The Cult of Enthusiasm

We live in age of overwhelming optimism.  Everyone’s life is maical, and every experience awesome. You can’t buy cereal without being promised a soul uplifting and life affirming spiritual experience of purest joy. And yet, people are unhappy. Why is this?

Optimists are right in being wary of negativity. Most negativity simply hides fear, it creates barriers where there are none, making sure we don’t try something because it can’t be done or because what would people think? Negativity is a sneaky way for us to make ourselves victims. Pessimism is useless, we should never be victims.

But at the other end of the spectrum is the almost maniacal optimist. The person who’s so enthusiastic at all times it’s is simply beyond reason.  Well, what’s wrong with that?

Forcing enthusiasm has two major issues, as the journalist Oliver Burkeman outlines in his excellent best seller The Antidote.

Fail at Life

Firstly it sets you up to fail. How we talk to ourselves about things has a very real influence on how we feel. It sets expectations on the situations we find ourselves in, and life will simply never be a barrage of awesome and amazing experiences. It can not be, because the human mind isn’t made to handle that. It would simply stop registering the good things. How many times have you been reminded to count your blessings, only to realize life isn’t so bad? By expecting daily life to be amazing, we’ll constantly face being let down or surrounded by haters. Not because the world is actually like that, but because we‘ve created an impossible expectation. 

Use it or lose it

Secondly it seems we actually lose the ability to experience real joy and happiness when we’re constantly forcing the simulacrum of those emotions. According to burkeman “fake it til you make it” is not just incorrect, but is actually the opposite of how your mind is built to work.  Counter-intuitively looking at things from a negative point of view, a bit sceptically or even critically, you’ll set yourself up to be positively surprised often. And prepared for the situations when you’re not. 

We should never limit ourselves with artificial barriers of negativity and fear. But if we want to experience real happiness, we also shouldn’t buy into the cult of enthusiasm. Don’t force enthusiasm, look critically at the world and enjoy the ride. 

Giving ideas a second chance

Last year I read a book that seemingly everyone was raving about. I made it about 60% through it when the author took a sudden turn from logically progressing an argument to stating a badly formed rhetoric idea as truth. I put the book down and in a sigh resigned myself to reevaluate everything I had just read.

A few weeks ago, I was inspired to give the book a second chance. And I'm glad I did.

It turns our the rhetoric idea was a several pages long example of fuzzy logic, that the author deconstructed, without judging the idea. Just logically laid out. If it hadn't been for my automatic revulsion to the idea itself, I would've noticed that a year ago.

Skeptically questioning everything is essential to progress. But cynicism has a tendency to creep in. I'm glad I let go of this cynicism and explored more.

2018 Setup

I’ve always been impressed by people detailing their setups for activity. It’s part inspiring and part a treasure trove of tips. So with a head nod to Thord who inspired this one, here’s my setup going into 2018.

What I do

I mostly do consultant work, front end development and UX design. But I also do some product development, which means writing and creating content. So my time is split pretty unevenly between: Design, Development, Entertainment and Creativity. I figured these might be good categories.

Devices

Design & Development

  • MacBook Pro 13” (space gray, touch bar edition) — I spend 90% of my time on this machine. I wish I didn’t, but until I finish KodApp I can’t properly work on my iPad Pro. The MBP is great though, it’s no longer as overwhelmingly better than the compition that MBPs used to be. But this is still a fantastic machine.
  • iPad Pro 10.5” (silver) — my favorite device by far. I use it with two external keyboards, the Apple Smart Keyboard an Apple Keyboard in a Canvas cover, and the Apple Pencil. Can’t get enough of it! Everything I can do, I do better on the iPad. It’s just a much more limited device. And strangely, those limitations create both focus and creativity.
  • iPhone X (space gray) — I’ve had an iPhone since the iPhone 3G so you can imagine how well integrated into the ecosystem I am. The iPhone has captured more memories and facilitated more  opportunities in my life than anything else (except maybe the internet itself). I could not be happier. And th X is simply the most iPhone of any iPhone so far.
  • Apple Watch (series zero) I’m forever greatful to the Apple Watch for helping me catch my ex cheating, it had gone on for a long time and might’ve gone on a lot longer without the Apple Watch. But truth be told, I don’t use it that much. I wear it every day but I read the time, temperature and measure my sleep. That’s about it. When there’s a nicer watch available with these featres (there are some already but none have caught my eye) I’ll switch to that.

