The Internet History Podcast

What an amazing treasure trove of goodness. The Internet History Podast is dedicated to telling the story of the Internet, organised in chapters like Netscape and the start of the Internet era, Microsoft gets the Internet, Online services, … The episodes are a mix of narrative (similar to audio books) and interviews with people of the era. 

I started somewhere in the middle with an interview with Jan Brandt, the lady who led AOL’s marketing. She came up with the idea to spread first floppy discs and later CDs to promote AOL. It’s an amazing interview giving insights into how difficult it was to convince non-tech people in the 90ies how amazing the Internet was. Little fun fact: At some point AOL used 50% of the global CD production capacity for their CDs. 

While I found it weird that I haven’t heard of this podcast before, I’m happy to be able to binge on more than 100+ episodes and I’m very much looking forward to it. 

Susan Kare on her history with Apple and icon design

If you want to see an example of software with a truly long-lasting impact, go watch a talk by Susan Kare. She talks about her work at Apple where she designed “iconic” pieces like the original fonts and the original set of icons. You learn so many things like why the Apple-key’s icon is not an apple, how icons that were designed more than 30 years ago are still in use in applications like Photoshop today and the difference work ethic can make.

What makes this video great in particular is also the second half where John Gruber interviews her. (a) it’s great to see somebody like John being all giddy and excited about meeting one of his heroes and (b) it is in this part that you begin to understand how meaningful Susan Kare’s work is, because she was too humble to brag about it in the first half.

Go, have a look. With an hour, it’s fairly long, but excellent entertainment and a lesson in modern history.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

Mark Manson wrote a nice piece about what it means to take ownership and when to say no. It’s a nice long-read with good lessons for leadership. Two pieces I liked in particular.

A quote by Eric Hoffer:

A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.

And his three subtleties on what it means to not giving a fuck:

 #1: Not Giving A Fuck Does Not Mean Being Indifferent; It Means Being Comfortable With Being Different

#2: To Not Give A Fuck About Adversity, You Must First Give A Fuck About Something More Important Than Adversity

#3: We All Have A Limited Number Of Fucks To Give; Pay Attention To Where And Who You Give Them To

It’s well worth the read even if it’s just for the images and this wonderful pearls of wisdom: “Fucks don’t grow on trees”. It fits quite well with a story on Obama from last November:

President Obama genuinely gives no fucks at this point. He is fuck devoid. Fuck deficient. Fuck deprived. Fuck destitute. His cupboard of fucks is barren; his tank of fucks has been depleted. You know how, on cloudy nights, you might look up into the vast and endless sky and not find any stars? The same thing would happen if you looked at Obama and searched for fucks.

The creative power of no

Over at Medium is Kevin Ashton wrote about Creative People Say No. It’s a great reminder of the trade-off everybody needs to make when doing others a favour. It’s coming more from a time management perspective.

Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know. We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.

It’s a pretty extreme position. In the end, as with so many things in life, it’s about getting the balance right.

In that context, there is always the Apple clip from a few years ago about their product strategy: there are a thousand no’s for every yes.

Bad writing is a meeting factory

From Guilded, a Seattle web design & engineering firm, comes a nugget around why good writing is so important:

Bad writing is a meeting factory. Being able to articulate a thought in writing means your team gets to take advantage of asynchronous communication. Whereas meetings are synchronous— requiring all parties to be present and engaged for the duration of the communication event—written communication is asynchronous, meaning the recipient can address your request or idea on their own time.

Source: Software is 10% Code

Taking b/s out of innovation

Stewart Butterfield wrote last year We Don’t Sell Saddles Here, a great piece on Slack’s vision. It describes how one shouldn’t just look at the product or what the product can become, but rather on the impact a product can have on its customers as this will give a better north star for product decisions.1 I’ve now read it three times and still find new gems. This time I discovered his understanding of innovation, a term that only few people are innocent of having abused (cough, cough), and how tangible and intuitive it is:

The best — maybe the only? — real, direct measure of “innovation” is change in human behaviour. In fact, it is useful to take this way of thinking as definitional: innovation is the sum of change across the whole system, not a thing which causes a change in how people behave. No small innovation ever caused a large shift in how people spend their time and no large one has ever failed to do so.

1 See also Bruce Lee’s quote: “It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

Mega post on company culture

Evergreen is a fortnightly business newsletter by Eric Jorgenson compiling great articles around a specific topic. The current edition is around company culture. It contains so many great insights and anecdotes, including this bit

When Facebook first started to grow, Mark Zuckerberg spent time asking other CEOs about some of the things they did early on at Microsoft, Apple, and others to establish culture and explain to people what it meant to work there. One of the best pieces of advice he got was to write down a succinct list of what it meant to be “one of us.”

Source: Most Company Culture Posts are Fluffy Bullshit — Here is what you actually need to know