sELF at the Gramercy Theater in NYC, 10 January 2014

This Week in MakingBetter (13 January, 2014)

Things to think about…


Every week, we plan to share what we’re up to (if there’s anything interesting), what we’re reading and learning. We may also share things that make us particularly sparkly, like this image of rocker (and significant contributor to the Experience API community) Brian Rogers playing lead guitar in a sold-out concert for the band sELF.

sELF at the Gramercy Theater in NYC, 10 January 2014
That’s Brian on the left, crushing it.

Next week, both Megan & I will be speaking at ASTD TechKnowledge 2014 (Megan’s on the conference planning committee — ooh and ahh at will). This week, we’ll be posting some background information (and, to be honest, teasers) for our presentations.


…in order from easy-breezy to brain-freezy:

  • Geena Davis (actress in The Fly, olympic archer, Mensan) authored a fantastic straightforward article in The Hollywood Reporter, basically saying that if you want to make Hollywood less sexist 1) change a bunch of characters’ first names to women’s names; and 2) when you have a crowd scene, write in the script, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.” Key quote: “There are woefully few women CEOs in the world, but there can be lots of them in films. We haven’t had a woman president yet, but we have on TV… How can we fix the problem of corporate boards being so unequal without quotas? Well, they can be half women instantly, onscreen. How do we encourage a lot more girls to pursue science, technology and engineering careers? By casting droves of women in STEM jobs today in movies and on TV…If they can see it, they can be it.”
  • Craig Wiggins rightly pointed out that with an array of devices and media that engages people into particular activities, the notion that someone sitting in enterprise is going to make a difference in people’s behavior with poorly designed (and highly passive) auto-advancing powerpoint slides is… well, it’s laughable.
  • Phil Liban (CEO, Evernote) responded candidly to some very public and viral criticism of their software, committing to making the product more stable on the inside vs. adding more and more new features. Key quote: “there comes a time in a booming startup’s life when it’s important to pause for a bit and look in rather than up. When it’s more important to improve existing features than to add new ones…. Startups breathe growth and intentionally slowing down to focus on details and quality doesn’t come naturally to many of us. Despite this, the best product companies in the world have figured out how to make constant quality improvements part of their essential DNA… So will we.” Amen.
  • Speaking of reworking infrastructure, Evgeny Morozov had a pretty intriguing argument about the hacker ethos, arguing that re-intstitutionalization might achieve better and more sustainable reforms than the de-institutionalization championed (but not always practiced) by the Maker Movement (and how “hacking” has a double-meaning which counters its own aims).
  • That Megan and I might support the advancement of the learning technology community while advocating killing off the technologies and practices around those technologies that have come before may seem contradictory. A primer on dialectical thought might be in order. This one may make your brain itch.

Books We’re Reading

Megan is reading “The World Until Yesterday” by Jared Diamond. I’m reading “Nudge” by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein.

What Keeps Us Awake

Few people we know realize that coffee beans are actually the pits of certain type of cherry. The fruit of the coffee bean is pretty caffeinated, also, and makes for a lovely tea known as Cascara. In between the copious amounts of coffee we’re drinking, this Cascara from Halfwit makes for a more mild afternoon buzz