Creativity

  • iPad Pro 10.5” — Already wrote about this device, but couldn’t list creative tools without it. That’s how good it is.
  • Notebooks and pens — I’ve always carried around a ton of notebooks and pencils to draw and sketch on. While I’ve been trimming these down over the last year I’ve also added a new habit: Every morning I journal in my Field Notes with my 0.7mm black Muji pen. It helps me stay acountable and learning.

Entertainment

  • Kindle Oasis — I read. A lot. And this is the best reading device I've ever had.
  • Nintendo Swith — I've always loved gaming, even used to work with game design, and this magical console has completely rekindled my sense of childlike wonder for gaming.
  • Apple TV — Netflix machine.

Apps

Design

  • Paper by 53 — Probably the best sketching app ever. Use it with my Apple Pencil every time I start fleshing out ideas.
  • Figma — This is collaborative Sketch, in the browser. It's amazing, and allows you to prototype directly.
  • Keynote — Sometimes I have to present design, and I usually use keynote for that. Why? It's free and beautiful and easy to use.

Development

  • Atom — Fantastic text editor for all your coding needs.
  • Zeit Now — The best collection of cloud tools for developers I've ever used. Check out everything Zeit does, and never use anything but Now as a dev environment.
  • Digital Ocean — If, and it's increasingly rare, Zeit's environments aren't configurable enough.

Creativity

  • Field Notes — Great looking notebooks, for sketching and journaling.
  • Paper by 53 — Like I wrote above. Everything starts in Paper.

Entertainment

  • Spotify — For music, tried Apple Music, but I just missed curated playlists way to much. Before you say it, no, Apple Musics playlists are not even close.
  • Podcasts / Overcast — I try to live with defaults to understand users in all situations. But Apple Podcast app is just so bad I keep coming back to Overcast.
  • Audible / Kindle — I listen to books as much or even more than I read.
  • Twitter — The only social media I've ever truly loved. The company is doing everything wrong now a days, but I still love the free exchange of ideas. Wish someone could build a next generation of this.

Productivity

  • Bear — My note taking app of choice.
  • Things — All my todos organised in a  GTD system. Beautiful app that's a pleasure to use, all day every day.

Stuff

  • Fjällräven G-1000 — my daily laptop bag. This is basically my office.
  • AirPods — The best headphones I've ever owned. Always with me, always in use, always work.

That's it! That's all the stuff I use on a daily basis.

 

Getting rid of wish lists

I've been practicing minimalism for years. Slowly getting rid of things that I don't need. But I realized only yesterday that I'm hoarding clutter in my own head. Getting stressed for no reason. So I've decided to get rid of that stuff.

Yesterday I was talking to my friend Magnus about how he managed his reading list. You know, that list of books and articles you keep in three different places that always seems to grow? Those amazon wish lists that never seems to have a thing you want to read right now?

Well Magnus didn't have one, and that got me thinking.

I've been bookmarking all these books, articles, movies and TV-shows all over the place. But how much time am I actually spending enjoying things from these lists? To be honest, most of the time I stress about them and maybe once in a while I prune. So what is the point of keeping a list of musts when they were supposed to be entertaining?

This is the essence of minimalism. Your stuff ends up owning you. When you spend more time on upkeep of your stuff than on enjoying them. It becomes a ridiculous waste of lifetime.

So I'm getting rid of my lists. I will no longer store articles, I'll read them or disregard them. I'll no longer add books to lists. Either I want to read it now, or I'll come back when I feel like it. I'm not about to stop consuming media. Instead I'm going to consume what I want, instead of what I should want.

The goal is to get down to one or two things I'm reading. One thing I want to see next. The rest can wait.

There's never enough time as it is. Why the hell keep holding on to distraction?

The anti-conspiracy theory

In literature and movies there's an archetype, a certain type of character, that I enjoy; the antihero. 

An antihero or antiheroine is a protagonist who lacks conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, and morality. (Wikipedia)

The antihero usually portrays how a slightly more realistic person would react in situations in need of heroism.

These days conspiracy theories are both abundant and constantly heckled. Something about great mysterious behind-the-curtain players who try to mastermind humanity into their evil machinations speak to us. It probably makes us feel like the underdogs, or heroes, of our daily situations.

The anti-conspiracy theory would, like the antihero, explain all the same facts and results as the conspiracy theory. But instead of grand masterminds hiding in the shadows, the antagonists world be plodding middle managers doing a series of dumb things to further their immediate, and often political, claims. With little or no thought about the actual results their actions have.

