Evernote: I had such high hopes

I've been an Evernote Premium user since 2009. I used it for reference material (in GTD parlance): journal entries; class notes; scanned PDFs and documents (at that point, the OCR capabilities were a Premium feature and the main reason I upgraded). Back in 2009, I also had a netbook running Windows in addition to my MacBook Pro; Evernote's omnipresence across software platforms was a huge selling point. As a college student, my work life was nomadic. If I wanted the check my email in between classes and hadn't brought my heavy laptop, then I'd use a public computer. Evernote's webapp was a helpful way to have my reference material always on-hand. Over the years, I've made almost 10,000 notes.

In mid-2016, I set up Evernote to be my task manager as well. I'd been using Omnifocus for years. It's robust and reliable and deservedly one of the gold standards in task management. But Omnifocus is also designed for GTD. I would filled out contexts for my tasks but I never used contexts. It always made more sense to me to work on projects with my end goal in mind. I switched to Evernote, then, because I knew the app was so flexible that I'd be able to set up a task management system more reflective of how I naturally worked. Also, Evernote's crossplatform capabilities were again a boon: I was pursuing jobs where I'd have to use a PC rather than a Mac. I'd be all set up on any new computer just with a quick install of Evernote.

But, almost a year later, I'm reverting back to using Evernote just for reference material. The main reason is that Evernote's iOS app is bafflingly unusable. It freezes when I'm editing notes and when I'm switching notebooks. The app lags whenever it syncs: I get the best performance when I switch into Airplane mode. I've complained to their support team countless times over the past few months; they once asked me to take a video of the issue for them. Right now, I'm getting an "Unable to sync" error whenever I try to synce the mobile app. One of my notes apparently has "invalid content"—I'll need to delete the note in order to fix the issue. It's a simple fix, but I need to be at my computer in order to do it. In the meantime, the error message pops up repeatedly—every few seconds—while I'm using the app and makes the app unusuable. I find myself using workarounds to get content into Evernote: it's faster to write an email and send to my "email to Evernote" address than it is to open the app and write a note. Evernote for OS X seems solid, but Evernote's iOS team is horrible. 

A simple and cheap way to fix the performance issues would just be to have the app sync less frequently. If I'm using Evernote on iOS, then I can't be using Evernote somewhere—I can't be in two places at once. Why does the app sync every few seconds? The app could simply sync whenever I open or close it—and preferably have left it closed for a long enough period that it's clear I'm not just switching apps before returning to Evernote to finish editing a note. Best of all, changing the sync schedule requires almost no engineering time—it's not a redesign. I'm surprised their product management team hasn't suggested this solution, and I'm surprised their iOS QA team hasn't caught or surfaced these issues. They're clearly not testing with enough edge cases, such as the large databases their longtime users would be likely to have.

So I'm switching back to a dedicated task manager. So far, Things 3 is looking really good. I'll continue to use Evernote for reference material. I have so much content stored in it already that I can't switch without investing tons of time. I'm locked in.

Others have expressed similar sentiments:

  1. Evernote, the Bug-Ridden Elephant by Jason Kincaid (This article is from 2014, but it received some publicity, especially when then-CEO Phil Libin responded. The article's still a top hit if you search for "evernote bugs" and it's criticisms remain true. Especially disappointing is that Kincaid's complaints the iOS still remain problems, despite Evernote's major 8.0 release in 2017. The Evernote iOS app just consistently sucks.)
  2. Evernote's Redesign is Too Little, Too Late by Casey Newton on The Verge (2017)

Insights from Paul Graham's Essays

When I was in college, my economics advisor suggested that I write summaries of all of the nonfiction books I was reading in order to help the information sink in. I was doing an independent reading project with him and the summaries I wrote became the first posts on this blog.

Now that I'm a product manager, I'm doing a lot of independent reading again. It's not that I don't read regularly — I do. Reading is one of my favorite hobbies and I tend to read 1-2 books a week. But most of the books I'm reading now are nonfiction books I'm trying to learn from in order to be better at my job. I don't want to forget the information I've read, and so I figured I'd revive the practice of summarizing my independent reading here.

First up: Paul Graham's essays.

Paul Graham runs the start-up accelerator Y Combinator, which counts Dropbox, Airbnb and Justin.tv among its early-stage investments. He's also the former founder of ecommerce start-up Viaweb, which was acquired by Yahoo! in 1998 and may have been the first web application.

Graham's essays run the gamut from start-ups to public policy to programming languages to Silicon Valley culture to fundraising. Most of his essays are from the early-to-mid 2000s, so some of the specific technology trends he writes about can feel a bit dated now. But by and large his writing is evergreen, and his essays contain a surprising amount of career and life advice (and, let's face it: if you're working at a start-up, your career kind of is your life).

Here were my biggest takeaways:

  1. “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” Actually, Reid Hoffman, not Paul Graham, said that. But while Hoffman coined the quote, Graham gives similar advice over and over again.

    If you release early, then you can start learning from your users. On the other hand, if you launch only after you’ve executed according to a grand business plan, then you'll find out too late that many of your original ideas were flawed.
  2. Start-ups allow you to compress your working life into a few years. In a start-up, you work insane hours. But if you exit successfully after a few years, then you're set for life.

    Of course, to try this, you need a fairly high tolerance for risk. Typically, only 1 in 10 start-ups succeed. But there's no better time to try than when you're in your 20s and don't have a family to support (or other life commitments).

    Graham puts the turning point for most start-ups at "ramen profitability" — when the company is making enough money to pay the founders' meager living costs.
  3. Maker’s schedule, manager’s schedule. Makers need long, uninterrupted blocks of time to do creative work. A meeting in the middle of the afternoon can make the afternoon unproductive even if the meeting is just thirty minutes long. 
  4. Webapps allow you to release quickly, i.e., multiple times a day instead of every few months. Building Viacom as a webapp allowed the team to stay ahead of their competitors. Customers also loved calling about an issue and then seeing it fixed later that day. 

