Sunday, January 25, 2015

Publishing Your Own Book

Comments on How To Write And Sell Your Own Book.

I agree with this advice. I published my own book, Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability, with leanpub (I found them to be very good), I did a podcast on my book and using leanpub.

Leanpub allows you to import your blog to get started, which is very useful. I needed to do heavy editing but it was a nice way to start.

I can't believe how little control you have when you go through a traditional publisher; the book publishing process is broken . I didn't even consider doing that. For most people publishing using online services is so much better. Marketing is a big challenge, but the same issue holds for using a traditional publisher. Those that the traditional publisher will do a good job publicizing are mainly people that would do fine without it.

There is a small slice of people that don't have much name recognition but a publisher decides to try to make into a big success that are helped enormously by traditional publishers. But that number is TINY. There is a bigger (though still small) group that it is arguable whether traditional publishers help or not.

Also, just remember, no matter how you publish a book most sell nearly no copies. There are still plenty of good reasons to do it, even if you are not going to get rich off the book. A good book that gains you credibility in your field is likely worth many times more than the revenue directly from the book.

Related: Problems with Management and Business Books - Management Improvement Books: Where to Start - Podcast Discussion on Management Matters

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Exploitation or Economic Support as a Tourist?

Comments on Hilltribe Exploitation in Northern Thailand and Laos
While the children were sweet and endearing, it felt wrong, all of it. It felt wrong being there, stopping by the village to ogle and take photos. And, when I thought about all the boats that stopped here everyday, I figured it must be a very exhausting existence for them.
I think
"I walked away from the experience with a renewed commitment to really thinking about how and where I am traveling and making sure my presence is delicate communities is not just as a spectator but that it has purpose."
is a wise and honorable statement, though I think the "spectator" bit may be a bit overdone. Not being "just a spectator" is about you. While I agree it is easier to be callous as just a spectator. By demanding they engage with you to get the economic benefit that may well be more "exhausting" every day than short quick visits. Though it would be more rewarding for the tourist to be engaged for the tiny portion of their vacation maybe that is what those being visited would like; but maybe not.

I do think it is tricky to figure out what actions are most honorable. My Mom doesn't like supporting beggars on the street, with the belief it encourages that behavior. Especially pushing children to beg (the same with encouraging kids to sell to tourists at tourist attractions). When a mother with two little kids is begging it isn't easy for most people to just ignore it.

Even ignoring kids trying to sell stuff in Cambodia at tourist isn't easy. But the non-profits that know the situation best seem to agree that tourist buying from them just encourages parents to force them into that even at the expense of going to school. And while it is easy to vilify that behavior by parents, many of them don't have easy choices - they can be desperately poor and trying to do the best they can for the family. This isn't always the case, some parents are just bad and exploiting their kids when they could easily avoid it, but often it isn't as easy as that.

What I do is give to charities where I am going to travel (in poor countries - I don't do this when going to rich countries). Good Charities: Global Giving, Trickle Up.

For doing things like visiting Hill tribes I think it is confusing without knowing the details (which often are not easy to get). When I chose such options, I do try to chose situations where there is evidence the economic gains are being equitably shared with the community (which usually means they are more expensive than alternatives as they have to both share the wealth and take the time to explain it in a way that is convincing). In some ways it can be very beneficial and allow them to earn money while largely maintaining their way of life. I don't often do these kinds of things though. Partially for the reasons you mention, partially I just don't do tour stuff hardly at all.

I did go to a Maasi village in Kenya and it did feel a bit intrusive but it was also interesting and I could see how it would be very helpful to those living there also. At least for situations where it is arguably good (not purely bad exploitation) there are likely people supporting both sides (and people in debate with themselves on the issue) of pursuing tourist dollars.

There was another Native American village attraction in New Mexico that seemed intrusive (and a bit expensive) that really wasn't worth it but it was right on my path so I tried it. There were really expensive new cars all over which was not common in Native American. I did a bit of research and economically that village did very well. People can still argue about the benefits and costs of chasing tourist money but when there are significant economic benefits that the people actually get (that are not taken by others) it is very hard for me to say it is wrong.

I do get a bit annoyed at people from rich countries that downplay the importance of money. It is easy to say other things are more important when you have lots of cash.

And that brings me back to a specific point about the quote "must be a very exhausting existence for them." While this may be true it doesn't mean that they would be better off without being bothered. It may well be without the botheration of tourists things would be even worse. That doesn't mean I don't wish boorish behavior, which sadly many tourist exhibit, would be eliminated. I find the boorish behavior of people to other people (and even mores by rich people on poor and desperate people) very frustrating and sad.

Related: Highway Poses Threat to Uncontacted Tribe in Brazil - Supporting Virtual Workers - Using Capitalism to Create a Better World - GDP Growth Per Capita from 1970 to 2010 - China, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore...

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

BMW Motorcycle Factory Webcast



The video shows a BMW motorcycle factory in Germany. I find factories very interesting. As a kid I would visit factories with my father (very occasionally) as he was consulting with them. The BMW factory (and many modern factories [VW Phaeton assembly plant in Dresden]) are very different from the extremely noisy and dirty factories I visited as a kid.

For those in the North-East USA Max BMW Motorcycles has a huge inventory of BMW motorcycles built in factories like the one above.

