application isn’t just used to introduce kids to a second language. It’s also used to give the parent a break, a quiet car ride, or a trip to the bathroom. When concluding on an ‘Unlock All’ button we knew that this would factor into the buying decision. It’s a time saving option that buys a kids attention for a longer period of time.

The convenience of unlocking all the books at the same time and letting their child be entertained with out interruption far outweighed the possible savings of a couple dollars if all the books weren’t utilized.

Perceived Value

By raising the price of each book we raised the perceived value of the content to $26.91. While we knew most of our users weren’t going to buy every book, buying the entire content of the application for half price was an attractive offer for the majority of our users who would have spent an average of $5.98. We benefited by receiving a larger amount today, rather than waiting for payment tomorrow. They benefited by gaining access to all of our content for half the price.

Raising our prices and adding a convenience option paid off big time for us. Giving parents an easy way to purchase all of our content at once at a discounted rate proved to be the most attractive option even if the price point was much higher than most of our competition. This additional revenue helped to push us into the 100 top grossing education apps in the store, driving more downloads and more purchases.

Don’t be afraid to charge more for your content

Of the five additional apps we’ve built around this concept — Bilingual Child remains our top grossing educational app. The experiment has truly become the main product.


If you’d like to check out our latest application — head over to brandisty.com.

I’m on twitter @michaelsacca or subscribe to my mailing list where I write about life, tech & business.

Source medium – > https://medium.com/what-i-learned-building/a8e04b2d85fe

 

Don’t be scared, ask more questions!


Don’t have an ego, don’t fear ridicule, ask and grow.

Being inquisitive is essential to growth. 

It’s asking questions and gaining answers. It’s basic. We all need to ask more questions to learn and grow into better, stronger human beings.

I think this is where the line is shifted in public schooling and why some kids succeed while others fall behind. I think it’s why some kids hate school and some of the most successful people of all time have dropped out.

In school we are taught to learn, to understand, to not talk and to reciprocate our knowledge into tests. It’s very two-dimensional.

Interactive classes are few and far between. We aren’t taught to question everything we are told, we’re taught to follow protocol.

Most teachers get disgruntled when confronted by a student who doesn’t understand their teaching style, or who would prefer further elaboration.

Thirst Parlor, Butte, Montana (1901)

Thirst Parlor, Butte, Montana (1901) (Photo credit: Butte-Silver Bow Public Library)

The teachers I respected most in school were the ones who had open Q&A’s who encouraged questions and scolded those who reacted poorly to other student’s questions.

Questions are essential. But we stop asking them. We are ridiculed by other class-mates for asking questions. We form a psychological link between asking questions and looking like an idiot. Where each question asked seems like we have a bit less knowledge than the rest who stay quiet — in turn we learn to stay quiet and not speak up when we don’t understand something.

This is wrong. This is what makes or breaks public schooling.

This is why the entrepreneurial type is often known for dropping out. Because we’re inquisitive. We want to know more, we want to experience more, we may just have a different way of thinking and learning than others and not benefit from the two-dimensional teaching style that is so prevelant.

This is why we drop out, because we can’t stand not being able to ask questions, and with living in the golden age, we don’t need schooling to learn what we have questions about, we just need a command prompt.

By the time we get out of school we’ve been so battered down by this lack of questions that we stop questioning things, and further than this, since we’ve gone to school, we start acting as though we know everything. We form an ego — a veil of knowledge, which is far worse than simply not knowing. It’s actually dangerous.

It means that things are counting on us, and we don’t actually know how to complete the tasks that are expected of us.


If you don’t know something, ask. The notion that asking questions = a lack of knowledge is false and as old as the educational structure that caused it.


So people, don’t be scared. Ask more questions, learn, grow and encourage others to ask what they don’t know. Share your knowledge, perpetuate growth within our society. It’s been taken from us for too long. 

 Source Medium – > https://medium.com/thirst-for-adventure/97affca9640c

As The Microsoft CEO Race Tightens, The Company’s Satya Nadella Sits In The Spotlight


Posted 7 hours ago by (@alex)
Posted 7 hours ago by (@alex)

Ford’s Alan Mulally was going to save Microsoft from obsolescence through his storied leadership and management skills. Until he wasn’t. For a hot minute Qualcomm COO Steve Mollenkopf was on the list. Until he, too, was not – about seven seconds later.

As Bloomberg noted before Qualcomm hung a “hands off” sign around its executive: “Mollenkopf is on a list of several candidates who are under serious consideration [....] [the] list also includes Microsoft executive Satya Nadella and other outside candidates.”