    (Side note on speed: Viacom was also built using LISP, a high-level and relatively obscure language. Graham writes how uncommon LISP was at the time — most software was written in C++ or Java. LISP's advantages as a programming language also helped Viacom outmaneuver their competitors.)
  5. Put developers in touch with users. At Viacom, Graham and other developers would take support calls from customers. Most companies — even small, 10-15 person companies — don't do this and instead protect their developers with a dedicated support team. But I like the idea: developers in touch with customers have better insight into their customers' needs.
  6. Don’t die. The best way to succeed as a start-up is to simply not die. Stay scrappy. 
  7. Graham also has lots of advice for fundraising, if your start-up is at that stage.

What's the ideal page size for designing fixed layout ebooks?

What are the ideal page dimensions to use when designing your fixed layout ebook?

It depends upon what your goals are:

  1. Are you trying to fill the full viewport and minimize the screen space devoted to the reader "chrome" (e.g., the gray latticework background in iBooks)?
  2. Are you going to be displaying one page at a time or a two-page spread?
  3. Are you targeting a specific platform for the end product and will you be designing two different versions or the ebook? Or trying to create a single cross-platform design?
  4. Are you just trying to get a rough sense of page dimensions to use so that you can make sure that the text is legible?
  5. Are you trying to take full advantage of the latest devices or do you want to support customers with lower-end devices as well?

The core challenge you'll run into when designing a fixed layout ebook for multiple devices is that different devices have different screen sizes. The dimensions of the screen — as measured in pixels per side — are not as much of an issue as the aspect ratio which they create. 

To calculate the aspect ratio for a display, divide the width by the height. For example, the iPad 3's screen is 2048 pixels by 1536 pixels. This works out to a 4:3 aspect ratio: 2048 / 1536 = 1.3 = 4/3. 4:3 is a very common aspect ratio: it's used for most television screens and computer monitors as well as for standard definition video.

The most common targets for a fixed layout ebook are the Apple iPad and the Kindle Fire devices. These two device lines, though, have screens with different aspect ratios and so it's impossible for a single design to work perfectly on both devices. The iPad screen is comparably fatter than the Kindle Fire screens; more precisely, the iPad screen has a 4:3 aspect ratio where as the Kindle Fires have a longer and narrower 16:10 aspect ratio. If you design a fixed layout ebook for one device, then the pages will be pillared or letterboxed when you port to the other platform. 

It's also difficult to nail down a precise page dimensions to design for because different devices in the same line may have screens with different pixel counts depending upon their display resolutions. For instance, the iPad 3 is a retina device and the screen has twice as many pixels per side as the original iPad 1 and iPad 2. There is a similar relationships between the first generation Kindle Fire and the later-generation Kindle Fire HD devices.

Note that display resolution is independent of the aspect ratio. For the reader, the display resolution mainly affects how crisp and clear the image is. For the designer, the resolution is a consideration, albeit a minor one. Optimizing for a higher resolution device may cause text which is very small to become illegible if the ebook is read on a lower resolution device. On the other hand, optimizing for a lower resolution device may lead to a lot of empty, wasted space if the ebook is read on a higher resolution device. Usually the ebook can be developed in such a way as to minimize these discrepancies, so it's almost always better to design for a particular aspect ratio rather than precise page dimensions as measured in pixels.

If you do need to nail down precise page dimensions to design for, then you could use the below dimensions depending upon where your priorities or goals lie.

  1. If you want to target the iPad, then design for page dimensions which have a 4:3 or 1.3 aspect ratio (for instance, of 1024 px by 768 px or 2048 px by 1536 px or similar).
  2. If you want to absolutely minimize the reader app chrome on an iPad, use dimensions of 1900 px by 1470 px. Liz Castro has done some excellent work to figure out that these are the optimum dimensions to use the full available viewport on an iPad (the viewport would be the screen, minus the reader app chrome such as the menu bar at the top of the iPad and book/page UI).
  3. If you want to target Kindle Fire devices, then design for page dimensions which have a 16:10 or 1.6 aspect ratio (for instance, 1280 px by 800 px or 1920 px by 1200 px or similar).
  4. If you want a "cross-platform" design, then design for page dimensions which have a 16:9 or 1.7 aspect ratio, which is the standard HD aspect ratio internationally. Example page dimensions would be 1920 px by 1080 px or 2560 px by 1600 px or similar.

I generally recommend the larger of the two options for each goal because high resolution devices are becoming much, much more common and will likely become the norm soon (for instance, Apple opted not to support the iPad 1 and iPad 2 when it released the latest iOS updates). As mentioned, too, it's almost always better to design for a particular aspect ratio rather than precise page dimensions because further device optimizations can be handled by the developer.

The "Get Hit by a Bus Protocol": How to Protect Your Company From Sudden Staffing Changes and Build a More Flexible Team

When I first started commuting to work by bike, I never wore a helmet. After a few weeks of nagging from my boss, though, I capitulated and bought a helmet. 

This is what my boss said to convince me: "If you get hit by a bus, then the company's gone!” He was exaggerating, but the point was spot-on nonetheless.

If you work at a small company (say, around 10 people), you can easily become too integral to your team. It’s fantastic to take ownership of projects and responsibilities, but you want to make sure that the business can proceed smoothly even without your personal intervention.

Some may argue that making yourself essential to a company is great for job security, but I think that removing oneself from the equation is better for the company as a whole — and makes you a better employee. People are expensive. The less the business relies anyone's direct intervention, the better it can scale and the more sustainable it will be in the long run.

Having day-to-day operations directly dependent on any one individual is also just dangerous. Everyone needs a vacation, and everyone gets sick. There are also unplanned absences — maybe a relative gets sick, or maybe, ahem, you get hit by a bus. 

At a start-up, staffing changes are inevitable. Someone may leave for a different job elsewhere and/or a new team member may come on board. You want your company to be able to roll with these punches without too much difficulty.

Below is my "Get Hit by a Bus Protocol” — the steps everyone should follow in order to make the team more flexible (for its own good).

