Wednesday, July 27, 2011

3 Things Your Infographic Should Do For Me

These days, infographics are all the rage.  It's hard to look at your Tweetstream for even a minute without seeing one and most of the time, I find them to be completely useless. 

 In in the above example from Techvibes, everybody knows that everyone is on Facebook and I'm not surprised by this percentage given it's the most popular social network.   The infographic above is telling us what we already know - everyone is on social networks, social networking usage is increasing, most people are on Facebook and usage varies by age. 
If you are creating an infographic you should do these 3 things for me:

  1. Show me something new
  2. Show me something in a way that I haven't seen before
  3. Show me something actionable
Taking widely available data and presenting it in an uninteresting infograph doesn't really help anyone.  Worse, it is accelerating what I believe to be a prevailing situation where everyone is getting infographic fatigue. 

Have you seen any good infographics recently?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Donate Your Lunch Money

Last Sunday there was a  huge storm around Ottawa.  I was at the cottage and we lost power for 48 hours.  As a result of the power outage, we had to throw out any food that was in our fridge. 

Wasting perfectly good food annoys me because I know that there are people in the world without enough food to feed there families.

Right now, 11 million people in the Horn of Africa are facing a hunger crisis.   The UN has declared famine in parts of Somalia. 

There are lots of ways you can help.  

Perhaps you can join me and donate your lunch money to one of the many agencies.  My girlfriend started a Facebook event to encourage people to donate their lunch money and I joining her by writing this blog post.







Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Was John Mayer Wrong to Quit Twitter?

image: Azimo

I read today that musician John Mayer revealed why he quit Twitter.  Long story short: he quit Twitter because he felt it was making his mind smaller and smaller.  He started using it as an outlet for riffing, instead of his instrument.

Having recently read Nicholas Carr's awesome book "The Shallows" about how technology and the Internet are changing the way our brains work, I have to admit that I'm not surprised by his reaction to what Twitter was doing to his him.

But, Is It a Bad Thing?

This is exactly what I always say to people when discussing this topic.  So your brain is becoming better at deciphering and digesting smaller bits of information.  So you are becoming better at searching through large chunks of information to find what is important.

If the world we live in is changing and that change is permanent, is it wrong that our brains are adapting?  Take books for example.  I love books, I still read books all the time but are long-form books going to become irrelevant because we no longer have the attention span for them and if so, is this really a bad thing?  Does your job require you to read a 500 page manual or does your profession require you to read a 500 page textbook?

I Don't Think So

I have always felt that we are lucky to be alive during an amazing time.  Never has so much amazing information been available to us for free and in ways that make it so easy to access.  Our brains need to adapt to be able to handle the onslaught.

I feel that our brains need to adapt in ways that help us pick out what information is important faster.  I have personally felt this happening with my own brain.  After going back to school a few years ago and being crushed by the amount of required reading, I learned how to pick the important points out of the reading material quickly (tip: good writers use specific structure like topic sentences and spotting them makes reading quicker). 

The pace of information, media and technology is increasing and that is a trend likely to continue.  If we don't adapt, we risk falling behind.

Never Forget How You Earn a Living

In John Mayer's case, I applaud him for getting off Twitter.  I felt he was conducting himself like a total idiot on Twitter and in the media, so it's a good thing he stopped tweeting, but he was also smart enough to realize that it was affecting his ability to do his job - making music.

If something isn't helping you do what do better, then why are you doing it? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Which Way Is The Trend Going?

I frequently have conversations (often debates) with people about companies and industries where I have to ask the question "which way is the trend going?  Up or down?".  I may be talking about sales, market size, competition or even more broader trends like consumer behaviour. 

I believe that people often forget to think about the past, present and future in this manner when thinking about what is going to happen in the future.  Sometimes the trend is moving slowly (although I might argue the pace of change is increasing)
 and it is hard to see the forest for the trees. 

When I think about Research in Motion (RIM) I like to think about the direction of their consumer product sales and their market share in enterprise sales.  I see more and more C-level executives on Apple products and I find it hard to be positive about their future.

I once spent some time selling into the travel accessory and luggage industry.  I thought whether in-store sales of luggage was going up or down compared to online sales of these products.

I believe that, more often than not, a business or an industry is on a slow decline and that decline is often a slow leak like a dripping faucet.  It's so slow in fact, that leaders don't see or are not willing to see where things are going and for this reason, they are slow to react.

It's a shame, because I think you can get hip to where things are going by asking yourself one simple question:

Which way is the trend going?