Beyond metaphors and into the digital future : In 1973, Xerox PARC introduced the Xerox Alto. It was the first computer to support an operating system based on a graphical user interface. This began the desktop metaphor; the computer monitor as if it were the top of the user's desk. Forty-six years later, the metaphor lives on. We talk about files and documents— even when there’s nothing to print. Why are we still hung up on the desktop? Can we imagine a digital future free of off-screen comparisons? Paul and Rich ponder the possibility, and more.
The battle over the App Store is far from over: In March Spotify launched Time to Play Fair, a website outlining how Apple mistreats companies like Spotify by charging excessive fees, blocking upgrades and promoting its own services in its App Store. Shortly after, Apple fired back in a press release, making the case that Spotify’s claims are misleading
This week, Paul and Rich weigh in on the squabble. Is Apple really muscling in on Spotify? How symbiotic is their relationship? Why is Spotify making this case now? What are the implications of opting into the platform economy?
Why Go In?: On today’s episode of Track Changes, Rich and Paul sit down with Andrew Smith, a journalist and writer who recently learned to code. We talk about following curiosity, and learning to program in a world where almost everything we interact with is mediated by code. We discuss Andrew’s pivot from writing about music and culture, to technology and high-finance, and dissect what that says about our lives today. We also get some insight into Andrew’s most recent research into the kids who ran the internet through 1995 - 2000 (Spoiler: the reasons behind the dot-com crash are a sham!).
Andrew Smith https://andrewsmithauthor.com/splash/
Andrew on twitter https://twitter.com/wiresmith?lang=en
Moon Dust : In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth https://www.amazon.com/Moondust-Search-Men-Fell-Earth-ebook/dp/B005EJKRDM
Douglas Rushkoff https://rushkoff.com/
Real Player https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RealPlayer
Quincy Larson https://twitter.com/ossia
Free Code Camp https://www.freecodecamp.org/
It is always a negotiation: This week on Track Changes, Paul and Rich discuss how to be a good manager and leader of people. We compare past experiences we’ve had as managers at our worst and best selves, and what we’ve learned from them (Tip: do not passive aggressively go in!). We discuss the importance of building a culture of speed and execution from the beginning, and how to foster conversation around timelines and scope. Paul and Rich also give tips on how to push back on a manager’s demands, in the right way.
Rich— 2:11: “Consensus and discussion and dialogue around decisions are really important. But as a leader, sometimes you actually want to apply a little pressure … and applying that pressure means there is less dialogue.”
Paul— 7:26: “You are always caught between do I mentor this person and give them a model of thinking that they can apply or do I tell them what I need to get done and assume that they will figure it out later.”
Paul— 13:21: “It really is a negotiation. If you firmly believe that anything less than 6 weeks completely is a risk, then you have to come back to me and say, ‘we have got to cut scope’. We don’t want to fail and be humiliated in public.”
Rich— 16:54: “The best advice I can give [to someone with a manager]… is pause and think about what are the motivations that are creating that pressure. … if you pause and think about those motivators, then a) you start to empathize with why you’re getting that pressure and b) you can actually have dialogue when you are talking to your manager about that pressure. It actually opens up their thinking and they start to see a leader, in you.”
Turning the universal mouse button on its head: this week, Paul and Rich discuss the importance of getting into new skills and unlearning old habits. We look at Rich’s new interest in Blender, how it’s led to him making a beautiful hotdog, and the time it takes to learn how to use a 6 button mouse (spoiler: it doesn’t take long!). We talk about how the phone is the new computer and what that means for the future of the desktop. We also invite you all to attend our live podcast taping on April 11th at Postlight!
Good design doesn’t have to be complex: Like many, Rich feels like a bit of an outsider when it comes to design. To non-designers, the field can seem confusing, at times even intimidating. But it doesn't have to be like this way. At Postlight, design drives the process, and in this episode we break down that process.
Paul and Rich are joined by Postlight’s directors of product design, Skyler Balbus and Matt Quintanilla, who lead Relay, the Postlight design sprint. What is a design sprint? What makes good design? What role should it play in product development? And what makes a great product designer? The team answers these questions and more.
Can a reclusive coder become a criminal mastermind?: Journalist and author Evan Ratliff spent four years piecing together the story of Paul Le Roux, a programmer who began by selling hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of painkillers through an online prescription drug network— but he didn't settle. The rest of Le Roux’s story spirals into a grim parody of startup culture not even a novelist could’ve dreamed up.
In this episode Paul and Rich sit down with Ratliff to discuss his new book, The Mastermind, the true account of the decade-long pursuit of Le Roux. What happens when expertise on information security and internet infrastructure falls into the wrong hands? What could have become of the villainous tech-savvy entrepreneur? What can the tech world take away from this eerie chain of events?