Source Tech Crunch Read More – > http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/13/as-the-microsoft-ceo-race-tightens-the-companys-satya-nadella-sits-in-the-spotlight/

 

Yahoo CEO Mayer Apologizes For Mail Outage That She Says Affected 1% Of Users


Yahoo CEO Mayer Apologizes For Mail Outage That She Says Affected 1% Of Users

Posted 4 hours ago by (@panzer)
Posted 4 hours ago by (@panzer)

After a week of Yahoo Mail outages that began four days ago, CEO Marissa Mayer has posted an apology to the company Tumblr. In it, she gives some details about the issue, which was apparently related to a hardware failure — and says that the issue affected 1% of Mail users.

“For many of us, Yahoo Mail is a lifeline to our friends, family members and customers,” reads Mayer’s apology. “This week, we experienced a major outage that not only interrupted that connection, but caused many of you a massive inconvenience — that’s unacceptable and it’s something we’re taking very seriously. “

Source Tech Crunch Read More – > http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/13/yahoos-marissa-mayer-apologizes-for-mail-outage-that-she-says-affected-1-of-users/

 

Dear Mom, I’m a Techie


The Undefined Career Path of a Startup Girl

 

 

Dear Mom,

Just to clarify, I work for a startup. What is a startup? A startup is a small company that produces a product or service that aims to solve a problem by improving an existing solution, or making something entirely new. This is unlike the jobs, career paths or professions that fit into pretty boxes.

I know this is a difficult concept to grasp, because what I do does not fall under one title or profession. My job is more than a profession, it is my life. It is what I think about before I go to bed, waiting in line, eating at a restaurant or chatting with my girlfriends. It is a way of life.

The normal boundaries of work and personal life are gone. Who I am online is who I am in real life. The 10-hour workdays are standard, and there is no employee of the month.

“My son is an engineer, my other son is an investment banker and my daughter is pred-med,” you always say. “What does your other daughter do,” they ask. Without fail, you respond the same, “Well, I don’t really know, but she does a tech thing in San Francisco.”

So how do you describe what I do to your coworkers, friends and our family? Just tell them I am a techie, a startup girl, an innovator in the technology field. I wish I could have a defined title the way my siblings do.

I was so proud of you when you learned how to use your email and iPhone. I was a little anxious when you signed up for Facebook, but nonetheless excited that you were starting to use the products in my industry.

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

So, I will put it this way: everytime you click send on a message, get a special coupon in your email, download an app or share ridiculous photos of the puppies dressed up as Ohio State cheerleaders, know that there is a face and a name behind that technology.

There is a person who decides where the send button is on your email, uploads the cutesy articles you send me, engineers the apps on your phone and promotes the new stuff you find on the internet. It’s not a happy accident.

These people are a part of the technology revolution. These are the people that work long hours, come up with new ideas and ensure that everything on your phone, computer and iPad works. These are the people I work alongside of wherever I am in the world. This is my profession.

Most of the time, I get so wrapped up in work that I forget to give you the 411. So, here it is, in black and white, straight to your disorganized Gmail account. One of these days, I will eventually write you a guide to navigate this new tech world. In the meantime, keep chatting with me on iMessage, nagging me to change your email picture and tagging me on your sappy Facebook posts. It shows me you care.

Love,

@yourstartupgirl (this is clickable)

Source medium – > https://medium.com/startup-shenanigans/9849fefc9abb

 

 

 

The Social Water Cooler


how messaging apps are changing everything

 

There continues to be innovative and interesting developments in the social landscape. I’ve been an observer and analyzer of how people behave on social for 7 years now, both from a personal perspective and in my professional work.

What first intrigued me about social in the beginning (by beginning I mean Xanga and Myspace) and continues to interest me today is HOW people communicate on social platforms and how it EVOLVES our real life communication.

Beyond just allowing us to share photos and update what we’re doing, social platforms are forever changing the way we dialogue with one another.

This change of dialogue is something that shouldn’t be taken likely…as what we share on digital…changes how we share in person.

Ponder this:

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

When was the last time you talked to a friend about the TV show that was on last night?

and

When was the last time you talked to a friend about a photo your mutual friend posted on Instagram?

In the olden days we used to gather around the “water cooler” at the office to talk about our favorite TV show or current events. The water cooler represented a central conversational gather place for small groups of people.

Today however, over and over again I find my wife and our mutual friends breaking out into full conversations about what our friends post on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. These types of dialogues happen offline when we’re together and we are having similar conversation in the digital space on platforms through group messaging — usually this conversation is dominated by visuals (screen shots of other photos, etc)

Our mutual friend’s social content has replaced traditional media in our daily conversations with our group of friends.

The challenge is — we need a “social” water cooler to gather around to have this dialogue.

