Posted: November 16th, 2011 | Filed under: Books, Design, Long, Tech | 6 Comments »
“The ghost was her father’s parting gift, presented by a black-clad secretary in a departure lounge at Narita.” – William Gibson, Mona Lisa Overdrive
1. Unboxing the Past
It was a few days after Steve Jobs died, and I was talking with an old friend. Actually, we were unpacking an original Macintosh computer, which we’d brought down from my attic to try to re-start as kind of an impromptu homage. The golden October sun poured in my office windows. We were here to talk business, but it wasn’t long before the subject changed to Jobs. It was sad of course, we said, but totally expected.
This computer hadn’t really been used since 1990. Last seen, it must have been ten years ago, hastily wrapped in an old curtain and stuffed in a plastic storage bin before my last move, another memento to hang onto. Now picking up the compact and surprisingly heavy beige box with its integrated handle somehow activated old muscle memory, and we remembered seeing it for the first time in 1983, our younger selves standing in the Harvard Coop before this strange new thing. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 14th, 2011 | Filed under: Books, Business, Long | No Comments »
This post originally appeared on PracticeLab.com
“Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.” –John Maynard Keynes
My old boss, Mark Zweig, was not fond of us quoting popular business books. As most of his friends and followers well know, there are few things he hates worse than some know-it-all coming to a meeting armed with the latest Who Moved My Cheese?, Innovator’s Dilemma, or Good to Great. In fact, just recently he wrote a post specifically about the latter.
Of course, the boss was something of a management guru himself, but I wouldn’t blame professional envy for his stance. As a practical matter, the “guy with the book” has a tendency to derail meetings and take everybody off topic. It’s hard enough to get a team together to make important decisions without turning the thing into a book discussion group. And to us disciples, the boss was trying to say that we should stop parroting other people’s ideas and come up with our own. But I would still sneak a peek now and then, late at night with a flashlight, at what the pundits were saying. Read the rest of this entry »