I’m very sorry, but for some time the commenting system was utterly and totally broken. And in a very frustrating way, too, giving no useful feedback to the commenter.
I’ve now fixed this, and I recovered what comments I could from the logs, so they’re now up (although it looks as if they were all posted at the same time) - and it is now possible to add comments without tearing your hair out!
Thanks for your support!
Do you have a hyperbrain?
A recent article posted up on HackerNews presented a list of symptoms (representing things that the author felt about himself). These symptoms are not common to everyone, but they are common to enough people to warrant this and further articles. Plus, I promised some of them that I’d write about this.
The characteristics exhibited there seem to touch on almost every so-called mental disorder out there: Bipolar-like ups and downs of energy and, sometimes, emotions; Obsessive focus (under certain circumstances); Compulsion to do certain things that just have to be done; Hyperactivity (with a tendency to start many things at once); Attention Deficit (hell yeah.. oh, shiny stuff!). Yet it is far from diseased. With that brain, you can achieve great things, so long as you apply a few simple, practical approaches to harness it.
Here’s an article from VentureBeat waving about some figures about how much money can be made with Facebook apps. Although the figures are a bit anecdotal, and I hope for their sake that no VC’s ever invest based on such hand-waving mathematics, the real gem is at the end:
Either way, the many naysayers suggesting that it’s impossible to make money on Facebook might want to think again.
I don’t know if anyone’s ever suggested it’s _impossible_ to make money from Facebook. The main backlash against Facebook applications as a business model has really been against the gold rush mentality of the early Facebook app “golden age”. In those days, the mental processes went a little bit like this:
- Facebook has lots of users
- Facebook is inherently viral
- If I make a Facebook application, it will be easy to reach millions of people
- An application that can reach millions of people is bound to make money.
That’s a nice story, and it explains why some many people (myself included) rushed into Facebook application development last summer. Since then, most of them have pulled out, and for very good reasons.
- Facebook became much more protective of its users (and quite sensibly). A large part of the changes to Facebook in the last year have been to protect its users from over-greedy and spammy applications
- Many changes entirely nerfed the virality, making it much, much harder for an application to magically spread from 10 users to a million within a few weeks
- Therefore, it’s become very hard to reach any large number of people on Facebook
- Even applications that did benefit from the early “golden age” conditions didn’t manage to make that much money. Their business models are still being proven. Slide and RockYou may have a few very successful apps, but they also have many developers, and it’s unlikely that their Facebook revenues cover their costs yet (though I’d love to hear some hard numbers on that).
The truth is, yes, it’s possible to make money with a Facebook app. But, and this is the key, it’s no easier than making money with a non-Facebook app. In many ways, it’s harder. Working with the Facebook platform and its many limitations is a challenge in and of itself. Even if you’re a consummate start-upper outside of the Facebook bubble-world, you’ll have to learn application development all over again in this new, different environment. That’s not a huge deal, but it should give pause to people who think they can just “make a Facebook version” of their otherwise successful application.
More importantly, building a Facebook application puts you in the thrall of Facebook. That is a huge deal, because Facebook is their own business, and they will always do things to their own advantage, even if that involves doing something that will completely destroy your business. The internet is fickle enough as it is. Do you need the extra risk?
So I’ve been a bit sparse on the posts lately.
Well, that’s all going to change. I intend to start posting a bit more often from now on, with shorter posts most of the time (although the odd big post will still come up every once in a while). I’ve been terribly busy with my start-up, and, well, I know it’s not an excuse, but hey, that’s life. I’ll probably be terribly busy in the future too, but I’ll make more of an effort on the blog.
In other news, I’ve actually published a couple of articles in the meantime, which you may be interested in reading. They appeared on Sitepoint, and are titled Why You Should Fire Your Clients And Launch A Product and Nine Deadly Startup Diseases—and How to Cure Them. If you like my usual start-up oriented articles, those should be of interest.
In any case, thanks for reading this blog, and I hope the new publishing regimen works out for both you and me.
“Very deep is the well of the past. Should we not call it bottomless?” - Thomas Mann
Whenever working on anything remotely artistic, I feel compelled to try and be original. After all, what’s the point of creating something just like everything else that came before? That seems like a noble aim: add something new to the world, rather than re-hashing the same old thing. It’s a desire that all artists share, to an extent. History appears (on the surface) to recognise those who brought forth something entirely new, and, particularly, to recognise them for the very reason that they brought something entirely new into existence.
