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General

Development Time vs. Flexibility vs. Security

Unless you are willing to sacrifice a lot of time to make an application flexible AND secure, you will have to choose one or the other. In this example, I compare Myspace profiles and Facebook profiles.

Myspace offers very much flexibility for users on their personal profiles. Unfortunately, they chose to allow users to embed HTML code, which opened the door for countless security violations. They saved development time at the expense of security.

On the other hand, Facebook left users with fewer options for their profiles. Therefore, they insured security, but saved development time at the expense of flexibility.

Fast-forward a couple of years to Facebook’s release of their application platform. This time around, they sacrificed development time for a combination of flexibility and security.

Brian Shaler - Development Time vs. Flexibility vs. Security

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General

Digg API Contest Finalists Announced

Digg announced the 10 finalists for their API contest. Now the Digg community gets to vote for one week to decide the prize winners.

This may be a little shameless, but I would like to point out that one of the finalists is a Flash piece that I created: http://digg.com/design/Wheel_of_Upcoming

The original page for it (with the correct embed) is here.

Check out the rest of the contest entries at http://digg.com/contest

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General

The Allegory of Time Investment

It has been said that ‘time is money’. The association is generally drawn between the two in reference to billing hours. If you are not doing something that brings you money, you could be doing something else that would. Therefore, the profitless activity is costing you the money you could be earning.

This concept should not be new to most, since the phrase exhibits fairly widespread use. However, it serves as the perfect introduction to a deeper metaphor between time and money.

I am going to illustrate how successful people — often subconsciously — embrace this metaphor, while others may be limited to thinking of investment in terms of dollars and cents.

Similarities

If we begin to examine the concept further, we will notice other striking similarities indicating that time is very much like a currency.

First, we can note some coincidences in the English language. The word ‘currency’ can either relate to time or money, depending on context. Time, like money, can be refered to something you can ‘spend’ or ‘save’. With these similarities being part of everyday dialogue, it would seem like this allegory is dangling under our noses in the most conspicuous way.

Both time and money can be wasted or invested. This is another seemingly rudimentary statement. Everyone knows you can invest time into something (e.g. “I invested a lot of hours in that video game!”). In many cases, the term ‘waste’ should have been used instead (e.g. “I wasted a lot of hours on that video game!”). Investing generally implies that the amount spent was done so with the intent of receiving some sort of return. For the sake of this discussion, I will only use the term ‘invest’ when a return on investment (ROI) is expected, and use ‘waste’ otherwise.

Yes or Uh Oh

All the time you spend can — and should — have some sort of positive ROI. You should be able to ask yourself what I call a “Yes or Uh Oh” question: Am I investing my time right now? This is a “Yes or Uh Oh” question because if the answer is either ‘Yes’ or you come to the realization you are making a mistake (hence the ‘Uh Oh’).

It may take some creative thinking to figure out what the return on investment is. This is because the return for your time typically does not come in the form of time.

Breakfast

As an example, we can examine two different breakfast habits. In one situation, we have an individual who wakes up, rushes to work, and eats a cereal bar in the car during the commute. On the other hand, we have an individual who wakes up, prepares a hearty breakfast, and eats it while reading the newspaper. While the second individual may be late, studies indicate that he or she is likely to be more productive at work. The time spent having a full breakfast and preparing the mind for the day can be viewed as an investment. The return on investment in this case would be a productive work day.

Investing Wisely

Successful people are known for investing their money wisely. Typically, they also invest their time wisely. Many people, aiming to become successful, are diligent in their finances and think that is all they have to do. If your goal is to be wealthy, you should ask yourself the question “Is what I am doing right now going to bring me closer to my goal?” regularly, and try to make the answer be “Yes” as often as possible.

As a Web Developer

For example, my profession, web development, provides many situations where wise time investment can make a great impact. Time needs to be taken into consideration as much, if not more than, money when approach some types of work. If a project is not going to become a valuable part of your portfolio — something that will lead to more work in the future — or if it is not going to be a valuable learning experience, what value does it have? If the only value (ROI) the project has for you is “paying the bills”, then that is all it will do and all that it will ever do. Portfolio pieces and educational experiences are not the only types of returns you should require, just two common examples.

Keep in mind that successful people do not generally ‘waste’ their time on work that will only provide immediate return. Instead, they focus on investing their time into work that provides long-term, accumulating returns.

Invested Time Returned As Time

In some cases, the time invested can return time as profit. As an example, someone can build a widget that reduces the amount of time a certain task takes. Every time that widget is used, the creator gets back the time he or she would have otherwise spent. The saved time can then be reinvested into other things.

Monetization

The idea, of course, is for the ROI to end up with monetary value. It does not always have to have a direct monetary return. In fact, it is quite the opposite. In the sense of investment, the value of time can change much more dramatically than money, since it is not tied to anything tangible. By investing your time wisely and reinvest it when possible, you will increase the profitability of your accumulated time investment.

Conclusion

This article is intended to illustrate how time can be invested as a currency to accumulate value and wealth, to give a fresh perspective on personal growth, and to motivate others to invest time, rather than waste it.

Categories
General

Does Digg Need a Pictures Section?

That is the first of a series of questions as we examine whether or not Digg needs a Pictures section.

The answer seems obvious. Thousands of Digg users have expressed their support for a Pictures section. Has the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ come up with the best solution?

People have been focusing on that answer, when they should have been analyzing the question. Does Digg — a ‘news‘ site — need a Pictures section? It does not seem like a proper fit. If Digg in fact does not need a Pictures section, then what is the alternative?

The solution can be approached by expanding on the question: Is it Digg — a ‘news‘ site — that needs a Pictures section, or Flickr that needs a Digg section? Flickr is, after all, a photo-sharing site. What better location for these popular photos than a photo-sharing site?

Of course, now we approach a key roadblock for this solution: Flickr Explore. Flickr Explore is like the Digg Front Page, but for popular photos, rather than news. Is Flickr Explore insufficient at presenting the best new photos? That cannot be the case. Flickr’s “Interestingness” algorithm actually does a great job of ranking photos by quality. You could say that it is just as good — if not better than — Digg’s vote-driven quality ranking.

If Flickr Explore is just as good at delivering quality content as Digg’s Front Page, then why are people demanding a Pictures section for Digg? Why not just use Flickr Explore?

By examining the differences between Digg and Flickr from another perspective, we will find that Flickr Explore is insufficient. It is not the quality of content, no. The quality is arguably as good or perhaps even better than Digg’s vote-driven ranking system. The critical flaw in Flickr’s “Interestingness” algorithm is that it does not deliver content that matches the taste of the user. Flickr Explore is glaringly insufficient because it is one giant list of all types of photos.

How successful would Digg be if it was only one category? Could we compare its success in that scenario with Flickr Explore’s success in the photo realm?

If Flickr Explore delivered popular photos of various types to the people who say they are interested in that genre, would Flickr Explore have the appeal of Digg?

I’m Brian Shaler, BrainFuel.tv’s newest contributor, and I hope you enjoyed this one-man Platonic dialogue.