Completely misses the point

So, apparently there's a mail service where you can have postcards printed in bulk and mailed out, with various APIs, all without getting your hands dirty at all.

Nominally, this is great: using technology to solve problems is a wonderful past time. I encourage this.

For Kickstarter projects, however, no.

No, no, no, no, no.

Part of the allure, charm, lure of Kickstarter is the connection the project owners make to the backers. Sure, there's an monetary contract between the backer and the project owner, but there's a social one, too. And that social one demands a personal touch. That personal touch means to me, "Write the postcard to me" not "Automate the process so that you have no connection to me whatsoever."

Sure, there are projects with tens of thousands of backers. For the most part, those projects are from companies, and for those projects, I suspect the rewards don't include anything close to "hand written postcard saying thanks!" in the rewards. I don't particularly connect with those projects. I don't receive emails from them asking them how I got into airplane restoration (I haven't, I just loved the sound of your project), or if I'd like tickets to a spring training game since the project people expect to be working on the barn I just backed (how cool is that?).

For the companies, backing their project is an economic motivation: I want the reward.

For the individuals and small groups, backing their projects is a social and selfish motivation: I want them to succeed. I want them to realize their dream. I want them to make their lives and others' lives better by completing their projects, making something that didn't exist before.

For those projects, I don't want some printed postcard from some online service. I want to connect with the project. I want to smile, knowing I helped you.

So, no.

No no no no no. Don't use this service if you have a Kickstarter project where you're thanking people with postcards. Send me a postcard.

Know what? You don't even need a Kickstarter project to do that.

 Tea cups

Because everyone once in a while, a five dollar purchase completely brings a smile to your face. In my case, it was these mustard yellow, 2 ounce, CCCI tea cups. They are much smaller than my eight ounce Heath mugs, and twice as large as my one ounce tea cups from the Portland Japanese Tea Garden. I'm delighted by them, drinking 64 ounces of tea, two ounces at a time.

 I'm struggling

Okay, "struggling" might be a little strong, I'm not drowning, yet it's a somewhat appropriate word, because I am struggling a small bit on a project. I'm not struggling technically on the project, I do well figuring out problems on the technical side. It's the person side of the project that I'm struggling with a bit. A lot of the issues stem from my experience at Twitter.

When you work with someone who dismisses your ideas when you make them, then accepts the ideas when they are made by the next person at the table, you're not working with someone who accepts your suggestions on their own merit. Instead you're working with someone with motivations outside doing a job well, outside of making the product the best it can be, and outside of a professional relationship. If you're a woman in this situation, and your male counterparts are the ones repeating your suggestions and being praised for your great suggestion as if it were theirs, well, you have a bad work situation that will be resolved only with outside help.

I would argue when the situation hits that point, the group is suffering from a severe lack of trust. The developers know the project manager distrusts their opinions. The project manager knows the developers distrust his direction. It becomes a clusterfuck of CYA and the whole system dissolves into low productivity, crappy quality and meager output. It's hard to break out of the death spiral of no trust. I'd also argue that it is impossible without one or both sides committing to establishing trust.

This project I'm on is heading to that place. The new project manager bullied his way into the project, barking orders left and right, throwing out solutions, setting agendas without feedback from the developers, and expressing undeliverable expectations. Throwing more developers or more time at a project won't solve the problem. Throwing solutions over a wall without explaining why the solution is the best, or worse, just throwing solutions over the wall and not throwing problems, is awful. Having expectations or promising output without consulting the people doing the work is a guaranteed path to disaster.

I don't want to be a on a project that is on that path.

I won't be on a project that is on that path.

The best way I can figure to step off that path is communication. This is where I am, this is where the project is, these are the tasks completed, those are the issues we were having, that is why the project is delayed, this was never communicated to us, this is what we think needs to be done to get us back on track, these are the people to talk to, these are the resources we need, this is what we tried before, this is what we'd like to try next, here is the suggested way we can recover this project. Start there. Over communicate. Talk talk talk talk, email, talk, summarize, expand, document, talk.

At some point, in a good case, everyone will be on the same page, the project recovers, we have success. Everyone cheers.

In a bad case, the best thing to do is move onto a different project. Understand why the project lacked trust, let the participants know how they failed _without insulting the person_, and move on.

I've not given up on this project. I think it can be recovered. Trust is key, communication gets us there. I like to stop struggling with the lack of reciprocity on the effort, and get there faster. We'll see.


I went to Caltech for my undergraduate studies. At the time, I didn't realize how awesome the feat of being admitted into Caltech was. To me, at the time, it was more of an "of course" than a fantastic achievement.

These days, looking back, I'm stunned at the hubris of my youth. The only "of course" I see from that thinking is, "of course, you have no concept of your own limitations and failings." Four years at Caltech didn't quite fix those delusions.

They've since been removed, such that when I see things like this:

I now appropriately think, "Holy f---!" and take a moment to appreciate my fortunes. I am grateful for the opportunities I have, and for the chances others take with me when I asked to speak. I said "I have something to say!" and Fluent agreed. I greatly appreciate and thank them for selecting my talk out of the other 380+ talks they could have chosen, and for giving me that opportunity. I appreciate all of the opportunities I've had to share what I've learned. It's a great feeling.

I am blessed. I am blessed and I am grateful in ways I wasn't as a kid.

 Let us be to the going

Let us be to the going,
For my heart is now broken,
And this world holds my breath in its hands.

Let us be to the going,
Knowing the sun has now sunken,
And the cold comes too fast to these lands.

Let us be to the going,
And remember our folly,
Each moment but part of the sands.

Let us be to the going.

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