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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Information Dissemination

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Lehrl’s axiom was that the definitive test of the efficiency of any organization structure was information and the filtering and dissemination of information.

-The Pale King, David Foster Wallace

I came across this line in David Foster Wallace’s latest book The Pale King two weeks ago and it’s been lodged in my head since then.  I’ve found that in my line of work it’s paramount that my team and I filter and consistently disseminate information about the search landscape, traffic, keyword movements, an update to the visual presentation of SERPs, a potential correlation between act A and result B to one another.  If we don’t, we lose.

It’s also relevant to a company’s online presence: do you publish information about your company and it’s products in an effective and efficient manner? Is it effective – do you filter out the fluff and publish what’s important to your users whether they’re at the top or bottom of that farctate funnel (don’t forget the first touch!)? Is it efficient – is it located in a logical and intuitive hierarchy on your site, is it easy crawled, indexed and found?

It is one way to test the efficiency of an organization’s structure and vitality.

Written by Cory Barbot

April 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Link Love

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Greetings Passersbys (is that the appropriate term?),

A couple of links – and a slice of their pie to entice you to click through – I just came across that are good brain turners:

Thoughts on Economics: Phenomenology

The techniques of physics hardly ever produce more than the most approximate truth in finance because ‘true’ financial value is itself a suspect notion. In physics, a model is right when it correctly predicts the future trajectories of planets or the existence and properties of new particles, such as Gell-Mann’s Omega Minus. In finance, you cannot easily prove a model right by such observation. Data are scarce and, more importantly, markets are arenas of action and reaction, dialectics of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. People learn from past mistakes and go on to make new ones. What’s right in one regime is wrong in the next.

Active Listening

When I was doing a lot of travel for book tours and speaking, I spent many hours with cab and limo drivers. I discovered two questions that would almost always lead to something interesting:

  1. Where did you grow up?
  2. Have you driven anyone famous?

Error Message: Google Research Director Peter Norvig on Being Wrong

What do you think have been Google’s biggest mistakes?

I can’t speak for the whole company, but I guess not embracing the social aspects. Facebook came along and has been very successful, and I may have dismissed that early on. There was this initial feeling of, “Well, this is about real, valid information, and Facebook is more about celebrity gossip or something.” I think I missed the fact that there is real importance to having a social network and getting these recommendations from friends. I might have been too focused on getting the facts and figures—to answer a query such as “What digital camera should I buy?” with the best reviews and facts, when some people might prefer to know “Oh, my friend Sally got that one; I’ll just get the same thing.” Maybe something isn’t the right answer just because your friends like it, but there is something useful there, and that’s a factor we have to weigh in along with the others.

Written by Cory Barbot

August 7, 2010 at 8:42 pm


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Excerpts from Karim Rashid‘s manifesto on how non-professional designers can incorporate design sensibilities into our lives.  I came across the list in a book I read called A Whole New Mind:

1. Don’t specialize

2. Before giving birth to anything physical, ask yourself if you have created an original idea, an original concept, if there is any real value in what you disseminate.

3. Know everything about the history of your profession and then forget it all when you design something new.

4. Never say “I could have done that” because you didn’t.

5. Consume experiences, not things.

6. Normal is not good.

7. There are three types of beings – those who create culture, those who buy culture, and those who don’t give a shit about culture.  Move between the first two.

8. Think extensivesly, not intensively.

9. Experience is the most important part of living, and the exchange of ideas and human contact is all life really is.  Space and objects can encourage increased experiences or distract from our experiences.

10. Here and now is all we got.

Written by Cory Barbot

May 4, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Posted in Creativity

Tagged with , ,

Making Ideas Happen

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Image by Eduardo!

Ideas and no follow through.  It’s a constant in business and in life outside of work.  How do you create an environment that is not only conducive to idea generation but idea instantiation? I think number one is the most important of the five tips for making ideas happen – “Avoid a Reactionary Workflow” – particularly because it’s often a form of number four – insecurity work.

I’ve made a point to log into to AIM (or Pidgin in my case) only a few times throughout the day, usually no more than 3 or 4 times.  In total, it works out that I’m “online” for only 45 minutes or so.  That gives people the opportunity to hit me with quick messages that can be answered immediately.  Otherwise, if it’s that important, I’ll see their beautiful smiling faces peek into the office.  Likewise, if I need something done and it involves another department then it’s a great opportunity to get up and walk over to their desk.  That’s the best way to move ideas into reality – good old fashioned face-to-face conversations.

