Friday Web Roundup

I’m going to attempt to leverage my blog as almost a running summary of things I’ve read/watched/consumed over the week. I tend to default to reading articles on my phone or iPad when I have a few minutes, whether that’s waiting for a meeting or at eating a quick lunch. I also tend to do this at home when I finally have a chance to check social media channels like Twitter (and consequently tend to get in trouble for good reason). These lists will rarely have rhyme or reason. I imagine it will be a smorgasbord of articles relating to my occupation in higher education, technology, and pop culture. But we’ll see right?! Without further ado…

1. Favorite article involving a company bent on world domination

“Cheap Words: Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books?” by George Packer, New Yorker

This paints an almost ruleless picture of Jeff Bezos and Amazon. I had similar feelings reading this as I do watching Don Draper on Mad Men. Their shrewdness makes me want to hate them, but I can’t help but see the genius as well and feel even more compelled to root for Amazon. Either way, this article is like mashing up every good article about Amazon I’ve ever read and chronicles its entire history, hitting on everything from the legend of books as a mere customer-acquisiton strategy, to the battle for the ebook with Apple, to relentless tax evasion, to buying the Washington Post, to the (so far) failure of Amazon as a media company. At its core, I think Amazon represents the full spectrum of 21st Century business criticism. History will decide whether society holds them up as heroes or villains.

“You’re not hired to do a particular job—you’re hired to be an Amazonian. Lots of managers had to take the Myers-Briggs personality tests. Eighty per cent of them came in two or three similar categories, and Bezos is the same: introverted, detail-oriented, engineer-type personality. Not musicians, designers, salesmen. The vast majority fall within the same personality type—people who graduate at the top of their class at M.I.T. and have no idea what to say to a woman in a bar.

 

2. Favorite new event coming to OKC

 

Credit: openstreetsokc.com

Credit: openstreetsokc.com

This idea seems similar to Better Block, but rather than reimagining a distressed/unoccupied block, it’s bringing the walkability conversation to already flourishing.

3. Favorite blog post relevant to what I do on a day-to-day basis

“Building the “new data science of learning” – #eli2014 reflections” by Amy Collier, Stanford

I’ve been impressed by Amy for awhile. Her reflections on digital learning are strong and incredibly learner-focused (as opposed to a lot of criticism that I read which tends to be institution or faculty focused). Her call for more qualitative research on the learning experience in a world where the conversation is dominated by the implications of large big data sets is brilliant.

4. Favorite line from a book I’ve finished reading this week

 

“When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.” – Steve Jobs

This is taken from The Myths of Creativity by David Burkus. This “myth” was the “The Originality Myth” and did a great job of walking through the controversy about how Steve Jobs had always remarked that Bill Gates and Windows copied the Mac. When in reality, Jobs had also been inspired by the GUI: Xerox prototype, which had also been inspired by 1950s DARPA technology. The Jobs quote comes from the idea that creativity is not about complete originality, but it’s about being able to connect ideas in ways they have never been connected.

Full disclosure: David Burkus is a friend of mine who spoke last year at TEDxOU and gave me a copy of the book to say “thank you.” The last chapter of the book, “The Mousetrap Myth” is essentially his talk. It’s crazy to think that you can go from one year where all you have is some loose pieces of chapters and no book title to sharing your story of the a fully published book at the next year’s conference. It’s been truly remarkable to watch David Burkus and his drive over the last year.

davidburkus

Unfortunately, after reading the book I now realize that David’s assertion that “This all started at TEDxOU” actually violates “The Eureka Myth” which states that, instead of a quick spark, insights are actually the result of hard work on a problem or project. But nice try, David.

5. Favorite Photo Esssay

buzzfeed

I can’t believe the first time I post a weekly roundup that it includes something from Buzzfeed. What I do like about Buzzfeed is that they don’t do it in a slideshow or carousel. This is a sampling of the “Lean In Collection” on Getty Images. 1.) This is a just an inspiring collection of photography. The photographer in me wanted to go shoot after looking at it. 2.) As both someone who is occasionally looking for stock photography for graphics and someone who teaches a PR design course, this was a sigh of relief as you can feel creatively stifled always looking a photo that appears has a handshake (the stock photo universal symbol for business) of two “diverse” individuals.