Sam Brown

Not getting trapped in incrementalism

“This new foursquare release brings exactly the kind of big changes that take courage to make because inevitably there will be users who won’t like some or even all of them. It would be so much easier to get trapped in incrementalism but that’s not what startups are about. I am thrilled that foursquare is still behaving this way.”

Really liked this quote from Albert Wenger, a partner at USV who invested in foursquare. Sometimes big changes need to happen for you to make that next step up and I’m super proud of our entire teams efforts in launching v5.0 of foursquare. We believe really strongly in our vision for the future and in the company we are building, this is only the beginning.

Paper is like a screen that never turns off

Connecting products to the Web lets them become smarter and friendlier – they can sit on a shelf and do a job well, for the whole family or office – without all the attendant complexities of computers, like updates or having to tell them what to do. Little Printer is more like a family member or a colleague than a tool.

Plus paper is like a screen that never turns off. You can stick to the fridge or tuck it in your wallet. You can scribble on it or tear it and give it to a friend.

A personal mini-newspaper printed from your home that you can set up subscriptions to via your phone, Little Printer from London Design studio BERG is a product I can’t wait to get my hands on in 2012.

Debates over terminology and semantics are for...

“Debates over terminology and semantics are for archivists and academics. If you’re interested in the living heart of what you do, focus on building things rather than talking about them.”

Very sound advice from Ryan Freitas on 35 Lessons in 35 Years via @wilsonminer

The difference between a graphic designer & interface designer

“Interface design is when one is designing something that will be used by humans. The understanding of how a user thinks, learns and adapts is important knowledge.

I’m not down playing graphic design in any way, it’s just different. For example, graphic designers have the intention to grab an emotional response visually. While Interface designers have the intention to grab a logical response mentally.”

I really like The distinction between interfaces & graphics by Michael Dick in his latest blog entry, on his rather lovely redesigned site.

Personally I am working on a client project that I have yet to publicly mention that was designed entirely by a Graphic Designer. This Graphic Designer is a very very good designer with bags of talent and a lot of the site and associated materials are fantastic but as an interface designer myself I have a lot of differing ideas on how to implement and direct the users experience and design on the website.

It’s interesting to note the differences and is likely something I will write about in the future when the time is right.

I love work, just not hard work.

So I put my laziness to work for me. Instead of long proposals, I wrote short ones. Instead of worrying about competitors, I ignored them. And here's what happened: My company got more work. I found better clients. I slept better. I woke up better. I was happier. And, most of all, running a business became a lot easier.

Fifteen years later, this continues to be the most important lesson I've learned as an entrepreneur: Most of the stuff you agonize about just doesn't matter. Truth is, things are pretty easy and straightforward -- until you make them hard and complicated.

Jason Fried in Driven to Distraction from Inc Magazine.

I used to stress a lot about my business, my clients, the amount of work I was doing and my competitors – but the minute I stopped worrying about all of that and focussed on just doing great work that I was happy with it really made a big difference, to me and my business.

Fresh out of school, you are a technician not a professional

Question: “I recently graduated from design school and have started freelancing, and I’m wondering how you get clients? How do you get your name out there?”

This person may just as well have jumped out of an airplane and then asked, “Now, how do I go about finding a parachute? Oh, and should I land somewhere specific? How exactly do I do that?” Even so, this lack of foresight is quite common. The immediate lesson is that you shouldn’t become an independent professional with little to no professional experience, with no prospects and knowing little to nothing about the business.

Andy Rutledge lays down the law on Design Professionalism with answers to some very commonly asked questions from both agency and freelance designers.

Learn To Fucking Spell

“You can be the greatest designer on the planet, have the most intriguing concepts out there, create wonderfully thought provoking experiences for your users, but if you type something like ‘I’ve been freelancing for a number off years’, you honestly look like a five year old.”

Paddy Donnelly vents his frustrations at the common and simple spelling mistakes that plague the web in Learn To Fucking Spell → another wonderfully crafted blog post.

Jeffrey Zeldman On Self-Promotion

“There is a difference between being arrogant about yourself as a person and being confident that your work has some value. The first is unattractive, the second is healthy and natural. Some people respond to the one as if it were the other. Don’t confuse them. Marketing is not bragging, and touting one’s wares is not evil.” – Zeldman

Wise words from Jeffrey Zeldman On Self-Promotion and something I constantly find myself worrying about, this however is reassuring.

Johnnie Walker - The Man Who Walked Around The World

“By 1860, he had developed the square bottle, now with a label at an angle of precisely 24 degrees. No big deal, you might think, but you’d be wrong. The square bottle meant less breakages and more bottles per shipment. The diagonal label meant larger type and together that meant Johnnie Walker had unmistakeable presence on any shelf in the world.”

Johnnie Walker – The Man Who Walked Around The World – at YouTube →

Not just a 6 minute advert for Johnnie Walker but an insight into how they became so popular, starring Robert Carlyle. (via @mattmc)

Andy Budd on the UK film and TV industry

“People don’t go out of their way to pirate movies and TV programs; they’re not intrinsically bad people. They do it because often it’s quicker and easier than legitimate means. The quicker the film and TV industries recognise this and make it as easy to buy legal content as it is to download illegitimate content, the more likely they are to stem the flow.”

Andy Budd sums up the current stand-off between the UK film and TV industry and the viewers in his article Generation Y-pay. I completely agree with Andy, there is nothing worse than a show airing on TV in the US only to be spoiled on Twitter while we wait months for it to air in the UK.

Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.