RAMPS – Ways to Affect Rhythm

This entry is part of 15 in the series RAMPS

Achieving good Rhythm, a well-tuned distribution of "feels good" across time, is at once the most visceral of sensations and the most difficult to reliably prescribe. Affecting rhythm, therefore, is a fundamentally experimental effort. There are three broad levels to think about, and each has its own possibilities and limits. There is the individual maker, a team of makers, and an organization that hosts, funds, plans, and manages that (or those) teams. At the outer circumference, the org has the …

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Change Pro-Tip: Reset

Change Pro-Tip: I sometimes will take an individual or group relationship of mine and ask for an explicit "reset". It’s not a frequent solution, but when the circumstances are right, the rewards for doing it can be huge. Early last year, I was in a wrangle with a person I’ve known for a few years. It wasn’t a crisis, exactly, but it wasn’t a happy or even neutral relationship. He called me, and as we spoke it became ever more …

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RAMPS – Rhythm is Tension and Release

This entry is part of 15 in the series RAMPS

Rhythm is about sequences of alternating tension and release. Noticing, orchestrating, and managing the levels and timing of those sequences is one way I can affect the motivation of myself and others. Take a second right now give yourself a nice full-bodied stretch, complete with a yawn. Feels good, yeah? Some of you are at the end of your day, others the middle, and to be honest I’ve only been up for a couple of hours. But it still feels …

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RAMPS – A Way I Approach Motivational Puzzles

This entry is part of 15 in the series RAMPS

Motivational Puzzles Rhythm, Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, and Safety are important bands in my own motivational spectrum, so I often use them when I’m thinking about other people’s motivational spectroscopy. I’ll give you snapshots of the meaning behind those bands in a minute, but I want to start with that base metaphor, of spectrums, spectroscopy, and signature. When you bombard an element with electromagnetic radiation — for the sake of shorthand, when you make it glow — it gives off visible …

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Stories About Stories

This entry is part of 4 in the series Stories

Some stories about stories, continuing from How Stories Change Things. First, a story-story from history or two. In 1900 the story of Thomas Jefferson was that he was a founder of our nation, a naturalist, and inventor, a President, and the author of some of the most stirring language about human equality ever penned in English. In 2000 the story of Thomas Jefferson was that one of the hundred-odd slaves he owned, the young half-sister of his deceased wife, was …

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How Stories Change Things

This entry is part of 4 in the series Stories

What is this thing about telling & re-telling the story until it’s the story we want? There’s back-muses, check my timeline, but I’ll offer the relevant text: "I believe we have to re-tell the story. We have to tell the story again, and again, changing it each time, until it becomes the story of bringing a large and diverse group of people together in a common culture of kind and creative community." To make that case, it seems to me …

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What I’m Up To

This entry is part of 4 in the series Stories

Yesterday, I spoke about thin culture, insecurity, and a possible way forward: telling and re-telling the story of us. I don’t know what will thicken the software making trade’s culture. But I know (part of) what I’m trying to do: tell the story of us, re-tell it, and re-tell it again, as many times as it takes, until that story is the story of a community of kindness and creativity. I’m trying to make a sociotechnical approach to the trade …

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Thin Culture and Stories

This entry is part of 4 in the series Stories

I believe the thinness of geek culture is a major player in many of the ills of the trade. It is sociotechnical in impact, simultaneously affecting areas as seemingly distant & distinct as the "social" gender diversity and the "technical" iterative design. Last night, I enjoyed Virginia doing a hilarious profane rant about an incoherent technical manual she’d used that day. We’re not talking about jargon or domain ignorance, but of flat-out incoherence: bad sentences, contradictory advice, poor case discrimination, …

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MCE #3: Mindful, Collaborative, Experimental

This entry is part of 3 in the series Mindful Collaborative Experimental

What matters most when I’m collaborating on activity X isn’t activity X, it’s collaborating. I’ve given this MCE series a lot of thought, which is why the items appear so slowly. My take seems fundamentally different from what others seem to be saying. And it doesn’t feel like a tweak. It’s not one premise of the zeitgeist I would change, but most of them. Some ideas are baked so deeply into the zeitgeist, it is very difficult to use the …

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Endpointing & Nextstepping

In our trade, a great deal depends on the distinction between two ideas, manifested as behaviors, cutlures, practice-sets, attitudes, approaches, whatever you call it. I call these ideas "endpointing" and "nextstepping". The central thesis of endpointing: "There’s a finish line, and it’s what matters most." The central thesis of next-stepping: "There’s no finish line, and what matters most is the next step we take." Even a casual glance will show the extraordinary reach of that distinction. It can be applied …

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