I have a lot of ideas. Some good, some bad, some big, some small, some I’m willing to share, and some I keep for myself.
This is the first edition of “Free Idea”, where I will post ideas I’m willing to share. I share them because I believe there is value, but I know I won’t get around to implementing it. Kudo’s to you if you do!
Idea 1: [good, small]
I love my “Flow” desktop on my Mac (along with everyone else running Leopard?) However, I would gladly give up my beautiful background image if instead it was an update-to-date view of my iCalendar for this month.
It would be really convenient to see it “by accident” when I use Expose, or working with something on the desktop, much like in the olden days of the ‘real world’ where your desk-pad was your calendar.
This would save me from having to remember to open iCal, and would give me just enough of a “sixth-sense” about what was coming up in my schedule.
This might be as easy as an AppleScript that reads iCal, generates an image, and sets it to my background any time iCal changes, or the month changes.
Have you heard? The FDA recently approved meat and milk from cloned cattle, swine, goats, and their offspring as safe for food. And what’s more, the FDA isn’t requiring that cloned products be labeled differently.
Color me naive, what’s the issue here? Why the implicit prejudice against cloned meat? I’m sure it tastes fine, and still suffers from all the same problems of regular meat (possibly more if you count cloned e-coli)
I can’t really imagine how cloning is any more or less moral than how we raise and treat cattle right now.
Besides, not wasting time breeding inferior bovine might be greener.
I was known in college for having long, bizarre, and highly detailed dreams.
Academically, I wasted my first semester at Carnegie Mellon. I would sleep from 9AM until 5PM everyday (I started as a physics major, and hated it). Whichever friend was lucky enough to wake me up for dinner, would be privy to an epic retelling of that day’s dream. It was a great source of entertainment.
Describing your dreams as you wake up is the only way to capture the detail, and even then it is extremely hard. So, I’ve decided to start a new experiment and write my dreams down when I wake. You can find them at http://dreamr.tumblr.com. I don’t want to flood my regular followers, friends and family here on my main blog with each dream.
I hope to write every morning that I can remember a dream, and usually have no idea what they mean. I’ve added a comment system in case you do.
The web went “Social” last year, and in a big way. This means that the next round of influencers won’t be technologists, but instead social organizers.
With the new social fabric & norms now in place, we can amplify any social behavior to involve millions.
Know someone who is great at rallying people into a game, a night out, or some other activity? That person’s stock has skyrocketed; they are the ones who are going to make the most interesting sites & experiences on the new social web.
They will take the everyday & the familiar, and translate the experience online. If they can motivate their day to day friends to action in someway, they will be able to motivate thousands more like minded individuals online.
So what day-to-day human behavior can you bring to the web? If it’s engaging for a few, the odds are that on the web it’ll be engaging for many many more.
The Internet is a disembodied, hyper-intelligent psychic toddler.
It knows everything you need before you’re even curious, but asking this omniscient tyrant for anything deep is an exercise in frustration.
Unless we become better at asking of the Internet, or the Internet gets better at interpreting us, I believe the Oracles of ancient Greece will make a return as holy “Googlers”, able to communicate with the beast in ways the rest of us can’t.
Or maybe I should give Ask.com a chance every now and then?
Fine, I’ll weigh in: I think the Air is great, and it’s not for me (now)
I believe in the wireless world, and can’t be bothered with complaints about lack of connections. The Air is for quick & light traveling, are you really bringing a keyboard with you if thats your concern? When you are home, if you can afford the Air, you can afford bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
Limited RAM, HD & processor preclude this device from ‘serious’ work like movie editing and development, but again, this is the ultra mobile-top. Think chat/email/safari. Seems expensive, but fine for those purposes.
It’s a sub-notebook for chrissakes! It’s between the iPhone & the Macbook. It’s less portable but more functional than the iPhone, and it’s more portable and less functional than the Macbook. It fits a niche, we just don’t know how many people fit in that niche.
Or, if you’re a cynic, maybe the Air is Apple’s first piece of electronic jewelry. 3lbs = 6,803 carats! That ought to attract a mate.
While wandering through my high school’s gymnasium, I stumbled upon Steve Jobs setting up for Macworld ‘08. I politely said hello, and he nodded back. I started to walk away, but he offered me a seat next to him since he had time to kill before his presentation.
He had long dreadlocks, and a braided-Moses beard. His dreads and braids were alternatively dyed deep black and florescent green. He looked as though a Raver, one of the Beatles, and Jesus walked into a room and formed a terrible compromise by committee.
He could barely contain himself, and decided to give me a sneak preview of his latest invention: a new internet communication / music device that was always connected to the cloud, and that could transform into new shapes via a series of complicated, but elegant handmovements.
The crowd went nuts while I awoke, ate some yogurt, and headed off to work.
I’ve often wondered if this is the case. I think early Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, etc, are good examples of people have harnessed insecurity to fuel their business obsession.