1. Document everything

Document all regular processes and procedures: how to set up the office printer; how to handle your biggest clients; how to respond to customers on common problems; how to make widgets; how you make your day-to-day decisions. Document, document, document. 

As production coordinator at Vook, I keep a 7-page Google Doc which has step-by-step instructions for how to keep our production pipeline moving even in my absence. It covers  nearly every scenario: how to manage a cover design job; how to produce a fixed layout ebook; how to scan a print book. I try to detail the processes as clearly as possible — almost as if I were writing a program for a computer to follow. Algorithms (if X is the case, then do Y and Z) tend to be easy for people to follow and also give a good grounding for later automation, if possible.

When your documentation is strong, you can onboard new team members easily. It’s much faster to point a new team member to a wiki or knowledge database than to spend time on individual, in-person training. In-person training costs the time of both the trainee and the one doing the training. Documentation can provide the basics and also give new team member materials to reference later.

This advice applies regardless of the role you’re in, but developers also have an extra responsibility to be commenting their code for later human readability. Any developer worth hiring, though, should be doing this already.

2. Store materials in a centralized location

I have been too often frustrated by not being able to get the files I need to finish a project because they’re stored on a coworker’s computer. Agh! This wastes the time of both me and my time.

Project files and any supporting materials should always be stored in a location where other team members can easily access them. Download project files to work on them locally, but remember to archive everything at the end of the day.

There are a variety of tools for this: Dropbox, Google Drive, Box — the list goes on. At Vook, we actually use a custom-built dashboard which supports file sharing between both team member and our clients.

Just think about storing files to the cloud. This isn't the same as backing up — which you should be doing anyway — because it’s more about sharing and decentralization. Digital files are more permanent print than physical goods simply because it's so easy to make copies. So make copies! Nothing should ever, ever, EVER be stored locally only.

3. Take frequent vacations

Vacations force you to see how things go in your absence. Vacations are safe ways to test your team's flexibility — i.e., without anyone actually getting hit by a bus — and have the bonus of recharging your team and preventing burn out. If you've already put in place processes to make yourself inessential, then vacations will furthermore test how good of a job you've done. 

I like to take psuedo-vacations: for 2-3 days before I'm actually away, I'll have another team member cover my role while I work on projects I've had on the back burner. This gives the person covering my position the opportunity to ask questions while I'm still there — the answers to which I will then document — and it makes me more confident that things will run smoothly in my absence.

4. Automate

All routine processes should be handled automatically. Automation is probably best practiced by backend developers. If you’re not a developer, though, think strategically about your work: what can be automated, and how could it be automated? Typically, the more specifically you can explain a project, the easier it will be for a developer to build. Then try to get the project into your team’s queue. Or, consider a low-tech workaround. Many applications have automation functionality built in. With a little digging, you can set up email auto-responders, IFTTT recipes, Mac Automator programs, Photoshop scripts, etc. 

Software Is Eating the World

In short, software is eating the world.
—Mark Andreessen

Oldie but goodie. In 2011, Andreessen was talking about how software development showed more potential than hardware development. In 2014, post-Web 2.0, his comment is just as relevant but could describe how every industry from education to taxi services is being disrupted — and in some cases gradually consumed — by software innovations.

15 Ways to Screw Up an IT Project

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff has a great round up of project management patters to avoid over on CIO. In brief, the list is:

  1. Having a poor or no statement of work.
  2. Not setting expectations up front.
  3. Not securing management buy-in.
  4. Using the same methodology for all size projects.
  5. Overloading team members.
  6. Waiting or not wanting to share information.
  7. Not having a clearly defined decision-making process.
  8. Not using a project management software system.
  9. Allowing scope creep (or excessive scope creep).
  10. Being afraid to say "no."
  11. Not being a team player.
  12. Poor communication.
  13. Too many, too long status meetings.
  14. Not caring about quality--the "good enough" syndrome.
  15. Not learning from past project management mistakes

But make sure to read the full post for comments and explanations from project managers in the trenches.

Merlin Mann on Credibility

Building credibility can start with something as simple as this: I say what's gonna happen, and then it happens. And then I say something else is gonna happen, and then it happens. And I keep doing that over and over and over . . . . 
If you say, "I'm going to estimate how much it's going to cost to do this project, and when we can have it done by to the level of quality you want," and then you do it — I mean, I don't care if that's one day's worth of work. If you do that over and over, dude, you are on another level.

Merlin Mann touches on a core description of project management in Back to Work Episode #127. If you're not already listening to Back to Work regularly, change that because you should be.

Service with a Smile (Just Not If You're Taking Your Bike on Amtrak)

This is the first day of my vacation: my girlfriend and I are going biking in upstate New York. The plan was to take the Amtrak to Syracuse. We'd check our bikes to get them onto Amtrak, and then from Syracuse we'd bike east along the Erie Canal.

Only a few minutes into the journey, though, and already we're off track. We arrived at Penn Station two hours before our train was supposed to leave — plenty of time to check our bikes, we thought. To get your bikes onto Amtrak, you have to partially disassemble them: you have to take off the pedals and then turn the handlebars partway in order to fit the bike into an Amtrak-provided box ($10 for the box, $20 for the handling). Disassembling the bikes proved to be harder to do than I thought. By the time we had them ready to ship, the woman at the baggage check informed we had missed the cut off to check the bags. By how much had we missed the cut off? A mere 8 minutes.

Once on board, we then were informed by a junior conductor that we couldn't sit in a clearly open two-seater by the window because he was reserving it for families. Instead we had to sit in a darker two-seater — no window — which was one row forward. I swear, this train car is half-empty and the two rows look identical to me. No flexibility at all.

I've taken Amtrak tons of times before and this is by far the worst experience. This reminds me that it is so key, when you're in a service business, to be investing in good people who enjoy working with customers. Every service has a set scope and there are always rules to adhere to — but at some point you have to understand the customer and know when those rules can be broken.

