In her piece on LinkedIn in PEWire, Connie Loizos writes about Jeff Weiner’s talk at Web 2.0 Summit this week and exhorts him to pick up the pace at LinkedIn — using Reid Hoffman’s reluctance to introduce photos to LinkedIn as an example of an essential conservatism in the company. I have to completely disagree with her analysis, as I’ve been watching LinkedIn since its inception, and have been impressed with both their willingness to change, as well as their actual implementation of new UX, features and especially experimental features. Their rapid implementation of Groups, Answers, their search refinements, integration with other social networks, etc etc has always been rapidly executed. Their Chief Scientist, DJ Patil and his team are especially agile innovators, with an incredible fund of data to work with and many experimental features cooking in their labs.
I have to especially agree with Jeff’s assertion that the lack of Kegstands and hot tub photos on LinkedIn is one of LinkedIn’s key distinguishing features. It should be preserved and defended at all costs. In building a social network, the standards and mores of a community are its lifeblood; one does not lightly ‘experiment’ with these and LinkedIn is exactly right to defend them. I think Loizos’ article mistakenly conflates the company’s defense of LinkedIn’s culture with conservatism. It’s just not so.
I’d also take issue with the assertion that they haven’t made any “high profile” personnel changes. Weiner coming in as CEO is as high profile as you could hope for, and I believe that hiring name brand talent isn’t as successful of a strategy as hiring great engineers and developers, which I have seen them doing again and again. They should know, they’re a company that specializes in employment and hiring. 🙂
I am writing an essay for an upcoming show at The New Museum, and as a result I am getting caught up on art criticism, which I haven’t been reading much of in recent years, having spent most of my time reading blog posts about activity feeds and their purpose, privacy policies in the age of No Privacy and the social repercussions of superpoking.
I’m not good at vacationing. I’ve repeatedly failed at palapas and mai-tais. The word “thong” makes me nervous. And on a vacation to Boring-Boring I mean Bora Bora after snorkeling, waterskiing, visiting the marine preserve, getting stung by a jellyfish, eating at every restaurant and reading the seven books I’d brought, I spent all my time sneaking into the business center and wheeling around the island looking for a functioning cell tower. In any event I’m back from my first vacation in 4 years. I mean, I know I have a reputation for not relaxing, but I didn’t expect when I returned I’d be met with speculation that I’m leaving Hunch. Reporters calling me (Hi Mike!) asking if it’s true. But I’m a full time employee, and I just took a vacation.
Hunch has pivoted. We’ve gone from being a consumer destination site based on user-created topics, to a taste-graph driven platform for partner sites. The things I’m good at are building communities, participatory media, places where people contribute things of their own making. So yes, I am wondering what I can do that best serves Hunch and utilizes my own particular talents. I will find the perfect role for me, and whatever it is, is TBD. I have no plans to parachute off the plane.
Hunch’s dataset has grown incredibly fast: we’ve mapped 30 billion “edges”, we’ve signed dozens of partnerships and 2011 will be the year that the internet gets personalized. Hunch will be at the center of it. I love Hunch, the awesome team, my brilliant cofounders — we’re doing great work and building a great company. Vacations are good, and I come back energized, with the whiff of Hawaiian Tropic in the air and 2,000 messages in my Inbox.
2. Digg chose dramatic overhaul over gradual changes. If we’ve learned anything from Facebook’s many redesign and privacy fiascoes, it’s that major overhauls of large websites don’t go over well. The company tried to launch way too many things all at once, and the result was a buggy platform that frightened users.
This is so true. I think after the initial launch, if you have a large number of users the ‘big launch’ should be avoided as much as possible. The main reason being users can’t digest it all at once. If you release separate features continually over time, users can adapt to each of them give feedback on each, and you can debug and alter them as you see fit. What do we want? Gradual change. When do we want it? In due course.
Eugenia Ginzberg, who served eighteen years in the camps of Kolyma, wrote that when a camp of child prisoners was given two guard-dog puppies to raise the children at first could not think of anything to name them. The poverty of their surroundings had stripped their imaginations bare. Finally they chose names from common objects they saw every day. They named one puppy Ladle and the other Pail.
On the Prison Highway, Ian Frazier (New Yorker, August 30, 2010)
The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.
Thessaly sent me the list of books on Lincoln that she compiled from the New Yorker’s staffers, and after Team of Rivals
by Doris Kearns Goodwin, I’m going to get myself a copy of Lincoln by David Herbert Donald (1995). Thanks Thessaly!!
Somewhere in The Art of Happiness a book of interviews with the Dalai Lama, he talks about how in Western culture the most emphasized form of relationship is romantic, and that he, as a monk, will never have a romantic relationship, but that he has deep and abiding relationships with all kinds of people. And it seems that in our search for romantic love we overlook the possibilities for profound relationships with sisters, children, colleagues, and the like. Which I thought of as I read America, Land of Loners.
Friendship is uniquely suited to fill this void because, unlike matrimony or parenthood, itâ€™s available to everyone, offering concord and even intimacy without aspiring to be all-consuming. Friends do things for us that hardly anybody else can, yet ask nothing more than friendship in return (though this can be a steep price if we take friendship as seriously as we should). The genius of friendship rests firmly on its limitations, which are better understood as boundaries.
And a quote from Aristotle on its different flavors:
Aristotle, who saw friendship as essential to human flourishing, shrewdly observed that it comes in three distinct flavors: those based on usefulness (contacts), on pleasure (drinking buddies), and on a shared pursuit of virtueâ€”the highest form of all. True friends, he contended, are simply drawn to the goodness in one another, goodness that today we might define in terms of common passions and sensibilities.
And a quote from John Cacioppo, who says that Americans are lonelyâ€”not because we have fewer social contacts, but because the ones we have are more harried and less meaningful.