First things first: we are expanding the Design Studio at Twitter! A few days ago, I opened 8 new positions, which can be viewed here. If you have fantastic design, production, or research chops and you love Twitter, we’d love to talk to you.
Secondly, below is a not-so-brief update on how things have gone in my first month here.
Working at Twitter is a lot like using Twitter. You have to get comfortable with how much information you miss every day.
— Mike Davidson (@mikeindustries) November 29, 2012
So far, San Francisco has outperformed my already high expectations. It’s an even more enjoyable city to live in than I imagined. The only thing that’s been a bummer is housing selection and pricing. For a 1300 square foot place, I am paying about 2.5-3x what the same place would go for in a nice neighborhood in Seattle; and Seattle isn’t exactly cheap either. I thought I would just have to overpay a little down here in order to get into a decent place, but the reality is that the city is littered with apartments as expensive as $6000 a month that you wouldn’t even want to live in. Thankfully, we got a place on a great block in Noe Valley so at least the neighborhood is perfect for us, but man is it pricey for what it is.
The food in San Francisco has been predictably terrific, and I will just come out and say it: the coffee is better than it is in Seattle. Between Ritual, Philz, Martha’s, and Blue Bottle, just about the only place in Seattle which can compete is Uptown Espresso. That has surprised me a bit. It’s also nice being this close to In-N-Out Burger, which helps (almost) make up for the lack of Skillet down here.
People keep telling me the weather is supposed to turn to shit any day now, but it’s the middle of December and it’s been sunny and mid 60s for most of my time here. I could really get used to this, although I’m sure the summers won’t be nearly as nice as they are in Seattle. I still plan to fly up every couple of weeks during the summer and throughout Husky football season.
It seems like Seattle underindexes just a bit on the “outgoing” scale, while San Francisco overindexes. My theory on this is that since so many people in Seattle are from the region, went to school there, and have such comfortable living situations, they are less likely to seek interactions with strangers. San Francisco, however, much like New York, is more of a melting pot. People come here from all over, don’t have high school and college friends to congregate with all the time, and live in tiny matchboxes, so they are more likely to go out and meet new people.
The effect isn’t dramatic, but I notice it almost daily. More people make eye contact, more people say hello, and more people go out at night. It’s a nice change of pace.
I never really felt like part of the Seattle design or tech community, despite having been a de-facto member of it since about 1997. Perhaps it’s for the reasons listed above. People in Seattle generally seem more content to just do great work as part of their jobs, and then spend nights and weekends doing other things entirely, with other people entirely. The parties I usually attend in Seattle have very little to do with my profession or my colleagues.
In San Francisco, it seems like there’s a much tighter social relationship with one’s contemporaries. Some people don’t like to talk about work outside of work, but I’m not one of those people, so I quite like this dynamic. A lot of what I’m noticing could be self-fulfilling, however, as I’m new here and I may be subconsciously seeking out more community interaction than I did at home.
Where do I start!?
This place is amazing in so many ways, and perplexing in plenty of others.
Let’s start with the really good stuff: I’ve never worked around this many supremely talented people in my life. If you have a great idea here, not only can you find people willing to build it, but you can often find people who have already built parts of it. I feel like I have to preface each sentence I say with “Someone’s probably already thought of this, but…”. It’s a really great feeling knowing there is enough intellectual horsepower and willpower in this organization to envision and create the previously impossible.
The Design team in particular is one of my favorite things about my job so far. We are a diverse group, all having arrived here by wildly different means, and often with wildly different skillsets and perspectives on design. Since the company is so young and the team has exploded from a small handful of people to almost 40 in such a short period of time, most of us have been here for only a few years at most. Having been at Newsvine/NBC for almost seven years and ESPN for 5 years before that, I’m still getting used to the concept of a two-year employee being a “veteran”. In any case, I love my team and we’re about to go through a really great stretch.
Twitter’s new building is pretty amazeballs too. The space is beautifully designed, the food — complete with round-the-clock unlimited bacon — is fantastic, and it’s very conveniently located as far as public transportation goes. The only bummer is there is this annoying air horn at the construction site across the street that goes off incessantly.