The junior conductor who wouldn't move us a seat back — to a window seat — justified his actions by talking about job security. He said he needed to adhere to the rules or he would lose his job. But it doesn't work like that. If your job is just interpreting a series of options within a defined rule set, then your job can be easily automated. A robot could do it. These Amtrak trains could be fully automated: purchase a seat online (just like purchasing a seat in a concert hall or for a play); scan your ticket at the door; and then walk to your designated seat. No human intervention required.

Amtrak, you can have that tip pro-bono.

But, truthfully, I like interacting with human beings. Some services can be automated to improve efficiency, but at some point you're going to be dealing with a human being. Either that human is the customer or — especially in a service-oriented business — it's the person doing the selling or performing the service.

If you're the person who's performing the service — well, I realize you may be coming off an 8-hour shift which probably started at 5 AM, and I realize you can't perform miracles. But, please, treat me like a human being and I will reciprocate.

This is a practice I take into my daily work. Sure, work is hard — but treating your customers, clients, and co-workers civilly goes along way. Personally, making a customer happy is one of the best parts of my day. Customers don't always say "thank you" — after all, the are paying me, so I don't really expect it. But when they do... Well, let's just say I save those emails. They brighten my day.

Finally, hat tip to two organizations who helped out during this fiasco:
• TSA. Thank you to the TSA agent who saw us struggling with our bikes and walked with me to the hardware store to pick out a wrench. Above and beyond the call of duty on his part and a big thank you for the kindness.
• Bicycle Habitat. As usual, these guys are awesome. Thanks to the mechanic who helped remove the pedals from my girlfriend's bike and let me watch while he did it. These guys always offer solid advice. Bicycle Habitat is my go-to shop — they have shops in Soho, Park Slope, and Chelsea — and if you're a NYC cyclist they should be your go-to shop, too. The Park Slope shop stayed open an extra hour last night to give me a last minute tune-up (and offered me some cold veggie pizza from their lunch — mmm). Thanks again, guys!

Pagination vs. Scrollability

Pagination is a necessary evil when you have too many items to easily show them all on one screen. Linear content flows—such as articles like this—should almost never be broken up into multiple screens. It’s better to show the full article on one long screen than to inflict the pain of additional steps on users when all they want to do is read an article, and thus stay within that one item.
Where pagination comes in handy is for listings, such as e-commerce category pages, search engine results pages (SERP), article archives, and photo galleries. Here, a user’s goal is not to peruse the full list, but rather to find a specific item and click through to that destination page.
Assuming that you can prioritize the list items, users are likely to find what they want close to the top. To focus users’ attention and improve response time, you can start by showing a fairly short list, and then offer pagination options for progressing further down the list if needed.
Users' Pagination Preferences and 'View All'Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, April 28, 2013

This one of the reasons I prefer to read ebooks in apps which offer scroll functionality. An infinite scroll is far more immersive. Pagination can be nice when reading on an E Ink screen (which would have a slower refresh rate than an LCD), but every page flip is a necessary evil and a slight interruption.

Why Apple Wins in Mobile

I took an introduction to iOS app development workshop this weekend. It was at GA and taught by some of the generous and talented developers at BitFountain.

If you've ever programmed before, you know how challenging it can be. I do mostly front-end work for Vook; ebooks, at their core, are just bundles of HTML and CSS. And when an ebook is broken on a certain device (which, for all intensive purposes, is just a browser), I've wracked my head for hours trying to find typos in my CSS or errors in my mark-up.

Enter the world of Xcode. Programming in Apple's development environment is a dream:

  • Libraries of quality code are pre-built for you. If you wanted, you could combine them like Lego blocks to easily form an entirely new program. All that's needed is the inspiration.

    These libraries of code are not unique to iOS development; there are libraries out there for other languages as well. But, man, having them pre-loaded right into your software development environment is amazing.

  • Inline validation and auto-complete. Xcode tests your code as you write it and let you know at the moment you write a new line of code if you have a bug. Similarly, Xcode remembers the names of all of your variables--and of those in its pre-built libraries--and will begin to auto-complete them for you as you type. This does encourage you to use long and very verbose variable names, but... It makes TextMate or NotePad++ look like something from 1991.

  • iOS emulator. As soon as your code is done, you can compile and test right on your computer. This is amazing. With the front-end work I've been doing, I have to actually load a site into multiple browsers at multiple screen sizes and basically test everything manually. What a drag! There are some differences between the emulator and the actual device, but the emulator is good enough for you to quickly to get a sense of whether the new code you wrote seems to be working or you need to revisit the drawing board. Deeper QA can happen later.

  • UI. If you're visually oriented, you can drag and drop buttons and the like and then style them the way you want in the Storyboard mode. Xcode does the heavy lifting to create the correspond code. This is invaluable for designers who want to dip into app development.

It's no wonder, that iOS has been such a dominant mobile platform for so long. The Xcode software development kit (SDK) makes programming apps surprisingly easy and incredibly fun. 

When you're trying to create a platform, building out robust tools for contributors is key. The easier it is for others to publish on your platform, the more high-quality content you will have and ultimately the more valuable your platform will be. It's a decentralized model: create the tools for others to contribute.

Blogs are Like Belly Buttons

Recently another writer asked a superb question in the Fiction Writers Guild on LinkedIn:
Blogs are sort of like belly buttons—everyone's got one. How do I get people to follow mine?
My response:
How do I get people to follow *my* blog? That's the question on everyone's minds. Standing out in social media is a tricky game. 
Red Lemonade would be great because the community is young. You would have the first-mover advantage: you would gain followers simply because there are currently fewer other writers competing for your reader's eyeballs. The same thing happened with Twitter—the early adopters gained lots of followers simply by showing up. 
If you do go the Wordpress, Blogger, or public-blog route, you could always cross-promote your posts. Every time you post a new installment, Tweet about in and post about it here. Make friends on Twitter and make friends among other bloggers who can give you a shout-out. Try to get the momentum going. 
Instead of starting your own independent blog, try to piggy back off of another website's social cache. See if you can find a website willing to publish your novel in installments. For instance, if I were writing literary fiction, I would pitch my idea to The Millions, Granta, or the Paris Review—all of which have websites for which they need a regular stream of quality, original content.
Pitching to an online magazine is a new idea that I'm not sure many people have tried. What do you think? Would it be a good way to gain exposure?

