The Idea Dude


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Win-win is always the best way

Friday saw the last day of our current group of co-op students. On Monday, we have a new group starting their first co-op term with us. I'm particular proud about what we were able to do for these fine young men. Sure, they were raw, inexperienced but they were enthusiastic, smart and willing. In keeping with our culture at Play Dynamics, I think we succeeded in creating an environment that allowed them to learn, grow and play and in return we have over half-a-dozen prototypes waiting for integration into our new product.

So often, it's easy to look at the bottom-line and to wonder whether it was worth the thousands of dollars we invested in these individuals only to release them back to their studies several months later. But in life you have to look beyond the bottom-line. It's about giving back and investing in the system. To recognize that the past months may have been the most important in their careers, because beyond giving them great technical skills, we taught them by example the passion within startups, the hunger to write the best code possible and the agility we need to survive in the Internet world. Unlike school where often the problem is simply a restatement of a known and previously taught solution, startups are adventures in the unknown both in market and technology. Giving back has been our biggest payback. The fact we have significant more code ready to deploy is the icing on the top.

Most importantly we taught you can have fun at work. Play without work is pointless and work without play is meaningless. They played at work and worked at play.

Best of luck to Sinthu, Abbas, Rajan, Zac, Sanghoon and Mubushir. May you continue riding the momentum you found at Play Dynamics to be far more than even you could imagine.

Wear your PD t-shirts with pride because we are very proud of you.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Moving around a mess only makes a tidier mess

I've been thinking a lot about social curation these days. Remember how blogs flooded the Internet and we then had blog aggregators to try and solve the problem. It succeeded to a certain extent but didn't do two things, remove the noise (albeit was less noisy) or the volume. For someone to read 100 blog posts each day instead of 1000 posts doesn't solve the problem and I'm not sure it even makes it better. In fact the illusion that it solved the problem actually causes you to waste time filtering the 80 out of the 100 you didn't want to read. So what did we end up doing, most of us pick the 10 bloggers we love the most and just stayed with them. Because fundamentally that's all we can handle. It's not wonder the long tail for blogs is a characteristic that has not gone away. We tried to solve the problem at TheGoodBlogs by random showing you blogs that never made it to your radar and we did manage to connect readers to interesting blogs that you would have never found.

Back to social curation. There are simply too many startups that claim to solve the social noise issue by following a similar strategy. Social noise is even worse than blogs because the dynamic here is very small soundbites but a lot more of them. Tweets will probably one day exceed the number of blog posts created on a daily basis, if it hasn't already. So if we attack social curation by simply grouping stuff and republishing it, we are not really solving the problem. At best it is a large bandaid just like it was for the blogs. So instead of having to follow a 10,000 tweets a day, you follow 500 and yes there are all the other pieces of social noise like Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates etc, etc. Essentially, after social curation (as it is done by many today), you have smaller piles of organized social noise.

So when you're faced with an ever increasing social entropy, you either end up spinning your wheels trying to keep up, stop being active in your least favorite accounts and probably resort to finding out what's happening from trusted sources at lunch or pub.

There's an interesting TV series on extreme hoarding, how people uncontrollably collect and hoard physical stuff. I would propose that digital hoarding is even worse because it is less obvious and far easier to fall into. Is it because we are fundamentally voyeurs who thirst to know what everyone else is doing. Not knowing simply drives us up the wall. Add to that, telling someone something they didn't know enhances our status and influence in our peer group. We didn't invent gossip, it is as old as time when Eve told Adam what the serpent told her, eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge.

Like they say, money is not the root of all evil, it is the love of money. Well, knowledge is not the root of all digital evil either, perhaps it is the love of knowledge. Didn't someone says knowledge is power.