On the perplexing side, I am amazed at how much happens here every day that I am completely unaware of. Perhaps it’s just the combination of me being new and the company being so big, but I feel like I know about 1% of everything that goes on every day. It feels like getting dropped blindfolded into downtown Tokyo. I fear that at any moment, someone could ask me a very basic question about something going on in the company and I would have no idea what they were talking about. I’ve been spending much of my first month learning everything I possibly can about all corners of the company in order to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The other interesting thing is the reshaping that’s going on right now as a result of how quickly the company has grown over the last two years. Increasing your staff 20% every year for five years is a growth plan most companies can easily manage, but increasing it something like 700% in only a couple of years creates all sorts of entropy. In the face of this sort of hyper-expansion, it can take awhile for people and even entire departments to find their sea legs. With such a dramatic influx of talent, however, also comes the opportunity to extend the product and the business into new areas, and that seems like what’s happening right now.
The other thing, of course, is managing technical and design debt effectively. If you’re like me, there is no shortage of things you wish Twitter would change, eliminate, add, or improve, and all I can say is: your lists are probably very similar to ours. I know this because I talk to critics all the time, and I was one before joining. Still am, actually:
Worst Twitter feature ever: twitter.com/mikeindustries…
— Mike Davidson (@mikeindustries) November 30, 2012
The great news is that we’re on the same page, and we’re excited about moving Twitter forward as quickly as the universe allows.
If you want to be part of the team and you’re interested in working on a product that, on any given day, has the potential to save actual lives, we’d love to meet you. We don’t care where you went to school or how big your previous gigs were. All we care about is how talented you are and how fun you are to be around. If you fit those two qualifications, please join us in helping shape the future of Twitter.
Today marks the launch of my second blog, and first new one in over four years: A House By The Park. Please head over and have a look-see!
Why a second blog when I only post to Mike Industries a few times a month? Well, I’m building a house, together with Build LLC.
The first thing I noticed after deciding to build a house is that there aren’t any well-written, well-designed, detail-oriented blogs about building a house from the perspective of someone who has never done it before. There are a number of books on the subject, several of which I’ve purchased and zero of which I’ve opened, as well as random articles and photos from people at various points in their construction, but nowhere could I find a start-to-finish, real-time chronology of the entire process. That ends today.
Ahousebythepark.com will cover searching for the right property, dealing with real estate agents, interviewing and choosing an architect, making your way through the design and build process, and probably a thousand other things… all with the goal of helping future custom home builders better prepare for their own projects. I’ve backdated a bunch of entries before pushing the site live so there are already 26 posts to thumb through.
Somebody told me once that every human being should go through the home building process once in their lifetime. I don’t know if I agree with that, but if you feel you may ever decide to build a home for yourself, I invite you to subscribe to A House By The Park’s RSS feed and follow passively until something strikes your interest. I can’t guarantee the same highly intellectual nuggets of thought that fill the pages of Mike Industries, but I will try to write with the same level of detail and accuracy. For instance, I’m making my entire spreadsheet of expenses available online and within the blog posts themselves so readers can get a specific idea of what everything costs (Yay EditGrid! Separate post on this coming soon).
Finally, please feel free to link to or write about A House By The Park on your own site or other places of interest. Every little link helps. I estimate there are somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 subscribers to Mike Industries so there are always great comments here, but on launch day, A House By The Park will have zero. Writing stuff is no fun until intelligent discussion and/or controversy ensues.
So that’s the pitch. Head on over, the water’s warm. I’ve even published a top-to-bottom complete chronology page to get you all caught up from the beginning without having to jump from page to page.
Just a quick note that I’ll be appearing live on G4TV’s “Attack of the Show” today at 7pm EDT. The subject is “bloggers as journalists” and I’ll be appearing on behalf of Newsvine — via satellite — with a couple of guests, including Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Intelliseek who was recently quoted in Forbes magazine as saying:
“Bloggers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality.”
Anybody have anything they want me to say on the air? Feel free to post your thoughts on this subject so I can present them as my own. :)
I don’t post too often about upcoming speaking gigs because I assume most readers don’t care, but since I have a few coming up, here’s a quick combined rundown. If you’re in town for any of these and want to talk a little shop, let me know:
Keynote Panel: Grokking the Big Picture: An interview about how syndication is altering the worlds of media, publishing, and marketing.
Speaking with Eric Elia of Brightcove, David Geller of WhatCounts, and Dave Sifry of Technorati.
Panel: If You Could Build Your Website from Scratch… What Would You Do Differently?
Speaking with Roger Black of Roger Black Studio (OMFG!), Darin Brown of Avenue A/Razorfish, and Lincoln Millstein of Hearst.