We need a social platform that encourages and allows this type of intimate and private group conversation.

Image representing Xanga as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

The race to group conversation/messaging is the most important innovation in social in 2013.

Every single social channel is trying to get there and at an increasingly rapid rate. Consider what’s happened in the past year around group and private messaging

There has been a massive shift in the past 18 months about how we communicate with one another on social media…

The future isn’t conversation with everyone, it’s conversation with the people we care about.

The future is a gathering place, or a “social water cooler” for us to communicate around. Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc are desperately trying to be that destination, to be THE social messaging platform.

In many cases, most of this group, water cooler style dialogue is occurring via text messaging. However texting costs money for users and as messaging app features continue to enhance and outpace what texting offers, I have no doubt that people will shift usage into social messaging apps for private and group conversations.

What’s unpredictable at this moment is: what platform will win the messaging game? For the one that does win, how will they monetize it without alienating users? What role does a brand (or advertiser) have in private messaging between users?

What is predictable is that it’s sure to be an exciting ride and that nothing, absolutely nothing will stay the same.

The platforms and brands that evolve the quickest to customers ever changing communication behavior will survive.

 

 

 

Learning by hacking


I do hacks. Tiny prototypes for digital things that I show to people quickly. And for five years I’ve been doing, on average, one a month. I call it sketching with code. Here are some of the things I’ve learnt.

My general principle for how I spend my time is Create Something Every Day. The “something” could be anything — sometimes a photograph, maybe a drawing of a monster on a birthday card, but more often than not it’s something interesting in code.

I’m always sketching with code, and sometimes, what starts as a little experiment can turn into a mini project that takes a few days to build, resulting in something I can show to other people. I call each one of these things, for want of a better word, a hack.

Hack, play, learn

A hack is a tiny, often throwaway, rapid prototype. It’s a way of demonstrating the very first part of an idea in a short space of time. I build each one to test how I think something could or should work. Others who work this way often talk about hacks as taking something apart and putting it back together in a new way. Others might say they are a way of mashing two things together to do something interesting. Always done at speed, always done with passion, always to scratch an itch and always best if there’s some humour or novelty involved.

Many of my hacks are based on not having much knowledge about something and wanting to learn how it works. Perhaps it’s Dropbox, for instance. If all my files are in Dropbox, what can I make using their API that lets me do things in new ways with them?

I’ve realised that hacking – the process of doing hacks – is how I learn. Over these last few years I’ve learnt much more than at any other time in my life, or at least that’s how it feels. I’d like to share a few of the things that I’ve realised. In general, I think of it as “hack, play, learn” – the bit that comes before the “build, measure, learn”.

Note – I’m not talking about that other, scary use of the word “hack”. You won’t see that ridiculous prefix “cyber-” here.

Do the idea right away, when you’re passionate

I love the really early stage where you’ve just had an idea, you’ve got an inkling about how to do something, and instead of just having the idea you build that first little demonstration of what it is supposed to be.

The best time to do that is when you look at the world, realise that there’s something missing and notice that you’re having excited conversations with people you know. If you’re in that mode, do something about it. For me, I open my laptop in the evening and see if I can sketch out the tiniest, simplest, bare-bones version of it so that I can show other people.

Working when I’m passionate and fired up is the best way for me to get a hack out into the world. If I wait until later, and I’ve worked it all out, it always seems to take much longer, if I get round to doing it at all.

Build to think

My friend NTLK has a saying about this, and it’s worth noting here:

“If I’m not making, I’m not thinking”

The process of making things can actually be the process of exploring the problem. So you’re thinking by making. You’re solving the problems at the point where the problems appear, rather than trying to second-guess everything up front. Get going, solve things along the way, learn about the thing by doing the thing. IDEO, the design agency have a similar motto – “We think to build, and build to think.

Go to a hackday

I love the excitement of a hackday (or hackathon, although I’m not so hot on that word). If you’re not familiar, it’s a type of event where people get together to make hacks and demonstrate what they’ve done at the end. Sometimes there’s a winner, usually there’s a theme to bring people together – education, culture, the environment, charities, and so on.

I learnt a lot doing these tiny, two-day hacks at events like National Hack The Government Day – amazingly held at a Government office;or Culture Hack – an event all about combining technology people with cultural organisations with pretty explosive effect.

The process of just coming up with things and getting them out into the world within a few hours or days is fun and addictive. YeBay (Shakespearean eBay?) for instance took 30 minutes from “oh that’s funny” to “oh that’s on the internet”.

Surround yourself with hackday people who work this way and you’re bound to pick up some very interesting things.