Recently, someone wrote an adaptation of a famous Russian fairy tale by Alexander Pushkin, ”The fisherman and his wife”, adapted to the topic of greedy SEO tricks, and called it ”The web developer and his wife”. On YCNews, someone commented: “Sometimes it is better to not make bad copies of good things.”
I couldn’t disagree more. In fact, I believe that this is the exact formula for making great things.
Sometimes, marketing efforts go awfully, terribly wrong. Sometimes, it’s nobody’s fault - it’s just the way things turned out.
However, sometimes, it’s absolutely and clearly someone’s fault. Some ad campaigns are really badly designed. They don’t necessarily come out of an obscure, inept company. The ad campaign I’m going to talk about today is from Forbes.
I can never leave well enough alone. After my article blasting perfectionism, I guess it was inevitable that I should engage in a bout of it myself :-)
Not that the blog is perfect now, by any means.
Anyway, so I’ve moved over to a new blog engine, from Wordpress to Typo. Typo is written in Rails, and supports all the key features I want on my blog (e.g. Trackbacks). This means I can extend and reprogram it as I want, something I could not do with Wordpress and its mountains of spaghetti code. I’m planning to add a few cool features now that I’ve got full control over the code. Keep your eyes peeled for funky things like hit counts on posts, and other things you probably don’t care much about but which will make me feel happier :-)
As you can see, there’s also been a redesign! I have my friend Kelvin Koh to thank for the lovely new header, which not only looks 20 times cooler, but also only takes 19 kilobytes (as opposed to the humongous 75k of the previous one!). Here’s the old one one last time so we can all say good bye to it.
Looking forward to posting many more interesting articles for your reading pleasure.
PS: If you love or hate the new design (or if you find anything broken anywhere), please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below!
1. The idealistic path to ‘perfection’
You’re sitting at your desk, alone with your idea. Or perhaps you’re with some friends or colleagues or both. This is a great idea. You’re excited! Now all you need is to implement that perfect vision, and you will become rich and famous.
You’ve heard that ideas are nothing without implementation. You’ve heard that ideas are a dime a dozen, you know that what will make or break your idea (and your business along with it) is how well this idea is implemented. The devil is in the detail, and you’re going to make damn sure that every detail is right. All you need is to make something people want, to make it the best damn implementation out there, and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank!
Unfortunately, there’s a fatal flaw in your plan: you and your brilliant idea. You, I’m sorry to say, don’t have the first clue what your users really want. Oh, you have some vague idea — and at this stage, a vague idea is a pretty good start — you know roughly where you want to go, but the truth of the matter is, if you took your vague idea, concretised it, and implemented it perfectly as it is currently in your head, it would be a very, very bad product, a monumental flop. This is true whether you have detailed knowledge of the business domain, are a technical expert, or both.
There is much talk these days about building a product for a niche and making a lifestyle business out of it. Much of the online literature about starting up is focused on how to create some fantastic product which will gather millions of visitors and make you a billionaire, and the “new wave”, so to speak, proposes that rather than taking a 1 in 10’000 bet that you can make billions, it is better to take a 1 in 10 bet that you can make millions.
Since I have started two such businesses already, here are thirteen tips from my own experience.
Once or twice a year, the same thing happens to me. Suddenly, unexpectedly, I feel overwhelmed with simply too many different things to do. It’s hard to juggle a lot of unrelated balls, and I inevitably let a couple fall at the beginning, before I finally re-learn what I learnt the last time this happened, and juggle the balls effectively again. Once that’s done, I feel efficient, happy, on top of things.
Why do I have to re-learn it all over again each time? Each set of balls is different, but I think in this case it’s simply a failure of paying attention to my own failures and learnings. I’ve already successfully juggled “too many balls” a number of times, and each time I applied pretty much the same method.
Part of the problem when you get overwhelmed is that you feel stressed, and you don’t think clearly anymore. That may explain why I don’t automatically recall what I did last time, when this happens. So, in the hopes of helping the many future stressed me’s, and the many stressed you’s out there, here’s my way to keep on juggling when life and work (they always seem to do it in concert) throw you another half-dozen balls.