building a car as it is moving

this week i’ve released a couple experiments. one is web app, one is a video essay. neither is perfect, and that’s hard for me to deal with. however, i know i have more to lose by agonizing over the quality of my work than by actually sharing it and moving on.

in this video, i challenge some of cory doctorow’s ideas about copyright, based on my amateur understanding of how the internet works. i am fully aware that i am likely wrong on a lot of points here, and if anything this video is my best attempt at putting my interests into words. i hope to get some feedback or to do further research on copyright so that i can speak more eloquently on the subject. but, in the interest of posting videos weekly, i felt compelled to settle and say ‘welp, this is good enough for now’. it exists and it’s not terrible, and i know it can be better.

This is a screenshot. Check out the live app here.

secondly, this is an app that i made using glitch. it takes data from your most listened to song on spotify and makes guesses at your personality based on that song. it’s funny, not necessarily built out to its fullest, but it works. writing and learning code is hard, and the majority of the effort was figuring out how to get spotify data from individual users (‘authentication’ they call it). i managed to do it, and the app works for most of the people that try it out. i could have made it more expansive, deep, or user friendly, but again i hit the ‘good enough’ point and knew that i needed to move on to the next thing.

as a perfectionist and a performer, i am often uncomfortable with releasing half-baked work. but, i am putting my focus more on the process rather than the product, and i know by continuing to release my experiments into the world, i will get immediate feedback and learn ten times more than if i were to build private projects and theorize in private.

books books books

here is the aforementioned vloggo, in which i discuss two books that i recommend most often, ‘whiplash’ by joi ito & jeff howe, and ‘the circle’ by dave eggers.

in other news, i just bought the book ‘the knowledge economy’ by roberto mangabeira unger, which came up on joi ito’s summer reading list. it’s a very… crunchy book, and aligns with a lot of my studies of the future of work.

anyway, i’m a bit shy about this new video because it is my foray into the world of video essays. i am inspired by the big players that have changed my life with their content, and sometimes releasing mine own thing make me feel small and feeble. but, the plan is to snowball some momentum and to keep these coming, similar to how i’ve been doing the interviews.

invent your job

we are living in a world of accelerating change. technology, careers, and strategies become obsolete at an alarming rate. if you want to be marketable, you have to be creative. the jobs of the future don’t exist yet, and its up to you to figure out what these jobs are.

this week i interviewed moji, a woman who created her own title as a environmental sustainability consultant. she told me that a lot of her job was education – she had to explain to clients what she did and why it was important. it’s an emerging field and more and more companies will experience pressure to become environmentally conscious, and moji saw that she could help.

for you, i’m sure you’ve noticed gaps in the market. if you see an opportunity to try something that might benefit a friend, a business, or a community, it’s possible you might be inventing a career for yourself. test it out, and see if you’re right.

reading isn’t enough

i just read this article that my friend lito sent me. its thesis is that books and lectures aren’t very good at getting their message across. this is kind of true: books and lectures do nothing if they are not applied and used.

your brain remembers what it uses and forgets what it doesn’t. this is the basis for how a lot of things stay. you could study memory for a long time and discover its peculiarities, but basically if you want to learn something and remember it, you must have some sort of external pressure to actually use the information.

this is something i could talk at length about, but let’s talk about books for a moment briefly. every time i read something, i write about it or talk about it. i am in the habit of always using what i read so that it stays in my brain. for this reason, i am also self-guided to certain books and subjects that are immediately useful. this could be called interest.

from college onwards, i have learned that some of the best research comes from focused play. if you are following your intuition and interest, you are using the information you consume, and playing with it. in turn, you will remember it , and truly know and absorb what you read.

get sophisticated clients

i was lucky enough to talk to a media consultant this past week. she makes a living studying the impact of social media campaigns for businesses, which is something that i am very interested in. i asked her a ton of questions about her career journey, and in return she asked me a lot of questions about my own business ventures.

today, i’m thinking about one of the things she told me in our meeting: “get sophisticated clients.” “are you interested in doing innovative things?” “yes, of course,” i replied. “well, that means you can’t waste your time with companies that aren’t interested in innovation. you need to find clients who are looking for cutting edge stuff, especially if you are providing cutting edge stuff.”

previously, i had been spending time working with small businesses and teaching them how to run their social media campaigns. this was all fine and dandy, but many of them were uninterested in social media as a whole, along with anything that was different from what they were already doing. “this is not going to help you in the long term, because the kind of work you will be doing will be a little bit basic,” my new friend told me. so, currently, i’m taking this to heart and continuing my search for “my people”, the tech-savvy folks who are looking to become better managers.

agility is a superpower

in joi ito’s book “whiplash”, he states that in a changing world, agility triumphs over strength. today, i am thinking about this maxim in terms of honing in on my ability to develop products and systems more quickly than any competitor.

lady ada at adafruit also speaks to the power of agility. in her conversation with joi ito she tells us how she will share videos weekly of the products she is making. viewers wonder aloud why she would do this – won’t competitors steal her ideas and release the product before her? the answer is no, because lady ada can make the product significantly faster than anyone trying to imitate.

for us, this means experimenting with how quickly we can provide a product or service. another concept that i think about on a regular basis are “ooda loops” (wikipedia). this is a method of strategic thinking that allows someone to make quick decisions in a very powerful way (observe, orient, decide, act). in your sphere, how can you create and ooda loop? and what can you do faster than all other competition, using the tools available to you online and off?

idea: curators or internet librarians

there are some people i trust for recommendations on the internet. since search results are prioritized by how much a person pays, i often trust specific, credible folks on twitter to recommend books, movies, and media for me to consume. joi ito, as i have mentioned in a couple other posts, provides this service: he interviews folks who do things that i am interested in, and because he is the director of the mit media lab, i trust him.

further, my friend lito is a software engineer and an artist. as a result, he is doing a lot of research that overlaps with mine. if i have a concept or idea that i need to figure out, lito is the first person i ask. now, on the internet, credible experts like lito and joi ito become de facto curators. their twitter accounts, and any other content they produce, is informed by stuff that i would like to investigate anyway.

an example: let’s imagine that you are really into gardening. there may be a particular gardener on the internet that you really like and trust. thus, you will click on any link they share, or read any book they recommend, simply because they are doing the kind of work that you find meaningful. what i’m trying to get at is that this kind of curation is happening now, and it possibly works better than googling by yourself. these people serve as internet librarians, curators that know what they’re looking for that can help you navigate a dizzying sea of information.