Why is Burning Man still selling tickets at all?

Dear Burning Man folks:

The last time you guys were bickering this much I was away in India. I wouldn’t have cared, but you filled my inbox with so much crap about raising money for alternate alternate art funding (Borg2) that I wrote back telling you that what you needed to worry about was not more art funding but more whiskey and rockets at Burning Man.

This time, I was away on a silent meditation retreat, so I almost didn’t notice. But on my return, what seems like half of San Francisco and Silicon Valley had entered the Burning Man ticket lottery, were disappointed with the results, and were filling every social media outlet they could find with tales of woe and suggestions for what the BMorg should do next. Endless fine points about ticket levels (to $400 and up), scalpers with prices many times that, printing photos on tickets and making them non-transferable, and so on, ad nauseum. (The best post I read has been Alyssa Royse on Burning Man tickets and crisis PR.) It seems like there is a good answer that I’m surprised noone else has suggested it by now.

Why is Burning Man still selling tickets at all? Continue reading

The Lean, Agile Quantified Self

Self-tracking and personal science has always fascinated me, from trying one of the early heart rate monitors 20 years ago to separately plotting lean and fat body weight changes (my team developed the LeanScale app), to measuring my brainwaves at night with Zeo.

I’m blown away and humbled by the collective intelligence and spirit of adventure and curiosity in every single participant and presenter at the first Quantified Self Conference today. In the afternoon I’ll be co-presenting a short talk entitled Agile Self Development, on borrowing ideas from Lean Startup and Agile Software Development for optimizing personal development, experimentation and productivity.

Seth Roberts suggested in his opening plenary that professional science is stagnating, while personal science is about to revolutionize the advancement of knowledge and human health, productivity and happiness. Hooray for progress!

Startup Lessons from NASA (and pictures of Discovery's last flight, STS-133)

Shuttle Discovery on pad 39a, night before her final launch

My visits to NASA for this launch were an amazing experience, but I also noticed a valuable lesson for company founders and leaders.

Innovation and reliability sometimes compete, but they matter differently to each of the things you do. At any stage and any size, your company can be more nimble and accepting of failure where needed, and more risk averse where needed. The trick is knowing the difference and taking advantage, rather than succumbing to the temptation to always favor one over the other.

Perhaps a more interesting way to look at it might be that we’re always engineering a reduction in different kinds of risks. Focus on the right one to reduce for each problem, and we can meet our most important andĀ appropriateĀ goals. Beware the temptation to manage the wrong risks.

More about the lesson and the launch, with a few of the snapshots I took on this trip (all are unedited/uncropped from my point-and-shoot Canon sx30is), after the break… Continue reading

Who can build your iPhone app?

Last night my friend Doc Pop asked me for a recommendation of who could build an iPhone app for his performance and art. Doc is a force of nature: he blogs, is a nerd core rapper (who is releasing a new album of all-iPhone music), a world-champion yo-yo’er, comic creator, and does other arts and crafts in addition to his day job as an iPhone game designer. So of course he should have his own app.

We were at a party, so I didn’t have time to find out more about what he had in mind before giving him the general answer of what anyone in his position needs to hear… Continue reading

Comparing high-speed Internet in San Francisco: AT&T U-Verse vs. Comcast Extreme vs. Speakeasy DSL

Today we have AT&T U-Verse and Speakeasy DSL, next week we’ll also have Comcast Extreme 50. These appear to be the only choices here (except commercial dedicated circuits). We’ll be disconnecting two of them shortly, but it’s a great opportunity to compare service from the three providers and I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far. Continue reading