Weeknotes #233

This week I did:


Team scoped an MVP aligned with organisational objectives and funding obligations, confirmed technical feasibility, designed wireframes and got stakeholder approval in two weeks. Absolutely awesome people! Next we move into deep levels of definition and get set up for development.

Lessons from managing products in charities

I had an idea about creating a ten-part automated email campaign based on some of the things I’ve learned from developing products in charities. I don’t know why they couldn’t just be blog posts other than because I like experimenting with different media. I started making notes and figuring out the structure the emails would have. I don’t know how I’m going to get the time to finish them but I guess there’s no rush.

Digital creativity and new media

Although I didn’t attend the lecture (work call. Priorities, you know) I already think it’s a really interesting topic. I’m going to cathc up on the lecture, get into the reading and start thinking about the assignment ‘Does digital creativity differ from non-digital creativity? Develop a critical argument and illustrate with examples’.

It also turns out that the lecturer for this module is my dissertation supervisor so I’d better be on my best behaviour.

I read/watched:

Not-for-profit vs For-impact

I watched Simon Sinek’s video ‘Stop Calling Yourself a Not-for-Profit‘. He suggests using the term ‘For-impact’ to describe the kinds of organisation that refer to themselves as not-for-profit to focus on what they do rather than what they don’t do. It’s a fair point, if not particularly original.

Hwang and Powell said, “In recent decades, the nonprofit sector has evolved from informal activities of charitable do-gooders to highly formalized endeavors by enterprising individuals. In such areas as health care, higher education, social services, and the arts, nonprofits are major service providers.”. In this sense “Nonprofit” is professional term used to convey credibility and influence society, almost a badge of honour and a moral stance. ‘For-impact’ might seem more appropriate from Sinek’s ‘start with why’ point of view but in fact the sector is more complex than can be understood by a single axis or characteristic of not aiming to make a profit.

Morris talks about how “Institutions which are neither statutory, nor profit maximising, have been collectively and variously called the voluntary, third, non-profit, or more recently, civil society, sector.” and looks at the definition of the sector from a range of perspectives including the types of goods and services the sector provides and “the positive externalities that they create for society”.

Pallotta suggest calling it the Humanity Sector. His arguments against the other terms aside, he says, “What brings us to this work is our humanity. And what makes the work happen is the generosity of countless people from all socioeconomic levels, who make donations out of their humanity. Moreover, it is for humanity that all of this effort is undertaken. To call it by another name is at best to miss the point, and at worst to betray it.”

Clearly the reason no one can agree on what to call the sector is that no one can agree on what axis to analyse organisations in the sector.

Last Year in the Creator Economy

“Collectively, Gumroad creators earned $142 million in 2020, up 94% from 2019. This post discusses the forces that shaped Gumroad’s role in the creator economy in 2020 and will direct it going forward, as well as what you can do, today, to become a bigger part of it yourself.” This is so much more useful than obscure tweets that attempt to present themselves as insight.

Digital economy report 2019

“The digital revolution has transformed our lives and societies with unprecedented speed and scale, delivering immense opportunities as well as daunting challenges. New technologies can make significant contributions to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, but we cannot take positive outcomes for granted. We must urgently improve international cooperation if we are to achieve the full social and economic potential of digital technology, while avoiding unintended consequences.”

And thought about:

Leaning into difficulty

There are always lots of problems to solve, lots of difficulties to face. Picking which ones to focus on isn’t easy, but once we know which difficulties we want to tackle leaning into them, getting serious about them is the only way to affect them. Heads in sand doesn’t help.

Communication over coordination

Work needs coordination too, but it needs more and better communication more.

Right or wrong

Everyone is doing what they think is right, it’s just that we all think different things are right. It’s easy to think that some people are right and some are wrong, and usually that those who agree with us that are the ones who are right.

People tweeted:

People like me

Ethan Mollick tweeted “Homophily is the principle that we like people who are like ourselves, and it is a powerful force in explaining how society is structured. This paper shows it goes deeper than skin: You are more likely to be friends with people who literally think like you”. If, as the paper suggests, we are more likely to be friends with people who perceive and respond to the world in ways similar to us (which makes intuitive sense) then how do we get diversity and the benefits that come with it? Maybe work is the answer.