Having a blog following is essential for the aspiring writer. Whether you're pitching to publishers or publishing yourself, your online following can translate into the sales that make your time investment worthwhile.

Designing for Growth by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Oglivie

Aside from a few well known graduate schools offering immersion education—notably Stanford's d.school and U. Toronto's Rotman School, there isn't a wide variety of readily available ways to gain a learning experience blending theory with technique. 
That's exactly the design challenge taken on by Jeanne Liedtka, a professor at U. Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business and Tim Ogilvie, CEO of the innovation strategy consultancy Peer Insight, in their new book Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Took Kit for Managers.
Pretty thorough review of Liedtka and Oglivie's book over on American Express's Open Forum.

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk—Vook Edition

I just came across an advertisement for Gary Vaynerchuk's Crush It! The book looks fantastic—it's definitely going on my to-read list—but even more impressive than the paper or ebook editions is this one from Vook:

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk - Vook Edition

Head to the site to watch the trailer.

Vook is an innovative publishing start-up that produces, well, Vooks—books that blend video with text. From what I gather, short videos are interwoven into the body of the book. This seems ideal for Crush It!, because Vaynerchuk is such an engaging motivational speaker. Short YouTube clips of him at conferences can run alongside the text.

Other than that, Vaynerchuk's content—and the story of his rise to fame/fortune/success—seems similar to that of Tim Ferriss.

Three Month Summary

This course has exposed me to the burgeoning field of behavioral economics. Neoclassical economics may be the “study of resource allocation under scarcity,” but behavioral economics is a blend of economics and psychology—the study of how people actually make decisions. Neoclassical models necessarily make simplifying assumptions, and behavioral economics explains the glitches and phenomena that traditional theory excludes. Laboratory experiments in both psychology and economics departments have demonstrated that while the rational consumer is a useful construct, he is ultimately fictitious.

As Clay Shirky shows in Cognitive Surplus, and as Chris Anderson to a lesser degree demonstrates in Free, people often behave in ways that are not profit-maximizing. The traditional foil to neoclassical theory is the ultimatum game: responders will turn down free money if they believe they are receiving an unfair deal. And, as William Poundstone explains in Priceless, decision-making can be influenced by hormones, blood alcohol content, race, gender, and other human variables. Poundstone’s conclusions are not new; economists have been modeling these effects for decades.

What is new is the Internet. Never before has such a market existed, and never before has it been so easily to collect data and study social groups. The Internet is unique in several ways. Firstly, there is virtually no cost to starting an online business—there are zero barriers to entry and exit. Secondly, the Internet allows information to flow phenomenally fast, thereby eliminating information asymmetries. Likewise, it distorts geography and time: individuals across the globe can communicate in real-time, and a researcher can access decades-old news articles with a quick Google search. The Internet is a nearly perfectly competitive market. The prices of goods fall to little more than their costs of production and, at first glance, there seems to be little room for profit.

The Internet’s effect is similar to that of the Industrial Revolution. Today, companies centuries old are failing while start-ups are thriving. The Internet era demands new business models. Michael Porter’s cost-leadership strategy is no longer enough; firms will have to differentiate themselves by adding value for their customers. (One way to do this, Daniel Pink suggests, is by focusing on design and those creative, human touches that cannot be replicated by software.)

The Internet also promotes super-monetary economies. With a glut of entertainment options available, a consumer’s scarcest resources are his or her time and attention. When one’s material needs have been mostly satisfied, he moves up Maslov’s hierarchy of needs. People log onto the Internet to participate, to connect with like-minded individuals. They express themselves in art, writing, and video—they will create for free—in exchange only for an audience. Furthermore, as Clay Shirky points out, people will often take on challenging tasks simply in order to master them or to feel autonomous. On the Internet, success is measured not in dollar signs but in reputation, and the primary currency is that of attribution—giving credit where credit is due.

There are several implications for aspiring managers. Daniel Pink argues that Peter Drucker’s “knowledge worker” has been supplanted by the right- and left-brained “conceptual worker.” While this may be more prediction than perception, it is not unrealistic to suggest that tomorrow’s workers will have to communicate as much as they quantify. The physical workplace is less important than the worker himself; tomorrow’s organizations will be decentralized and office hierarchies will be more fluid. Social media will both unite offices and keep them in touch with the outside world. (For a guide to becoming the ultimate mobile warrior, read Timothy Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek; to become a social media expert, read anything by David Meerman Scott.) Finally, in a hyper-connected world, workers will be challenged simply to define their work, to sort out critical information from what is superfluous, and to stay focused. Workers should embrace iterative design theory: “nothing will ever be perfect,” writes David Meerman Scott, suggesting that companies should launch products as soon as possible and revise them later, with user feedback. Managers may need to teach their employees how to work as much as give them orders—a copy of David Allen’s Making It All Work should suffice.

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone

Sorry it's been so long, guys.

Priceless is a well-researched history of behavioral economics. Poundstone goes out of his way tell the stories of Sarah Lichenstein, Paul Slovic, S. S. Stevens and the other researchers who punched holes in neoclassical theory—and the result is a book that is thoroughly engaging.

Poundstone argues that prices are largely arbitrary. Just as people are relatively poor judges of absolute temperatures and weights but can easily estimate changes, so too do customers have little sense what goods should be worth. Instead, they judge whether prices are acceptable or not from environmental cues. Poundstone repeatedly demonstrates the power of anchoring: a high set price can pull subsequent estimations of value upward. For instance, amateur and professional real estate agents both conclude a house is worth more when the asking price is higher. Similarly, an overpriced watch in a designer goods store may never sell but serves to justify high prices on other products. And juries award more in damages when lawyers put arbitrarily high prices on their clients’ suffering. (Poundstone opens with an account of the landmark Liebeck v. McDonald’s case, in which a jury awarded Stella Liebeck $2.9 million in damages for the third-degree burns she received when spilled a cup of coffee on herself.)

