You are one of the world’s most famous public intellectuals. How would you define the term intellectual? Does it still have a particular meaning?
If by intellectual you mean somebody who works only with his head and not with his hands, then the bank clerk is an intellectual and Michelangelo is not. And today, with a computer, everybody is an intellectual. So I don’t think it has anything to do with someone’s profession or with someone’s social class. According to me, an intellectual is anyone who is creatively producing new knowledge. A peasant who understands that a new kind of graft can produce a new species of apples has at that moment produced an intellectual activity. Whereas the professor of philosophy who all his life repeats the same lecture on Heidegger doesn’t amount to an intellectual. Critical creativity—criticizing what we are doing or inventing better ways of doing it—is the only mark of the intellectual function.
Interview with Jay Kreps on Apache Kafka and further pointers to learn more about it.
The best testing I’ve ever seen is shipping something to real people who use it daily, every single day and depend on it. And charging people for it. And they’re the ones who are going to give you feedback.
I hear this from people all the time: “how do you get customers to pay for something?” I say you charge them for your product. When people pay for something, they tell you what they think. They’re not just entitled to it, they’re now invested in this thing. They’re going to be honest with you. When you give stuff away for free, people will be like “oh yeah, it’s cool. Its awesome” they dont care as much. So, you don’t get good feedback.
I think the best way to get feedback to improve something is to ship something, charge for it, iterate in the wild and make it better over time. Thats how things get great. Things don’t get great in the lab.
I’ve been a happy camper since I moved to a mac. Most apps on the mac are awesome. But the notes app on the mac has been bothering me. It’s simplicity taken to an absurd level. I’ve tried many note taking Apps: Evernote, Mac Notes, Quip, Google Drive, Word, Pages etc. Nothing satisfactory. My manager quipped that he saw me using three notes apps in a three day conference.
I think that is all going to change. The same Microsoft that I was happy to ignore, has launched One Note for the mac. And it syncs to the cloud. They also have clients for the iPhone and iPad. All this for free. The feature set is limited, but OneNote is by far the best interface for note taking.
One annoying thing is that there is less smartness across the board. For ex: If I’m able to create a To-Do list, I want a fully functional todo list. Not a simple checkbox next to my text. But these are enhancements that could me applied on top of a simple app.
Talking of enhancements, Microsoft also released a api for OneNote. This means if you want it, you can build it. The sad part is, there is only one api. And that is the create a new page in OneNote. There is no way to get data out of the system. I hope Microsoft solves it and gives us the comfort to trust that they won’t kill it.
I fell in love with computers at school. Thanks to my accountancy group friends and Swarnalatha* sister(My computer science teacher). She used to chase us out of the computer lab, but actually loved to see us in. We did simple graphics in Basic on black and white terminals. Now doing the same in SVG/d3 and nostalgia kicks in. Amazing how trivial & fun activities create careers. May be thats the only one that does.
The facilities at DisneyWorld are clean. It’s not a profit center, of course. They don’t make them clean because they’re going to charge you to use them. They make them clean because if they didn’t, you’d have a reason not to come.
What is the reason your customers leave the door? Find’em. Get rid of ’em.