You need to have a burning desire to prove something to get you through rough spots and keep you going. You may be trying to prove that a particular technology works or that you yourself are a worthwhile individual.
It seems we will always be more concerned with ourselves than any particular technology, so personal insecurity seems more ‘sustainable’; it can be an unlimited energy source as long as it doesn’t cripple you.
Pretend you’re a caveman traveling with your hunting party. Your friend, Ugg, trips on the only banana peel, rock, or twig for miles, falling flat on his face. He’s then abruptly eaten by a tiger. His DNA line grinds to a halt, and worse still, he has endangered the hunting party which now has less man-power, and an angry tiger to contend with. You and your other hunting mates are now in mortal danger. There is nothing funny about this.
Once again pretend that Ugg trips and falls on that same banana peel, falling into a pool of mud, but emerges safely (though still covered in mud). What do the other caveman do this time? They erupt into laughter, at Ugg. Ugg is shamed by this, and makes extra effort to watch where he steps. Ugg is more careful, and less of a liability.
The caveman that laughed together have established what is acceptable by laughing at what is to be avoided.
We laugh when we spot something that’s ridiculous, out of place, ironic, or contradictory. We do this to signal to our peers that we “get what’s odd”, that we are at least as smart as they are, and that we aren’t a threat to group survival. (Heck, we’re even willing to fake laughter even when we don’t get it, to avoid being the ‘odd-man’ out!)
We feel closer to those we laugh with, and we distance ourselves from those we can’t laugh with. (Some of our best memories are laughing with friends, and the worst are when we are ridiculed so others may laugh. I think this also explains why woman find humor so attractive; after a woman assesses a man for looks, this is how she assesses intelligence)
Laughter is an instinctual behavior that strengthens bonds between like minded individuals, and weakens ties with others.
So keep your wits (synonym for smarts) sharp, your social status (and survival) depends on it.
Stayed in better touch with artistic folk (more generally, complementary talents)
Began blogging long ago at myfullname.com (think PageRank)
This is my PSA for the week. If you are in college, and looking to do the startup thing afterwards, I would advise tackling the list above. It’s not fatal if you haven’t (clearly) though it can only help.
I think the solution would be to create a programming-intensive BFA in Software Development—a Julliard for programmers. […] It would be a huge magnet to the talented high school kids who love programming, but can’t get excited about proving theorums. […] You might be able to major in Game Development and work on a significant game title, for example, and that’s how you spend most of your time, just like a film student spends a lot of time actually making films and the dance students spends most of their time dancing.
There’s a lot wrong with the way “Computer Science” is taught, and this would be a great start to fixing it.
I used to think this would be a great idea for ‘fixing’ computer science, until I attended a top-notch CS school (Carnegie Mellon). For the record, I was a gifted programmer in highschool, and wanted nothing to do with college, and nearly dropped out my first two years.
That was before I completed the most relevant classes of my life, during my junior and senior year.
Learning industrially popular programming languages, software engineering practices, and current trends is great knowledge, and any smart person is going to learn this stuff anyway.
What you won’t pick up with anywhere near the same speed, is how to think about abstraction. I’m not ashamed to say it: all my deep studies into & around Lambda Calculus, type theory, blew my mind wide open, and fundamentally altered how I approach problems. As a highschool student, how could I have possibly guessed that would happen? It’s silly to only expose people to what they already know they’ll like.
So while there is a massive difference between “Software Engineering” and “Computer Science”, Joel is too quick to dismiss the power of learning how to learn. Also, while he knocks top CS schools for not engineering software he’s aware of, I could somehow fill this blog with incredibley important software, mathematical models, and algorithms that have flowed out of those schools for the last 20 years.
The individuals that are at a premium are the ones who can think, and pick up the details as they need to. They need not have even gone to college, but let’s not sell computer science colleges short so quickly. Learning how to learn is more important than what you learn.
One of my neighbors leaves a baby carriage in the middle of the hallway as a space-saving measure for his more than ample apartment. I haven’t left a note yet, but I’m finding inspiration here… via Tobin
Which of your friends has bizarre taste in progressive music? The one who is so passionate about something you never find enjoyment in. How did he up that way? Are his ears broken?
It’s a matter of context & progression. If you want someone to appreciate something new, don’t start by exposing them to the cutting edge and complex. Ease them into it, perhaps along the same progression you followed.
Your ears & mind simply have to adjust. The idea is to bend, as fast as possible, but without breaking.
Popular music producers & musicians seem to have this innate ‘feel’ for where the cultural base-line is. They know how to create music by bending old music just so: enough to stand out, but not enough to scare you away. They do this over and over, with great success.
Culture bending is not radical, but is successful because it leverages all the power of what ispopular, and provides a way to stand out. It applies to music, movies, books, fashion, and ideas.
What does it take to know, like successful music producers, the difference between bending and breaking?