My guess is, even if self driving cars become commonplace we are not likely to have self driving motorcycles any time soon. Still technology keeps advancing; Honda actually has airbags for some motorcycles. And BMW is developing airbag suits for motorcycle riders.

Related: Self Balancing Enclosed Motorcycle - Wave Disk Engine Could Increase Efficiency 5 Times - Webcast on Machine That Bores Subway Tunnels - Should You Consider a Career in Manufacturing?

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Prioritization - It Isn't As Easy As It Is Implied To Be

Comments on: How To Handle The “Lack Of Time Monster” Before It Kills Your Blog I like the general idea of the post. And I really like the idea of figuring out what the purpose of your decisions are. Too often it seems to me people get trapped into doing stuff just because they think they should be, when they haven't really thought out the implications.

Let's say that you have a little girl and she’s with you in the grocery store. She wants candy, even though it’s not Saturday. (When I grew up in Norway, we had a tradition called Saturday’s candy, which resulted in that we, the kids, were only allowed candy on Saturdays.)

At first, you say no to your little girl, because there is no reason she should get candy that day.

And we all know, that giving candy to your children every day, would only transfer the money from your kid’s college fund to the dentist.

...

Then your girl starts giving you the cute Bambi eyes, and you realize that you are only human, and that giving her candy just for today, couldn’t really hurt.

On the flip side, if your little girl wants to put her hands into the fireplace, it doesn’t matter how cute her eyes are, the answer is no.
One thing I find a bit awkward about these types of posts though is the implications that is it easy to classify tasks in some A, B, C, D, E way. A few task fit that way, but I think the real world is most often much more murky. So you can get a top couple tasks and a bottom couple tasks but the jumble in the middle could be B, C, D even A and E sometimes depending on how you look at it, what your mood is, what else you do. For example if marketing is important you can have 10 tasks none of which are super critical, but if you do 0 that is super critical. If you do 4 of them it is ok if you do 7 it is very good and those other 3 are not so important. To some extent which of those 10 you do is impacted by the others but not completely (if you do task 7 then the need to do task 4 is less...).

In addition tasks are often somewhat dependent on each other. So it isn't as straight forward as do 1,2,3,4 by priority order. If I do task 9 that will make task 2 and 4 and 5 easier and allow me to delay task 3...

This complexity makes it so many people struggle with seemingly logical prioritization schemes. The idea is fine assuming tasks are truly A,B,C,D,E but they are not often very close to that. So people need to take the concept but apply it to a big mess of tasks and that doesn't really translate to a simple do A then B then C tasks.

Related: Keeping Track of Improvement Priorities - Appreciating Health - Manage Better by Managing Less

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Terrorism Response by the USA is Society’s Immune System Attacking Itself

Simon Phipps states very well and concisely what the results of the reaction to terrorism driven by the USA in his post On Terrorism

Terrorism isn’t just performing a terrifying act. It’s provoking society’s immune system into attacking itself, making its defence systems attack the values and people they are supposed to be defending. Terrorism is an autoimmune disorder of democracy. You don’t fight terrorism by attacking the virus; you fight it by strengthening the immune system.

Related: Living Through Your Society Becoming a Police State (2013) - USA Encouraging Governments Worldwide to Spy and Hack Globally is Very Dangerous - Freedom Increasingly at Risk (2008) - What Principles Does the USA Government Still Honor? - Liberty and Support or Control and Hate - Disregard for the Rule of Law by Government - Anti Liberty Sentiment in Congress (2012) - Liberty Again Denied - It is Sad How Little We Seem to Care (2011)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Interview with John Hunter - on Meet the Blogger Series

I was interviewed for the Meet the Blogger Series, read my interview: Meet John Hunter of CuriousCat.com.
At that time (2004) I had my Curious Cat Management Improvement website. I decided to start with a science and engineering blog (I worked for an engineering association) and one for management improvement. I wasn’t really sure I would have that much to say about science and engineering so I wanted to give both a try to see if blogging would be a good fit for me. I started on blogger to get a quick and easy feel for how it would go and if I wanted to continue.

After a few months I decided I liked it and launched self hosted blogs using WordPress: Curious Cat Management blog and Curious Cat Science and Engineering blog.

As part of the launch of the self hosted blogs I also decided to also launch a 3rd blog: Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog. I have been active with those blogs for 10 years now.
...
Over time the topics of those first 3 blogs, and one new one topic (travel), have remained the main topics that I have an interest in blogging about; still I have launched several new blogs in niches under those topics, and a couple outside them. The Curious Cat Blog Network has grown to 18 blogs.
I started this blog a bit after those first 3 self-hosted blogs; to post stuff that didn't fit well in another blog. And as you can see I am still publishing it 10 years later. I left all the old blogs in place - I believe strongly in the concept that web pages should live forever. I repurposed my blogger management blog to post some of the management improvement related comments I make on other blogs.

John Hunter at Candi Sewu in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. See more on my travels in my newest blog: Curious Cat Travel Destinations.


Read the entire interview.

Related: Interviews with John Hunter related to blogging, digital nomad life - Escaping to Greener Pastures - Living Abroad - Quick Thoughts on the Risks of Violence while Traveling