Basically, the road to hell paved with good intentions.

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
(Hanlon's razor)

    A perfect example of this story arc would be Ayn Rands much debated Atlas Shrugged. The story is often ridiculed for over-the-top heroes and a utopian view of rationalism. While most of those criticisms are pot shots at an author that never really mastered the English language, they completely miss the main plot of the story; in Atlas Shrugged the world is ruined by a series of bumbling idiots trying to pursue their own political power and ideals. To effects all to common in our own world. It's an alternative narrative to why things are so messed up, taken to an extreme.

    It doesn't really matter if you think Atlas Shrugged is a good book or a terrible one (I love the book for it's contrarian world view, but the author was not a very good writer). But the way the story is built up, the narrative, is a perfect anti-conspiracy theory. 

    The next time you hear a conspiracy theory, try turning it into an anti-conspiracy theory and see if that story doesn't work a little bit better. 

      Lifestyle design: iteration two

      I’ve spent 20 days trying to follow the routine I set up in iteration one. It didn’t work.

      Well maybe that is a bit dramatic. It didn’t work as expected, but I learned a lot about how time tracking an entire life really works. As usual, I’ve been slightly too enthusiastic. So I need to tweak my formulea based on what I’ve learned.

      What I learned one: Sleep is hard

      I planned to sleep 8 hours and spend an aditional 1 hour per day in bed to relax.
      I mananged an average 6 hours of sleep and I felt like shit. I was lucky if I spent more than ten minutes relaxing before I needed to sleep.
      This isn’t really a fault in planning, just an observation that I’m not disciplined enough. I need that sleep. It’s the foundation of everything else.

      What I learned two: No one works 8 hours a day

      Now when I say work I mean active time being productive. Since all my work is digital I’ve been able to track every minute of work. And let me tell you, whenever someone says they work more than 40 hours a week, what they really mean is they spend that time in proximity to work.

      • At 4 hours a day I work great. A lot of things get done and I’m nice to collegues.
      • At 6 hours a day I work sporadically. Some things get done but I get easily distracted and I’m a bit of a grouch.
      • At 8 hours a day I don’t work well. Little things get under my skin. My solutions are equally brilliant and idiotic. I’m easily angered and everything stresses me out.
      • At 10 hours a day I’m mad. Everything pushes my blood pressure through the roof, and little real work gets done.

      Thankfully I also tracked the number of tasks that got done. I’ve edited out the small stuff and most of these tasks were about as much work.

      • At 10 hours: average of 4 tasks.
      • At 8 hours: average of 6-8 tasks.
      • At 6 hours: average of 12 tasks.
      • At 4 hours: average of 15-25 tasks...

      Working less apparently forces me to focus better. A lot better. In fact I’m slightly shocked at the difference.

      What I learned three: Media is not rest

      I had 3 hours of play, or rest, planned per day. But after 8 hours of focused work, I ried watching a movie or reading a book. Both of which made me even more tired. Media, it turns out, is not really that restful.

      We spend a lot of time with media, as relaxation, as a social event. So much time we take it for granted that we should. But at least for me, I’ve found that media doesn’t relax me at all. On the contrary, it keeps me focused and alert, spending more of my energy.

      Perhaps more media is not the answer.

      What I learned four: This is going to take forever

      I can’t keep testing this slowly. Or I will never find a balance that works. Thankfully a tip from my friend Michael gave me an alterantive strategy.

      From now on I will try to plan only the next day, and evaluate how it went each night. I’ll keep tracking my time and use Day One to plan and evaluate my days.

      Lifestyle design: the plunge

      Getting started was much harder than expected. After I got past the first wave of fear & procrastination actual problems reared their ugly heads.

      "Problems"

      Now there are a lot of people who complain about this word; problems. They seem to believe that by admitting there is such a thing, we stop and give up.

      I’ve never believed that. I think we need to clearly state and define every problem and complication before we can do anything about them.

      In my experience, the people complaining about this word are the same people who are least likely to solve anything. I might be wrong about this, but it is interesting to note that the larger and more sluggish an organisation, the fewer problems they seem to communicate.

      Problems solved

      I have things I need to deal with to really get going. The first of these major hurdles I’ve just left in the dust. I’ve managed to clean up my debt and I’m back in the black. It took some radical action, but I’m actually better off now than I have been in years.

