Visual thinking examples about topics Big and Small

Recently I came across two examples of my favorite subject – How Visual Thinking and Visual communication is more adept at presenting “Big” or “complicated” ideas and stories than just text or spoken word.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love reading, but there is definitely something significant occurring in the modern world.  With the increased amount of data that the Average Developed World citizien consumes, more and more of this information simply needs to be captured and communicated in visual ways in order to condense it in a digestible format. The first video (a TED Talk)  is about global population growth, a topic which is ready made for visual communication:


The following less significant story, but worth watching is an animated version of the News story about Steven Slater the Jet Blue flight attendant that freaked out and launched the emergency life raft upon landing. Without understand the language, it’s pretty clear what happened just from the animation.


Smart Companies know when to say goodbye

Google made the right move here. Wave was revolutionary. And it had potential. But a failed product launch is failed product launch.Knowing when to pull a product and not to invest in the marketing and continuing development of it is the mark of a brilliantly mature company.I am sure we will all end up using elements of wave as time moves on, but as an independent product there are 2 dozens reasons why it didn’t work.

Complexity and Simplicity, Difficulty, Ease

Now if he was talking about an IPhone Application, I’d agree with him.  But in this case, we’re are talking about a virtual rocket ship, or a Ferrari Steering Wheel, and make complex stuff like this is both complicated and difficult.  Our Code is designed to work, it’s not designed for developers to develop.  I try to force the team to keep the architecture as simple as possible but even still, it’s not easy, and it’s not simple.  
A newsgroup  posting from Douglas Gorney  “How not to design for ux” refers to the idea that some think a 9 minute video on how to use a steering wheel suggests that the wheel is too complex.   He quite correctly observes that this steering wheel is for RACECAR Drivers and a 9 minute video on how it’s used and how it was designed is not too much to ask for guys who drive at 200 MPH (360 KPH).  I guess I’d say the same about software that crawls thru 100s of Millions of possible combinations of fares and flights.  In order to do it correctly, in order to do it well, I guess it’s worth waiting 6 months before I let you hack around on it.Here is the original video on YouTube.

Iphone Region settings tip

If you are an expat or just borrowing an iPhone which did not cone from the USA you might be struggling with something that troubled me for almost 2 years. How to change the default search engine for Safari. I don’t mean selecting a different provider. There are only two and they are listed under Safari settings. No. I mean what can you do if google search in Safari always comes up as or It’s simple just change your international region under the General Settings Page. Voilà!

Software Development Company turns into an Arbitrage Company.

37signals, on of my favorite software development companies, and creators of the Ruby on Rails Framework, have made the move into a whole new territory.  “Easy Money”

They have essentially decided that it is easier to bring together content and content consumers than it is to create markets.  Nice insight.  A few years back they did the same thing that Joel Spolsky did which is realize that all the traffic they had was worth something, other than just as potential customers for their product.  Becuase the market of people who were reading their blogs, and visiting their website was already self-segmented and was of high value (people interested in specific things, and ready to take action) they decide to find a way to resell this attention.

AND NOW now Joel’s version of the same (his came first) Maybe they prefer to sit comfortably leading and managing the economi-verse that ruby on rails has become, and using their prestige to become connectors instead of producers.  It is definitely a more fun work environment if all you need to do is opine, and judge.  Production and creation are definitely riskier and require more sweat. Who can blame them, after the success they’ve had they deserve a little bit of laurel resting. DISCLAIMER We had chosen Haystack as the CodeName for the project we are currently working on, and I was looking forward to the day that we might drop the money down to purchase this domain, so of course I have a little bit of spoiled grapes about losing out to them.  On the other hand I do like their design. In fact this is the main thing I like about 37signals is their aesthetic.

Transparency is good, but scary

Is Victoria pulling her weight at work?

Recently I posed the question to my LinkedIn network, “What do you think about an open Salary policy, total transparency in compensation at a company that is less than 40 people, is this a good idea? Or a recipe for disaster?” The response was an overwhelmingly…


But i cannot believe how much a firecracker this quesiton was.  So many people felt compelled to answer it.

It seems like people think that Salary Inequality and transparency are like Priests and child abuse scandals, let’s not talk about it, and let’s just accept that it happens.

If we address it by making it public, it will destroy us.

I find this attitude puzzling.  So do a few other people.

Alexander Kjerulf, Penelope Trunk

At Ignite, we didn’t have a total transparency policy, I mean, we didn’t post salaries on the intranet…but we did talk about them openly, and every one knew the overhead rates, and the billing rates.  I though that helped, especially when it came time to talk about pay cuts due to falling revnues.  But hey, our pay scale was pretty fair, and was closely tied to billing rates, so it was easier.  But I first thought of this 6 years ago…when the Boeing Air Traffic Management division was laid off. The  Company president went through the overhead rates in explicit detail.  I found this had a huge impact on how people felt about the decision.  It didn’ t help if you were one of the ones getting laid off, but it did make clear that the reductions were not just management whims in a stcok market slump

Besides ! Also, if Suze Orman is in favor of it, it can’t be that evil and scary ?   Actually 1 of the comments privately messaged me that it migh have a positive impact on Gender Inequality in Salary.  If that turns out to be provable, what more reason do you need.  Its not just “unfotunate” if you have Gender Inequality going on in Salary.  In the United States, it’s illegal.  Eliminating illegal practice through transparency is probably worth having to work hard to define a fair and equitable compensation strategy.

One colleague, (a european whose family comes from a former Soviet Block state) even told me it was Communist!  Since when, did open and transparent equate to Soviet Totalitarian Communism?