82 Countries, 43 Things

November 30, 2004

Apparently, the world is full of twinklers. Here’s a list of goals from around the world. Have an idea what these say? Add your translation to the comments.

Update: Steve Rubel predicted we’d see some press on our 43 Things preview, Twinkler but, as if on cue for the point we were trying to make about international users, here comes this international story from a news site in Norway. Today we’ve seen as much traffic from Norway as from the USA!

In the first 2 weeks of the preview, we’ve seen traffic from the following countries (listed in order)

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Sweden
  6. France
  7. Netherlands
  8. Germany
  9. Belgium
  10. Italy
  11. Denmark
  12. Switzerland
  13. Japan
  14. New Zealand
  15. Finland
  16. Singapore
  17. Brazil
  18. Poland
  19. Austria
  20. Portugal
  21. Argentina
  22. Mexico
  23. Norway
  24. Israel
  25. Slovak Republic
  26. Ireland
  27. Spain
  28. Iceland
  29. Russian Federation
  30. Greece
  31. Croatia
  32. Hungary
  33. Hong Kong
  34. Czech Republic
  35. Estonia
  36. Turkey
  37. Taiwan
  38. Lithuania
  39. Luxembourg
  40. Romania
  41. South Africa
  42. India
  43. Chile
  44. New Caledonia (French)
  45. Indonesia
  46. Peru
  47. Thailand
  48. Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  49. Saudi Arabia
  50. Slovenia
  51. Tonga
  52. Cyprus
  53. Uruguay
  54. Colombia
  55. Belarus
  56. Virgin Islands (British)
  57. Costa Rica
  58. Trinidad and Tobago
  59. Fiji
  60. Azerbaidjan
  61. Latvia
  62. Philippines
  63. Dominican Republic
  64. Pakistan
  65. Mali
  66. Turks and Caicos Islands
  67. Tuvalu
  68. Ukraine
  69. United Arab Emirates
  70. Malaysia
  71. Nepal
  72. Sri Lanka
  73. Guyana
  74. Bermuda
  75. China
  76. Ecuador
  77. Venezuela
  78. Micronesia
  79. Malta
  80. Ascension Island
  81. Oman
  82. Bulgaria

Giving thanks for the nice things you’re saying about 43 Things

November 25, 2004

Steve Garfield said “It’s like Flickr for ideas” and Steve Reubel called us “the next great blogosphere meme”. Well you are all too kind. Emily Thorsan raves that Twinkler is “an addictive site” and says “Its brilliant design shatters some omnipresent myths about user interface and design.” That’s 37signals for ya! We are thankful for Jason, Matt, Ryan and David as well. Jim Coudal too.

We are really enjoying the experience of sharing this with all of you. Thanks for your kind words and your interest. We spent 18 months thinking about this project, 3-4 months working on 43things.com (which we’ll start inviting Beta testers to soon) and 2 days working on Twinkler as a way to give you a taste of our idea.

We can’t wait to see what you think of the real thing. Make sure to save your list with an email address if you want to get notified about the Beta . . . and Thanks again!

People are good

November 24, 2004

There’s plenty to make you wonder about humanity to be found on our preview of 43 Things but when I saw this goal and the number of people who want to do it, my faith was restored.

Recombinant idea folding: your ideas are our ideas

November 23, 2004

Joe Goldberg has created a fantastic list of his top desired features for 43things

Joe’s list of features is split into 5 handy categories:

  1. Community
  2. Personalization
  3. Notification (RSS, email)
  4. Productivity
  5. Zeitgeist/Superlatives

We’re hard at work on the next version of 43things but continue to marvel over what Ryan Singer of 37signals calls the goal soup of Twinkler. Help us make 43things better—tell us what features you’d like to see on 43things in the coming weeks.

Joe Goldberg, Web Developer and Live Journal user:

Who’s doing 43 Things

November 22, 2004

What are we all working on?

November 21, 2004

43 Things user Noah Mittman shares his list and these kind words about what we are trying to do.

The nice thing about 43 Things is that while the collaborative pieces are growing organically in the new folksonomy model of Flickr, delicious, and the like, the product itself is growing organically as one of the developers writes, this development is being done in stages, and one of the major stages is asking people what the tool should be. I’m not sure anything like this has happened before, even in the realm of open-source software.

43 Things is just another sign of the new breed of internet user who seeks not only community but also aggregation. It’s not enough we want to see our data, but we want to see how many other people share our data. It’s a strictly objective way of seeing how we belong beyond meatspace. It’s also a further extension of how we innately like to work with others, because 43 Things is a simple enough idea which is easily duplicated. However, the authors are being transparent in the development of the tool, so it’s extremely comfortable for us to put our interest into the site and see how it evolves. Over time we will feel a shared ownership in the result, and huzzah, you have a regular user base with real attachment to the site, and a site that assuredly answers the needs of its users.

Thanks Noah! It is inspriring to hear from folks who see the potential in this idea and this way of working.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and hopes for 43 Things drop us a line at [email protected] or better yet, post your list on your blog with some ideas to share.

Twinkler Pony

November 18, 2004

After months of vague allusions and subtle hints, I’m excited to be able to toss out the first tangible form of the idea we’ve been working on:

43 Things, Twinkler

This is a stripped-down version of the site we’re building. As a former creative writing major and failed novelist, I love paring things down to their bare minimum and then building them back up. It helps you find the essence of what you’re trying to do. So, upon Jason Fried’s suggestion, we reduced our big idea into a 3-page site. We can throw this out there and learn from it in our favored prototype quickly, iterate often, fail (and learn) early fashion.

