While I love the new format of the blog (with much more of an emphasis on links), I also feel as though it’s allowed me to be a bit more lax than I might like to be on my more serious writing. I imagine over time I’ll find a way to balance things slightly better (ideally I’d get back to writing 2 or 3 long-form entries a week).
Anyway, now that the apology is out of the way, what I am hoping to do is kind of catalog a bunch of the themes and thoughts of last year/2008. What I expect it to be more or less is a look into what I think some of my themes of the year will be.
Recording Passive Activity
Call it whatever you want (metadata, attention data), but the basic idea is that if you record the digital footprints people leave behind and organize them you can extract and return an incredible amount of value. Rather than reply on people to actively take part in a system, you can allow them to opt-in their data and organize it for them. When I wrote “Fixing Business Software” I used the example of the Naked Aggregator, “Rather than forcing people to constantly update the Naked blog with full entries, why not pull from the content they’re creating anyway? So it pulls in content from del.icio.us, Flickr, Twitter and other people’s blogs and inserts it right into houseofnaked.com.” The idea being let the software do the work rather than the people. Basically, what’s the point in recreating the wheel if the wheel already has an API?
Good & Capitalism Getting Along
This isn’t a new idea, just one I think people will continue to struggle with. Your “good” self and your capitalist self no longer need to exist in separate spheres. More and more companies are finding ways to balance the two. I found Google’s announcement of investing in finding a renewable fuel source than coal a perfect example. As I wrote in November, “Google is not doing this for completely altruistic reasons: They believe this initiative will save them a lot of money in the long run and be good for business. With that kind of motivation I expect them to get more done.” Another great example of this is Pixel Qi which is a spinoff from OLPC that hopes to sell the technology developed for the OLPC in a for-profit way, thereby helping the OLPC (and other firms) get the scale they need to lower the prices on the laptops. Basically: The more customers Pixel Qi gets, the cheaper kids around the world can get their hands on this technology.
More Math, Economics and Science
I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve been finding a ton of inspiration in math, science and economics. It’s just another reminder of how important it is to move beyond one’s comfort area/focus. I don’t know a ton about any of these, but I hope to learn.
Planners and Blogs
I don’t know that this is a big theme, more just something that’s been on my mind lately. I know many of the people that read this site are planners (as am I, I guess). Anyway, I believe blogs are most helpful to a profession like planning, where your output is basically your thinking. The problem was in the past there was no way to show your thinking/skill off. Designers and copywriters had portfolios, but planners just had to say they were “naturally curious” or something equally BS-sounding. Now, you can just click through the entries of a planners blog and get a real sense of how they think and approach the world.
So, I guess that’s it. A bit of a hodge-podge, sure, but at least I just needed to get some of these thoughts out. Have a nice weekend.