Poundstone extrapolates the psychology of pricing to discounts in retail stores, menu layouts, and business negotiations. Some tips:
  • On a menu, center-justify items and list prices without dollar signs.
  • If an item is on sale, list the new price along with the original. The allure of a bargain may induce customers to spend more than they otherwise would. Instead of raising prices outright, “lower the discount” (232).
  • When negotiating a business deal with a man, examine his ring finger. If he is unmarried or has a ring finger close in length to his index finger, he is less likely to walk away from a deal.

In behavioral economics, the primary research tool is the classic ultimatum game. Poundstone describes several variations (competitions between genders or races; games played under the influence of oxytocin or alcohol) and their implications. Several experiments reveal biases subjects will not consciously admit to. Poundstone’s book is a powerful study of both pricing theory and modern society.

Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson

Free (Hyperion, 2009) continues the line of thought Chris Anderson developed in The Long Tail. As in his previous book, Anderson approaches digital markets from an economic perspective. While his language isn’t always crystal-clear (don’t read his book before bed), his reasoning is sound and informed.

In the digital era, technological advancement has driven the costs of the inputs of production—primarily bandwidth, processing power, and storage space—down to virtually zero. The challenges this presents are primarily psychological: we need to stop thinking in terms scarcity and start thinking in terms of abundance.

Like Clay Shirky does in Cognitive Surplus, Anderson analyzes nonmonetary economies (but with more statistical data). In the Internet era, the primary currencies are attention and reputation: since consumers have only limited time, producers must compete for it. Twenty-first century business models will focus not on simply delivering a service but adding value for customers (see also Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind).

This applies not only to media companies but to manufacturers as well, since even physical goods have some sort of branding or intellectual property associated with them. Anderson examines the Chinese fashion market—where piracy is rampant—to illustrate how designer knock-offs actually drive demand for premium goods. In case study after case study, Anderson proves that free products create markets where there were none.

In his last chapter (pages 251-254) and in various sidebars, Anderson lists over fifty businesses that make money by offering free services. Anderson used to offer a free copy of his book on his website, and any aspiring entrepreneur would do well to read through it. In sum, there are three main business models a company can follow:
  1. Direct Cross-Subsidies: Higher-paying customers subsidize lower-paying ones. Think museum admissions—adults pay while children get in free. 
  2. The Three-Party Market: A third party subsidizes the cost of offering customers a product at reduced rates. This is the way the media industry operates: advertisers pay the costs of producing content that anyone can access. 
  3. Freemium: Some customers purchase a premium product while others try a basic version at no cost. This is the model most software—think QuickTime (bundled with OSX) versus QuickTime Pro ($29.99)—sells with.

Why do countries have different broadband penetration rates?

Broadband penetration is a term I'm using to refer to the proportion of a country's citizens who have access to high-speed broadband Internet services. For my economics research seminar, I'm analyzing the factors that affect broadband penetration at the national. Using a fixed-effect regression, I model broadband penetration against a variety of factors such as GDP and population density. I use data freely available from the World Bank.

This paper is only a rough draft, but I welcome comments and constructive criticism that will help me refine my research. If you know of a paper that would be helpful, please send it along.



Today’s markets are global, and both developed and developing countries are increasingly producing service-sector goods. Widespread access to high-speed Internet can be a competitive advantage in today’s knowledge economy (Choudrie and Lee 2004; OECD 2008).

At the same time, broadband infrastructure requires significant investment. Due to economies of scale, the market may be uncompetitive—dominated by a few large firms—and rural or low-income areas may be underserved (Gillett et al 2003; Choudrie and Lee 2004). Since broadband is excludable but largely nonrival—once the infrastructure has been installed in an area, one household’s use does not significantly diminish the service provided to other households—it might be useful to consider broadband as a public good. Governments may want to encourage broadband penetration in order to address equity concerns or modernize their countries.

Gillett et al (2003) suggest that to promote broadband penetration, a government can assume the role of 1) user, 2) rule-maker, 3) financier, and/or 4) infrastructure developer. In the first role, the government stimulates demand; in the latter three, it encourages supply.

In 1999 and 2000, South Korea experimented with several initiatives to encourage broadband penetration (Choudrie and Lee 2004). With programs such as “Cyber Korea 21” and “Ten Million People Internet Education,” the government promoted Internet literacy to stimulate demand. The government also deregulated the telecommunications industry, provided “US$77m of loans [to service providers] at preferential rates,” and prepayed for broadband service to public buildings. The government planned to commit an additional US$926m to extend broadband service to rural areas by 2005. Broadband adoption in South Korea was spurred by the prevalence of Internet cafés that introduced the population to high-speed Internet access and by a highly-competitive telecommunications sector that provided next-generation services at cutthroat rates. South Korea’s high population density also facilitated the spread of the new infrastructure.

The literature suggests that broadband penetration will be influenced by several demand- and supply-side factors.

  • Population: Aggregate demand for broadband will be greater among larger populations. One also expects that demand will be greater from more youthful populations. 
  • Wealth: Since broadband is a “premium” service, demand should be greater from wealthier countries. 
  • Education: Gillett et al (2003) argue that “white collar workers . . . are more likely to use advanced communications services.” One expects that broadband penetration will be greater in countries that have more highly-educated populations and that trade primarily in communications and services. 
  • Telecommunications sector: One expects that supply will be greater in countries with robust telecommunications industries. 
  • Population density: Broadband penetration should be greater in densely-populated countries. 

Gillett et al have verified this framework at the level of local municipalities in the United States using data provided by the American Public Power Association (2003), but no study has yet examined broadband penetration rates at the international level.

Empirical Framework

To analyze broadband penetration from time-varying panel data, a linear fixed-effects regression model is used.

  • Y = broadband penetration
  • X = demand-side variables
  • Z = supply-side variables

Broadband penetration is measured as the number of fixed broadband Internet subscribers per 100 citizens.