Session: Designing for Community Interaction.
Panel: Design panel.
Speaking with D. Keith Robinson of BlueFlavor, Dan Cederholm of SimpleBits, and Bryan Veloso of FaceBook/Avalonstar.
Many apologies for the self-promotion, but I’m going to be on the KCTS show “Serious Money” tonight talking about Newsvine and the changing landscape of the journalism world. If you have access to KCTS, it’s going to be on at 8pm Pacific Time. Serious Money is in its 17th season and has hosted such CEOs as Jack Welch of GE, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, and Jonathan Klein of Getty. Economist extraordinaire and Colonial era dead-ringer Louis Rukeyser has also appeared. After the airing, the show should also be available on KCTS’ Streaming Video page, I believe.
I wore make-up too, so let the jokes begin…
March is the greatest month of the year for basketball fans. Not only are there a ton of great NCAA Tournament games to watch, but there are a ton of bracket games to enter as well.
Bracket games, as most college hoops fans know, are designed to test your ability to predict the outcome of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. From a field of 64 teams, you pick the winners of each game, collecting points along the way in each round, and the person with the most points at the end wins. ESPN’s Tournament Challenge is one of the best such bracket games out there and having worked on it for several years at ESPN, I can attest to how popular it is.
So now that we’re building a world-class sports section on Newsvine, we figured we should do an NCAA Tournament game as well. But brackets are a little played out.
We wanted to do something new.
Presenting Newsvine Tournament Pick ‘Em. Newsvine Tournament Pick ‘Em has no bracket. Instead, each entrant is given a budget of 300 “doubloons” with which they can purchase however many teams they’d like. The rub is that each team costs a different amount, with the higher seeds being the most expensive. You can buy three teams or 15 teams… it’s up to you.
Each win is worth one point and the person with the most points wins a 60GB Video iPod from Newsvine.
Entering can take anywhere from 10 seconds to an hour depending on how long you stew over your picks.
So here’s the best part though: You can also invite up to 50 of your friends to enter your Tournament Pick ‘Em “group”.
If anyone you invite ends up winning the Video iPod, you will win one as well.
How’s that for teamwork?
So head on over to Newsvine Tournament Pick ‘Em and fill out your entry today.
… and you thought the iPod Contests were going away. :)
6 months. 64 posts. 2011 comments. One million page views. Mike Industries hit seven digits today, and to celebrate I’m giving away an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse to the person (or people) who submit the best comments, in haiku form, as to why they want either device. An example is as follows:
Oh Bluetooth Keyboard
I Yearn For Your Wireless Touch
Untether Me Now
The best haikus posted by EOD Wednesday, will be shipped the products. Multiple entries are fine.
I want to thank everyone who has been reading and/or participating in this site over the last several months since inception. I feel like this blog is 99% troll-free, and the quality of discussion is top shelf. Never would I have learned that the McLean Deluxe burger is part sea-kelp without the vast pool of savants who visit these pages.
I also want to give a shout out to Dreamhost, my hosting company of choice. I’ve hosted sites with many different ISPs in my life, but Dreamhost just continues to completely blow me away. I have zero complaints and a thousand compliments. In fact, I’m so satisfied that I just gave them placement on my sidebar, which is about the closest thing to an ad you’ll find on this site. If your hosting company doesn’t make you want to run over and hug them, you should check out Dreamhost.
Anyway, I’m off for a vacation in the Mayan Riviera now. The diving is supposed to be great. Will post close-up pictures of sharks when I return.
UPDATE: We have two winners! Thanks to everyone for participating. There were more than a handful of really great haikus, but these two stood out as the greatest:
Pale azure molar
Blinking vermillion rodent
Freely I would roam
— Isaac Lin
— Jay Robinson
Congrats to Isaac and Jay. I’ll ship you your stuff as soon as I get back from vacay.
Well it’s been a good first week here at Mike Industries. Over 50,000 page views, plenty of scathing editorial and healthy discussion in the comment threads, and not a single piece of hate mail! Not that readers might be interested in such things, but I thought I’d share some of the nuggets gleaned from ShortStat during the first week:
Anyway, more ramblings are on the way this weekend. Thanks to everyone who has put up with them so far. Expect updates to this site once or twice a week as excess mental energy allows.
* In case there was any doubt, yes, the Invalidator Badge is clearly hyperbole.
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