[Note: This is a slightly edited version of an article I wrote for Crikey this morning. The main difference is a bit more linkage. There’s more CeBIT / Transaction 2.0 material to come.]
In 1980 futurist Alvin Toffler wrote The Third Wave. Following the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, he said, we’re now experiencing the Third Wave, or what might be called post-industrial society. Australia’s surfing prowess means nothing here, though. We’re still pissing in the shallows, barely held up by leaking floaties.
Why is tech-literate, well-educated Australia so bad at marketing and profiting from its own innovation, from the fisheye lens to gene shears? We do innovate, you know.
“Australians expect the government to do everything for them — but the government’s clueless,â€ explained journalist and evangelist Duncan Riley at yesterday’s Transaction 2.0 conference. “The Australia 2020 Summit is a classic example. The Internet was seen as an ’emerging’ industry. Emerging? We’ve had it for 20 years! In the US alone it employs 7 million people.”
Continue reading “Crikey: Australia’s web 2.0 wipeout on the wave of the future”
For better or for worse, episode 3 of Stilgherrian Live Alpha is online over at Ustream. I did rant at the camera as threatened. I went for 45 minutes instead of 25 to 30 because I was looking at the wrong clock. I have destroyed my personal brand forever. Chat logs to be reviewed later.
Next week is packed! How can I get the best value out of CeBIT Sydney and the associated Transaction 2.0 conference, as well as Microsoft’s ReMIX 08? What should I record or broadcast? What should I write about?
CeBIT was always on my agenda. Despite being disappointing last year and despite annoying me with a flood of email, it’s still the biggest IT trade show in Australia. It’s worth going just to see who’s confidently spending money on promotion, if nothing else.
I’ll be touring the trade show floor on Wednesday 21 May. If you want to meet up, let me know. Maybe I should even do a Stilgherrian Live Alpha from the bloggers media room? Whaddyathink?
If you still haven’t organised your free pass, you can register online using my promotion code: stilcs08.
On Thursday 22 May I’ll be at Transaction 2.0, with an interesting set of speakers. Again, it’s a matter of choosing the priorities. Who should I talk to? Should I pick a fight with Jason Calacanis?
But I kick off the Geek Week on Tuesday 20 May with ReMIX 08, where Microsoft says I’ll “experience all that is new in Silverlight 2, Expression 2, IE8, Live and a host of other great web technologies… You will also see how local Australian innovators are creating the next generation of engaging websites and unprecedented user experiences for the web.”
Provided they build it with Microsoft’s tools, of course. 😉
That’s unfair. Microsoft is changing. It’ll be interesting to hear what they’re up to.
Now my only challenge is working out how all this fits into one week, while still leaving room to do some billable hours for clients.
Here’s one for a rainy Monday morning. 37signals’ experimental 4-day working week is going very well.
When I first compared this enlightened approach to people-management with the drive-them-harder style of Jason Calacanis, it triggered a massive debate, and I wrote a follow-up comparing the Calacanis approach to an evil cult. Last week 37signals reckoned that urgency is poisonous.
One thing Iâ€™ve come to realize is that urgency is overrated. In fact, Iâ€™ve come to believe urgency is poisonous. Urgency may get things done a few days sooner, but what does it cost in morale? Few things burn morale like urgency. Urgency is acidic.
Emergency is the only urgency. Almost anything else can wait a few days. Itâ€™s OK. There are exceptions (a trade show, a conference), but those are rare.
When a few days extra turns into a few weeks extra then thereâ€™s a problem, but what really has to be done by Friday that canâ€™t wait for Monday or Tuesday? If your deliveries are that critical to the hour or day, maybe youâ€™re setting up false priorities and dangerous expectations.
If youâ€™re a just-in-time provider of industry parts then precise deadlines and deliveries may be required, but in the software industry urgency is self-imposed and morale-busting. If stress is a weed, urgency is the seed. Donâ€™t plant it if you can help it.
I can’t agree more. A client phoned once, all a’fluster about an “emergency”. Before I could think, I blurted out the question, “Why? Whose life is in peril?”
Of course no-one was in danger. This client was operating in crisis mode, as usual: that anti-pattern also known as “firefighting mode”: “Dealing with things only when they become a crisis, with the result that everything becomes a crisis.” I’ve written about that before here and with my colleague Zern Liew.
[Note: This article is a follow-up to How do you treat your staff? Like 37signals, or like this prick?, written after that piece received a lot of attention. But my views are more complex than simple Good vs Evil, as a look through all Calacanis-related posts will show.]
I’m still chuckling at the seriousness with which some people treat getting onto Techmeme. It’s true, I keep stopping typing to giggle. It’s embarrassing.
I’d never visited Techmeme until this weekend. Even then it was only because someone told me I’d blipped up there. It’s just another feed of what someone thinks is “important” in infotech, yeah? Who cares. It’s not as if it’s Reuters or BBC News.
It’s just more geeks telling geeks what geeks think other geeks should think about stuff that geeks think about.
But Jason Calacanis cares.
Jason Calacanis must care very deeply because he “joked” about it on this website, and over at TechCrunch he “joked” about getting pageviews. His fan club speculates that Duncan Riley and me and others are only attacking him to generate our own web traffic. Well, I can’t speak for Duncan, but no, I couldn’t care less about website traffic — especially the low-grade drive-by flamers that usually wash up here after being mentioned on high-traffic fan sites. That’s not why I’m here.
I’m attacking Calacanis because I reckon the business style he describes, the one championed by his defenders, is rotten to the very core.
But first, let’s talk about religion…
Continue reading “Jason Calacanis and the Evil Cult of the Internet Start-up”
In the context of our on-going argument, it’s refreshing to stumble across the observation that bigger isn’t always better for business. “Americans think big. This has helped make them the most powerful nation on Earth, but bigger is not always better, either for our bodies or, I suggest, for our organizations. If I were to visit a symphony orchestra and ask them about their growth plans for the future, how would they respond? They would talk about their plans to extend their repertoire and to bring their work to new audiences, not about increasing the number of violinistsâ€¦ Why does almost every business that I know seek to grow in size, year after year, in fact, as if there were no limit? Why canâ€™t they be content with doing more with less?â€ (Hat-tip to Signal vs Noise.)