Also, I set aside time to simply read during the week: industry blogs, articles, websites, the lot of it.  Just read.  That’s my sweet spot of creativity and where getting those big projects done actually happens (read, analyze, incorporate, brain dump, organize).  And if I’m feeling extra saucy, I’ll even shut down Outlook.  What do you do to get ideas from generation to instantiation?

Creative types have a problem.  We have so many great ideas, but most of them never see the light of day.  Why do most ideas never happen? The reason is that our own creative habits get in the way.  For example, our tendency to generate new ideas often gets in the way of executing the ones we have.  As a result, we abandon many projects halfway through.

Written by Cory Barbot

May 2, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Posted in Business, Creativity

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

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picture of water

This is Water

A commencement speech by David Foster Wallace that recently came out in hardcover form.  It’s one of those things you pass around to your friends, family and colleagues; it’s that good.

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

Roadmap: Integrating Social Media into Your Site

Good breakdown of the different features of social media features, what they do, their benefits, their downsides and what no one tells you about them.  Your site should not be static, it’s not a billboard or a magazine ad.

Companies must integrate customers behavior on social networks to their corporate website to increase relevancy, word of mouth, and trust

A Lament for the Bookshelf

I refuse to buy an e-book reader or whatever you’d classify a Kindle as.  Nope.  Won’t do it.  I enjoy the feel and smell of books.  It’s easier on the eyes.  It’s more real.  Luddite that piece of plastic!

Without bookshelves, you will never know the warning signs contained in the e-reader of your handsome date – you will not know for months that he is reading The Secret and Feng Shui for Dummies, even if you stay over. You will never be able to ask, as casually as you can, “Did you like this?” as you pull down, as if fascinated, Patrick Swayze’s autobiography.


Enter your favorite website and this awesome tool will convert it’s HTML into music.  Enough said.

Targeting other countries: subdomain, subdirectory or ccTLD

This topic comes up so often at work, it’s pretty incredible.  The best route is the appropriate country code top level domain (.de,, .fr on so forth), but that’s not always possible given budgetary restrictions or country restrictions – if you don’t have a business in Canada, you’re not getting the .ca domain.  As such, the answer to this questions is initially answered with, “It depends.”

Written by Cory Barbot

March 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm

10 Qualities of a Liberally Educated Person

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Why wouldn’t you want to work with or hire this person?  From Professor William Cronon of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a list of the 10 qualities you’re likely to find in a liberally educated person (or one of those liberal arts kids).  In full disclosure, I went to a small liberal arts college.  I’m always annoyed whenever I hear people rag on the education – “What are you going to do with that degree?”, “What fast food spot will we see you at?”, “I should have specialized and picked up a functional degree.”  Hogwash, you can do whatever you like with this degree.

9. They nurture and empower the people around them. One of the most important things that tempers the exercise of power and shapes right action is surely the recognition that no one ever acts alone. A liberally educated person understands that they belong to a community whose prosperity and wellbeing is crucial to their own, and they help that community flourish by giving of themselves to make the success of others possible. If we speak of education for freedom, then one of the crucial insights of a liberal education must be that the freedom of the individual is only possible in a free community, and vice versa as well. It is the community that empowers the free individual, just as it is free individuals who lead and empower the community. The fulfillment of high talent, the just exercise of power, the celebration of human diversity: nothing so redeems these things as the recognition that what seem like personal triumphs are in fact the achievements of our common humanity

Written by Cory Barbot

February 9, 2010 at 1:17 am

Working With My Hands

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dirty hands

This perfectly sums up how I felt about working at Aspyr as a video game tester.  Humor me, people :):

And it frequently requires complex thinking. In fixing motorcycles you come up with several imagined trains of cause and effect for manifest symptoms, and you judge their likelihood before tearing anything down. This imagining relies on a mental library that you develop. An internal combustion engine can work in any number of ways, and different manufacturers have tried different approaches. Each has its own proclivities for failure. You also develop a library of sounds and smells and feels. For example, the backfire of a too-lean fuel mixture is subtly different from an ignition backfire.

Written by Cory Barbot

February 9, 2010 at 12:16 am


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