Fun Friday Links: The Writer Who Couldn’t Read, Revamping Tech Vernacular and the Power of Quiet

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happy link time!_spooky

October 26, 2012

Welcome to Chelsi’s Number One Super Happy Fun Link Time, a weekly collection of cool discoveries from around the Web. Most times the goal is to get you thinking differently about communication, collaboration, culture, and life in general. Other times, LOLCAT ATTACK! Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to for consideration.

Reconsidering Users

I didn’t realize this until just recently, but I really dig Jack Dorsey. That guy has a lot of smart, thought-provoking things to say.

I recommend subscribing to his Tumblr, which is where I found this interesting post on tech vernacular. The gist: “it’s time for our industry and discipline to reconsider the word ‘user.’ We speak about ‘user-centric design’, ‘user benefit’, ‘user experience’, ‘active users’, and even ‘usernames.’ While the intent is to consider people first, the result is a massive abstraction away from real problems people feel on a daily basis. An abstraction away from simply building something you would love to see in the world, and the hope that others desire the same.”

The post goes on to explain a preference for the word “customer,” which Dorsey believes immediately sets a high bar on the level of service to be provided. It might seem like a low level shift, but I think his logic fits in quite well with today’s focus on customer experience and how digital connectivity is changing it.

“From this moment forward, let’s stop distancing ourselves from the people that choose our products over our competitors,” he writes. “We don’t have users, we have customers we earn. They deserve our utmost respect, focus, and service.”

The Writer Who Couldn’t Read 

One morning, Canadian novelist Howard Engel woke up and found he couldn’t read the daily newspaper. Turns out he’d suffered a stroke in his sleep, which left him a victim of alexia sine agraphia — a rare condition that steals the ability to read, but leaves the ability to write. Sounds impossible, right? But consider how it’s often so much easier to understand a foreign language when learning it than it is to actually speak it. Or how some people can absorb much more information when it’s presented visually as opposed to orally.

A weird thing, the brain.  NPR’s video below explains:

How People Work

If you liked our eBook on how different generations of white collars work, then you’ll probably extra love this collection of stories from Rod McLaren.

“We’re interested in the habits, rituals and small (and occasionally big) methods people and teams use to get their work done. And in the specific anecdotes and the way people describe their own relationship to their own work,” he writes.

Some of the names on this list are pretty big, including John Cage, Martin Scorsese, Philip Roth and Pablo Picasso. My favorite, however, is on the antics of one Bill Murray:

“Murray’s only contact with the film business is through a freephone number. If people need to talk to him – perhaps producers who want him to star in a film – they have to call the number and leave a message. (Of course, they have to find the number first.) If he feels like it, he will call back. Often, he doesn’t. Sometimes, he’ll go for weeks without even listening to the messages. It took Sofia Coppola hundreds of phone calls and seven months to get him to look at the script for Lost in Translation. Even then, she wasn’t sure he was going to make the film until he appeared on the set on the first day of the shoot in Tokyo. Other directors have apparently been told to leave scripts in a phone booth somewhere near his home outside New York, up the Hudson River. On a recent film, a production assistant who needed to contact him was told to call his freephone and leave a number for a phone that she would not pick up, so he could call her back without having to talk to her. Of course, he doesn’t see this as strange or eccentric. He likes to be accessible, he says, but on his own terms.”

The Power of Quiet

Speaking of the way we work, Susan Cain’s TED talk on the power of introverts hit the digital ground running back in March, but I have to admit that I like this little follow up video from RSA much better. It’s concise, visually compelling, and focuses on an essential point that I think was missed in Cain’s original talk:

“My vision of the right world is a world where it’s yin and yang. You know, there’s space for introverts and there’s space for extroverts and it’s equal… In companies, it’s been found that the most effective teams are the ones that are a combination of introvert and extrovert, and the two types are really drawn to each other and really need each other.”

Wise Words from Thoreau

I was having a frustrating day when I stumbled across this delightful quote from Henry David Thoreau. It’s funny how such simple things can turn your mood completely around sometimes.

“How to live. How to get the most life… . How to extract its honey from the flower of the world. That is my every-day business. I am as busy as a bee about it. I ramble all over the fields on that errand, and am never so happy as when I feel myself heavy with honey and wax.”