Freedom to the nose

Your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins. John B Finch (early version of a saying often attributed to John Stuart Mill, Lincoln and others) A fundamental principle of liberty and libertarianism is that people should be given as few limits as possible. John Stuart Mill argued for absolute freedom…

Steve Jobs on working backwards from customer experience

“The hardest thing is, how do [those features] fit into a cohesive vision? … One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it. And I’ve made this…

Resource: 109 mental models from Farnham Street

Mental models are how we understand the world. Not only do they shape what we think and how we understand but they shape the connections and opportunities that we see. Mental models are how we simplify complexity, why we consider some things more relevant than others, and how we reason. A mental model is simply a representation of how something…

Clean-up vs Prep

… are more or less the same thing, but they feel different. Clean-up is orientated towards the past, while preparation looks to the future. Clean-up is the drudge work, while preparation is setting the stage for the next thing. Clean-up means “I’ve finished.” Preparation means “I’m ready.” Your office. Your kitchen. Your car. Your living room. Your sports kit. Your…

When I’m bigger

My sons tell fantastic stories about what they’re going to do and be when they’re grown up: spies, taxi drivers, race-car drivers, generals, fathers of improbably large numbers of children (!), expert fighters, designers, inventors… The stories are a wonderful mix of the improbable and the impossible with a smattering of the realistic and the actual thrown in for good…

Plato on ageing well

I love this little riff from the start of Plato’s fascinating-but-politically-iffy* Republic: We went with Polemarchus to his house; and there we found his brothers … There too was Cephalus the father of Polemarchus, whom I had not seen for a long time, and I thought him very much aged. He was seated on a cushioned chair, and had a…

A slice of the pie

Jane has one pie. John has none. Should Jane give John a slice? The situation is unequal, but we need some context – including some history – to be able to decide if it’s unfair. Your feelings might change if… Jane and John were each given a pie by a friend, but John has just finished eating his. Jane bought…

By invitation and by necessity

I think I should give the reason for my being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of “outsiders coming in.” … I am here, along with several members of my staff, because we were invited here. I am here because I have basic organizational ties here. Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here…

A somewhat reassuring thought

When your wariness about the future tips over into anxiety, when the world is not turning not only upside down but also inside out, and it looks like things might fall apart – it might be helpful to think of the best of times (either your own or some time when things were generally better) and then remind yourself that…