Dec 29 2010

Threadless

I recently received the Threadless: Ten Years of T-shirts from the World’s Most Inspiring Online Design Community book. I’ve never submitted a design or voted for a design on Threadless but I wear shirts and I’ve always been a fan of their products. The book was in my wishlist and someone in my family bought the book for me as a gift. The book is full of great designs which have been used on Threadless shirts over the past ten years. While reading about how Threadless started and the company culture one thread, pun intended, stood out. The community is the key to the success at Threadless. Threadless started out in a thread post in an online design forum where designers submitted designs for review and the best one was printed. As a business model, it seems very straight forward, but you can’t stress enough how important the community is to the company. As a classically trained software engineer, I approach everything from the aspect of technical specifications and software requirements so when I see a site like Threadless I think of the software features, like voting, commenting, etc. But reading this book I realized that Threadless is not a technology solution, but a living community. Fostering communities trumps technology. As engineers, we often quote and misunderstand the saying, “If you build it they will come” to mean technology focused website. At least, this was Google’s mistake with Google Wave, they built a great technology but no one came. I now believe that what the saying is referring to is not technology, but community.

Here are some other things I learned from the book. Threadless included free stickers with every order. Stickers have been used for years to spread word of mouth, and it pre-dates viral marketing. Stickers are a physical real world viral marketing vehicle. Everyone that has been to a developer conference has seen a conference speakers’ Mac Book Pro full of web 2.0 logos and stickers.

Networking is really important. For Threadless, this meant sharing office space with fellow designers and developers. Creating shared experiences builds community. Participating in events is fostering community. Provide the tools and means for the community to spread the company message and brand. Jeff Howe, who is credited with coining the term crowdsourcing, said the following in an essay in the book. “It takes a special company to understand that their ego – their creativity, their brilliance, their ideas- are welcome, but not necessary.  What’s necessary is the room in which the party takes place.”

Threadless

Threadless Designs

Here is my favorite quote from the book. “Jacob and I also began teaching a course at the Art Institute of Chicago.  That made us feel a little better about dropping out of school.”


Oct 15 2010

Retweet September 2010

From time to time I just blast tweets about software development, project planning, team dynamics, or whatever else comes to mind. Here is a synopsis of recent tweets and rants. If you want to follow the conversation follow me at techknow and/or juixe and I’ll be sure to follow back.

Software Development

  • Email is not the future of UI. I dislike services that use email for data entry or input device.
  • Common source of errors, cut and paste!
  • Functional specifications are often times as misinterpreted as the Bible.
  • I’m a programmer by day, developer by night, and hacker in between.
  • Some features are disguised as bugs.
  • One man’s feature is another man’s bug.
  • Void is my favorite return type.
  • Code Commandment: No code shall PrintStackTrace
  • Show me your implementation and I’ll tell you about yourself.
  • The words “it does not compute” does not compute, they are not in my default dictionary.
  • Get your hack on!
  • When a developer says, “pretty much working” it does not mean production quality.
  • I’m not sure that a software application larger than “Hello, World” can be bug free.
  • If there is a giant red ‘Do Not Press’ or ‘Active Dooms Day Device’ button, someone will press it.
  • Every design decision should be a conscious choice, not an accidental assumption.
  • Will work for intellectual stimulation.
  • If you are a User Generated Content site saying you will censor a topic will only inspire your users to find ways around that.
  • What’s your default setting for the Ultimate Bitch Mode setting?

Team Dynamics

  • Just like how there are no any stupid questions, there are no any stupid ideas.
  • In order to get the most out of crowd sourcing you need to source your crowd.
  • Look past people’s past.
  • If you are going to shot for the stars you best have a rocket ship.
  • When the stars align, shoot for them. And if you shooting for the stars you best bring the big guns!
  • When shooting for the stars I bring an Klingon Bird of Prey!
  • And on the 8th day God said, “Let there be a TPS report.”
  • Life is too short to sell yourself short.
  • Don’t think in problems. Dream in solutions.
  • Never say maybe.
  • The next big thing usually starts as a small idea.
  • People will always push your buttons, you need to know how o deactivate those buttons.
  • I don’t fear being wrong. I fear not being able to recognize when other people are wrong.
  • You can’t delete emails once sent, but you can read them before you send them.
  • For every great idea there are hundreds of ways to mess it up.
  • Show me the monetization.

Product Placement

  • Mark Zuckerborg is a geek super evil privacy villain.
  • Boing Boing should just sell out to Rupert Murdoch.
  • Panda Express’ logo says, “Gourmet Chinese Food.” Really, Gourmet? Chinese?
  • American Apparel might file for bankruptcy, maybe China can buy it out and rename it to Chairman Mao Apparel.
  • The company Manpower has a very male chauvinist sounding name.
  • If only mother nature would have patented all her innovations, we would all be paying royalties to her.
  • Why does it cost $30 for Apple’s iPhone earphones? They like $.50 worth of material and $.25 of labor!
  • If you Google for love you will find about 1,930,000,000 results (0.23 seconds). At least one of those results is meant for you.
  • Google Finance should have a “I’m Feeling Lucky” button.
  • The cake is a lie. Do no evil is a lie.
  • The next version of the iPhone should be called ivePhone after it’s designer Jony Ive.
  • Upset that I’ve had to purchase yet another iPhone headset!!! At $30 a pop the white earphone are Apple’s razor blade business!

Resume Writing Tips

  • Resume Writing Tip: Use a good phone line for a phone interview.
  • Resume Writing Tip: At a minimum candidate should be able to figure out our URL by a) clicking the link on job description b) from my email.
  • Resume Writing Tip: The minimum research a candidate needs to do is lookup the company website himself prior to interviewing.
  • Resume Writing Tip: Ensure your cover letter or email is in one font, it shouldn’t look like you cut and pasted from somewhere else.
  • Resume Writing Tip: I would leave out MS Access 2000 out of technical skills. It’s also not necessary to list HTML, DHTML, and HTML5.
  • Resume Writing Tip: Proof read your resume and fix obvious typos, you can’t say you detailed oriented if you have basic spelling errors.

Quote

  • I want to put a ding in the universe. – Steve Jobs
  • The problem with Google is that Eric Schmidt is creepy. – Daring Fireball
  • They [People] want Google to tell them what they should be doing next. – Eric Schmidt
  • People aren’t ready for the technology revolution that’s going to happen to them. – Eric Schmidt