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Why GitHub Finally Abandoned Its Bossless Workplace
Julio Avalos, who was one of the first 100 hires when he joined in 2012, says the Preston-Warner episode helped demonstrate that some problems couldn’t be solved by the masses. While the old times created a strong sense of camaraderie, employees didn’t know who to direct questions to, either about uncomfortable confrontations with colleagues or about their own performance. “Without even a minimal layer of management, it was difficult to have some of those conversations and to get people feeling like they understood what was expected of them, and that they were getting the support that they needed in order to do the best work,” says Avalos, who’s since been promoted to chief business officer, the only C-level position besides CEO.
management 
18 days ago
Shipping vs. Learning » Mike Industries
What we learned is really the key deliverable, and something potentially interesting to many people across the company. Cost to learn is a chance to optimize for and highlight efficiency, as spending a year of engineering time carries much greater opportunity costs than running some efficient, qualitative testing. Plan to proceed lets people know the outcome of the learning and how it affects the way forward. And finally, what’s needed to proceed spells out what a manager, executive, or anyone outside the core team can do to help.
prodmgmt  blog 
21 days ago
Camera-phone Lucida
Instagram is a garden: curated, pruned, clean and pretty. It lets you be creative, but not too creative; communicate, but without saying too much. No embedding, no links—just photos, captions and hashtags. Elegant. Simple. Twenty-three filters. A crisp square around each frame.

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Today, we look at Instagram feeds with the same level of scrutiny as the Renaissance merchants who converted their Madonnas into ducats. Only the criteria of judgment have changed. Does the user obey the unwritten laws of adult Instagram, posting less than once a day, avoiding too many shots of their face, going easy on the hashtags? (Teen Instagram rules are different, if even more stringent). How are their vacations? Do they inspire envy in a way that’s beguiling, or merely crass? Are they eating in the right places? Instagram can seem like an index of mores in the age of self-branding and self-surveillance. But even as we look and like, we often fail to see to what extent our present image-world is rooted in the past. Instagram hasn’t yet introduced much that’s new to art, or even to vision. For the most part, it recycles old tropes, which it then delivers at high speed and massive volume.

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Life in the Instagram bubble requires a constant calibration of how it will be viewed from outside. That need to make life itself aesthetic, to ask, over and over “What will this look like in a square?” exerts a slow, constant pressure of its own. It can be pleasant, and it can also squeeze like a vice. At Stanford, where Instagram was born (or at least grandfathered), they have a name for it: Duck Syndrome, since, in the words of one student, “It’s where everyone on campus appears to be gliding effortlessly … but below the surface, our little duck feet are paddling furiously, working our feathered little tails off.”

How does it feel to live atop this pool? Is it worth trading the occasional dopamine rush for the feeling of constant self-surveillance? As the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska once wrote, “The window has a wonderful view of a lake but the view doesn’t view itself.” Part of the pleasure of Instagram is the way it edits out the ugly emotions that make up so much of the rest of social media. But it takes tremendous energy to live a life managed for appearances. The longer one lives in this world, the more tempting it becomes to escape, and to disappear.
instagram  socialmedia  blog 
27 days ago
(Not) Shipping is a Virtue – Signal v. Noise
Every feature has hidden costs. Some are worth the cost—sometimes many times over—but others only drag your app into the red. One more thing on the screen you can click, one more option, another setting, more decisions for users to make (Kathy Sierra calls this cognitive load). Your app gets slower and customers notice it feels slower. Designers have to juggle more pieces. Development gets more complex, difficult, and time-consuming with every new piece you bolt-on. That’s a lot to ask of a feature that’s only fine.
prodmgmt  blog 
27 days ago
How bad features are born - GoSquared Blog
Most importantly, does this feature deserve to exist? Why are you working on it?

If you’re embarking on a new feature primarily because you’ve seen a competitor release something similar, then you probably haven’t thoroughly considered or even identified the problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re jumping into a new feature because it seems like “it wouldn’t be too hard to do” that’s great, but does it actually deserve to be built right now?

