This fictional documentary covers the emergent disease Metalosis Maligna. It is so cyberpunk, it hurts.
For me it is watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas", even if it is performed by the cast of Scrubs.
I have been incredibly swamped with building several tangible and intangible products and skills. In plain english, I have been busting my ass at work, reading a bunch of books, going to a gym again, hacking some electronics, and rearranging the furniture in our apartment. None of this is super exciting to anyone but me, but it is work that needs to be done and it has kept me from, well, hacking english rather than code.
Jose Nazario once mentioned to me the concept of a "poor man's MBA", or what a technologist should read in order to understand the business world. I have little motivation, time, or energy to go for a real MBA (one terminal degree is enough), but I do need to absorb as many of the soft skills as possible if I want to, well, not suck as an employee.
With that goal in mind, I read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable to get an idea of how executive teams interact and how decisions are made and indecision occurs, Crossing the Chasm to understand the mentality of marketing folks inside tech companies, and The Innovator's Dilemma to get some pointers on how to push new technologies or innovations through an organization.
For all three books, the language and style that is used is as important as the concepts discussed. I have found that people tend to ascribe you to different schools of thought based solely upon how you frame a discussion, and will often times not accept lines of arguments if you don't frame them in their native belief system. By recasting a discussion in terms they would understand, your argument may be more easily accepted.
A trivial example of this is the use of the term "non-optimal". I tend to use it frequently as a result of my formal training in algorithm optimization. I am very careful to use "unprofitable", or "a poor investment of resources" when I am talking to different business stakeholders about engineering decisions rather than "non-optimal", as the use of the latter communicates that you are thinking with a technicians brain, which traditionally doesn't appreciate the customer motivators, versus that of a business person, who may believe that engineers are short-sighted and don't see "the big picture".
Anyone who has straddled both the technicians and non-technicians world can attest to these issues, so there is no point of going much further on the topic. I should have some other super-awesome-cool content later this week, though.
Vipul and I have had a long-running discussion on why certain people have the mentality to build a startup and others do not, and how this seems to be completely uncorrelated with raw intelligence. I argued for a long time that my academic training leads me to abstract new ideas into old frameworks for analysis, as well as leads me to discount the impact of certain new ideas. In some ways, it is a decidedly Hegelistic view of knowledge, but one that has worked for me for some time. Vipul, on the other hand, has argued to me that all the potential impacts of a technology can never be seen at the onset of the company, and that belief in yourself and faith in your concepts and your team will carry you through. I had a great deal of difficulty seeing his point of view until I read Crossing the Chasm and The Innovator's Dilemma, both of which speak to and provide numerous proof points for Vipul's world view.
An article popped up on this weekend's BoingBoing that addressed the very idea that young (under 30), untrained people make better entrepreneurs than older, highly experienced people. The author makes several excellent points about the almost beautiful arrogance of a young engineer to believe they can change the world with a simple idea.
However, amongst other issues, the author doesn't speak much to the extremely high failure rate of new concepts, or the expectation (probability definition) that a given idea will pay off. ("Expectation of career success" is not a new idea, also; there is a good section in Fooled by Randomness on this topic.) Additionally, several of the technologies listed weren't really viable for making money using the business models successfully applied by their usurpers. Yahoo, for example, relied upon human categorization of content and a relatively unsophisticated search algorithm compared to Google, whose PageRank algorithm made the monetization of search, through AdSense, far easier. It isn't that people who have been around the business longer don't see these new opportunities, and it is far more often the case that the organizational structure prevents them from implementing some whizbang new technology that would assist their core business and open up new markets rather than pure ignorance of the changing space.
Anyways, in short, the article is very much worth the read for anyone who asked themselves why did person X start a company while person Y did not.
Studying finance and economics is one of my nerdy hobbies. A friend of mine, Window Snyder, wanted to know what I have read and what I am reading to follow the field. She also thinks I don't blog enough, so Window, this list of books, newspapers, and blogs is for you:
MindMeister, the web-based mind-mapping application. Bonus: it has some nice collaborative features as well.
Okay readers, if you are reading this via RSS, the cutover to the FeedBurner Feed should be complete.
I have been saying, and recently presenting, for some time that Macs are not subjected to malware infestations because it is not economically worth while to do so. It has now been two years in a row where OSX has been compromised at CanSecWest. This year, Charlie Miller popped a MacBook Air using a client side exploit in about 2 minutes. Last year, Dino hammered on a QuickTime for hours and eventually made it in. I think it is pretty safe to say that the community has a stack of unreleased zero-days at this point, and they just need a small (3 pound?) incentive to use them in public.
Today is a very special day. New episodes of Battlestar Galactica air tonight.
Yet another means of promoting this site: Technorati Profile.
John Nikola Newsham was born on Friday, July 25th to Tim and Aailyah Newsham. Congratulations guys!