Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Very Worst

The Worst Web Application in the World. Stewart and I laughed out loud for the second blog post in a row as we read through this post. Thanks, Doug, for walking us through that little piece of hell.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Merlin's Web 1.0 Summit

Web 1.0 Summit: My Garage, San Francisco

I laughed out loud. The comments are great too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Mixing oldbies and newbies

Old players and new players make the best teams, according to this article. I've read this somewhere else as well -- I think in The Wisdom of Crowds -- it's important, when building teams, to have some people who are new, who haven't drunk the Kool-Aid, who don't really understand what is going on.

In a paper to be published April 29 in the journal Science, Northwestern University researchers turned to a different type of team -- creative teams in the arts and sciences -- to determine a team's recipe for success. They discovered that the composition of a great team is the same whether you are working on Broadway or in economics.

The researchers studied data on Broadway musicals since 1877 as well as thousands of journal publications in four fields of science and found that successful teams had a diverse membership -- not of race and gender but of old blood and new. New team members clearly added creative spark and critical links to the experience of the entire industry. Unsuccessful teams were isolated from each other whereas the members of successful teams were interconnected, much like the Kevin Bacon game, across a giant cluster of artists or scientists.

"Do people go out of their way to collaborate with new people?" said Luís A. Nunes Amaral, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering and the corresponding author on the paper. "Do they take this risk?

"We found that teams that achieved success -- by producing musicals on Broadway or publishing academic papers in good journals -- were fundamentally assembled in the same way, by bringing in some experienced people who had not worked together before. The unsuccessful teams repeated the same collaborations over and over again."

It's hard to say why this works. Perhaps the introduction of new practices and habits enlivens a group. Maybe a newbie, needing a lot of coaching and assimilation causes a group to better define itself and its objectives. Maybe people who frequently work with new people have a propensity for collaboration, or an innate social intelligence. (via Kottke.)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Donald Norman Defends Cheating

A great quote by Donald Norman snagged from Foe:

...In real life, asking others for help is not only permitted, it is encouraged. Why not rethink the entire purpose of our examination system? We should be encouraging students to learn how to use all possible resources to come up with effective answers to important problems. Students should be encouraged to ask others for help, and they should also be taught to give full credit to those others...

Consider this: in many ways, the behavior we call cheating in schools is exactly the behavior we desire in the real world. Think about it. What behavior do we call cheating in the school system? Asking others for help, copying answers, copying papers.

Most of these activities are better called networking or cooperative work...

In a system where copying is punished, the student feels compelled to lie. Suppose that copying were encouraged honest copying, where the source must be revealed. And suppose that both the copier and the originator of the material were rewarded, the originator for their contribution and the copier for knowing where to seek the information. This would reinforce the correct behaviors, minimize deceit, and encourage cooperativeness...