We utilise the “Jobs To Be Done” framework extensively to focus on the problems we’re being hired to solve. This means we’re building features that form part of a logical workflow that helps our customers. We also use live chat for continuing communication with customers – we regularly ask them questions, but often they approach us requesting changes and improvements that we’re always evaluating against our own roadmap.
prodmgmt  prioritization  blog 
27 days ago
Distributed UX teams: Early lessons learned – Google Design – Medium
Over-communicate. Particularly when time zones are an issue, it’s very easy for a teammate to start feeling out of the loop. Nothing wakes you up to how much work happens informally and synchronously like having distributed teammates. Group chat, and Slack are great solutions for having conversations across locations, but if some of your teammates are asleep for the majority of your working day, it’s worth considering other measures to make sure everyone is in sync.
At Google, we have an internal “snippets” tool for posting regular updates on our work, typically at a weekly cadence. Snippets serve to share the latest mock versions, research reports, study plans, hiring updates, and anything else that feels noteworthy.
To be fair, snippets are a diligence task; I’ve been on teams where these updates were neglected for months at a time. However, my far-flung teammates have been instrumental in encouraging the rest of us to share updates, as they benefit greatly from seeing them. We’ve come up with several ways of reminding ourselves to do them, through calendar appointments, shared compilations, and as a last resort, the tried-and-true email nag.
remote  blog 
27 days ago
Q&A: What does a product manager do? - Inside Intercom
If you look at how actual product managers work in any company there’s a lot more nitty gritty work. There’s a lot of spreadsheets, wireframes. Google Docs, emails, and oh-so-many Slack channels. And they all exist to research, collaborate, dictate, and document consensus on a direction the product is going. But I think if the role was titled “Direction and Consensus Manager” you might not get as many applicants.
prodmgmt  blog 
29 days ago
The Art of Designing With Heart – Signal v. Noise
This common sense technique helps you see the forest for the trees. If you struggle to explain something out loud, it’s probably not clear enough. That insight leads you to ask questions like…
Can we make this interface simpler or more direct?
Can we reduce or eliminate the choices someone has to make?
Are we using natural, casual language to explain things fully?
Is this design respectful of a person’s time and attention?
Is this something I would personally enjoy using?
Did we take any shortcuts that benefit US instead of THEM?
Did we make any incorrect assumptions?
Now your design will inevitably end up clearer and friendlier. That makes your customers happier and more efficient, so they can stop fiddling with software and get back to dinner with their argumentative kids.
That should be the underlying motivation for your work. Not tech, not styling, not stats, and not money. Helping people comes first. The rest follows.
design  empathy  blog 
4 weeks ago
Forget Technical Debt — Here's How to Build Technical Wealth | First Round Review
If you want to limit your legacy code down the line, pay attention to the details that will make it easier to understand and work with in the future. Write and run unit, acceptance, approval, and integration tests. Explain your commits. Make it easy for future you (and others) to read your mind.

As it turns out, the second law of thermodynamics applies to code too: You’ll always be hurtling toward entropy. You need to constantly battle the chaos of technical debt. And legacy code is simply one type of debt you’ll accrue over time.

“Again the house metaphor applies. You have to keep putting away dishes, vacuuming, taking out the trash,” she says. “if you don’t, it’s going to get harder, until eventually you have to call in the HazMat team.”

Just like with a house, modernization and upkeep happens in two ways: small, superficial changes (“I bought a new rug!”) and big, costly investments that will pay off over time (“I guess we’ll replace the plumbing...”). You have to think about both to keep your product current and your team running smoothly.

This also requires budgeting ahead — if you don’t, those bigger purchases are going to hurt. Regular upkeep is the expected cost of home ownership. Shockingly, many companies don’t anticipate maintenance as the cost of doing business.

