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WhatsApp Grew to One Billion Users by Focusing on Product, Not Technology
Examples such as WhatsApp demonstrate that real-world innovation, in many ways, looks like an assembly line. At one end is a customer pain point or a potential new market. At the other is a product or service that solves the problem or addresses the market in a way nobody has thought of before. In between, people sit down and force themselves to examine the problem from a variety of fresh angles. Sometimes they tap the lab and bring a radical new technology to bear. But much more often they reach for pieces of technology that already exist and assemble them with new (or old) capabilities to produce a solution that turns the pain point into a delighted customer. Think of it as high concept meets whatever is lying around — an unconventional combination.
prodmgmt  whatsapp  blog 
7 days ago
Trump Is Getting Even Trumpier! - NYTimes.com
It’s hard to know exactly what is going on in that brain, but science lends a clue. Psychologists wonder if narcissists are defined by extremely high self-esteem or by extremely low self-esteem that they are trying to mask. The current consensus seems to be that they are marked by unstable self-esteem. Their self-confidence can be both high and fragile, so they perceive ego threat all around.

Maybe as Trump has gotten more successful his estimation of what sort of adoration he deserves has increased while the outside criticism has gotten more pronounced. This combination is bound to leave his ego threat sensors permanently inflamed. So even if Candidate Trump is told to make a normal political point, Inner Boy Trump will hijack the microphone for another bout of resentful boasting.
trump  politics 
8 days ago
From ‘You’re So Vain’ to ‘I’m So Great’ — Pacific Standard
A new study reports self-regard, self-promotion, and plain old bragging are far more prominent in pop music than they were a quarter-century ago.
music  blog 
13 days ago
Snapchat and the Art of Upstreaming — Back of the Envelope
Snapchat is perfectly imperfect. So what if the photos aren’t the highest quality? So what if it doesn’t cater to landscape? So what if text captions are plastered directly on top of the photo itself?
This is Christensen’s ‘low-end disruption” at its best. The best camera app isn’t the highest quality photo resolution. It’s something that “just works” — it helps you capture the story and it does it fast. And Snapchat is building just that — a disruptive photo management app for the whole world that “just works.”
blog  snapchat  photography 
15 days ago
Solving All the Wrong Problems - The New York Times
Empathy, humility, compassion, conscience: These are the key ingredients missing in the pursuit of innovation, Ms. Helfand argues, and in her book she explores design, and by extension innovation, as an intrinsically human discipline — albeit one that seems to have lost its way. Ms. Helfand argues that innovation is now predicated less on creating and more on the undoing of the work of others.
blog  empathy  innovation 
15 days ago
I Can’t Believe I’m Saying This, But I Miss My CDs | WIRED
But you know what was really easy to do, not so long ago? Walking into a store, finding the CD you wanted, and taking it home. Granted, it was a lot more expensive than the streaming service’s monthly flat-rates, but at least the music was yours, and it wasn’t going anywhere.
music  blog 
19 days ago
The Sound of Hate - The New Yorker
When music is applied to warlike ends, we tend to believe that it has been turned against its innocent nature. To quote the standard platitudes, it has charms to soothe a savage breast; it is the food of love; it brings us together and sets us free. We resist evidence suggesting that music can cloud reason, stir rage, cause pain, even kill. Footnoted treatises on the dark side of music are unlikely to sell as well as the cheery pop-science books that tout music’s ability to make us smarter, happier, and more productive. Yet they probably bring us closer to the true function of music in the evolution of human civilization.
music  blog 
21 days ago
Heavy Metal and Natural Language Processing - Part 1
The top and bottom 20 metal words are shown in the table below, along with their "Metalness".
music  blog  language 
21 days ago
Hamburger Menus and Hidden Navigation Hurt UX Metrics
Discoverability is cut almost in half by hiding a website’s main navigation. Also, task time is longer and perceived task difficulty increases.
hamburger  navigation 
23 days ago
Yachts, jets and stacks of cash: super-rich discover risks of Instagram snaps | Technology | The Guardian
But these self-styled rich kids of Instagram are, often unwittingly, revealing their parents’ hidden assets and covert business dealings, providing evidence for investigators to freeze or seize assets worth tens of millions of pounds, and for criminals to defraud their families.

