Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Monday, 15 November 2010

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Introducing: The Daily Reality Planner

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nov 14, 1957

If you’re like me, you’ve continually struggled with answering 1 question:

“Where did today go?”

To Do lists are helpful in identifying what should be done. Assigning those To Do items a date and time on the calendar declares when they should be done.

But then – reality interferes.

Some things take more time, some things take less. Some hit a brick wall. Not to mention unexpected phone calls. Unexpected interruptions. Unexpected opportunities.

Too many productivity solutions make it frustratingly difficult to both plan for the day and respond to the day.

The Daily Reality Planner is comprised of 3 columns:

  1. Proposed
  2. Reality
  3. Proposed Tomorrow

Each column goes from 900-2300 hours, graduated in 15 minute increments.

How to use the Daily Reality Planner?

  1. Each morning I block off the first Proposed column with my fixed appointments, and the big things I want to accomplish during the day – each with their own time block – just like the fixed appointments.
  2. After that – I look at the clock, draw a line across the corresponding time and write down what I’m starting on.
  3. When I move on to something else, or I’m interrupted, I draw a line across the current time and write out what I’m doing.
  4. Things that don’t fit today’s Reality are assigned a time in Proposed Tomorrow – the 3rd column.
  5. Tomorrow, I’ll review that 3rd column and migrate anything still relevant to the first Proposed column of a new Daily Reality.

Simple, flexible. Handy. Real.

Try it out –
Download the Daily Reality Planner

And let me know how it works for you.

The Daily Reality Planner is released under a CC-By-SA license.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Arise, Mechanical Turks, Arise


Years ago, I heard a story of an American barred from crossing into Canada because the Canadian customs agent interpreted the American’s intentions not as recreation, but as work. The American didn’t see it that way, nor did he have employment papers, and he reversed course.

“Q: Is there going to be legislation or IRB regs to prevent paying people under the minimum wage?”

The above question is in reference to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service. But I think the question can be asked to a number of things we regularly do for others gratis. Here’s 7 quick, off-the-top-of-my-head items that could be considered ‘work’ yet millions of people perform gratis daily.

  • Updating Facebook, Twitter, watching TV, reading the newspaper, etc (doing work for advertisers)
  • Editing a Wikipedia entry (doing the work of editors)
  • Tagging a photo in Flickr or Delicious (doing work of librarians)
  • Checking in on Foursquare, Gowalla (doing the work of the US intelligence community)
  • Linking to websites (doing work for Google)
  • Assembling flat pack furniture, etc (doing work for retailers & manufacturers)
  • Separating our trash (doing work for the waste sorting machines)

If any of these tasks were re-characterized as work – in the regulatory sense – I suspect these companies’ value propositions and the corresponding ecosystem of marginally legitimate co-horts would also crumble.

Perhaps it’s time we trade information privacy, sketchy secondary use, and non-paying nano-jobs for a smaller internet.

Or perhaps the joke is on all of us for expecting that working for free – even a little bit – can create significant lasting value. For if it did – would Twitter, Facebook, and the like need to resort to advertising to keep the servers running?

Sure, I can understand and appreciate their need to reduce transaction costs, but without the option of turning users into either customers or vendors – it smells like something more distasteful than share-cropping.

Update 11 Nov 2010:
I’ve been asked for clarification on my point (much needed, yes, I know). Here it is:

Technology makes it easy to divide large chunks of creative, organizational, and knowledge work into extraordinarily thin slices. Thinner than can effectively be performed by a computer. Thinner than can be reasonably charged a market wage for. Taking on this work is detrimental in two ways; it diffuses the innate desire to create larger more significant creative work and it serves someone else far more – but not significantly enough to compensate in any meaningful way. Unless you count distracting you from yourself meaningful.


“When they say you get to use their social network for free, look for the hidden price. It’s there.” – Dave Winer

Writing out the Problem

8pen is another attempt at bringing touch-typing to mobile devices

If you listened real close – in the video – you hear the narrator mention ‘handwriting’. That’s both why 8pens approach is pointed in the right direction and why this version of it misses the mark.

Selecting individual characters is terribly tedious.

Seriously, these things are COMPUTERS!

Electronic little brains that know all sorts of things about how we like our words are constructed and combined. Spell-checking and grammar checking have been around for decades. For as long as I can remember Microsoft Word could tell you at what Grade Level you were writing.

Yet – we’re still struggling with the 1-gesture-for-1-character writing model.

Makes me think we should drop all text input from these devices, limiting inputs to video and audio.