      Getting ready to celebrate

      Happy celebrations

      I also managed to celebrate my 31st birthday with a few of my dearest friends. We drank sparkling wine far into the night and both laughed and cries. There was also chocolate cake that might haunt me forever.

      Friends

      Thank you everyone, I really needed that.

      Lifestyle design: beginning somewhere

      This december my life changed dramatically. I transitioned from being a partner of the worlds best web agencies to what is essentially a normal, though mostly remote, developer job.
      Then suddenly, my intended life partner left me. We came to terms again but after months of tears, talks and moments of happiness we finally parted ways.

      So now I find myself in a situation usually refered to as a life crisis. But I’m not sure I would call it that.

      I’m not crushed. Just a bit sad.

      I am not powerless, but more empowered than ever before.

      So what now?

      Lifestyle design

      I’ve always wanted to design my own lifestyle. To try and define how parts of my life fit together. And I’ve had some success creating an unorthodox daily routine already. But now is the perfect time to try something a bit more interesting.

      I’m looking into every area of my life, to try to change basically everything, into something that is more me. I will post a step by step log here with my ideas, and my outcomes.

      I have no idea where this is going.

      But here’s my initial plan: Over the coming year, I will try to tackle one aspect of my life per week. Some might take many weeks. Some might take days. I expect most of these experiments to fail, but to be interesting nonetheless.

      If you have any ideas, I’d love to read them. I have a few already and will post about the first one shortly.


      The surprising effect of boredom

      I've spent years trying out all the tools and tips for increasing productivity I could lay my hands on. Hundreds of apps, and services. Tips for sleeping. Hacks for staying focused. They all worked.

      Each one increased the number of todos I checked off my lists. At least for a day or two. After that the search was on for whatever could help me improve more. I'm not even sure now if the methods failed as novelty wore off, or if I just got bored and started looking for my next fix.

      The problem is that time went by and I wasn't actually getting anywhere. My todos were demolished but poured in ever faster,and I never really achieved what I wanted.

      I had become an efficiency junky.

      I'm not sure when the turning point came. But over the last few years my projects are reaching further, quicker. My todo lists shrank, as did my working hours, but my output increased.

      What did I spend the rest of my time on? Being bored. Nothing I've ever tried has increased my output or my mood as much as being bored. Boredom has a bad reputation, but it seems to focus my mind.

      I've come to enjoy being bored. Even try to find time to be bored. Not that I enjoy the actual boredom, but I do enjoy the simplicity that comes after it.

      Like meditation but without the training. Being bored for a few minutes, by yourself, can make all the difference in a stressful day.

      Try it. It's free.

      The next step for Apple

      With the launch of the iPhone Apple changed the world of computing forever. Since then Apple has fought a war against Samsung, Google and others over the dominance of the mobile market. But not a lot has really changed. Android comparison

       

      Apple introduced the high pixel density display, Samsung launched larger displays. All the companies have introduced all sorts of bells and whistles to try to catch the interest of the consumer, but to little real effect. The basic model hasn't changed all that much from the original iPhone.

      iphone comparison

      Many people are thinking about and desperately trying to predict the next step. Google is launching Glass, a smartphone-like display that sits in the corner of your eye and is controlled by your voice. Most companies are working on watch-like devices based on the rumour that Apple is making one.

      That got me thinking, this is an odd assumption. Why should reinventing the market require a new device? The iPhone was certainly not the first phone, nor smartphone. It was just radically smarter then the competition. Instead of launching a new type of device, what if Apple would drastically improve the devices they already have? What could they do?

      The next generation: Real Touch

      The central feature of the iPhone, and the iPad, is the screen. When Apple added the Retina screen the other companies scoffed and smirked claiming it would only decrease battery life. But after they got their hands on it, the entire market rapidly went with high pixel density displays.

      What if Apple would add high density touch displays next? You can still use your finger as a primary pointing device. But also a stylus without lag or stutter. Maybe several people could draw and sketch together on an iPad.

      The scoffs and smirks

      Very few people will read this and go "wow! What an amazing and novel idea!". Most will remember the failed styluses of yester-year and think I've fallen off the wagon. But what if, just like with the retina screen, there would be no down side to these screens? What if they simple worked as magic paper?

      Wacom

      Wacom has the technology already. Now it is just a question of price and if Apple believes the market wants this. I say Apple, because even if Samsung and Microsoft could also do this I think their implementation of it would be lacking.