Leading cybersecurity firms said they were using evidence from social media in up to 75% of their litigation cases, ranging from billionaire divorces to asset disputes between oligarchs, with the online activity of super-rich heirs frequently providing the means to bypass their family’s security.
socialmedia  blog 
27 days ago
The Surprising History of the Infographic | History | Smithsonian
Early iterations saved soldiers' lives, debunked myths about slavery and helped Americans settle the frontier
visualization  infographic  blog 
27 days ago
Gchat was the future of messaging, why did Google make other chat products?
Beyond just Slack, Google was five or six years ahead of WhatsApp, GroupMe, and Facebook Messenger on offering a fun, functional chat app with lots of features. The company could have won the day if it understood what it had. In fact it’s still common to hear people calling any Google communication product Gchat. It’s an impressively powerful brand, especially given that it never existed.
blog  messaging 
5 weeks ago
The Principles of Quantum Team Management | First Round Review
Instead, if you simply outline the problem and what success looks like — let’s say it’s increasing revenue by 100% — all paths to success are still possible, including those you haven’t thought of yourself. It’s very likely that someone on your team will think of a better solution, but as soon as you say what you think, everyone gets a whole lot less creative.

I used to make this mistake a lot when I was a junior manager. I would give my team ideas to get them started, and as soon as I thought they were headed toward failure or a dead end, I’d stop them and say something to turn them around. It seemed like it was in everyone’s best interests to avoid the wrong solution, but a mentor of mine told me that my team would never get better if I didn’t let them learn from failure.

When I finally loosened my grip and let things go, I realized that my ideas were actually only right half of the time. The other half, my team’s ideas were far better than mine. I’d been an idiot for 10 years of my career, I realized.
leadership  management  collaboration  blog 
5 weeks ago
Teaching Robots to Feel: Emoji & Deep Learning 👾 💭 💕
Recently, neural networks have become the tool of choice for a variety of tough computer-science problems: Facebook uses them to identify faces in photos, Google uses them to identify everything in photos. Apple uses them to figure out what you’re saying to Siri, and IBM uses them for operationalizing business unit synergies.

It’s all very impressive. But what about the real problems? Can neural networks help you find the 💯 emoji when you really need it?

Why, yes. Yes they can. 😏
emoji  ai  blog 
5 weeks ago
Evaluating Employees in Product Design & Development Roles » Mike Industries
There is a phenomenon in tech called easy-to-measuritis which says that we tend to concentrate on the things we can easily measure rather than the things that are most important. For example, the best thing for our business may be happy customers, but in order to measure happiness, we may have to build a ton of unwieldy survey infrastructure, so instead, we just measure bodies coming through the door and use that as a general proxy for happiness. What then happens is we build things to optimize bodies coming through the door and we move that number whatever way we can, perhaps even to the detriment of customer happiness.

The traditional way of evaluating employees — based on things like results, metrics, and impact — is just another manifestation of easy-to-measuritis. We want objective, binary ways of evaluating people so that they are uncontroversial and unassailable, but what we end up with are objective, binary ways to measure the wrong things, or at the very least, things that employees are not in direct control of. Instead, we should be measuring decision quality instead of outcome quality. After all, how we behave is always 100% within our control.
management  leadership  collaboration  blog 
5 weeks ago
Ev Williams is The Forrest Gump of the Internet - The Atlantic
Williams and his team at Medium say they are working to resist this consolidation, though they are not doing quite what anyone else would recognize as resistance. The truth is that they themselves want to consolidate some of the web, too; and then—with that task done—govern as just, beloved, and benevolent despots. Josh Benton, a media critic at Harvard, once described Medium as “YouTube for prose,” and that’s an apt summary of what it feels like to use. But as I spend more time with Ev, I catch him thinking of Medium as a project philosophically akin to the “Foundation” novels by Isaac Asimov. The heroes of those books sought to centralize all the learning across the galaxy before a dark age set in, knowing that though they cannot stop the shadowed era, they may be able to preserve scholarship and therefore shorten it. Ev’s ambitions, though not as grandiose, follow similar lines. Medium seeks to replicate the web’s old, chaotic hubbub on a single, ordered site—because, ultimately, Ev values the chaos.
medium  blog 
5 weeks ago
Lonelygirl15: how one mysterious vlogger changed the internet | Technology | The Guardian
The thing is, Bree wasn’t real. Lonelygirl15 actually had a small team of writers. Bree and her best friend Daniel were played by actors.

YouTubers and the media had been duped. Yet this was no mere flash in the pan hoax – this was YouTube’s first web series. This was the first time someone proved you could actually make money on YouTube.