This is how Goulet coined the term ‘software remodeling.’ When something in your house breaks, you don’t bulldoze parts of it and rebuild from scratch. Likewise, when you have old, broken code, reaching for a re-write isn’t usually the best option.
debt  development  programming  blog 
4 weeks ago
How Nextdoor reduced racist posts by 75% | Fusion
Some just saw the addition of new language: “Ask yourself: Is what I saw actually suspicious, especially if I take race or ethnicity out of the equation?” Some were asked to say in advance whether they were reporting an actual crime or just “suspicious activity.” Others actually had their posts scanned for mentions of race (based on a list of hundreds of terms Nextdoor came up with) and if a post did mention race, the user got an error message and was asked to submit more information about the person.
design  ux  blog 
4 weeks ago
The Product Designer Role
Your next task is to define the product design role within your company. This is an important one to get right. You don’t want to simply recreate an internal version of the agency model. The way that products are created has changed dramatically in recent years and new models for design are a critical part of this.
blog  productdesign 
4 weeks ago
Using Pricing to Inform Your Roadmap - MindTheProduct
As a product manager, you have a long list of features to build or market problems to solve. You need to prioritise them. One factor should be willingness to pay. How much more would buyers pay for this feature or solution? Hence, the most valuable differentiators should come earliest on your roadmap.
pricing  prodmgmt  blog 
4 weeks ago
Are we moving towards a post-Agile age? – Clear(left) Thinking – Medium
Perhaps we’re moving towards a post-Agile world? A world that is informed by the spirit of Agile, but has much more flexibility and nuance built in.
This post-Agile world draws upon the best elements of Agile, while ditching the dogma. It also draws upon the best elements of Design Thinking and even — God forbid — the dreaded Waterfall process.
People working in a post-Agile way don’t care which canon an idea comes from, as long as it works.. The post-Agile practitioner cherrypicks from the best tools available, rather than sticking with a rigid framework. Post-Agile is less of a philosophy and more of a toolkit that has been built up over years of practice.
agile  prodmgmt  blog 
5 weeks ago
The difference between design and product management — Medium
A big difference is where they spend their time. You’ll hear me call design and engineering “deep dive” roles, while PM is a multi-tasking role, which is why it is relatively easier for PMs to assume more of a leadership role. Even though we work in very collaborative ways (“rough draft culture”) at Axial, both design and engineering require getting into a “flow state” on a problem. Design takes a lot of iteration and trial and error to get something right. PMs, on the other hand, are bouncing around a million tasks, from clarifying a user story, to managing communication inside and outside the organization, to doing whatever it takes to un-bottleneck the team, to all the things listed above.
prodmgmt  blog 
5 weeks ago
Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine - The New York Times
This year, political content has become more popular all across the platform: on homegrown Facebook pages, through media companies with a growing Facebook presence and through the sharing habits of users in general. But truly Facebook-native political pages have begun to create and refine a new approach to political news: cherry-picking and reconstituting the most effective tactics and tropes from activism, advocacy and journalism into a potent new mixture. This strange new class of media organization slots seamlessly into the news feed and is especially notable in what it asks, or doesn’t ask, of its readers. The point is not to get them to click on more stories or to engage further with a brand. The point is to get them to share the post that’s right in front of them. Everything else is secondary.
facebook  media  blog 
5 weeks ago
How being awesome became the great imperative of our time | Aeon Essays
The person widely credited with inventing the high-five is Glenn Burke (1952-1995) – an African-American baseball player and gay trailblazer. On 2 October 1977 at Dodger Stadium, Dusty Baker had just hit his 30th home run of the season. Burke was up to bat next, and when Baker approached home plate, Burke was waiting to greet him. ‘His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back,’ Baker recalls. ‘So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.’ Burke immediately went up to bat and proceeded to hit his first Major League home run. When he made his way around the bases and rounded home plate, Baker was standing there with his hand up high.
highfive  culture  blog 
5 weeks ago
Why Good Product Managers Practice Roadmap Strategy - Pendo Blog
Yeah, so I think that is probably where his frustration comes about, and I am planning on writing about this, this topic of “are roadmaps really the roots of product failure?” I do not think that roadmaps are the root of product failure, but bad process and customer understanding, that is the root of failure.
roadmap  prodmgmt 
6 weeks ago
Great Product Managers Have an Amplifying Effect - MindTheProduct
It’s still possible to deliver amazing projects when this doesn’t happen. It just takes more time, effort and resources—three things that clients often find in short supply. As a result we’re going to be a lot more caution working with clients that lack experienced and dedicated product-management, and will adjust our approach accordingly.
prodmgmt 
8 weeks ago
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 
10 weeks 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 
10 weeks 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 
11 weeks 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 
11 weeks 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 
11 weeks 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 
11 weeks 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 
12 weeks 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 
12 weeks 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 
12 weeks 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 
june 2016
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 
june 2016
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