Housekeeping update: moving to a new online writing home (for now)

Yesterday I asked So where should we post now? and I think I made a decision. Well, for now. All decisions are reversible, after all.

After publishing Elezea on and off for 13 years I’m going to stop splitting my attention and move all my writing and sharing to the Elezea Newsletter. It’s hosted on Substack right now, but it might not always be—which is one of the nice things about being on a platform that lets you take your readers with you when you leave. Reversible decisions! (I hear good things about Ghost, for example)

I think it took me so long to make this decision because I had so much fun over the years writing here, and I didn’t want to let that go. But the main site isn’t going anywhere, and the blog archives aren’t going to disappear I think it’s time for me to commit to writing consistently again, and shifting my energy to the newsletter seems like the best way to do that. You know… for now. I might be back. For the time being, see you over on Substack.

So where should we post now?

I’m sure I am not the only one who is currently re-evaluating where I spend my time online. Two tangentially related articles gave me lots of food for thought on this topic over the past couple of weeks. First, Dave Rupert makes this point in It takes one person to knock down a silo:

Wherever you end up I want to offer an idea; you are the value. Your ideas, your insights, your compassion, your ability to help someone in need, your dumb puns and dank memes; that’s what’s valuable. This situation has me thinking hard about where I’m distributing my contributions, where I’m adding value (modest as it may be), and who is benefitting.

Second, Jamie Zawinski asks that we Do Not Use Services That Hate The Internet (please read the whole thing, it’s great):

If posts in a social media app do not have URLs that can be linked to and viewed in an unauthenticated browser, or if there is no way to make a new post from a browser, then that program is not a part of the World Wide Web in any meaningful way.

I like how these posts urge us to consider how, before Facebook and modern social media, the “social web” was pretty much just labors of hypertext love, loosely held together by the online equivalent of duct tape—RSS, trackback links, blogrolls, IRC, etc. I’m not saying we should go back to those old tools specifically (although—”A collection of 951 blogs about every topic”—is pretty sweet). But maybe it’s worth going back to why we invented those awkward solutions in the first place. We saw an opportunity to connect with like-minded people online, to form communities around niche interests, and to make our worlds bigger. Those are worthy outcomes, even if the solutions we had at the time might not be ideal any more.

So where should we post now? I’m going back-and-forth on that a lot. Depending on the day/time/mood, I either want to go all-in on this blog again, or revive Tumblr, or give Mastadon a solid try, or just double down on the newsletter… In short: I have no idea at the moment, but I know I want to keep writing, so I’m trying a bunch of things and hoping at some point I find something that works and that doesn’t make me feel gross. Wherever I end up, I hope that it’s a place like the one Dave describes in the post above:

I hope you’re somewhere that values your value. Somewhere where the stars, hearts, and thumbs up feel like authentic relationships. Give your contributions to someone or some place that appreciates them. In Biblical agrarian parlance, “Cast not your pearls before swine.”

Netflix DVDs and the end of an era

Michael Liedtke’s Netflix nights still come wrapped in red-and-white envelopes is a lovely post about the people who still get DVDs delivered via Netflix:

“When you open your mailbox, it’s still something you actually want instead of just bills,” said Konkle, a resident of Savannah, Georgia, who has been subscribing to Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service since 2005.

But the end of an amazing era is upon us:

When—not if—it happens, Netflix will shut down a service that has shipped more than 5 billion discs across the U.S. since its inception nearly a quarter century ago. And it will echo the downfall of the thousands of Blockbuster video rental stores that closed because they couldn’t counter the threat posed by Netflix’s DVD-by-mail alternative.

Pour one out for one of the few business that can truly call themselves “disruptive”. And kind of related… Here’s Andrew A. Rosen in The Question Plaguing Connected TV: Who’s Watching?:

About 17% of advertisements shown on televisions connected through a streaming device—including streaming boxes, sticks and gaming consoles—play while the TV is turned off.

Turns out lots of people turn off their TVs but not their streaming devices, so the thing just keeps playing to no one. Oops.

A framework to identify issues to unblock growth

Here’s a good analogy from Josephine Conneely to help figure out why growth might be stalling:

Imagine each of the 3 criteria pillars, Product, GTM and Org, as legs of a stool. Ideally each leg is of even height. This allows it to sturdily hold whatever is needed (in this case it’s increasing user volumes). Each leg can continue to grow (perhaps this is some sort of stool tree), and as long as the legs grow in tandem the success metrics of choice are safe. However, there may at times be an imbalance. Imagine an organisation with a great sales and marketing team who have created such demand that the product is struggling with performance issues as it scales to meet increased usage volumes. This leads to a lopsided stool, which while functioning, is not operating in manner which enables the org to capitalise on growth potential. If the product issues are not rectified, this could result in churn, reputational damage and a negative growth trajectory. Imbalance leads to lost opportunities.