And that changed everything.
youtube  internet  meme  blog 
5 weeks ago
Irked By The Way Millennials Speak? 'I Feel Like' It's Time To Loosen Up
Critics always want to make the next generation seem more alien than it actually is, like anthropologists reporting back from a field trip to Youngster Island.
blog  language 
8 weeks ago
What Cringing at Your Own Dumb Voice Reveals About You
Similarly, hearing a recording of your voice pulls you into this observer’s perspective. It’s a lot like seeing photos of yourself, and how weirdly different you often appear from the version of yourself that you see in the mirror.

If hearing your own voice doesn’t bother you, it may simply mean you have higher self-esteem than the rest of us, as science writer Rolf Degen has theorized. Or it may just mean you’re used to it — research has shown that radio announcers, for instance, are able to nearly perfectly recognize their own voices, and the more familiar people are with something, the more they tend to like that thing. But coming to terms with the sound of your own dumb voice can also mean coming to terms with the uncomfortable truth that the “you” who exists in your own head is often very different from the “you” that the world sees and hears. I, for one, do not feel equal to that task at the present moment, and so I think I will procrastinate on this particular interview transcription just a bit longer.
language  blog 
8 weeks ago
Peter Thiel, Comic Book Hero – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
The most obvious second-order effect is that, as Felix Salmon writes, Thiel is providing a blueprint for the suppression of the press by the wealthy. But what concerns me — and what ought to concern Thiel, and all of the Silicon Valley elites celebrating his actions — are the third order effects. Specifically, Thiel’s actions are bringing into stark relief the fundamental weakness of old analog businesses like journalism relative to the incredible power and strength of the technology sector, and if companies follow Thiel’s example, the freedom that makes the emergence of said companies possible could quickly come under threat — and deservedly so.
journalism  technology 
8 weeks ago
A day in the digital life of teenagers
Digital devices and the uses they put them to have become teenagers’ way of asserting their agency – a shield from bossy parents or annoying younger siblings or seemingly critical teachers, a means to connect with sympathetic friends or catching up with ongoing peer “drama”. In fact the overriding importance of agency to teenagers is shown in the way they avoid the growing digital embrace of their schools – teachers' use of digital media in class or email or the internet to contact them at home is met with whispers and even slower walks home, so as to extract the maximum time spent with friends and unobserved by adults.
blog  teens  technology 
9 weeks ago
Why watching people take selfies feels so awkward | Aeon Opinions
Why do we so often feel compelled to ‘perform’ for an audience? The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre suggests that narrating is a basic human need, not only to tell the tale of our lives but indeed to live them. When deciding how to read the news, for example, if I’m a millennial I follow current events on Facebook, and if I’m a banker I buy the Financial Times. But if the millennial buys the Financial Times and the banker contents himself with Facebook, then it seems the roles aren’t being played appropriately. We understand ourselves and others in terms of the characters we are and the stories we’re in. ‘The unity of a human life is the unity of a narrative quest,’ writes MacIntyre in After Virtue (1981). We live by putting together a coherent narrative for others to understand. We are characters that design themselves, living in stories that are always being read by others. In this light, Morgan’s selfie is a sentence in the narration that makes up her life.

