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Track Changes

What happens when software eats the world? Industry veterans Paul Ford and Rich Ziade chat with their friends about technology, design, and business from a distinctly East Coast point of view. Decades of experience inform their no-BS, quick-witted patter about what digital transformation really means. Created by Postlight, the digital product studio they co-founded in NYC.
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Now displaying: September, 2018
Sep 25, 2018

Harpal Singh

Design is Not an Add-On: Why did it take so long for design to come back into the conversation? This week, Paul Ford and Rich Ziade talk about Digital Transformation and the marriage between Design and Engineering. We talk about how how the importance of design is often misjudged when it comes to Digital Transformation (hint: it’s crucial), and how what may be common sense to designers isn’t always common sense to others. What are people risking when they forgo good design?

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Rich — 1:35: “The days of just getting a technology project up and running isn’t enough that you have to think about your whole business in terms of the world [having] changed, technology is part of everything and it needs to be part of how your business works.”

Rich — 2:20: “People are fully digitized in terms of how they interact with the world, and that’s how they need to interact with your business.”

Rich — 3:10: “This is something different. [Digital transformation] is about literally dismantling process as it exists today.”

Rich — 6:30: “I’m old enough to remember when it was really hard to sell User Experience services to big companies. They just didn’t get it. They didn’t want to get it. It was just too bizarre.”

Paul — 11:05: “I would say that without strong sea-level leadership, don’t do [a Digital Transformation project].”

Rich — 12:25: “Probably one of the biggest public failures of a massive technology mandate is the Obamacare debacle.”

Paul — 13:10: “That’s why Open Source is really good. Why are we building things for the government in secret? There could have been a collaborative public presence driven by a small team where that code was going right into the Commons.”

Rich — 13:35: “The truth is, if you’re not able to transact on the web on your phone, you’re kind of screwed. You have to get there.”

Rich — 17:45: “I think the way that they’re thinking about it is that design isn’t a phase or a discipline, but actually it’s no different than [somebody] saying I’m going to go ahead and build this sky scraper, but I’m going to skip the architect.”

Rich — 21:25: “We don’t call them ‘designers’ at Postlight […] we call them Product Designers. The spirit behind it is that the designer is not peripheral. They’re key to the quality of the product, to the definition of the product, [and] how the product is going to be differentiated.”

Paul — 22:00: “The engagement will fail if design doesn’t lead.”

Paul — 28:35: “Design is about making that least possible effort — my god, don’t just throw a bunch of candy corn on the floor and call that dinner.”

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 

Sep 18, 2018
 

Making the World a Better Place: This week, Paul Ford and Rich Ziade discuss how the ingegrity of platforms like Facebook and Twitter has been compromised by their growth. We talk about Facebook as a company versus Facebook as a system, and why they are crumbling. Was the company ignoring user concerns or just waiting until it impacted their profit? 

 


Rich — 2:00: “People deciding that the governors of the Facebook world weren’t taking care of it well enough such that they’re emigrating out of it is a very big deal.”

Paul — 3:05: “It’s not slow growth — it’s departures. The Pew Foundation did a study and they found that [like] 1 out of 4 humans are taking a break [from Facebook].”

Paul — 5:15: “Let’s be clear: Platform companies only have transactions and metrics in order to understand how they’re performing. They have no sense of individuals, and if the numbers are down it’s like everyone is running around on fire.”

Rich — 13:45: “You could make the case that these were just selfish people just foaming at the mouth to make money, but you could also make the case that they were just optimistic about how humans were going to be when you put 2 billion of them in a very nice place where the gestures are, ‘I like you,’ ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m crying for you,’ ‘I’m laughing at the funny thing you did,’ — it’s all optimistic. There’s no middle finger.”

Paul — 14:10: “God, save the world from rich people with good intentions.”

Rich — 14:40: “It’s the exact same narrative around Twitter. Twitter said, ‘[…]We’re going to make everybody a publisher. Everybody’s a broadcaster,’ […] and it’s a cesspool.”

Paul — 16:15: “What you’ve got is a very very serious product problem and your product is at a scale that it interferes with things like the governance of the world and the way that human beings act and behave.”

Rich — 17:40: “It’s a real investment to take care of the integrity of the platform. What they didn’t anticipate was all these other sort of dynamic things that can take hold that are much more subtle and much more insidious.”

Paul — 18:00: “As far as they can tell, they were doing everything right until they weren’t. What happened is they created systems that were unbelievably easy to game. They actually had lots of good warnings, […] and they ignored it because I think they were getting so many other messages [that were] positive.”

Rich — 22:25: “The terms in the code of conduct that are easiest are the ones they can most effectively enforce. If you are threatening violence on someone, that’s very explicit, because what they want to do is avoid the perception of subjective judgement of what’s on there.”

Paul — 23:15: “You don’t have a congress that is truly ready to create a regulatory framework in the interest of the Republic and the world right now. We just don’t have it.”

Rich — 28:30: “I think the point we’re making is that this turned out to be way bigger than a startup and that the people at the wheel — I don’t think they’re evil — I think that their mandate it to squeeze maximum value for investors and not break the law.”

Paul — 30:00: “Facebook says it serves but it doesn’t really know who its master is.”

