I’ve been thinking a lot about fitness lately, mostly spurred on by the great stuff coming out of Clay Johnson’s new blog, InfoVegan. Clay has been drawing a parallel between physical obesity and information obesity, and has been diving deep on what it means to have a “healthy information diet.”  It’s inspiring stuff, and definitely… Continue reading


I spend a fair amount of time thinking about LifeHacking.  Getting my inbox filters just right so I can get to “inbox double-zero,” syncing my iPhone and my Google Calendar, setting up ssh keys in all the right places, etc. But something I’m still not that good at is “LifePruning,” that is, the continual process… Continue reading

Making cities easier to use

I always have a hard time explaining what we do at The Open Planning Project.  The front page of our website reads: “TOPP is a catalyst.  We empower civil society through software, media, and smart urban policy.”  While this makes sense if you think about it for a while, when I first say it to… Continue reading

Knowing the tone of the room

One of the toughest things I’ve encountered, as I attend meetings, speak on panels, do interviews, and go to conferences, is that you never quite know what the tone of the room will be like until you get there.  In other words, there are always a ton of different approaches you can take to a… Continue reading

Optional scope contracts

For an upcoming project at TOPP, we’re talking about setting up an optional scope contract [PDF] — where we specify the time, cost and quality, but leave the actual scope of work open.  This approach has many advantages, which I’ll just quote from Beck & Cleal’s document: Customers can change their minds Suppliers aren’t encouraged… Continue reading

Is _____ for you?

I get way too much spam in my inbox, even just counting things I’ve signed up for myself.  Most of it I delete, but today’s email from CoTweet stood out, and is worth mentioning. A while back I signed up for CoTweet, just to check it out — nutshell: CoTweet lets you collaboratively monitor and… Continue reading

Too much structure makes for useless data

Over at TOPP, we’ve been talking recently about the “spectrum of engagement” — in other words, providing a variety of ways that people can engage with a website, ranging from quick & easy (e.g., thumbs-up-ing something) to slow and involved (e.g., writing a blog post or signing up for an account).  It’s obviously important to… Continue reading

The power of releasing early and often

“Release early and often” is a phrase often heard in software development, and is more like a mantra for most web development projects.  The idea being that it’s better to get something “out there” in a simple or reduced form, rather than wait and wait and wait for your grand plan to come together. (In… Continue reading

Changing behavior, one bag at a time

Yesterday, American Airlines announced that it’s going to start charging a fee for checked baggage. Of course, this will draw the ire of frequent and not-so-frequent flyers everywhere. But, perhaps it makes some sense. What’s making flying expensive right now is the cost of fuel. So, if people pack less, planes will be lighter and… Continue reading