links for 2010-07-27

  • In the end, most “X is evil” type product rants contain a logical fallacy, which is this: you can do stupid things with any tool. Most tools are indifferent. A chainsaw works just as well on your foot as on a log. The more powerful the tool, the larger the problem or solution you can create.
    As someone who understands design, I recognize ways to make PowerPoint better…thinking takes time, and in many cultures thinking is made to seem like a waste of time. Since all slide tools inherently worship slides, and all tool lovers inherently worship the tools, many people tend to jump in to making slides well before they know what they want to say. Apple’s Keynote will never tell you when you’d be better off using fewer slides, or demand you practice your talk, two things most experts agree are big and easy wins for better presentations. But both require acts of thoughtful patience, something no tool yet designed can grant us.
  • The only problems you have left are the perfect ones. The imperfect ones, the ones with a clearly evident solution, well, if they were important, you've solved them already.
    It's the perfect problems that keep us stuck.
    Perfect because they have constraints, unbendable constraints, constraints that keep us trapped. I hate my job, I need this job, there's no way to quit, to get a promotion or to get a new boss, no way to move, my family is in town, etc.
    We're human, that's what we do–we erect boundaries, constraints we can't ease, and we get trapped…
    There's no way to solve the perfect problem because every solution involves breaking an unbreakable constraint.
    And there's your solution.
    The way to solve the perfect problem is to make it imperfect. Don't just bend one of the constraints, eliminate it…
    If the only alternative is slow and painful failure, the way to get unstuck is to blow up a constraint, deal with the pain and then run forward. Fast.
  • Every three years, the Library of Congress has the thankless task of listening to people complain about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA forbade most attempts to bypass the digital locks on things like DVDs, music, and computer software, but it also gave the Library the ability to wave its magical copyright wand and make certain DRM cracks legal for three years at a time.
    This time, the Library went (comparatively) nuts, allowing widespread bypassing of the CSS encryption on DVDs, declaring iPhone jailbreaking to be "fair use," and letting consumers crack their legally purchased e-books in order to have them read aloud by computers.

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