Waterfall has become a weasel word — a word that has a lot of emotional impact, but has lost its original meaning and replaced it with virtually no meaning at all. For several years, across several environments, I’ve encountered communications or been in meetings where something is labelled as “waterfall” and immediately we talk about how to replace it — frequently without asking what it means or if it’s a bad thing.
Waterfall has emotional throw weight in labeling something as: non-collaborative (in which case, the metaphor should be silo); too rigid (in which case you could say lock-stop, or maybe even stick with rigid); and non-innovative (which is just name-calling and definitionally devoid of meaning so there’s no superior word choice, aside from maybe just to call someone stupid). So what does it actually mean?
Let’s return to the image of the waterfall (specifically the one on the right, cuz that works better):
The image of the waterfall implies irreversibility — you can’t go back once the water has gone over a fall. I understand that it’s possible for processes to go astray. But is locking in on some irreversible decisions really a bad thing? Don’t we want to avoid re-visiting decisions? Don’t we want to create a culture/team/process that takes early/important/foundational decisions seriously? Don’t we want to tighten our focus on making individual parts better? (As chairman Jobs says: “Focus isn’t what you say yes to, it’s all the things you say no to.”) Don’t we want to put first things first, get foundational stuff out of the way?
This video is the kind of thing that originally got me excited about the web and new media tools: someone with a compelling story to tell has the tools to make it engaging and a channel for putting it out there and finding an audience. Leaving aside the politics, this piece adds up to something great even though the individual production values are so-so.
KLPP is now on YouTube in ten short segments. A big thanks to Farrah Hassen for filming under challenging conditions (i.e., no space for a tripod, stifling heat). It’s got a nice cinema verite feel!
Capital Fringe Festival 2009 production of John Feffer’s almost-one-man play, Krapp’s Last Power Point. Written, directed, and performed by John Feffer. Audience member: Karin Lee. (I did the powerpoint that accompanies the play and vexes the one-man.)
Just saw in his blog that David Byrne has published/will publish Bicycle Diaries an account of his biking around his hometown of NYC and around countries where he’s touring and travelling. It seems kind of cool — after getting hooked on biking in NYC, he started taking a folding bike with him on his travels. I used to work on 12th and Broadway and would see Byrne fairly regularly on his bike — he was elegant, cool, looking at everything with that sense-of-wonder smile. Can’t wait to see the book. (I also saw George Plimpton and Spalding Gray (RIP) in the neighborhood a lot. Plimpton rode what we now seek out as a vintage bike with a ridiculous white basket with a blue flower on the front).
Interesting sidenote: Byrne’s book has already been published in Serbia and the UK, but will be published in mid-September quickly followed by a half-dozen other countries. One of those stars more beloved abroad than here.
Finally, here’s a video from WSJ online of Byrne’s partipation in the bike rack contest that he judged and participated in:
Great story about a 14 yr old boy in Malawi who, unable to afford school, gets his hands on books about windmills and electricity, and then makes windmills that power his house, charge people’s phones and transform the world around him.
A colleague just sent me a link to an MIT student project/installation site, called “Personas: How does the internet see you?”, which is part of a larger exhibit called Metropathologies. You type in your name and it assesses what you are/do/care about based on on-line presence. Fun idea, great animation during the algorithm crunch, surprising results:
Amused: sports so large, fashion that it shows up at all (must be based on client lists)
Saddened: politics is so little (and in black! like a mournful armband)
Pleased: design and art seem to be big
Can’t tell if this blog is covered in it . . . that might explain the sports, what about flickr? Need to explore.
I’m taking a two hour class about bio-electricity where I also make a DIY ECG (electro-cardio-gram, the one for the heart). Signed up yesterday, and today, there’s a video of a guy (who’s headed to dental school soon, dunno why, but that seemed an interesting detail to add), who made a really simple one:
He has a funny bit at :45 where he mentions that he needed a capacitor to smooth out the current — when he was hooked up to the oscilliscope (one of his out put devices) he was picking up Spanish radio!
The blog entry is pretty fun as well. He has lots of fun extra detail.
Just signed up for bookarmy this morning. Someone had posted on an old entry of mine that it was pretty good, but first impressions can be killer. Leaving aside some confusing design issues (a mix of authors, readers, reviews, publisher descriptions, and user-generated content threw me off), the first recommendation was beyond terrible. After you sign-up, you ‘get started now!’ by entering a book. I entered my standard Unbearable Lightness of Being. Not only is it a favorite book that I go back to again and again, it’s also the classic example of how weak recommendation systems are — Amazon seems to always indicate that if I liked that book by Milan Kundera, I might like these books. Until very recently, all these other books are invariably by Milan Kundera — like reading more of this author hadn’t occurred to me.
So what did I get at bookarmy?
In fairness, the top listings can be hard to sort out, so I went to the second page of recos:
This would almost have to be driven entirely by “people who read this also read this” with little to no reliance on even basic publishing data such as genre, period, fic/non-fic. Bummer. I’ll give it a few more titles.
Nice cartoon by Tom Fishburne:
Featured in his bid to speak at SxSW this year.