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 

Sep 11, 2018

 

Trusting Your Gut: This week, Paul Ford and Rich Ziade are joined by Michael Shaoul, the philosopher-manager of Marketfield Asset Management and expert on business cycles and the convergence of world events and geopolitics. Is the cycle of commercial real estate on its deathbed? Are shoes the only thing immune to downtrodden cycles? We discuss what happens when people tell you that you’ve got it all wrong, and exactly what you should do if you see a volcano at the company party.

 


Michael — 4:15: “There are multiple cycles that you learn to pay attention to. One of the things that I say is that when you look at cycles across decades or centuries […] the nouns and the verbs are always changing. It’s always something different, but the adjectives and the adverbs stay the same.”

Michael — 5:40: “Clearly we’re here in the middle of a great technology cycle. When it’s gone over its skis, when it’s no longer investible, when it’s outright dangerous, it’s a hard thing to notice. But if I went back to the early 1990s, language starts to change. Evaluation metrics start to change. You start valuing eyeballs rather than revenue.”

Michael — 6:45: “I don’t think I need to apologize to my children for not owning Bitcoin, but to me that’s what the end of one of these investment cycles looks like. You look like a moron for having not put an indiscriminate amount of cash to work in the space and everybody on the outside is kind of laughing at you and trying to pull you in.”

Michael — 8:20: “When I read your article on Blockchain, one of the things that really pulled it home to me because you were going back and talking about the late 1990s is how little fun is had towards the end of a cycle. It’s just miserable. There’s nothing genuinely creative going on, it’s all about the bottom line or the top line. Everybody’s expectations go beyond what is possible. It’s just a lot of stress and aggravation. Good luck keeping employees.”

Michael — 12:40: “I always say to people it’s okay to do something stupid and reckless with your money as long as you follow two rules: One is you put a small amount of money […] in it. Number two is you remember that you’re doing something stupid and reckless. The mistake people make is they think that they’ve found the answer and they overcommit.”

Paul — 13:00: “The people we know who are very into Blockchain who are kind of rational about it basically are like, hey, you’re going to the track. See what happens. But you don’t put your kids’ college funds in it.”

Michael — 16:50: “I publish my weekly thoughts on markets. […] I put together a sort of chatty weekly piece, just saying look, this is what’s happened in the last week and this is why it matters or this is why it doesn’t.”

Michael — 17:25: “[Macro] is a funny term. It’s like saying what does ‘technology’ mean? It’s a very broad term, so the way we look at it is we think at any given point in time [it is] the things which are worth focussing on. Obviously I’ll always talk about the S&P 500 in my job because that’s the starting point for whether it’s been a good week or a bad week as far as most people are concerned. We’ll focus on a particular sector we think is really in motion […] and ignore things that might be interesting but we feel 25 people have already written about.”

Rich — 19:45: “Technology is seeping into — or the world is seeping into — […] the formulas around valuing technology that come from really dramatically different places like foreign policy and security. If you had told me that 15 years ago that global geopolitics would affect Microsoft Excel…”

Michael — 24:20:Gatsby is still, to me, a great book about cycles. It could only get written at that point in time, it’s another cycle on top of everything else.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Sep 4, 2018

Pull to Refresh? How about Smile to Fave: This week, Paul Ford and Rich Ziade discuss the building blocks of software development. Why do apps so often look and behave the same? We break down the tension between working within beautifully designed parameters and the need to innovate. What principles do fast food and software share, and does this have anything to do with why Paul had so much trouble ordering his salad?

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Paul — 2:55: “This is the thing that people don’t know. When you come to us and say ‘write me an app,’ you’re asking us to write as little code as possible. That’s in your best interest.”

Paul — 5:05: “Why do apps look the same? Why do they behave the same? […] It’s because everyone is using the same libraries. It’s really tricky, right, because you’d think if you want to innovate, you’d want to break out of that.”

Paul — 5:45: “This is the great tension in our industry, because you want to innovate and you want to blow everything up, but the cost to do so is unbelievably high. […] I could go to the store, I could buy food, and I could cook from a recipe, or I could grow my own wheat.”

Rich — 9:55: “We’re talking about how these libraries are great for engineers because they get to skip. It’s great for users because the patterns and the gestures become common and becomes so much easier to pick up another app.”

Rich — 10:50: “Isn’t this the model behind fast food? It’s good because it has fat and sugar in it, but consistency is huge. Like people who go on vacations go to McDonalds because they know what they’re going to get.”

Paul — 15:50: “Design — brand focused design and the traditional qualities of design — were always about having a specific kind of voice. Like the work that Paul Rand does, or the work they do down the street at Pentagram. […] I recognize this, it feels familiar, it works within a set of parameters, but it’s original too.”

Paul — 16:10: “There’s a huge tension in technology where [you have to] follow the rules of the SDK, follow the Human Interface Guidelines and make it looks exactly like the other apps […] or you’ll lose the user.”

Rich — 19:35: “Credit to Adobe for giving every single engineer that worked on Photoshop props when you load it. The problem is that it zips by at 180mph.”

Paul — 20:00: “If Adobe Photoshop worked like Mac apps typically worked, it would be a lot easier to learn and adapt to. But it would also be less differentiated and it’s Photoshop and it’s Adobe so it has its own thing going.”



Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 

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