Archive for December, 2007
David just signed off for the year and I still have to get my foundation-less predictions for 2008 out. Wait! Wait!
- Consolidation of Online Activities: More ways to take unified actions across all of your online presence points. Apps that are now essentially toys, such as MoodBlast, will gain in depth and usefulness and allow you to simultaneously manage your various online profiles.
- Strategic Shift to Social Applications: In 2008 the question will be “build a social network? Why would you want to do that?” It will be all about building applications that leverage existing social networks.
- Rise of Concurrent Programming: As we move towards apps that are deployed in a fault-tolerent distributed manner across on-demand compute clouds, such as Amazon’s EC2, we’ll look towards platforms built from the ground up to support distributed, concurrent programming – such as Erlang.
- More Blending of Web and Rich Internet Applications (RIAs): Its becoming more and more obvious that the arbitrary division between web development and application development is breaking down. We’re all just building applications that use the internet, with the front end technology being just an architecture decision. New business that use a mix of RIA’s and web clients will continue to appear in 2008.
- More WAX!: Web Application eXchange! With OpenID, OpenSocial, Facebook apps etc, there are more and more examples of many web-based applications working together in order to form greater value.
Loren has me completely hooked on Sandy, the web-based “personal assistant.” I email myself from work when I have to take care something the following day, and when I check my iPhone the next morning, I have a text message waiting. For a guy who puts post-it notes on his wallet, this is a fantastic innovation.
The only problem has been with Sandy’s website: for a guy who puts post-it notes on his wallet, remembering my password has been next to impossible. The site requires a login to change preferences, and as a result, I’ve reset my password several times. And the password-reset screen doesn’t include a “remember me” prompt.
Hey Sandy–how about a silent cookie? Your target user obviously needs it, and probably won’t mind.
Reminder: happy holidays, Monday at 5 p.m.
The Ai offices are closed next week. We’ll see you in the new year. Wait, wait – I’m not quite dead yet! -LD
Hello, and my thanks to Loren for the introduction. As noted below, I will be posting regularly in this space moving forward, with a keen eye toward developments in online branding and the user experience. Ai covers a wide range of clients, which opens us to great breadth of coverage. Including Loren’s tech investigations.
I come to Ai from the client side, so I’m still getting the hang of the business from the agency side. I’m new to this blog but not to blogging in general; my personal weblog is in its tenth (!) year. I am pleased to be blogging professionally and covering relevant topics in a business setting.
Loren and I (and our coworkers, if we can rope them in) look forward to sharing intriguing conversations about technology and the business of making websites, including some “looks behind the door” at life at our company. Stay tuned.
We have some changes coming for this blog (and the Ai website) in the near future. The first change is that I’m not driving this alone anymore, I’m going to be joined by our new Director of Strategy, David Wertheimer. Here’s a sneak peak at his bio:
David Wertheimer, Ai’s Director of Strategy, has a diverse background with expertise in online communication, marketing, ecommerce and the user experience. He leads the company’s strategic initiatives, from usability studies to data analysis, and provides focus and vision to front- and back-end web development projects.
David has been bringing brands to the Web for twelve years. In his years online, he has been a designer, manager, director, blogger, book author, columnist, educator, and public speaker. Past achievements include creating world-class media websites for The Economist and Billboard magazines and leading 200% growth in online retail sales as the marketing director for Clarins USA. He has also worked in consulting roles for a wide range of companies including Yahoo! HotJobs, Draftfcb and Rodale.
David has an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Franklin & Marshall College. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and their dog.
David will be balancing my geeky commentary with posts that touch on strategy, online marketing and user experience. Maybe he’ll talk about his dog. Welcome David!
Some of us start with a career of making stuff, and then transition into a career of talking to people. This transition can be painful.
Making stuff requires concentration, or “being in the zone”. People that make stuff, be they programmers, designers, writers or what-have-you, need to block out the rest of the world, really focus on what they’re doing and crank out their stuff. People who make stuff need periods of isolation, in order to create high quality work.
The other kind of job is talking to people. Talking to people jobs, like project management, sales, customer service and so forth thrive in environments of interactivity. People who talk to people for a living work better when they’re connected to other people, through email, IM, telephones etc. Their days are characterized by frequent brief interactions with other people.
However, sometimes people who make stuff find that their job starts to involve talking to people. Often this is a function of seniority, such as when a senior programmer becomes a tech lead. Programming is primarily a “making stuff” job, but tech leads function as a kind of “transformer” between project managers and developers; stepping down the voltage between the business world of the PM and the technical world of the developers.
This transition is where worlds start to collide. A tech lead is asked not only to talk to other people (co-ordinate developers, explain tech to the PM) but also to make stuff (take on lead programming tasks). This can make people’s heads explode.
When one’s job is predominantly either to make stuff or to talk to people, one can be fairly functional. Depending on their mode, they either get in the zone or they stay in touch. However, when one has a job that entails both responsibilities it can be very difficult to get either done effectively – one can wind up being torn between modes, appearing unresponsive to people who need them to talk, and unfocused when it comes to making stuff.
I call this the Tech Lead Problem, but it applies to anyone coming out of a production background who takes on management responsibilities. They can be designers, writers or information architects.
The two modes just don’t work well together. For this reason, if you’re someone who has their duties split between making stuff and talking to people, the trick is to cleanly separate the “making stuff” mode from the “talking to people” mode.
When you’re in making stuff mode, block out a nice big appointment for yourself on your calendar so people won’t interject meetings, shut off IM, and only check your email at fairly infrequent intervals (once per hour, perhaps). Its best to be completely open about this, allowing “productive time” to live as a first class citizen on your schedule, with appropriate priority against the various meetings and other “talking to people” activities.
Take other steps to reduce extraneous noise – can you work out of the office? How about noise-cancelling headphones? Our Creative Director here has taken to hanging a flashing bicycle light on the back of his chair when he’s in productive mode. Don’t bug him when that light is on.
Then, ensure that you provide ample “talking to people time”. Turn that IM on, check your email frequently. Even (gasp!) get up from your desk, walk over and talk to people.
At first, people who’s jobs are primarily to talk to people may have difficulty understanding the importance of separating these modes. Its important to educate them however, because achieving this separation is essential to maintaining sanity if you have a job that requires both kinds of activities.
(Ironically I was interrupted twice, by the same person, while writing this. Oh well…)
A while back I posted about how to survive crunch periods (How to Crunch). Tom Sullivan, a journalist writing for PM Network magazine (put out by the Project Management Institute) decided to interview me for an article he was writing on the same topic for this month’s issue.
Unfortunately it looks like the crunch article isn’t one of the ones that are offered as PDFs on the site, but if you or someone you know is a PMI member you should be able to grab it. If I find a way to access the article directly (or if someone wants to tell me how) I’ll post a link here.
(Not sure if I love that photo….oh well)