      The problem with people without problems

      You've worked with them. Perhaps you've even been them. The people who claim "there are no problems, only opportunities". This needs to stop. Putting your head in the sand doesn't make the tiger go away.

      Problems are the interesting bits. Where the plans collide with reality. Solving problems is what we do. Solving problems is the only fun part about our jobs! Issues don't solve themselves because we reframe them. But they might if we talk about them.

      Fuck all the people who tell you there are no problems.

      If the connotations of the word makes them wet their bed, they have bigger problems than language in the workplace.

      I'm not saying that the connotations of words have no power. Words have great power and choosing the right ones is very important. But if your organisation is stumped by the connotations of one word accurately describing reality, than there is a severe lack of direction.

      If you trade a swearword for "sugar", you've only moved the angry connotation about. You haven't stopped swearing. You'll find yourself sounding crazy instead of mad.

      We need to stop recoiling from the realities of the world, and of our work. Words have power. But so do actions. Deal with it. Learn to work with problems.

      The definitive guide to value creation

      In my youth I dabbled with dark arts. I thought experimenting wouldn't hurt, so I tried a little, but little became a lot. My addiction took up all my spare time and heavily impacted my social life. I became alienated by friends and had a hard time talking to people close to me.That's how I spent six years studying economics.

      Creating value is tossed around these days as the way for startups and freelancers to contribute to the marketplace. So why is no one talking about what that really means, or how to do it? The short answer is because they don't know. The long answer is that the ones that do know think it's so obvious they don't the need to explain it.

      What is value, and how do we get it

      I'll just touch upon the economics of Value first, but don't worry, it'll be short and painless: All value is derived from trade. That's what value IS.

      The idea works like this; if I have a ton of gold, but no one wants it, it is worth nothing. Literally nothing. Because I can't get anything for it. If someone would give me a loaf of bread for it, it'd be worth a loaf of bread.

      Thank god we have money (an abstract form of value, think of it as shares in the work you've done) so we don't need to slog around with all that stuff all the time.

      The interesting thing about this idea is that it implies that everyone gets richer all the time. You wouldn't trade for something you didn't want would you? We all trade what we think is worthy, which makes us better off. So in every trade there are two winners. Not one. Everyone is better off. If they aren't, the trade has been forced or is certainly the last trade between them.

      How do startups and freelancers get value? They trade with their customers (and everyone you trade with is a customer). If the customers are better off after the trade they are likely to keep being customers.

      Seems abstract? Let's get all practical with examples.

      How to Create Value

      The question of how to create value is now a lot easier to answer; we need to create stuff to trade. By stuff I mean anything that people are willing to trade for. It can be a product, or a service, but whatever we create we must have a clear definition of what it is before we trade. Otherwise customers might get impossible expectations or simple refuse the trade.

      But the main point here is create. We must be constantly creating to add value, and to show our customers what we can create.

      Defining a product

      A product is anything that can stand alone is a product. A book, a play, and a website are all products.

      Defining a service

      A service is anything that can not stand alone, anything that only exists while you do it. Cleaning, making a website, and acting in a play are all services. Seem of them create products, others just create value either by saving the customer time or lending them expertise.

      The good sale and the bad sale.

      Good salesmen focus on adding value to their customers, which is why they often have good relationships with their customers.

      Poor salesmen are just trying to sell whatever is the flavor of the week, which is why poor salesmen often have high spikes in sales but rarely recurring customers.

      Summary

      The only way to create value is to trade something. Making your product or your service easier to understand by defining, simply, what the customer gets is a great way to increase your trade.

      Creating stuff is the only to add value. So never stop creating.

      Why touch works

      The reason touch works is often cited, it's because it's "intuitive". But there is little talk about what makes touch devices more intuitive. We're supposed to just believe that the finger is better. But discussing with my partner Sara this morning, I think I've understood why.

      The mouse

      As a tech savvy person it's easy to forget all the knowledge we take for granted for using our devices. I uncovered one this I had been taking for granted, short commands. A someone who spends most of his waking time in front of a computer I started memorizing short commands and gestures many years ago. But most people don't. For most people, short commands just don't feel all that necessary. Using the mouse to point and click the bold button is simple enough. To me, it's a huge waste of time.

      The touch device

      On touch devices however, this problem isn't there. Either you touch the bold icon, or you don't. The only short commands that are available are gestures which, while not always intuitive, always tend to work the same way. There are only about three gestures to learn on iOS for example. This is annoying to me, because my normal power-user habits need to change. But for the market at large, it's the same interaction but finally without a mouse to get in the way.

