23 March 2006

New favorite phrase

I'm doing some research on the topic of innovation, and came across a beautiful statement somewhere. It struck me so hard that I can't recall where it came from (although a google search turns up many places where it's being used). I just stopped reading, grabbed a notebook and jotted these three words down:

Innovation without permission.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. That's what it's really all about, isn't it? The world moves forward on the legs of those who pursue innovation without permission. Seeking permission to be innovative basically misses the point and waters down the product considerably. Generally speaking, permission is usually granted to things (& people!) which are safe, predictable, etc... which is not exactly condusive to innovation.

OK, I've got a lot more to say on this subject, but I'll stop for now because "Innovation without permission" basically says it all...

21 March 2006

You Can't Win...

I was flipping through a copy of Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends And Influence People," the other day. Not just because it's an interesting book, although it is. In all honesty, I was looking for a way to keep my latest project from being deep-sixed.

Somewhat to my surprise, I actually found what I was looking for, in chapter 1 of Part 3 (on page 109). Actually, I found it in the table of contents, and scarcely had to skim through pages 109 - 115 because the nugget I needed was right there in the title of the chapter: "You Can't Win An Argument."

Mr. Carnegie explains (in rhyme!): A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still...

The trick, therefore, is to not engage in an argument. Instead of disagreeing, find a way to agree that the other person is seeking / asserting / advocating the same thing as you...

It's not being underhanded or sneaky. It's just recognizing that often the best way to present your position is in terms already familiar to and accepted by the person you're talking with...

Next week: Why arguments are absolutely necessary, unavoidable and winnable (I think).

16 March 2006

Obscurity Knocks...

When I was in high school, I listened to a lot of obscure music. I still listen to some of it, and it's really quite good. But I must admit that aside from the quality, part of the pleasure comes from knowing that most people have never heard of Camper Van Beethoven, Big Audio Dynamite, The Lightning Seeds or the Trashcan Sinatras, for example.

Why do I enjoy that stuff? What's so great about listening to music that most people have overlooked? I already mentioned the quality, and most of it was really creative and different from standard radio pop-40. I think it also has something to do with a sense of independence and individuality. I listen to this music because I like it, not because everyone else likes it. But I think there's something even deeper going on here...

If you want to be creative and think differently from the maddening crowds all around you, I think it helps to expose yourself to unusual things (music, ideas, etc). That's one reason I tend to read old books (i.e. G.K. Chesterton), obscure books (i.e. The Hacker Ethic by Pekka Himanen) and otherwise unusual books (i.e. AnOther by ee cummings). And that's probably why I haven't read Gladwell's Blink, or Friedman's The World Is Flat or Levitt's Freakanomics. It's not that those books aren't good - I'm sure they are. Being popular does not make them bad - it just makes them common... and I'm constantly on the lookout for the uncommon...

14 March 2006

Presentation Zen & Design

So I just discovered a blog titled Presentation Zen. It's all about - you guessed it - presentations, from the perspective of a zen aesthetic. Found several references to Edward Tufte of "Power corrupts. PowerPoint corrupts absolutely" fame.

The blog is fantastic.

It's funny, relevant, engaging and informative.

Like I said - fantastic.

Among the gems I found there was a link to a video spoof that answers the question "What would happen if Microsoft redesigned the iPod packaging." Brilliant - watch & heed!

13 March 2006

Stuff Our Kids Will Laugh About

I'm not big on making predictions about The Future - I have a hard enough time predicting the present. However, I do occasionally pull out the old crystal ball, and today I'm offering my short list of things our kids will laugh at us about.

Our kids will laugh at us for using passwords. In the future, they'll use retina scans, voice recognition, finger prints and/or RFID chips embedded in their brains. Passwords? No way.

Our kids will laugh at us for "dialing up" the internet... or for connecting to the internet (or metaweb or whatever they call it) using any sort of wire at all. In the future, their connections will all be wireless, broadband x 1000 (and quite secure, thank you very much). Wires? No way.
Our kids will laugh at us for our enormous laptop computers (and don't even get them started on the desktop machines). In the future, you'll have access to all the computing power you need via your wristwatch and sunglasses, as you surf the web, hold video conferences and create documents while sitting in a cabin in the woods. Computers measured in pounds and feet? No way.

Our kids will laugh at us for losing data. Sure, computers will still have bugs, viruses and crashes in the future, but your data will be securely backed up automatically, with no effort on your part. Buring all your important files to a backup CD? No way.

Our kids will laugh at us for using iPods. Sure, they're hot now, but in the future... well, I can't imagine what will be the iPod killer in the future (could anyone have predicted the iPod at the height of the cassette-playing Walkman?). Carrying around a $400 device to play music? No way.

Our kids will laugh at us for relying so much on text. In the future, audio / video / multi-media will be king. People will still read books, and some might still read newspapers made of paper, but most of our information will come in non-text forms. Typing? No way.

Our kids will laugh at our cell phones. In the future, your videophone sunglasses (see laptop entry above) will work great. There will be no worries about spotty coverage, dropped calls, poor voice quality or complicated calling plans (ok, the complicated calling plans are probably here to stay). Handsets? No way.

Our kids will laugh at us for relying on batteries. In the future, new power supplies will lead to innovative distribution methods, including ubiquitous wireless power supplies. I sure hope this one comes true. It'll probably be our grandkids, not our kids, but a guy can dream, can't he? Batteries? I hope not...

Got anything to add?

My (new) Favorite Word

It's a term from statistics that basically means there's something wrong with your assumptions.

To be precise, it means a sample may vary from the norm in self-selected ways not taken in to account by your model… and that’s bad. In statistics, you might assume the error term has a constant variance…This will be true if the observations of the error term are assumed to be drawn from identical distributions. Heteroskedasticity is a violation of this assumption.

Like I said, it means there's something wrong with your assumptions.

Heteroskedasticity - fun to say, and it means something interesting.

10 March 2006

Curious George Soundtrack

My birthday was yesterday and I received an amazing, beautiful CD - the soundtrack from the Curious George movie.

I saw the movie last month (with the kids, of course), and although the story, artwork, etc is fantastic, the film is worth seeing for the soundtrack alone. The music is by Jack Johnson, a surfer/singer/songwriter from Hawaii, and it's some of the most mellow, infectious and groovy little tunes I've ever encountered.

I know, this really has nothing to do with technology development, innovation, etc... but it's such a darn good CD I couldn't resist.