The shape of a product manager

Ravi Mehta tweeted, “Most PMs, even peak PMs, excel at only a handful of these competencies. The difference between the average PM and the peak PM is an understanding of gaps and the ability to unite a team that fills those gaps.”

Rules to live by

Jon Yates tweeted, “After 40 years, I’ve begged and borrowed a few “rules to live by”. Often mess them up! but here they are … What are yours?” The latest rule I’ve been thinking about is ‘Don’t shop hungry’, by which I mean don’t make decisions based the immediate situation you are in. Always try to step back, think about what you are trying to achieve and whether this will help you do it.

Understanding the Challenges of the Digital Economy: The Nature of Digital Goods

This article investigates the economic nature and characteristics of digital goods. Such goods are, due to their replicability, shown to be public goods (albeit in an evolutionary way) and durable goods. Furthermore, the content of such goods, combined with their durability, makes them experience goods. While only one of these characteristics would be sufficient to create difficulties for producers and lead to market failure, this article demonstrates that each of the characteristics reinforces the other. The framework presented in the article is then applied to two important issues: The new trend of massive consumer piracy and the overall problem of value of digital goods.

Thierry RAYNA, Imperial College London

“the development of the digital economy, based on the digitalisation of previously existing goods and on the development of new purely digital goods. This technology has not only permitted the creation of many new goods or services, but has also dramatically changed the way an entire category of goods in the economy are created, produced, distributed, exchanged and consumed. Digital technology has caused a drastic decrease in reproduction costs and distribution costs (and even, sometimes, in initial production costs), thereby leading to important structural changes in the economy and potentially a global rise of social welfare, due to the increase in quantity, quality and variety of goods and services available in the economy. “

“the benefits created by digital technology, in terms of distribution and reproduction costs, have been brought to the economy as a whole, thereby allowing the consumers to reproduce, distribute and exchange digital goods (virtually) without incurring any cost. The overall effect on the economy of digital technology is, thus, ambiguous.”

“because of their digital nature, digital goods are fully replicable (can be copied without loss of quality or information). This results in the following fundamental economic characteristics: digital goods are public and durable. These two characteristics are important, since they are known, in the literature, for the loss of market power they induce for the firms that produce such goods and for the market failure they may entail.” Which drives business models that don’t rely on the inherent value of the goods themselves.

“The content of a digital good may be such that its actual value can only be fully realised once the good has been consumed. Thus, in addition to being public and durable, some digital goods are also experience goods”

“A good is non-rival in consumption if the consumption activity of each consumer does not decrease the quantity of good available in the economy. A good is non-excludable if no one can be prevented from consuming it.”

“It is important to note that digital goods may seem, at first, rival in consumption: if a CD is used by a consumer, this particular CD is no longer available for the consumption of other consumers and the consumption activity of one consumer, indeed, reduces the number of units available for other consumers. However, there is rivalness only as far as the medium used to distribute the digital good (floppy disc, CD, DVD, etc.) is concerned, and not the digital good itself. The medium is indeed unique: if a consumer is using it, then the plastic component referred to as “CD” cannot be used at the same time by another consumer. The digital good itself (i.e. the binary code of the software, music file, etc.) can be replicated on another medium for a small (often negligible, cost). While rivalness exists if a consumer borrows a CD from another consumer, it is not resent if the digital good is copied instead, as both consumers can enjoy the same unit of good at the same time. Since digital goods can be copied without any loss of quality or information and are, in general, independent from the medium used to distribute them (the good matters, not the medium), they can be considered as non-rival.”

“The main difference between digital goods and the other traditional public goods is that the producers of digital goods always retain the ability to directly exclude consumers.”

“…since digital goods can be replicated, anybody owning a digital good is a potential supplier of this good. Thus, once the first unit of the good has been sold, the producer starts losing control over the production of the good and part of its power to exclude consumers. As the producer does not have the ability to exclude consumers indirectly, the more the good spreads among consumers, the less it is possible for the producer to actually exclude anybody from the consumption of the good.”

“only the first unit of a digital good produced is actually excludable”