the starfish and the spider

Dustan Kasten – Web Developer

Dustan Kasten is a web developer and blogger at iamdustan. His full 2013 reading list is there, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte.

The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom.

The Optimism Bias by Tali Sharot

Good things to watch.

The Walking Dead on AMC.

Objectified. A documentary on our relationships with manufactured objects.

Good things to use.

These are all web development related.

React.js by Facebook and Instagram.

Firefox Dev Tools have come along way over the past 2 years.

Cloud 9 IDE.  Coding in the cloud has never been so good.

Connect with Dustan on Twitter, @iamdustan.

Trey Genda – creator High Rise Habits

These are Trey Genda’s good things

Good things to read.
Drive by Daniel Pink.  Most people tend to think about motivation in terms of carrots and sticks: behavior occurs when we’re offered something good, or threatened with something bad. ‘Drive’ makes a compelling case that this model of human nature fails to account for a third—and more powerful—motivation, which Pink labels as internal (or intrinsic) drive. In short, it’s the motivation to do things without any regard to external coercion; usually because an activity is intrinsically worthy as an “end” and not only as a “means.” Pink outlines the reasons that carrots and sticks can be counterproductive and often lead to short-term compliance but long-term disengagement.  The book focuses on principals of human nature, which makes it equally applicable to personal development, professional leadership, parenting, and any other arena where it’s important to understand human motivation.  

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations’ by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. From government to business, social movements to churches, every human activity has a corresponding model for organization—and the way we organize matters. ‘The Starfish and the Spider’ is often labeled a business book, but for me, it’s much harder to categorize. Brafman and Beckstrom outline the difference between centralized (hierarchical) and decentralized (organic) systems, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each. I appreciate the way the book weaves together principles of leadership and motivation with organizational structure, and explains why certain systems lead—or don’t lead—to specific types of behavior.  For me, the most powerful application of the ideas in this book (as well as those in ‘Drive’) center on my faith and on my expectations and approach to church in general. Organizations can easily ignite or squelch passion by the way they organize and approach members, and these books have greatly influenced the way I think about my faith and the importance of organization in long-term individual and group growth. 

Wired Magazine and The Atlantic.  It might be breaking a rule to include two different publications as one item, but I view Wired and the Atlantic as complementary publications.  They’re also my two favorite magazines, which means I’ve also avoid the potential dilemma of being forced to choose between the two.  In any case, I appreciate both magazines because of the quality of the writing and their similar concentration on society and culture.  Wired emphasizes science and technology, and the Atlantic focuses on politics, religion, and world events—but work from either would often feel “at home” if published in the other.

Good things to watch.

Shawn Achor’s TEDx Presentation. The Happy Secret to Better Work.  In this humorous framing of positive psychology, Shawn Achor makes the case that psychology should focus on far more than the identification and treatment of problems.  Achor discusses the all-too-popular assumption that success precedes happiness, and provides concrete examples to illustrate what might seem a counter-intuitive:  when we focus on happiness, gratitude, and purpose, we’re far more likely to be successful than if we focus on success alone.  

Clay Shirky: Institutions vs. collaboration. Clay Shirky discusses the social dynamics of decentralized systems, and the shift from industrial-era social and economic models to new systems based more on motivation, altruism, and cooperation. In his presentations and books, Shirky uses easy-to-understand examples to illustrate underlying principles, and this TED talk is no exception. The video is dated (particularly in internet time), but the ideas describe forces and influences still transforming entire industries. Shirky discusses motivation and business, but his particular focus is on media transformation and the “mass amateurization” of activities that previously belonged only to professionals.  

Drew Dudley: Everyday Leadership. We often think of “leadership” as something that’s beyond the grasp of most people (after all, isn’t it just for “leaders”?). In this video, Drew Dudley outlines a different approach: leadership as something within the reach of every single person, and an activity we engage in every single day–whether we realize it or not. This video is a great reminder that small interactions can shape lives in profound ways. 

Good things to use.

A common theme for my three my app recommendations is the idea of syncing systems and info for simplification.  Dropbox & Evernote.  Most people are familiar with these two apps, so I won’t spend much space or time describing them here.  However, both Dropbox and Evernote are each helpful enough that I feel obliged to include them in my list, because they’ve made such a big difference for me in simplifying my files and information. Having access to the same ‘stuff’ everywhere allows me to focus on more important things, and not get distracted by the logistics of questions like “now, where’s that file again?” 

CoBook simplifies contact management and integrates info and data from different networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) into one address book that remains consistent—and up-to-date—regardless of device. For the first time ever, I have the same contact info on my desktop, laptop, email, and phone…and it’s wonderful.  Unfortunately the desktop version is Mac-only at the moment, but an iPhone release was recently added to the App store.