Read the whole article for an illustration of the concept, and also how to use the framework in practice.

What you can learn from watching Predator 146 times

I never thought that I’d want to read a book about a guy who watched Predator 146 times. But Shooting at Nothing: An Interview with Ander Monson convinced me otherwise:

In following every rabbit hole of his obsession with the film through to its end, Monson creates a book that is truly one-of-a-kind—not just a dose of nostalgia for movie buffs, but a revelatory investigation for anyone who’s ever really loved a singular piece of culture, enough that it got tangled inextricably in their identity and could never quite be excised. In Monson’s own words: “I believe that if you look long and hard enough at what you loved best at fourteen and how you lived then and what you saw in the world, it will reveal both the world and you.” As the pages turn, a question inevitably arises: What have you loved in the way that Monson loves Predator? And, for better or worse, how has it made you who you are?

Return To Office: the wrong solution for remote work challenges

In Official myths Mandy Brown talks about how we are trying to solve the legitimate challenges of remote work by blindly (and incorrectly) assuming that the solution is going back to the office:

In many a remote-critical piece I’ve read, there’s a kind of mythical office that remote culture is being compared to, a place where everyone is welcomed, where collaboration and support is easy-going and automatic, where everyone is always whiteboarding or talking in the hallways. It’s kind of astonishing to see how much this presumed office utopia has become implicit, given we have literal decades of satire about offices as locales of poorly lit, soul-sucking, isolated work, where you are more likely to be abused by your boss than sponsored by them.

She goes on to explain the importance of supporting junior staff, and how office environments are often not ideal environments for that.

The nature of product

You can scale with process, or you can scale with leaders. The only way that leads to good outcomes is scaling with leaders.

— Marty Cagan, The nature of product on Lenny’s Podcast

Create awareness of reality through bottom-up strategy

Tim Casasola’s post Create awareness of reality through bottom-up strategy points to an issue that we often see in teams—the work that they are doing is disconnected from the company’s core strategy:

There is often a difference between what an organization says its strategy is and what customer/project teams do on a day-to-day. When this dissonance is present, customer/project teams share with the org that their reality isn’t aligned with the organization’s vision. “It’s great that we want to pursue this new customer segment, but most of our engineers are focused on improving the experience of our current customer segment… and we’re far from where we want to be there.”

And yet, the org still says they have a “strategy.” The org turns a blind eye when customer/project teams describe their reality and relies on its existing narrative when feeling challenged.

The organization needs to be aware of when this dissonance takes place. So that they can learn from it, and come up with an actionable strategy.

Tim points to John Cutler’s “Bet Up” activity as a useful exercise to make this disconnect clear:

This seems like a really useful exercise for teams to undertake. It might also be really interesting to ask the executive team to fill out row 4 of the above, and see how their answers differ from what the teams come up with. Exposing a big strategy mismatch in such a clear way could be a really powerful tool to move the organization in a direction where a team’s day-to-day work is reflected in the overall product strategy.

I Didn’t Want It to Be True, but the Medium Really Is the Message

And so the line of Postman’s that holds me is his challenge to the critics who spent their time urging television to be better, rather than asking what television was: “The trouble with such people is that they do not take television seriously enough.” I have come to think the same of today’s technologists: Their problem is that they do not take technology seriously enough. They refuse to see how it is changing us or even how it is changing them.

— Ezra Klein, I Didn’t Want It to Be True, but the Medium Really Is the Message.

Leadership and product strategy lessons from Reid Hoffman

Ben Casnocha has a long, excellent piece entitled 10,000 Hours with Reid Hoffman: What I Learned, in which he shares a bunch of lessons he learned from then LinkedIn founder:

A lot of strategists (and CEOs) think that their job is to conceive a strategy and then hand it off to the underlings to execute. They might concede that delegation matters, but usually as a matter of execution more than strategy.

Reid disagrees. He once told me, “Whoever is actually immersed in the actual execution of a strategy should always think of ways to tweak the strategy for the better.” It’s a litmus test for talent: How do you know if you have A-players on your project team? You know it if they don’t just accept the strategy you hand them. They should suggest modifications to the plan based on their closeness to the details. And as they execute, they should continue to tweak the strategy, and you (the owner) should not feel a need to micromanage or second guess—if you do, you’ve got the wrong person.

The whole piece is full of wonderful gems like that. Highly recommended read.


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