Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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It’s Just Natural

Much of my life is spent saying things and making decisions that I am not completely qualified to make. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. The way I see it, none of us are really ever completely qualified to make a decision, so we just need to use our best knowledge and judgement and hope for the best.

A lot of the times we try to justify the decision afterwards, but the bottom line is we went with our gut.

Just listen to Michael Beirut explains his real design process:

When I do a design project, I begin by listening carefully to you as you talk about your problem and read whatever background material I can find that relates to the issues you face. If you’re lucky, I have also accidentally acquired some firsthand experience with your situation. Somewhere along the way an idea for the design pops into my head from out of the blue. I can’t really explain that part; it’s like magic. Sometimes it even happens before you have a chance to tell me that much about your problem! Now, if it’s a good idea, I try to figure out some strategic justification for the solution so I can explain it to you without relying on good taste you may or may not have. Along the way, I may add some other ideas, either because you made me agree to do so at the outset, or because I’m not sure of the first idea. At any rate, in the earlier phases hopefully I will have gained your trust so that by this point you’re inclined to take my advice. I don’t have any clue how you’d go about proving that my advice is any good except that other people — at least the ones I’ve told you about — have taken my advice in the past and prospered. In other words, could you just sort of, you know…trust me?

More and more lately I’ve been coming to the conclusion that the thing that separates the successful from the unsuccessful is the ability to make a decision, not necessarily a good decision. I’m hypothesizing here that much of the time the act of making a decision is more important than what’s actually decided.

I know that’s kind of crazy, but think about it this way: How many really important decisions do you make in a day? The vast majority are probably things that have no wrong answer? Should I take this route or that one? What should I eat for lunch? Should I move this logo a little to the right? Whatever you decide for any of those is what you decide. Chances are most of the decisions won’t even ever get noticed.

A lot of this thinking comes out of the simplicity of likemind and the relative success we’ve had. It’s completely self-selective: If you think you should come to one of our coffee mornings you should, if you don’t you shouldn’t. If you think you’re of likemind then you’re of likemind. It’s all pretty simple and yet it’s yielded fantastic results.

That idea eventually led me to the principles of open space (which is how unconferences like Barcamp) are organized. The four principles are:

1. Whoever comes is the right people.
2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
3. Whenever it starts is the right time.
4. When it’s over it’s over.

There’s something wonderfully organic about it all and I can’t help but feel like its a direct result of the complexity of our new digital world. That’s not to say its a reaction, but rather an outgrowth of the networked nature.

Maybe it’s not technology versus nature, but rather technology reflecting nature.

September 15, 2006