Nobody is going to steal your idea

The spirit of the hackday is that people are usually fully open about what they’ve done. It’s understandable that if you’re unfamiliar with that way of working that you might be quite reserved about potentially having your idea “stolen”.

I’m from the opposite side of the camp. For instance, don’t make people sign non-disclosure agreements unless there’s a very good reason. The mental overhead on trying to remember who or what you’ve got an NDA about is not fun. Personally I don’t sign NDAs after spending well over a year under one for my main day-to-day activities. It was like being a rubbish spy.

If someone really values a conversation with you, they’ll value your network as well as your intellect. And they’ll also value your integrity.

Plus, nobody looking at your idea is going to think “oh that’s a great idea, I’m going to stop what I’m doing, completely rip this person off and invest my own time, money and energy in it to get it off the ground”. Startups are hard. Ideas are ten-a-penny.

Show people before you think you’re ready

There’s no use doing a hack in two days if you don’t show it to anyone quickly. My usual process is to send a tweet asking for people to try something out. I then send the link to the people who’ve responded and ask for a little feedback. It’s really helpful to get input from people early so you don’t go off down the wrong route.

Attending is a hack that I built and released in a day a couple of weeks ago. Because it got good feedback we added some finesse and design over five further days.

Give away the ideas you’re not going to do.

There’s nothing new under the sun. Yes, I know, you too saw that someone had their startup profiled on TechCrunch and you had that idea ages ago. You weren’t going to do that idea because you were doing something else, so be congratulatory and move on. Idea-having isn’t a limited resource. If you think you’re not going to do an idea, give it away or have a conversation with someone else about it. Sometimes, they surprise you and actually do it, and the fact that an idea you had actually came to something despite you not being involved is a good feeling.

Limit yourself

Some of the best music is made on instruments that limit the musician to just a few sounds. The 808 drum machine is the classic example. I think the same can apply to hacking. Give yourself two days. Keep it minimal. Or make sure you have a deadline where you’re going to talk to some people about your idea. The hackday format is great for this. You have to get something demonstrable by 5pm on Sunday.

Get good at getting fast

Once you’ve made one hack, there are probably elements of the process or the thing that you’ve made that you can use in subsequent hacks. You can copy and paste some of that, but maybe you can go further and make your own boilerplate “starting point”. I’ve got two now that I use as a starting point for things – Bootbuckle and Nub. Do a few hacks, and then make a starting point for other hacks. Optimise for doing the real work on the idea, not building another log-in system. As you use them, pull the code back from each of the new hacks into your “starting point” app so that next time you have an idea it takes you less time to get going.

Go wide

I try out lots of different things, and there are periods in your life where that’s a very good way of deciding what you want to do next. Try a variety of small experiments in your spare time with interesting people. Scratch little itches that you have. Intentionally “go wide” by looking at a variety of opportunities.

Go narrow

But the time comes when having a laser focus is the right way to go. And so it’s time to kill your darlings. Let’s say one of your hacks looks like it has legs, you’ve got some investment and you’re about to start a company around it. It would be foolish to be distracted by lots of tiny hack projects, so kill everything and focus on making that thing a success.

And then go wide again?

And once you’ve got that thing going, open up again and try a few things out. That’s where I am at the moment at Makeshift, and I’m right back in the “wide” stage, investigating several things in parallel.

Strike up a conversation

In the end, the best thing about a hack is that you’re publishing something that is a usable, demonstrable reference point about your idea. You can point to it, people can play with it, you can learn from playing with it too, and you can filter the things that you learn back into the next phase of hacking. It’s not “agile development”, because it’s a hack. It’s the bit before you get into the agile “iterate, iterate, iterate”, so it’s important that you have your ears open and have conversations with the right people around your hack.

Hacks can be tiny, and you don’t necessarily need to know how to code to do one. It’s probably more about an attitude that you can gain through doing this – that things that look difficult can start to look more achievable, that not everything you do has to be perfect, and that sketchiness, impermanence and bugginess are possibly things to embrace rather than shy away from.

The best way to have a good idea
is to have lots of ideas

In the end I am a firm believer that anyone can have a good idea. The trouble is that lots of us get fixated on a bad, or even worse, a mediocre idea and can’t get past that point. Some people feel like there are a fixed number of ideas that they’re going to have in their life, and they don’t want to give them up for anything. But I think that by being free and easy with your ideas you improve your ability to test whether an idea is any good before you commit to it. And hacking is a good way of rapidly filtering the good from the bad, and learning along the way.


I’m @stef on Twitter. Thanks to the #sundaypost people, and those who supported this on HelpMeWrite. If you liked this please hit the “recommend” button.

source Medium -> https://medium.com/thoughts-on-creativity/24ee0961e80f