      Intuitive

      The touch panel is intuitive because what you see is what you get. But what we, the power users, tend to forget that it's more intuitive than we believe. Because all the hidden extras that we use on older devices just aren't there.

      Touch devices are leveling the playing field. And that's why we feel we still need our old devices to get real work done.

      The mobile revolution at sime

      The first day of SIME, the European tech/startup conference, was a vivid circus of great speakers with great production values. This time in Stockholm. Sime is a special sort of conference because it is focused on marketing entrepreneurship and creating a forum for entrepreneurs and investors. While similar conferences might slog through technical details while zombie hordes of coffee ingesting listeners try to stay awake, SIME is more about showmanship. Almost every session is 20 minutes or less, even for the big players, and our host, Ola Ahlvarsson, is always on stage pushing things along.

      The first day was a back to back parade of speakers from the tech business, talking about where we are and where we're going as a business. The message was unanimous: > The customer is already mobile. Where is your business? - Facebook, Microsoft, Google, etc

      It's an important lesson that really can't be repeated enough. I Sweden, around 40 percent of all Internet connections are through a mobile network. Some are computers but most are other sorts of devices. Around the world there is s landslide increase in mobile use, smartphones are almost half the world market of phones, there are over 100 million tablets sold, and everyone is expecting information to be ubiquitous. But companies are holding out.

      Companies everywhere are waiting for others to lead, they hope to see hard numbers on why they should move to mobile before they take the plunge. There are of course a lot of really bad agencies out there, simply not able to deliver responsive web, but for the most part statistics are holding us back.

      While the large players show us statistics on mobile usage. Companies have become affected by tracking blindness and can't act before the users are mobile on their sites. The problem of course, is a classic chicken and egg problem. If the site doesn't work on mobile, customers will just use other sites, and since the companies can't see mobile usage increasing they won't rebuild their sites.

      SIME is all focused on pushing the message of where tech is to everyone, making sure that the users, developers and companies are all looking in the same direction. And I hope that this years focus on mobile hit the spot. Because I really don't want to be tied to my laptop.

      Sharing locally has been solved, Chirp review

      "Hey could you email me that picture you just took?"

      While sharing online has taken the web by storm and has since become old news. Sharing digital information locally has always been a hassle away from out computers and high speed internet connections. Not any more.

      Chirp

       

      Say hello to Chirp

      Chirp is the little mobile app that let's you share anything that has an URL or can be uploaded and given an url locally. All you need is the app. It's free. It's tiny, takes seconds to download and starts instantly and you're set. No, you don't need an account (though you can get one) no you don't need to connect it with facebook. You just start it. And now you're receiving anything being shared.

      How does it share? This is the other brilliant part of this app. It sends the URL (everything is shared through their servers so an internet connection is needed, albeit not a fast one) through a short sound clip.

      That's right, you hear a short blip-blop message as if R2-D2 really needs to pee, and there's the photo on your screen. It's cute. But i's also really smart. Since it shares through sound you can share messages with someone over the phone. I myself got a picture from the host of a Podcast I listen to. He just told me to open Chirp and I got to see what he was talking about.

      Business model suggestion

      Since I hate to see great services like this go away, usually because it's hard to figure out a business model. I thought I'd share a suggestion. Chirp, you listening? Great. Here's one way to monetize.

      Providing the app for without an account is absolutely crucial to grow. If users need to jump through any hurdles at all Chirp will become another Bump. But without the first-mover-on-new-platform-hype. Keep it simple to share.

      Instead charge for feature where a cost is tangible for the user: Access and Storage.

      Access

      Later access to the files. Keep the latest 3-5 shared things be available. Let the users purchase access to the rest. One advantage to this is that it's obvious to users. There's an understandable cost benefit. It's also just on the front end which makes it easy to implement (until you've got an open API).

      Storage

      In short: Huge. Ass. Files. Trying to share a 500MB HD movie clip? "Sorry this file is so large you need to pay 99 cents to cover the bandwidth costs". No problem.

      Summing up

      Chirp is awesome. Go get it.

      And please Chirp, add support for all platforms. Open up an API and let developers go crazy with the free service. I'd love to Chirp stuff to my Mac or my friends PC / Android.

