Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Great talk on future of publishing (+ a great speaking tip)

Craig Mod, who wrote a couple really awesome pieces on the future of book publishing on the iPad, and whom I linked to in a couple previous posts, and who I recently coincidentally ended up driving across the Mexican desert with (a long story), has a video up of talk he gave at a conference called 'the Do Lectures'.

First off, it's a great talk about the future of publishing, ebooks, and how the Internet is democratizing and changing publishing itself.

But second, if you are a fan of presentation techniques, watch it through to the end. Craig wraps the talk by calling out about ten of the audience members by name and giving them specific challenges on what THEY should be doing. From the talk, I'm going to assume that many of them he just met in the previous day or two at the conference, and (a) he makes his point that ANYONE can be a publisher, and (b) it absolutely connects that he's taken his audience seriously, so much that he can call them out by name and state what they are working on. So powerful!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Several good reads this week around the web

A few good finds this week to read over your morning coffee, or over turkey hangover:

  • Tim Berners-Lee (inventer of The Web) in Scientific American: Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality. A lengthy dissertation on open standards vs walled gardens, Net Neutrality, and Electronic Human Rights. Much of it covers known problem, but it's good to see them called out so eloquently.
  • iReaderReview has a piece examining What Impact are Kindle Exclusives Having. There are some parallels with games here. In a crowded market like books (or, say, small downloadable games), does having an exclusive on even a significant number of titles make any difference for the platform's appeal.
  • Gamasutra has a good piece up on Console Hardware Trends in the Bundle Era. I find the title a bit misleading, and would rather label it "Hey Guys, how goes the mid-life booster rocket?". Title aside, though it's interesting. The table of 360 HW sales by month is interesting, showing 2010 to be a banner year thus far, and that was BEFORE the Kinect and its bundles launched.
  • Good CNET piece on Netflix's Secret Sauce for Acquiring Content. Good lessons here on being a good partner.
Go read! Discuss!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Review: Nickel and Dimed

I had Nickel and Dimed one on my 'to read' list for a long time, after Adam originally recommended it to me. It's an illuminating, if somewhat depressing read.

The author spent a year doing a stint of low-wage jobs in a number of cities around the country, trying to see if she could support herself on a minimum wage job. She spents time working as a waitress, a cleaning lady, a Walmart clerk, and a number of other positions, sometimes working two jobs while also apartment hunting or dealing with other administrivia.

What she finds isn't surprising; that people earning the minimum 'living wage' in this country can get by, barely, often by leaning on friends and family to share rent and the like, and that any moderate expense (e.g. a medical one, or a car repair, or first/last months rent on a new place) can start a snowball effect toward homelessness pretty quickly.

What's maybe more illuminating (not in the sense that we didn't know, but that it shone light on what we like to keep in the dark), is that it's not that the so-called working poor are lazy or stupid. Rather, they are subject to a system that bleeds its poorest dry. The flipside to the rich-get-richer is of course that the poor get poorer.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: The Art Detective

I picked this up on a whim when my eye happened upon it at the local library.

The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds, and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures is a pretty entertaining read. It's written by Philip Mould, an art historian/collector/appraiser who is also known for his appearances on Antiques Roadshow.

In the Art Detective, he takes the reader into the world of 'found' paintings, specifically works of grand masters that have been recovered after years either missing or lying in unknown obscurity. The work that goes into researching their histories, verifying their authenticity, and in restoring their damages (e.g. from things like later 'artists' having painted a newer and more fashionable hat on them). He does this by picking a handful of the more colorful finds from his career (not all were his finds) and bringing us behind the scenes of the process that can sometimes drag out for months.

Mould is somewhat long winded and a touch pretentious in his narration, but it can be comical if taken with a pinch of salt. The background on the processes used to recover these works is quite fascinating.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Review: Intrapreneurship in Action

This was one of a number of books I referenced in a talk I gave at the IGDA Leadership Forum last week.

The author, Gifford Pinchot , was the one who initially coined the "intrapreneurship" term back in the late seventies in an earlier work. Intrapreneuring in Action is a pretty good book on the subject, though I much preferred Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators.

The book breaks down both requirements for successful intrapreneuring, as well as methods for leaders to build more entrepreneurial culture within their organizations. In both of these the book can be a very fast read as his approach is very structured, to the point of section headers basically containing the core idea most of the time. I found that only some pieces benefitted me if I read through them in depth.

Where I found it falls a little short is that the real-world cases cited are extremely non-specific. Unlike Ten Rules, it doesn't name names. Not that I doubt the cases are real, but they jump off the page far less and aren't as easy to understand without the very specific context of real company and product names.

This negative aside, it's still a good read and has a good structured approach to either taking on an intrapreneurial initiative or shaping your company to being more ready for such initiatives.