Over the next 43 days, we’ll be unveiling a little more about what we’re building, give screenshots, explain our motivations, reveal our hopes, invite people to the beta, and talk about our new favorite lunch-time game, Credit Card Roulette.

The basic idea of 43 Things is this: it’s a well known fact that by writing down your goals you greatly increase the chances of actually completing them. Part of it is just knowing what your goals are. Another is being able to hold yourself accountable. Here’s a place to write down some things you want to do with this life, look at what other people want to do, and generally think about what makes life exciting for you.

When the full site launches, you’ll be able to export your information if you so desire. So, I challenge you to add a few things to your list, save it, and take a look at what everyone else is adding to their lists. If you have any feedback, comments, or suggestions about good places to go for lunch in the Seattle area (or about Twinkler), we’d love to hear them.

I should mention that we’ll be releasing a lot of this data out there for people to play with if they’re into that (I know I am). Things like number of people who have a particular thing on their list, similarities, etc. So if you want me to let you know when this stuff is available, send me an email (erik at this domain).


Let’s start with the name

November 17, 2004

It’s flattering to get so many inquiries about what we are up to, and we are excited that you are excited. But really, if this turns out to be a neat idea, it’s going to be because you make it neat. So dial your anticipation down, as we start to pull back the curtains back a bit.

Here’s the first revelation: the product we are building is called 43 Things.

What does it do? Well we will get to that, but we’d love to hear your ideas for what you think it should do. What are your hopes for 43 Things?

Later in the week (when there are 43 days left in the year) we’ll start inviting people to check out a little pre-alpha demo version of an experiment (are there enough qualifications in that description?) which will give us a better idea of how to “finish up” the product. After that, we’ll have an invite only trial of the site. We are looking forward to seeing how people use 43 Things, but mostly, we are hoping you’ll share your thoughts for how our idea could grow.

If you want to be on our announcements list, enter your email in that form box to the right. Thanks.

The Age of the Amateur

November 15, 2004

Amateur: French, from Latin amator, lover, from amare, to love.

When we started working on product ideas, one of the tests we subjected every idea to was “what if it works?”

We had lots of ideas: a better answering machine, online education tools, job hunting sites, baby blogs, personalized text ads, personalized news services. Sure, we could build a personalized text ads service! But what if it works? Do we really want to run that business?

Before long, we realized we had one primary criteria for an idea we’d want to work on: it had to be an idea we loved so much that if it works, we’d be happy to work on it. Reflecting on the “love test” I found myself contemplating the word “Amateur”. The root word there is love, and an amateur is someone who pursues their interest out of love, not a hope for professional recognition or market success.

The test we were concerned with wasn’t how great a business the idea would be. It was whether we could love the work. We thought about products we admire: del.icio.us, flickr, upcoming.org, craigslist, bloglines. Some of these are going to be great businesses, but all of them have an amaeteurish edge in the best sense of that word. They look like works of love. It was the amateur roots of them, the passion behind the product, that we admired.

The First Age of the Amateur

Historically speaking, the first Age of the Amateur gave us the birth of science. New technologies in optics and new gadgets for measurement allowed gentlemen to put aside their hawking and horses and take up nobler pursuits, like the new science and learning that was growing up around them. A “republic of letters” developed between gentlemen scholars who compared their discoveries and investigations. The Royal Society replaced the royal court as the domain for displaying talents. Their standing as gentlemen meant they had no material stake in their researches and their reputations served as a sort of social guarantee that their accounts of natural phenomena were true. Their scientific pursuits were pursuits of love. They were amateurs.

The Age of the Expert

Fast forward. The last century saw most human beings come under the jurisdiction of some (typically immense) institution in the business of trading on expertise. Wall Street, the Pentagon, the University, the Corporation, the Factory all were organizing institutions that established what would count in the order of things. Professional degrees were created and professional associations grew. Gone was the generalist, the hacker, the amateur. The key to the future was to go to school, study something and do it for the rest of your life.

The New Age of the Amateur

But something funny happened on the way to the future. Today parents don’t tell their child to learn one thing and do it forever. The order of the day is to learn how to learn. The happiest people are those who love what they do (and do many things). The key to a great career is knowing what you are passionate about. Nothing could hurt your career more than working on passionless projects with passionless people. The people with the good jobs not only seem to love what they do at work they do what they love away from work. The consumer landscape is covered with services turning pastimes into professions and hobbies in to obsessions. Love and the amateur are back in fashion.

Could it be that doing it for love is the ultimate competitive advantage? In open source, in marketing, in living – love powers amateurish products past other more professional products. Love creates disruptive innovation. Amateurism is a source of innovation. For a while, we thought we could substitute expertise for passion, but with Google helping us research any topic and blogs helping the world publish on an equal level with the experts, the learning curve doesn’t seem so steep anymore. The new age of the amateur is at hand.

Not a cure for acne

November 15, 2004

Can we just say that what we are building isn’t going to be that amazing. It is not some form of technology the world has never seen before. It won’t help you get up in the morning, though it might help you get a date.

To try and keep expectations low, we are going to try and push out a little sample of the sort of thing we are working on later this week.

Stay tuned.