The Idea Dude


Monday, March 26, 2012

Choosing the right metaphor

I just upgraded to OSX Lion on the weekend. The first thing I noticed was that the trackpad gestures were doing the opposite of what I was used to. To scroll down a document, you would use the up gesture on the trackpad. I realized it was because they were trying to mirror how you would use gestures on an iPhone or iPad, i.e. if you wanted to see the bottom of the document you would place your fingers on the document and drag upwards.

I found out that Apple calls this the natural scroll direction. The irony is that isn't natural. I have an iPad too and found no problem moving around documents even though it was opposite to what I was doing on the iPad. Finally I realized the issue.

a) On the iPad and the iPhone, you are actually putting your fingers on top of the document so it is natural to pull the document upwards to see the bottom. There is a disconnect between moving your fingers on the trackpad and watching something moving on the screen (your fingers are not visually on the document). This is why new computer users struggle with the mouse. It's like scratching your right knee because your left ear itches.

b) We spent many years training our selves to use the trackpad like our mouse. Now we have to adjust to doing things in the opposite direction because it is deemed natural.

It's a case of mixed metaphors. Before Lion, the trackpad metaphor was the mouse metaphor. After Lion, the trackpad metaphor is the document metaphor. But it's really hard to switch. After a frustrating day, I relented and switched the trackpad to way I used to use it.

Changing a metaphor is a dangerous thing. Like learning to drive on the wrong side of the road. If you drove cars with manual stick shifts, you'll know how hard it is to change gears with your right hand instead of your left after doing so for the last 20 years.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Workflow for Genius

I really enjoyed the latest John Maxwell article on think. I've always believed that we are defined by our ideas and our ideals. The article talks about thinking your way to the top. I particularly liked the steps to make your ideas fly.

1) Find a place to think your thoughts
2) Find a place to shape your thoughts
3) Find a place to stretch your thoughts
4) Find a place to land your thoughts
5) Find a place to fly your thoughts.

Think, shape, stretch, land and fly. An amazing workflow to genius

He also shares several gems from the smart and famous.

"No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking." ~ Voltaire

"Too often we...enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." ~ John F. Kennedy

"If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." ~ George S. Patton

"Mental fight means thinking against the current, not with it." ~ Viriginia Woolf

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Goodbye to TheGoodBlogs

We finally shut TheGoodBlogs website down today. It's been a really interesting 6 years. We started coding in July 2006. Back then, Twitter had just launched with a horrendous interface with Google Adsense ads. Facebook was still focused on college and school kids. Reddit was relatively unknown and MySpace was king of the hill as was Wordpress and Typepad. The words Groupon, Pinterest, Tumblr didn't exist. There were no iPhones and Android had just been acquired by Google.

Back in 2006, blogging was the de facto method for self-expression. Companies began using it as a medium to reach their users. It was then the stream of web consciousness. We were part of that, like MyBlogLog and other widgets, fought for a piece of real-estate on your blog. We were all about promoting blogs and bloggers and connecting each other in the blogosphere. I think we did that incredibly well, our widget was seen millions of times and the phrase, 'I found you through TheGoodBlogs' was often found in blog comments. I laughed with the Moms and their amazing blogs and learned much from the marketing and business blogs. The art blogs showed me all about human creativity. Alas, altruism is not a business model but we kept the site alive, probably longer than we should have.

Today, blogging continues to be a resource for sharing but it has to compete with social networks like Facebook, Reddit and Twitter. Even for geeks, while there are many blogs describing coding techniques for iPhones etc, much of that information is now unstructured, dynamic and found on sites like StackOverflow.

The web has changed. Blogging is still important but perhaps a little less so than it used to be. Today, the sheer volume of information that flows through the web means that we can only swallow smaller pieces, packaged as Facebook comments, 140 character Tweets. Today, we live in a world of soundbites.

TheGoodBlogs website is no longer as relevant in the digital world today and hence we have taken the painful and personal decision to shut it down. TheGoodBlogs, the company and the founders (Tealeaf and TheIdeaDude) are very much alive. As the digital world around us changes, we must reinvent ourselves before we too become irrelevant.

As they say in the classics, TheGoodBlogs is dead, long live TheGoodBlogs.