Awesomeness

I was hanging out with my peeps last week and a couple times Paul used the word awesome, as when we were talking about building tools for customers and he said, “The tools should make them feel capable of awesomeness.

Making people feel capable of awesomeness. That in itself is awesome. So this is my new mantra. Let’s make it awesome, and if it’s not, why the fuck isn’t it? Life is too short not to be awesome.

Wynton Marsalis, photo credit Clay McBride

Innovative Friends: Jim’s Navigation Book

My friends are doing brilliant things these days and I feel compelled to send out some props. I’ll start with Jim Kalbach, whose book Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience will be out in August, but who apparently can’t stop writing and has started a blog.

We haven’t had a book on this topic in years, and Jim’s will be the first book dedicated to this topic to talk about how to design navigation, not merely describing how existing designs work. I’ve swam deep in those waters, and almost wrote a book as well, so I like to think I know the territory. So it won’t surprise when I say I think this is a significant topic, one that influences a large swath of society’s use of information these days. And I’m happy to say that Jim, with his dual academic background and years of hands-on experience, is perhaps the best qualified to write the book. I’ve only seen a couple chapters so far, but I’m anxiously awaiting the rest.

Employee-Customer mashups

For the sake of innovation, it’s tempting to mash up people internal and external to a company. We’ve seen how important it is that employees be customers, like JetBlue’s employee-centered priorities, and how customers can contribute to companies. This could be one of the most important changes in culture we can bring to companies, but not one of the easiest. Beside the discomfort it will arouse in traditional corporate cultures, we’re still figuring out how to do it.

For example, I’ve realized lately in working to co-create with clients that it needs to be gradual process, because the party you’re creating with doesn’t share the same content or process and needs time to learn. Rather than strive for immediate immersion in creation, I’ve taken a hint from surgeons who say, “watch one, do one, teach one.” Spreading these steps over whole projects may be necessary for both learning and change to happen.

Two more examples come from friends who have recently launched exciting projects that mash up “internal” and “external” resources. Christina Wodtke — a co-founder of MIG — has launched Public Square, software that recognizes the importance of reader-contributed content by allowing quality rankings of people and content to better balance editorial direction and reader input.

And Lou Rosenfeld just launched Rosenfeld Media, a publishing venture in which readers play a vital role in everything from deciding which topics get covered to influencing the actual authoring decisions.

Pixel Charmer

As much as we write, filter, embellish, design, decorate, and publish, we rarely capture our rich human personalities on the web. The best writers I know come close, but it’s a life’s work pushing their craft to that level. And yet I’ve found simple correspondence can often push it to the next level, revealing so much more of us. Perhaps the difference is the tone we take when speaking to a friend instead of an anonymous audience, perhaps we let our guard down. Perhaps it’s the personalized message possible when we know the other’s interests. Whichever, the people I have met – both in person and through email – come across in technicolor compared to their published selves.

Such is the case with T.R., whose site was finally outed through her work with A List Apart. I’m lucky enough to claim her as a friend and neighbor. Her blog is certainly worth a read, but as usual only hints at the person within.

Do you have a neighbor on the web? The person within might be only an email away!