Demand-side variables include the total population as well as the percentage of the population between ages 15 and 64 and the percentage of the population over the age of 64. Since the total population varies widely among the sample data, it has been transformed logarithmically. The collinearity between these three variables is insignificant. One expects all to be positively correlated with broadband penetration.

The latter two variables are included in order to isolate which age group is driving the demand for broadband. One expects that youthful populations will have a greater demand for broadband.

GDP—transformed logarithmically—has been used to measure the wealth of a country. This variable should be positively correlated with broadband penetration. Education should also increase with income levels, and although data on adult and youth literacy rates was available, it would have presented collinearity problems and was not rich enough to be included in the regression. Hence, GDP will be used as a proxy for both the wealth and education levels of a country.

The “white-collar” demand of a country is measured by the logarithmic transformations of commercial service imports and exports (both in U.S. dollars). Countries that trade a high volume of commercial services will likely have a greater demand for high-speed Internet access. The demand of highly-educated citizens is also estimated by the number of researchers and technicians per 1 million citizens. Broadband penetration should be greater in countries that are engaged in more “knowledge work.”

The sole supply-side variable is mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 citizens. Since cellular subscription rates often increase as broadband subscription rates increase (Yang et al 2009), and since broadband providers often also provide cellular service (Yang et al 2009), this variable should indicate the robustness of a country’s telecommunications sector. However, especially in developing countries, high cellular subscription rates may also indicate a lack of fixed-line infrastructure. Even in developed countries (for example, Japan), cellular subscriptions could substitute for fixed-line broadband access and may dampen demand for broadband.


The World Bank freely provides data on the preceding variables for a variety of countries. However, the data was more robust for some countries than others. The dataset excludes countries for which broadband penetration rates were not available for half of the sample period (years 2001 through 2009). Since even fixed effects regressions require variation in order to run, countries for which broadband penetration did not vary from 0 during the sample period were also excluded. Hence, as one might expect, countries that were excluded from the dataset were primarily small, developing nations for which data was not readily available. The final dataset still includes a mix both developing and developed countries. (See the Appendix for a full list. The dataset is also available from the researcher upon request.)

68 countries and 318 observations were included in the sample set.


Figure 1
An F-value of 79.23 and an R2 of 0.74 indicate that this regression is highly significant and explains a large degree of the variation in international broadband penetration rates. Nearly all of the variables, with the exception of GDP and commercial service exports, are as significant.

The parameter total population carries a coefficient of 26.16 and is highly significant, indicating that total population is by far the largest determinant of broadband penetration. Surprisingly, the percentage of the population between ages 15 and 64 significantly decreases broadband penetration, while the percentage of population over the age of 64 increases it by half the amount but is insignificant. These results suggest that while total population drives the demand for broadband, the working age and retiree population of a country does not.

These results could arise from including a disproportionate number of developing countries in the dataset, since in developing countries the working age population may be more likely to be engaged in manufacturing or manual labor—occupations which do not demand high-speed broadband access—rather than knowledge work. Since the number of researchers and technicians in a country do significantly drive demand (albeit only slightly), this conclusion seems valid.

The wealth and education of a country, as measured by the logarithmic transformation of GDP, would decrease the demand for broadband were it significant. Income distribution rather than total wealth may be a more important driver of broadband demand, since broadband (as a premium communication service) is more likely to be demanded by the upper classes. This is supported by the results of the regression in Figure 2. With an F-value of 133.62 and an R2 of 0.83, this regression is actually more significant (but less telling) than the one in Figure 1. In the regression in Figure 2, GDP per capita increases broadband penetration only slightly but is highly significant.

After total population, the second-largest determinant of broadband penetration appears to be a country’s commercial service imports. While commercial service exports also positively influences broadband penetration, this parameter is insignificant. These results indicate that countries heavily trading in services will have greater broadband penetration rates. Only commercial service imports could drive broadband demand if wealthier countries are importing services from developing ones, e.g., if developed nations like the United States are outsourcing programming or accounting jobs to developing countries like China and India.

Mobile cellular subscriptions also influence broadband penetration, albeit only slightly. This suggests that a robust telecommunications sector is integral to widespread broadband penetration. Because mobile cellular subscriptions appear to increase broadband penetration, there is no significant trade-off between cellular subscriptions and broadband subscriptions. Instead, the two may be complements.

Figure 2
I plan to run a similar regression using only OECD countries.


At the international level, demand-side variables determine broadband penetration more than supply-side variables. The largest determinant of demand is total population, which is largely outside a government’s control. From a policy perspective, governments can best encourage broadband penetration by stimulating the telecommunications and service sectors of their economies. Service-sector industries drive the demand for broadband and provide a healthy market for premium, twenty-first century telecommunications services.

Literature Review

Sharon E. Gillett, William H. Lehr, and Carlos Osorio, “Local Government Broadband Initiatives,” 2003 [pdf].

Jyoti Choudrie and Heejin Lee, “Broadband development in South Korea: institutional and cultural factors,” 2004.

Jyoti Choudrie and Anastasia Papazafeiropoulou, “Lessons learnt from the broadband diffusion in South Korea and the UK: Implications for future government intervention in technology diffusion,” 2006 [pdf].

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, “The Future of the Internet Economy,” 2008 [pdf].

Heedong Yang, Youngjin Yoo, Kalle Lyytinen, and Joon-Ho Ahn, “Diffusion of Broadband Mobile Services in Korea: The Role of Standards and Its Impact on Diffusion of Complex Technology System,” 2009 [download pdf].


My thanks to Professor Ron Cheung for generously guiding my research.


The full list of countries in the dataset is as follows: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, (Democratic Republic), Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Faeroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea (Republic of), Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, China, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Virgin Islands (U.S.), West Bank and Gaza, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

FastCo interview with Marcus Buckingham, author of First, Break All the Rules

Every manager is different, but what they do differently you could sum up with that mantra I put in chapter two, "They don't try to put in what God left out; they try to draw out what God left in. That's hard enough."
Great interview over on Fast Company with author Marcus Buckingham, of First, Break All the Rules fame. I love his data-driven approach to analyzing business leadership.