Similarly, in Nausea (1938) Jean-Paul Sartre wrote: ‘a man is always a teller of stories, he lives surrounded by his stories and the stories of others, he sees everything that happens to him in terms of these stories and he tries to live his life as if he were recounting it’. Pics or it didn’t happen. But then he must have asked himself, sitting at the Café de Flore: Am I really going to tell someone about this cup of coffee I’m drinking now? Do I really recount everything I do, and do everything just to recount it? ‘You have to choose,’ he concluded, ‘to live or to tell.’ Either enjoy the coffee or post it to Instagram.
selfie  blog 
9 weeks ago
User Experience Is The Key To Surviving The Adblockalypse — BuySellAds Editorials — Medium
There’s only one way to the bottom of this ad-blocking quagmire. It’s simple, and often it’s often overcomplicated by those standing to gain in the industry. The industry needs to immediately start prioritizing the concerns of end users. A reader-first approach is the only solution. Solving the user experience is synonymous with solving the privacy and data concerns of end users, and it’s synonymous with growing ad revenue.
adblock  advertising  blog 
9 weeks ago
How I Learned to Love Snapchat - The New York Times
Its entire aesthetic flies in the face of how most people behave on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — as if we’re waiting to be plucked from obscurity by a talent agent or model scout. But Snapchat isn’t the place where you go to be pretty. It’s the place where you go to be yourself, and that is made easy thanks to the app’s inbuilt ephemerality. Away from the fave-based economies of mainstream social media, there’s less pressure to be dolled up, or funny. For all the advances in tech that let us try on various guises to play around with who we are, it seems that we just want new ways to be ourselves. As it turns out, the mundanity of our regular lives is the most captivating thing we could share with one another.
snapchat  blog 
10 weeks ago
Design systems and Postel’s law
Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others (often reworded as “Be conservative in what you send, be liberal in what you accept”). From Wikipedia
Jon Postel was talking about TCP and how implementations should follow this principle. Putting TCP and networks to one side for a minute, you can see how this principle can apply to many systems where there is input and output. Specifically, design systems.
design  systems  blog 
10 weeks ago
The Real Problem With Facebook and the News
Indeed, one could make the argument that an authoritative news module from Facebook would actually be a civil benefit: at least we would all be starting from a common set of facts. What is far more damaging — and far more engaging, and thus lucrative for Facebook — is all of us in our own virtual neighborhoods of our own makings, liking opinions that tell us we’re right instead of engaging with viewpoints that make us question our assumptions.
journalism  blog  facebook 
11 weeks ago
The Slow Listening Revolution |
Why vinyl? Commitment. In this mid-second decade of the 21st century, music is being taken for granted on a collective scale. An entire generation of music listeners will never pay for music, nor do they believe that they should. The long form music medium has taken a back seat to song culture, yet the average person only listens to a song for approximately 24 seconds before deciding if it’s worth their time to continue to listen. I ponder the substantive value of something that our capitalistic, corporate-model culture places on “free.” When we can listen to a whole song, or usually only 24 seconds of a song without paying for it, do we really value the music? I wonder if we listeners are as committed to music as we were pre-internet? I really like the internet, so these words are in no way a complaint or indictment, but merely observation.
music  blog  vinyl 
11 weeks ago
A Tribute to Jack Johnson - Miles Davis | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic
This was from the musicians' point of view, in a single take, recorded as McLaughlin began riffing in the studio while waiting for Miles; it was picked up on by Henderson and Cobham, Hancock was ushered in to jump on a Hammond organ (he was passing through the building), and Miles rushed in at 2:19 and proceeded to play one of the longest, funkiest, knottiest, and most complex solos of his career. Seldom has he cut loose like that and played in the high register with such a full sound.
jazz 
11 weeks ago
What Happened to Google Maps? — Justin O'Beirne
The primary route across Long Island — Interstate 495 — is clearly shown as such on the 2010 map. But on the 2016 map, it's suddenly unclear: the newly upgraded roads muddle the map and 495 is lost amongst them. Worse, you can't even tell which road the "Interstate 495" icon belongs to.

One of my favorite Edward Tufte quotes is: “Clutter is not an attribute of information, clutter is a failure of design... fix the design rather than stripping all the detail out of the map.”

Regarding the Long Island road network, it's as though the reversal of Tufte's suggestion was implemented between 2010 and 2016. The roads that are dark orange today were all on the 2010 map — but their design has since been changed, causing the map to appear unnecessarily complex. The coherence and clarity shown in 2010 has been lost in 2016.
visualization  maps  google  blog 
11 weeks ago
If you really want to be more like a startup, you must optimize for Product/Market Fit. — Medium
Level 1: Vision
Have we articulated a clear and compelling vision? Do we know the change we want to create in our customers’ world?
Level 2: Problem/Market Fit
Is there a significant sized market for this, and do they REALLY care about the problem that we think they care about?
Level 3: Problem/Solution Fit
Does our solution REALLY solve this problem? Or does it at least significantly move the needle to warrant the time and effort the user needs to invest in it? Do users “stick” with it?
Level 4: Solution/Marketing Fit
Can we efficiently and sustainably reach the audience and convince them to buy the product?
Level 5: Product/Market Fit
Does it all come together, such that the unit economics of the business really make sense at the scale of our ambitions?
productmarketfit  prodmgmt  startup 
12 weeks ago
Product Success
There are really three options to how teams work.  One is that the CEO or some other exec decides everything.  The second is that the weak product manager schedules a big meeting and invites all the executives into a room and they argue it out – this is called design by committee – which consistently produces weak results.  The third is that the product manager does her job and learns these constraints, and brings them to the team so that the team can figure out the best way to solve the problem.

Combine this with strong understanding of technology, and deep knowledge of the users and customers, and hopefully you can see why this is a tough job.  But also one that’s absolutely key to a strong product team especially if the team wants to have any meaningful degree of autonomy.
prdmgmt 
12 weeks ago
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