      Why great customer service is the best marketing

      Customer service is often a necessary evil. Something companies must do to wheel out stats from when there's a PR crisis. But usually it's costly and no one really wants to do it. Bad Customer Service

      Ye Old Way

      I'm starting to think all PR education begins with the creed "keep the customer as far away from the company as possible" since most companies I contact have elaborate systems in place to "streamline" the communication out of existence.

      Enter a new marketplace: The social web. Suddenly recommendations are worth double their weight in gold, but companies are still struggling keeping up. They start Facebook pages with no idea of what to do there. They start Twitter accounts that only tells tweeps to call customer service.

      The new way

      But then there are the other companies. Companies that have embraced the tribal culture online and depend upon customer interaction for their business. They are no less motivated by profit than the other sort of company, but their strategy makes them a very different sort of animal.

      Yesterday I downloaded an app to my iPhone. The app was supposed to show me my Google Analytics numbers quickly and beautifully. I was thrilled I finally found an app that looked like I might use it. But it didn't work. I couldn't log in.

      I immediately browsed over to the company's site and looked for any information of the problem. When I couldn't find any I emailed them a question, expecting to never hear from them again.

      Within ten minutes I had a response.

      Someone from the company read my message and sent me a quick response. Short, to the point. Solving my problem. Apparently the guys and gals at Google had changed the API and while the app had been updated the new version wasn't in the AppStore just yet.

      They even offered to buy me coffee while I waited:

      Sorry about that. It sucks. We can buy you a coffee while waiting for the new version ( we'll PayPal you the money for Starbucks if you want).

      Since it was late at night in Sweden I declined. But I was also a surprised and happy customer, not only had they solved my problem (or at least, explained what the problem was and had fixed it), but they had given me relevant information, a schedule, and a coffee!

      When was the last time a bank or a telephone company did that?

      The result

      Because of this short communication, not only am I inclined to tell people about my experience. I'm also more inclined to recommend the product. The cost of this interaction for the company is negligible but the worth of a happy customer advocating the product is huge.

      The take away

      Invest in communication. Realize that all interactions with the customers are chances to turn them from faceless consumers to happy ambassadors of your company. Keep them close. Keep them communicating with you. The costs might be high, but compared to losing those customers to the competitor this should be a no-brainer. If you're in a huge corporation, try finding customers who became ambassadors and use them as arguments that the model does work.

      And also, download Analytiks right now. It's awesome. And Blatt Labs does a great job.

       

      Analytiks

       

      Elisabet Grétarsdóttir explains Gamification at SIME 2011

      The last day at SIME, Sweden's largest digital/web conference in Stockholm, a panel of guests took to the stage to have a panel discussion about gamification. Gamification is the latest and greatest buzz word in a long line of hype from digital marketing companies. But gamification is different because unlike social media and the like the Gamification concept is loaned from the hugely profitable games industry.

      At SIME this year the panel consisted of representatives from World of Horses Online, CCP games and an associate professor from the Stockholm School of Economics. The topic was gamification and was simply introduced as the concept of using mechanics and design from the games industry to market products and services in non entertainment industries.

      Elisabet, from CCP games, really gave a show with clear and consice ideas about gamification. She started off by describing the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. An extrinsic motivator, which are mostly used in gamification today, are external rewards given to the player for achieving certain tasks. Such as points to shoot a bird accurately or a badge to check in at a location An intrinsic motivator is an internal reward the player experiences because he/she achieves something in the context of the game. Internal rewards are feelings based on. Social recognition or completing a challenge.

      One of her most memorable quotes was saying she'd like to Gamify the games industry by moving from extrinsic to intrinsic motivators.

      Another one was a sharp critique to enforced seriousness while stating a point about humans being playful creatures:

      why can we hug at a soccer game but not in the board room?

      Elisabet also rocked the end of the panel by giving an example of how she would revolutionize boutique shopping by gamifying a H&M shop into a "minecraft retail experience" to, in her own words, "create a platform for creativity and self expression".

      The audience and the panel alike seemed almost shocked by the simple truths laid out by Elisabet on gamification. I bet that if she has any say, gamification will be less of a buzz word and more of a business strategy from now on. One can only hope.

      PS I'm writing this on an iPad balanced on my knee while I'm eating so if this post is in shambles, please check back in an hour or so and I'll try to polish the turd.

      Update 1 Robin from the Stockholm School of Economics mailed me an update, apparently I got both her school and her title wrong.. Sorry Robin, keep up the great work!