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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: 2019
Oct 15, 2019

Adjust the quirks: On this week’s episode of Track Changes we ask the question, “is programming becoming obsolete?”. As user-friendly visual interfaces continue to get more and more popular, we discuss why programming remains so important to tackle complex tasks and long-term software challenges. Paul and Rich also come up with a new, nicer, way to talk about bugs. In this week’s Hello Postlight segment, we hear from product manager Jorge Mir Alvarez, who tells us how he went from a Track Changes listener to a Postlight employee.

Oct 8, 2019

Constant tweaking and improving: This week on Track Changes we are joined by friend and tech writer Clive Thompson, to talk about his most recent book Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World. We chat about coder culture, its influence on society, and why the search for efficiency can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Paul and Rich also share their worst bug stories. 

Links: 

Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World 

Shift Magazine

This Magazine 

The Nation

Code for America 

Kickstarter

Tilde Club

Oct 1, 2019

Beware the low-hanging fruit: On this week’s episode of Track Changes, Paul and Rich share some industry warning signs. We chat about why you should be wary of long research phases and of people who have total faith in the product funnel. We also share some tips on how you can tell if your deadline is slipping and chat about the importance of long term product thinking. In this week’s Hello Postlight segment we meet Stephen Koch, a lead engineer who joins us to talk about his transition from marine biologist to musician to computer engineer.  

Links: 

GraphQL 

Big Spaceship Agency 

Frog Design

McKinsey 

Letter of Recommendation: Bug Fixes by Paul Ford 

Amazon

Dropbox 

Sketch

Adobe 

Athletic Brewing Company

Sep 24, 2019

To scrape or not to scrape: In this week’s episode of Track Changes, Paul and Rich sit down to discuss the recent verdict in the hiQ v LinkedIn lawsuit. We chat about the importance of this case and how it helped solidify a basic aspect of the web: public information access. But first, in this week’s Hello Postlight segment we hear from Thomas Rudczynski, our Director of Product Management, who shares advice on how to be a good product manager and how to get into the field. 

Links: 

Huge

LinkedIn 

Medium

Wired

HiQ

HiQ v. LinkedIn and the Legality of Web Scraping 

Common Crawl 

Sep 17, 2019

The Fun of the Struggle: On this week’s episode of Track Changes we are joined by Netflix’s first CEO and co-founder, Marc Randolph. Marc talks about the origins of Netflix and how he helped grow the company from a Patsy Cline CD to a billion dollar publicly traded media provider. He shares some tips on how to stay flexible in the face of changing demands and talks about the importance of timing and luck when starting a business. He also shares some details about why he left the company and talks about his new book That Will Never Work.  

Links: 

Sep 10, 2019

There is no perfect freedom: This week on Track Changes, Paul and Rich sit down to discuss internet censorship on a global scale. We chat about how power impacts technology and information access and whether global software can really exist when countries have such different approaches to the internet. Also in this week’s Hello Postlight segment we meet Liran Okanon, a Senior Product Designer at Postlight, who talks about the importance of empathy in his work. 

 

Links: 

Life in an Internet Shutdown - New York Times 

Revel 

Getaway Bar 

‘You Stink’: The fight to get rubbish off Beirut’s streets

WhatsApp 

Trakt 

WeChat 

Sep 3, 2019

Trojan Horse: Ever wonder why some web pages take forever to load? On today’s episode of Track Changes, Paul and Rich explore the mess that is the internet. We take a look at three different websites to see what’s hiding behind them, and what we find is not pretty. From ad-tech to unknown JSON files, the results are surprising and confusing. 

Links

New York Post 

The Atlantic 

Chartbeat

Mixpanel 

New Relic 

New York Times 

Scroll

Wirecutter 

AMP 

uBlock

Privacy Badger 

Ghostery  

Aug 27, 2019

We Need Guardrails: On this week’s episode of Track Changes we sit down to discuss the big question of regulating online content. Could a class action lawsuit be brought against sites that encourage violence? How can content be screened to ensure it doesn’t lead to harm? What is the role of government in all this? We discuss these questions and many more and Paul and Rich share some online privacy tips. We also chat with Engineer, John Holdun! 