The web is a mess, and it’s getting messier: This is something you know if you read articles online. Close the pop-up, scroll past the ads, and click ‘next page’ to finish the piece. You’re right, it shouldn’t have to be this hard. In 2009, Rich hacked together simple bookmarklet called Readability, which would turn a cluttered article page into the essentials— a headline, headers, images, and the article.
A Creative Path to Find What's Next : Harper Reed could have listed his many accomplishments on the historical monument he installed in his parents’ front yard. It could have said that he founded Modest, a mobile retail startup eventually acquired by Paypal, or that he was CTO of Threadless and the 2012 reelection campaign of Barack Obama. Instead, he and his brother Dylan chose to commemorate their exploration of Uranus.
It’s no wonder Rich often hears Paul say “I wonder what Harper Reed would think”. In this episode, we find out; the pair talk to Harper about his dad’s Apple IIc, coming of age during “the most rapid capital expansion in the history of the universe”, political tech, mobile commerce, and what comes next for the defiant technologist.
Less is more: There’s nothing cool or sexy about a pitch deck. Business folk love them. They’re meant to convince the viewer of something. Some people have a talent for producing them, but most need a bit of guidance. Like them or not, pitch decks run the world— and making a good one may not be as straightforward as you think.
How do you make a purposeful, beautiful, even entertaining deck? Years of appealing to large clients has taught Paul and Rich a thing or two about creating a cogent presentation. In this episode, the two expound some of their knowledge; balancing words with images, the density of your information, understanding your audience and your message, and the power of great design.
It isn’t Glamorous, But it’s Critical. In this episode, Paul and Rich explore a time-consuming component of product development: Authentication.
You know the drill. You save time and having to memorize another pesky password by using Google or Facebook to log on to a website. But is the proliferation of external authentication providers on the web a good thing or not? Which companies should invest in setting up their own authentication system, and which ones should save their web developers and online visitors the hassle? (Spoiler: Banks should. Any group set growing an audience should not.)
The pair also discuss the merits of Facebook, the difference between being a free and a paying Google customer, and why password managers are a godsend.
Bonus: Rich discovers that his email has fallen foul to multiple data breaches, and is cool with it.
Behind Every Great Media Outlet Is Clever Analytics Software:This week Rich and Paul speak to Josh Schwartz, chief of product at Chartbeat, the content analytic ssoftware used by media heavy weights across the globe, including The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post.
Which stories work and which ones tank? Do media organizations really need to pivot to video? Is the online quiz dead? Do numbers in a headline matter? Should analytics drive content? Josh talks to Rich and Paul about how Chartbeat’s real-time web traffic reports help editors entice and retain online readers. He also gives his take on operating in a post-GDPR world and on how effective pop-up data collection warnings are. The trio also muse on the future of the data dashboard.
Fear, Flattery and Word Salad: In this week’s episode, Paul and Rich spill (not-so-secret) insider secrets and discuss what businesses should be wary of when hiring a digital agency.
Analytics change, as does the in-house vision for a product. How can you ensure that your agency will accommodate the dynamic development process while staying within your budget? Why is it important to remain on equal ground with your agency–and what has that got to do with acronyms?
At what point is it important to worry about scaling? And why should businesses be wary of suggestions that are a little too on-trend? From demanding transparency, communicating clearly, sniffing out flattery, and ensuring that all proposals–no matter how shiny–are entrenched in your core business needs, Paul and Rich have got you covered.
Conversations are Terrible. Podcasts are Good: 2018 was a rough year for technology in the popular mind. We look at what went wrong to see how it can inform the future tech of 2019.
We could say that 2019 is about accepting the fact that we’re all doomed. Or, in keeping with our theme of optimism, we could look forward to things like 5G networks, better machine learning, and the continued success of Pinterest and Etsy. What does Etsy have that Facebook doesn’t? How can we all accept that community moderation is necessary? Will this years advancements in machine learning lead to better, cheaper, and faster hardware? How can we stay optimistic when competing with the giant platforms like Google and Facebook?
Tradition and the Digital Age: On this episode of Track Changes, we sit down with Perry Hewitt, the former Chief Digital Officer of Harvard University (ever heard of it?) to break down the duties of her job.
Perry talks about what it’s like stepping into that role in an institution that emphasizes history and tradition. When Harvard adapts to digital, what kind of problems need to be solved? How do you measure the health of their digital properties? How do you make Harvard look good? We discuss the difference between data informed versus data driven marketing, as well as the blurring lines between product development and marketing. Perry argues that so much of the marketing now is within the product itself — so which end involves deep customer engagement and which involves building a relationship? How does education play a role, and to what end? Why does Rich regard marketing with suspicion? Lastly, Perry sums up the role of CDO by identifying three major points: Building consensus, scoping appropriately, and delivering early. We can get behind that.
Curious about what Postlight can do for you? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.