Scrum process: The Chicken looks at the pig and says “Hey, why don’t we open a restaurant?”
The pig looks back at the chicken and says “Good idea, what do you want to call it?”
The chicken thinks about it and says “Why don’t we call it ‘Ham and Eggs’?”
“I don’t think so” says the pig, “I’d be committed but you’d only be involved”.

Building value

I’ve been thinking a lot about value, and what it is. For example, when you build a platform as opposed to code you use once, you’re building value, something you can reuse. For example, the value of many websites lies in the userbase they have and the team that runs it, not so much in the code they deploy. And so on.

Can anyone recommend some good reading on building value?

About deploying upgraded code (releasing a new version for example) when you’re using cloud servers like Amazon’s EC2: “The power of the cloud is that we don’t need to touch our existing web server and risk causing damage during the upgrade process.” Just use a new server! That blows my mind :) “Most sites encourage you to check back for updates, but I will not do
that.  Don’t waste your time.  I don’t have the time or desire
to expand it beyond what it is right now.”

Doc Searls: (quoting Andrew Sullivan): “I recall very clearly one night before the war began. I made myself
write down the reasons for and against the war and realized that if
there were question marks on both sides, the deciding factor for me in
the end was that I could never be ashamed of removing someone as evil
as Saddam from power. I became enamored of my own morality and this
single moral act. And he was a monster, as we discovered. But what I
failed to grasp is that war is also a monster

Googley principles of design: useful, fast and simple.

Googley principles of design (and I have to agree with all of these, especially with the first three):

Fast is still underrated by most UX people, I think mostly because it tends to be the domain of the techies. But fast matters so much.

Quickly: how fast are your webpages loading? What’s your goal (should probably be a few 100 milliseconds, 400 is good, 200 is better, depending on the page)? If you don’t know and are a UX person, that’s not good, you.

  1. Useful: focus on people -their lives, their work, their dreams.
  2. Fast: every millisecond counts.
  3. Simple: simplicity is powerful.
  4. Engaging: engage beginners an attract experts.
  5. Innovative: dare to be innovative.
  6. Universal: design for the world.
  7. Profitable: plan for today’s and tomorrow’s business.
  8. Beautiful: delight the eye without distracting the mind.
  9. Trustworthy: be worthy of people’s trust.
  10. Personable: add a human touch.

And here’s another thought; the professional bloggers always post these long posts, but I always felt like short thoughts were more fun for me to write, and I also like to read them on other blogs, and (so here’s the thought): short posts also fit nicely into friendfeed. At least, I think they do. Unless friendfeed doesn’t show post texts.


Elastra looks really hot. A scalable MySQL service on EC2 and S3. If it works as well as advertised I’ll probably end up using it for some project. The only disadvantage is that your database is hosted somewhere else than your servers (unless your servers are also on EC2 of course), but according to their benchmarks that only means a tiny slowdown. If so, this rocks.


I got an email from a good friend of mine about Tibet. With the Olympics
happening, Tibetans are risking everything to stand up against China and hope to
get the attention of the world. Forward this if you can.

In short: go subscribe to this blog:

This is happening now, and in the coming weeks, and you can be involved by
simply blogging about it. Go subscribe to

Here’s his email:

“I am writing to you today not to ask for money or donations. I simply want
you to know what is happening in Tibet, from my perspective, and to share what I
tell you with others. What Tibet needs right now is just our attention. To those
of you who supported our Facebook fundraising efforts, thank you. Know that your
money is going to good work.
This video on CNN tells the complete story of
the last 50 years in Tibet and what will come in the next year:

some of you may know, the protests from the story that occurred on Everest and
the Great Wall used some pretty amazing live satellite technology that I am
proud to have played a role in making them happen)

Tibetans across the “Tibet Autonomous Region” (TAR) inside of China are
taking to the streets, risking everything they have. They do this knowing,
expecting the world to be watching and to care. They are unarmed and (mostly)
non-violent, isolated on the Tibetan Plateau, surrounded by countless Chinese
police, military battalions and tanks.

When you protest in Tibet, it is not a small act. If you are a monk, you are
arrested, often beaten or tortured, sometimes executed or imprisoned for life,
and most always defrocked and forced into a life outside of the monastery.

Other lay Tibetans have lived their entire lives with memories of previous
uprisings and the resulting crackdowns. No one has very much, and everyone lives
under a veil of fear, balancing their need to survive and help their children
succeed in modern China with their desire for the Dalai Lama to return and for
true freedom. It is a heartbreaking situation.

Lhasa’s internet is off and mobile phone service is generally restricted.
There are no foreign press allowed openly to report, just a taste of China’s
standard reaction in these situations. Still, we are starting to see pictures
and video here and there, a few of which are posted here:

I have been to the three main monasteries where the uprising began – Drepung,
Sera and Ganden. I spent half the day with one monk at Drepung, eating food
cooked in his small room, who was the brother of a former Tibetan nun and
political prisoner who I am friends with in New York. My translation of
“computer programmer” into Tibetan was “man who makes machines do things” which
made him laugh as he endlessly filled by cup of butter tea. I took a day trip to
Ganden and walked the long holy walk (“kora”) around the monastery, stopping for
lunch along the way with another one of my Tibetan foster families. I took two
trips to Sera, one with the “Five Tibet Guys”, a crew of young kids and amateur
tour guides, and the other by myself, walking the long road from Jokhang square
all the way up the hill, a road that today is filled with tear gas, burning cars
and blockades.

Below is a photo I took in 2004 outside of Sera monastery of a young Tibetan
monk. At this moment, that very spot is surrounded by armed police and military
troops, and the monks inside are hungry, hurt and wondering if their actions
will matter. For their sake, please, talk about this, tell people what is
happening, share the video link above and the blog link below.


Students for a Free Tibet, the organization I am on the board of and have
volunteered with for over seven years, is staying on top of all the news and
doing our own coverage on our blog here:
is just the beginning. There are 146 days until the Beijing Olympic Games, and
we are going to make each one count.
Thank you for you time.”

Workshop: organizing global websites

There are 11 attendees already for my pre-conference workshop about global IA at the IASummit this year.

I’ve been evolving my material a lot, this is the new outline:

  • Themes of global IA.
  • Locales. This part is getting much more interesting than I originally thought – it turns out that structuring and developing your locales is a BIG part of global IA.
  • Exercise.
  • Break.
  • Global IA constructs.
  • Translating taxonomies.
  • Intercultural user research. This bit is rocking too.

I’m still working on the workshop, if you have thoughts or requests please let me know. Also, if you already signed up, I’d love to hear from you, why you signed up, what problems you’re struggling with etc.

Go sign up now if you’re interested in global IA.