LINKS

Aug 20, 2019

Follow the Data: On this week’s episode of Track Changes, tech journalist Adrianne Jeffries sits down with us to talk about The Markup, a new non-profit data driven newsroom. She talks about the importance of using data to combat bias and about how using data in journalism can bring about greater change. She also addresses the shake up that happened at The Markup in its beginnings and tells us about her personal podcast Underunderstood. 

Links: 

- The Markup 

- Propublica  

- Machine Bias by Propublica

- HUD Sues Facebook Over Housing Discrimination by Propublica 

- New York Times

- Buzzfeed 

- Yelp is Screwing Over Restaurants By Quietly Replacing Their Phone Numbers

- ReadWrite 

- TechCrunch 

- New York Observer

- Motherboard 

- The Outline

Aug 13, 2019

Without the user there is no product: When Twitter rolled out its new design, many users were upset with the new changes, but what comes first, the product or the user? On this week’s episode Paul and Rich sit down to chat about Twitter’s redesign. We share our reactions to the changes and delve into questions of user consultation. Also featured in this week’s episode is the second installment of our new segment Hello Postlight. In it we hear from Aimée Reed, Postlight’s Director of Product Design, who talks about where she finds inspiration for her work (Hint: get out of the house!).

Links: 

Twitter 

The Web Is a Customer Service Medium by Paul Ford 

Aimée Reed

Barbara Kruger 

Geoff Teehan

Aug 7, 2019

What's the purpose of Email today? This week Paul and Rich sit down to discuss the monster that email has become. Email has transitioned away from a place to have conversation and become a function that eventually moves to another platform (usually Slack). So what is email's real purpose? Do all meaningful conversations need to happen face-to-face? Can we collectively put an end to the eight-paragraph email? We answer these questions and share the top 5 worst email subject lines (Hint: "You have a minute?" is up there!)

Jul 30, 2019

To ship or not to ship: Software is never ready, but sometimes you have to ship it. This week Paul and Rich sit down to talk about the difficulties of shipping software. We share tips on how to deal with numerous stakeholders and engineers so that you can release software on time. We also talk about the importance of setting deadlines and draw some parallels between software and Las Vegas buffets. 

Links: 

General Magic 

Tinysheet by Postlight

Jul 23, 2019

Do Digital Boundaries Exist?: This week Paul and Rich sit down to talk about this week’s tech scandals. We chat about the security flaws found within email client Superhuman and teleconference software Zoom. Do these companies have an obligation to protect their client’s information? Should usability trump security? Do we have a right to be angry? If that's not enough, we also chat about summer BBQs.

Links

Mike Davidson: Superhuman is Spying on You

Superhuman

Zoom

Jul 16, 2019

Technology is not a panacea: This week Paul and Rich sit down with Noah Brier, who explains to us why technology cannot solve all of our problems. Noah has done countless interviews with enterprises about their tech needs, and has created content marketing software for large enterprises. He shares his insights on current enterprise software trends and gives us some tips on how to better market our business. Pro tip: traditional marketing like billboards and taxi top ads give the most bang for your buck! 

 

Links: 

Percolate

Noah Brier’s Blog 

Jul 9, 2019

Digital Transformation is like a Horoscope: In this week’s episode, Paul and Rich sit down to discuss need creation and the tech industry's move to talk about trends in such abstract language that it seems like it applies to everybody. We chat about the relationship between service providers and tech research firms and why you should be suspicious of new industry buzzwords and complex acronyms. Reminder: it’s okay to ask what that new acronym means!

Jul 2, 2019

Focus on Core Needs: Lara Hogan knows and loves management so she wrote a book about it. This week she joins Paul and guest host Gina Trapani to chat about her new book and about leadership in the workplace. Lara breaks down her framework for managing different types of people and gives tips on how to adapt your management style. She also gives Paul some useful advice on where he should sit in the office and explains why moving desks can be so traumatic.   

 

LINKS:

Lara Hogen - Resilient Management 

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard 

 

Jun 25, 2019

One size never fits all: This week Paul and Rich discuss two of the need to decentralize or centralize software platforms. Worried about the dozens of unintegrated platforms that have appeared over the years? Feeling restrained by the old legacy software system you’re using? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We give some tips on how to move forward when dealing with these issues and how to avoid them in the future. Hint: get a product manager, develop a product roadmap, and be cautious of giant pieces of software that claim to solve all your problems.  

