Five Things One

As a result of my work lately, which seems to get busier, more interesting and generally better by the day, I have nothing additional to blog about. So hopefully I can get back into this good habit by pointing to interesting, if random things.

1. Lessin’s Law, Jarvis’ Corollary + My Thoughts

I’ve always been a big fan of Jeff Jarvis. Unlike most pundits who either dabble or make a full-time-living in this space, he’s got a real non-marketing angle.

Jarvis offers up Sam Lessin’s “Law”: Once-abundant privacy is now scarce. Once-scarce publicness is now abundant.

And his Corollary: Now publicness is free.

Which is to say that people who controlled publicness can’t make money off that exchange in the current economy.

I’d like to add that it’s not just publicness – which is really difficult to not write as pubicness – it seems that effort is either close to free or at least getting cheaper by the day. I think that simply follows on from the others, and isn’t necessarily something revelatory, but it’s important to note that if properly incentivized, people will do all kinds of things for you for free. Most organizations do a shit job of incentivizing, motivating, or supporting action, so the opportunity is to figure out how to be really good at harnessing the crowd.

2. Influencers are fickle, cool kids who like LOLs.

No matter what you think of the term “influencers”, MailChimp’s recent examination of influence and engagement is fascinating. By hooking your MailChimp lists up to Rapleaf, you can get social information on everyone in your system…and see how they influence others. Turns out that influence and engagement are inversely proportional to each other: the more influential people are, the less likely it is that they’ll click on something…and vice versa. Which is not the same as “visa versa”, which happens to not be a thing at all. So get that right.

3. Moscow’s Traffic is Crazy + A Distributed Digital Fix

According to The New Yorker, traffic is absolutely insane in Moscow.

So insane that in the wake of the Metro suicide bombings – despite a 40-minute gap in between each explosion – system administrators decided to not evacuate for fear of a total meltdown.

“The response from a metro spokesperson was immediate. ‘You have no idea what would have happened if we’d closed down an entire branch of the system,’ he said. The city was so crowded, its functioning so tenuous, that it was better to risk another explosion than closing off an artery. ‘The city is on the brink of transportational collapse,’ Mikhail Blinkin, a traffic expert told me. ‘Moscow will simply cease to function as a city. You and I will be living in different cities. Some people will live in one neighborhood, and others will live in a different neighborhood and that will be fine, except they won’t be able to get from one neighborhood to the other.’”

The reasons, according to experts, for the mess?

  1. Mismatched development under the direction of different rulers with differing goals. From concentric circles of walled forts (early history), to haphazard development while St. Petersburg was favored as the capital, to Soviet development of enormous radial avenues designed to make military parades look cooler… planning for mass automotive transportation wasn’t ever really on the agenda.
  2. Onrush of people into an underdeveloped system. Once the regulations that kept most Russians out of Moscow were dropped, people flooded in and crazy, industrialized development ensued.
  3. Impatient, angry driver behavior. Once there’s a ton of traffic, drivers aim to take whatever they can get. And that makes traffic worse.
  4. The existing social system (feudalism, essentially) is reflected in how the roads are used and governed. Different rules exist for different drivers: if you’re in a black Mercedes with a siren on top (which may or may not indicate that you’re a legitimate member of the government), you can do whatever you like. And whenever regulations are created and enforced with fines, legitimate enforcement leads to corruption and embezzlement and illegitimate enforcers pop up, hoping to get their part of the cheese.

So… plan out your network with the future in mind, and don’t tempt Anonymous.

More interesting, though, is the happy digital resolve to all of this: a section of the popular Muscovite portal, Yandex. Traffic-monitoring systems use traffic cameras and sensors to monitor the flows of automobiles, but installing either would be prohibitively expensive. Instead, Yandex Probki (Yandex Traffic) offers apps that work with smartphones and a wiki to monitor movement. Cool.

4. Achievement Unlocked 2 (Game!)

Click the image to make it larger. You can see all the ways your achievements are quantified… even dying is rewarded.

Thanks to the kind folks at Buzzfeed, I discovered this wonderful example of the “Reward Everything” philosophy on Armor Games. Sidenote: Armor Games is rad. If you’re looking for tons of different reward systems, go there, and study. While gaming! During the course of Achievement Unlocked 2, you direct a little blue elephant throughout several rooms, progressively… unlocking achievements. Everything you do in the game is rewarded somehow, from clicking on the start button, to 10 minutes of inactivity, to finding all the coins in a room. Hell, even death is rewarded. If you can’t figure out how to use this in the way you develop/design interactions, there’s no help for you. So I’m not even going to explain it.

5. To Young Players, Playing Time is Oxygen

“Player development experts I’ve talked to at length are unanimous that one of the best things one can possibly do to help a rookie’s career is to bless him with the confidence of a supportive coaching staff and minutes to get used to the NBA game — and very few players get that. Just a week ago an elite player development coach told me that every single player in the NBA can play, and it’s really just a matter of opportunities and coaching and the team.

“David Thorpe has been making similar points for years. He talks all the time about ‘the royal jelly.’ Literally, that’s what worker bees feed a chosen baby bee to make her the queen. But it’s also, says Thorpe, what coaches and others can feed players to help them achieve their potential. A lot of it has to do with building confidence. Throughout his career, Thorpe has been accused of hyping up his players up and giving them big heads, to which he replies, jokingly, ‘guilty!’ Thorpe is convinced that ‘the royal jelly’ can and has fundamentally changed the careers of countless players. The gold standard of helping a player evolve, he says, starts with playing time.

“‘Playing time is the first part,’ says Thorpe. ‘A coach’s support is another thing – it helps you grow as a player if you know you’re not going to get yanked the first time you miss a shot. That gives you the confidence to be creative and expand your game. And then the final aspect of the ideal set-up is coaching you up on the new things you’re adding to your game. A great recent example of this was Trevor Ariza with the Lakers last season. In the spring, everyone was wondering why they’d let him shoot all those 3s. It wasn’t productive. But they needed him to be able to do that, they let him do that, they didn’t yank him for doing that, and they coached him how to do that better. And in the playoffs he was amazing at that and helped them win a championship.’ On a lot of teams, Ariza would have been condemned to the low-earning life of a non-shooter, but the coaching situation, and minutes, turned him into a sniper.”

Give the young people in your organization the permission to do amazing things…and fail beautifully. When I was a young(er) business-fella, I chafed at the structures that surrounded my work. As management and mentorship have started to creep into my work-life, I’ve found it increasingly valuable to give the young ones a question to answer and the freedom to answer it in the method they choose. They’re smart, right? You’ve hired smart people? Give them the room to figure it out.

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