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

Cognitive Surplus (Penguin Press, 2010) is a sequel of sorts to Shirky’s popular 2008 book Here Comes Everybody. Shirky writes on his website that he “stud[ies] the effects of the Internet on society,” and both titles examine group dynamics on websites like Wikipedia, MySpace, and Twitter. In Cognitive Surplus, Shirky argues for the potential of collaborative new media to organize people to have a positive impact on society, and he supports his theories with examples of charitable organizations, social justice initiatives, and open-source software. Shirky is a professor of new media and journalism at NYU, and, though his arguments lack empirical rigor, his case studies are persuasive.

Shirky argues that forty-hour workweeks and rising prosperity have given us a “cognitive surplus”—that is, excess free time we used to otherwise spend watching television (Chapter 1). Since the Internet has democratized to the tools of media production, passive consumers have switched into active participants.

Using landmark psychology studies and behavioral economics, Shirky builds the case that people will often create for nonmonetary reasons. To the editors of Wikipedia or the teenage girls behind Grobanites for Charity, more important than monetary compensation are shared values and engagement in a community. Shirky also points out that individuals will often take on challenging tasks in order to master them or feel autonomous. Shirky’s hopeful thesis, quite simply, is that the Internet fosters collaboration that can use our free time for social good.

Shirky analyzes how fans of the South Korean boy-band Dong Bang Shin Ki organized to overturn trade legislation; how Nisha Susan’s Facebook group, the Association of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women, changed women’s rights in India; and how open-source software like Linux and Apache get produced. Most relevant to business readers is his last chapter, where he offers a set of guidelines for fostering digital collaboration:

  1. Start small: “Projects that will work only if they grow large generally won’t grow large” (194).
  2. Ask “Why?”: “Designers have to put themselves in the user’s position and take a skeptical look at what the user gets out of participating, especially when the motivation of the designers differs from that of the user” (195).
  3. Behavior Follows Opportunity: “What matters is how [users] react to the opportunities you give them” (196).
  4. Default to Social: “The careful use of defaults can shape how users behave . . . . By assuming that users would be happy to create something of value for each other, Delicious [a social bookmarking site] grew quickly” (197).
  5. A Hundred Users Are Harder Than a Dozen and Harder Than a Thousand: “A small group where everyone knows everyone else can rely on personality to arrange its affairs, while a large group will have some kind of preexisting culture that new users adopt. In the transition between those two stages is where culture gets established” (198).
  6. People Differ. More People Differ More: “In participatory systems, . . . the behaviors of the most active and least active members diverge sharply as the population grows . . . . [Developers] can take advantage of this divergence by offering different levels of involvement” (200).
  7. Intimacy Doesn’t Scale: “Yahoo.com host millions of mailing lists, to which tens of millions of people subscribe, but people are either on a mailing list or they are not—the lines around the individual clusters are clearly drawn. . . . [The] allegiance [of those users] is to the local cluster of people on their mailing list” (201).
  8. Support a Supportive Culture: The riders in an Amtrak quiet car are “willing to police the rules themselves, because they know that if an argument ensues, the conductor will appear and take over enforcement” (202).
  9. The Faster You Learn, the Sooner You’ll Be Able to Adapt: “When . . . Flickr.com was experimenting most actively with new features, it sometimes upgraded its software every half hour . . . . Meetup.com . . . has its designers watch people trying to user their service every day, instead of having focus groups every six months. . . . [S]uccessful uses of cognitive surplus figure out how to change the opportunities on offer, rather than worrying about how to change the users” (203-204).
  10. Success Causes More Problems Than Failure: “As a general rule, it is more important to try something new, and work on the problems as they arise, than to figure out a way to do something new without having any problems.”
  11. Clarity is Violence: “Culture can’t be created by fiat. . . . [T]he task isn’t just to get something done, it’s to create an environment in which people want to do it. [Allow groups] to accrue more governance as they grow” (205).
  12. Try Anything. Try Everything: It is impossible to predict what will be successful, so try everything and allow users to experiment (“the only group that can try everything is everybody” (207)).

4 Ways the Web is Changing Communications

The web is changing how we organize information in four ways:
  1. Taxonomies (think the Dewey Decimal System or biological classification) used to be necessary to organize information, but the web recognizes that categories are often fluid. Would my hypertext novella be found in the nonfiction, new media, prose or poetry section of a bookstore? The answer is neither and all four—it depends on who is looking for the book. With hyperlinks and tags, the web's architecture is primarily relational.
  2. We rarely enter websites via their splash pages and instead access the page we want via Google, Bing, or another search engine. Even though technology allows news to break faster and memes to spread virally, old information is not so much forgotten as pushed to the fringes. For instance, Google "Ryan Gosling" and three of the top six hits will be images from The Notebook, even though the movie is seven years old and Gosling has starred in a movie every year since (including 2010's Blue Valentine, which won two awards and was nominated for seventeen more). Since old information can be accessed as easily as new, the web is inherently nonlinear.
  3. With a blockbuster movie, a prime-time television show, or even a print book, the dialogue is one-way—from artist to audience. But the web has given consumers a voice and it rewards them for using it. If web content does not facilitate audience participation, surfers will take their attention elsewhere. The web is by nature interactive.
  4. Literary writing is largely absent from the web because designers have not yet found ways to humanistically display longer works. The scroll bar on the side of a browser window actually represents a technological regression (think Egyptian papyrus scrolls). Longer documents, unless intuitively organized, lose all the advantages of print books (the abilities to instantly jump from beginning to end and to see how far you have progressed in the text). Because screen reading can be somewhat uncomfortable, web writing tends to be digestible in shorter chunks (e.g., the length of a blog post).
For my creative writing senior project, I'm writing a prose-poetry hypertext novella—a book-length work organized as a website. My novella tries to takes advantage of the above properties. It's partly an homage to my pre-digital childhood and partly a collage of memories (our present encompasses our past). Think of it as a fictional Wikipedia or a digital choose-your-own-adventure—it's an experiment in nonlinear storytelling.

I'm hoping these guys will publish it.