Jun 18, 2019

Don’t hide what you want people to do: is the advice that Al Rotches gives Paul and Rich about online advertising. Al has built a career on making banner ads for clients like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. On this week’s episode, we chat with Al about how he gets people to engage online with his ads. He shares his insights about the importance of ad placement and about why most banner ads are so horrible. He also gives us some advice on how big and what colour the button should be on your ad. Hint: it should be big and stay away from red!

 

Links:

Al Rotches’ Website

Barack Obama’s Banner Ads

Jun 11, 2019

No more slapdash, we want Slack-Dash: Ever get bogged down by a neverending Slack thread where few decisions ever get made? On this week’s episode of Track Changes we hear about a new Slack app that solves this very problem. Paul and Rich sit down with fellow Postlight employees Matt Quintanilla and Phil Johnson to chat about Dash, the app they developed that helps you organize your teams and deadlines in Slack. Matt and Phil tell us about why and how they created this new app and why it can be used for anything from preparing for a meeting to wedding planning.

 

Links:

Get Dash

More about Postlight Labs

Jun 4, 2019

Is this really necessary?: This week Paul and Rich sit down to discuss the current culture surrounding software updates. Are constant software updates necessary? Are they improving the user experience or complicating it? We chat about our love/hate relationship with updates and get to hear Paul compare Spotify to a shapeshifting witch!

Links:

Updating Spotify

Postlight Labs

 

May 28, 2019

Improworsement: is an improvement that makes things worse, and Erin McKean knows all about that. She's wanted to create dictionaries since the age of eight and this year she is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Wordnik, an online dictionary she helped create that has grown to 10 times the size of the Oxford English Dictionary. This week Paul and Rich sit down with Erin to discuss the evolution of Wordnik, from its humble beginnings in PHP to developing a full scalable API. Erin shares the challenges she’s faced, both technical and financial, and gives us tips on how to deal with failure. She also helps us expand our vocabulary and answers the difficult question: what is the best word?

 

Links:

Wordnik

TED Talk - Erin McKean: Go ahead, make up new words!

Wordnik on Twitter

 

May 21, 2019

Technology, You’ve Changed: For years, the conversations we’ve had about tech have focused on the negative. We’ve all heard about how tech giants have infiltrated our politics and our privacy, we’ve ridiculed the power-hungry people behind the platforms we love, but that’s not the technology industry Paul and Rich fell in love with. On today’s episode, we look at where we’re at right now, we ask ourselves if tech giants want to be ethical, and we try to defend an incredibly difficult and powerful industry. We also hear Paul’s top-three favourite tech things!

 

LINKS

May 14, 2019

Don’t go chasing easy answers: This week Paul and Rich are joined by Microsoft veteran Adam Barr to speak about his new book, The Problem with Software. Barr worked as a programmer for Microsoft for over 20 years and during this time he saw a number of troubling patterns in software development. We chat with Adam about what’s changed in the industry over the years and about the need for better education for programmers. Adam also gives us an inside scoop on what it was like working for Microsoft in the old days and draws some parallels between Microsoft management and baseball. This episode is a homerun!  

Links:

The Problem with Software: Why Smart Engineers Write Bad Code

Adam David Barr on Twitter

May 7, 2019

Prioritize growth and allow for risk: This week Paul and Rich come back from holiday to discuss the best ways to encourage creative thinking. We uncover the relationship between reducing clutter and problem solving. We discuss the importance of deadlines and prioritization as tools to better organize your thoughts and make time for the things that matter.

We also discuss the paradoxical trick for better growth and productivity: stepping away from our computer screens rather than towards them.

Apr 30, 2019

Email sucks: On this week’s episode of Track Changes, Paul Ford and Gina Trapani reflect on how Gmail has revolutionized email over the past fifteen years. We recall the many iterations the platform has gone through—going all the way back to the days when it was invite only— and discuss the many flaws that still remain. Is there ever going to be a productive solution to deal with that ever growing pile of emails?

 

Links:

Superhuman: The Fastest Email Experience Ever Made

Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster and Better

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