The Slow Web

The Slow Web

Timely not real-time. Rhythm not random. Moderation not excess. Knowledge not information. These are a few of the many characteristics of the Slow Web. It’s not so much a checklist as a feeling, one of being at greater ease with the web-enabled products and services in our lives.

Jeff Atwood on parenthood

Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror fame is expecting two more kids – twin baby girls.  When something like this – a baby or two on the way – happens, it doesn’t go by unnoticed.  It consumes your whole mind and forces you to think and rethink everything.  Jeff is an excellent writer with a trained technical brain.  So it makes reading his thoughts on parenthood especially interesting – it’s a crazy mix of logic and emotions.

It’s also a history lesson. The first four years of your life. Do you remember them? What’s your earliest memory? It is fascinating watching your child claw their way up the developmental ladder from baby to toddler to child. All this stuff we take for granted, but your baby will painstakingly work their way through trial and error: eating, moving, walking, talking. Arms and legs, how the hell do they work? Turns out, we human beings are kind of amazing animals. There’s no better way to understand just how amazing humans are than the front row seat a child gives you to observe it all unfold from scratch each and every day, from literal square zero. Children give the first four years of your life back to you.

Congratulations, Jeff, and good luck with the pregnancy!

On technology revolution

Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, on technology revolution:

“There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003,” Schmidt said, “but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing…People aren’t ready for the technology revolution that’s going to happen to them.”

I’ve spent a lot of time with non-technical people lately.  People from different industries – shipping, real estates, and even music recording.  Most of these people are just getting into the whole technology thing.  Sure, they use Google to search the web.  But that’s not what I am talking about.  They are just getting started with using technology for their business.  And most of them are so far behind, that paper seems to them like the only working solution.

Talking to these people, there is a whole variety of subjects that have to be explained to them.  Even aside from technology.  Things like data consistency, workload scalability, process automation, backups, security, and more.  Consider for example a website.  Most of these people see a website with 5-10 pages to be an huge amount of work.  It’s almost like they need to hire a separate person to handle that.  For most of them, the fact that I have a personal blog with more than 4,000 articles in it, is mind-blowing.

When they are introduced to online tools for handling emails, documents, accounting, or project management, most of them need to pause for a couple of weeks, to process the information overload.  When they hear that blog posts and social media are more effective ways to communicate than press releases, they feel shaken, lost, and scared.  When they realize that most of the things they’ve learned in college are not too practical anymore, they get really stressed.

And these are people who are already familiar with Google search.  I know that there are layers and layers of people behind them, who have no knowledge of computers at all.  And those people will get online soon.  And they will need to change the way they think and the way they work.  And I have to agree with Eric Schmidt here, that most of those people are not ready yet.

But I think it will happen anyway.

A little thought on marketing

Sometimes, it feels like marketing is the hype of the millenium.  Or a decade at least.  There are marketeers, marketing divisions, online marketing, marketing this and marketing that.  But what the heck is this marketing thing after all?  Can we have it in simple terms?

Well, either I don’t understand a lot (and I don’t claim that I do), or I haven’t met with the right marketing people, or both, or something else, but what I am thinking is that marketing on its own is nothing.  Nada.  Not at all.

Before you eat me and my old shoes, let me explain.  Marketing is that thing that supposedely helps the product (or service for that matter) reach the customer.  Or the other way around.  And then maybe even convince the customer that he is actually satisfied by what he got.  Or maybe I am way off already.

Anyway.  To do that (connect the customer with the product or service), marketing people need to know three things.  First is the product or service – the destination.  Second is the customer – the source.  And third is, well, marketing – the path or possible pathes between the two.  Am I even remotely right ono this?  If I am, then let me tell you something – this doesn’t work.  How about that, eh?

Marketing on its own doesn’t work for exactly the same reasons that MIS doesn’t work.  MIS is this gray area between Information Technology and Business Administration.  It’s supposed to help them communicate with each other.  But because MIS never (or almost never, or extremely rarely) truly understands both the business side and the technical side, it only makes things worse.  Instead of having two languages – one very technical with lots of terminology and precise definitions, and another one business – with lots of money and people-related processes – the company now has to speak three languages, with the third one being a weird dialect combined and distored from the other two.

The product and the customer are like two magnets.  When connecting them, they will either be of opposite polarity and will hurry towards each other and live happily ever after, or they will resist each other as much as they can.  Is it possible to bring two magnets of the same polarity to each other?  Yes.  If the magnets are small and you hands are strong, you can pull them together.  That’s marketing for you.  Let it go and both magnets would be much happier.  And if they were of the different polarity?  Guess what?  You don’t need much force to put them together.

Back from the abstract world.  I think marketing makes sense on the secondary level.  That is, everyone should have a bit of marketing knowledge – from sysadmins and programmers to accountants and managers.  But marketing shouldn’t stand on its own.  In fact, if marketing is taught to everyone, then it can be that common language for everyone to help to understand each other.  The one that MIS so miserably failed to be.

Those who are at the top, they want to grow, increase, make more and better.  Those are down below, actually doing things, really know how to make things better or faster.  The problem is that they can’t communicate with each other usually.  So what they need is a little help in this area.  Not someone else who neither understands what is possible or not or how big or fast things can go.

That’s about it, minus a few disclaimers.

Disclaimer #1: all my knowledge of marketing came from working at or talking with people who are working at small or medium companies, the majority of which deal with information and technology.

Disclaimer #2: I was thrown off balance by a some marketing types recently.

Disclaimer #3: I had a few pints of a lovely Guiness draught before I typed this whole post in.

How often do you change your mobile vendor?

I was reading this post about Mobile World Congress over at Web Worker Daily.  This paragraph got me thinking:

At January’s Macworld show, Apple CEO Steve Jobs cited data from NPD showing that the iPhone already has 20 percent of the smartphone market after one year, and that Apple is selling 20,000 iPhones per day.

How often do you change your mobile?  And how often do you change your mobile phone vendor?  Are you a fan of one particular brand or do you like trying each and every one of them?

Mobile market is measured in billions of users.  And these users can be pretty dynamic about their devices and the choice of vendors.  Mobile phone is something very easily replaceable.  It’s not like a house, or a car, or even a laptop computer. The thought of how dynamic the market is boggles the mind.  One day you the king of the mountain, and the a couple of months later they don’t know your name. But then again you can get it back before the end of the year…