mercredi 29 mai 2013

Is your focus prevention or promotion?

I have been thinking a lot recently about culture and how things are different on each side of the Atlantic ocean. What is the social norm here in Europe is different from what's socially accepted in the US. I've been observing and reading quite a bit on this topic, and earlier today I was reading on Dan's Pink blog a post about a book on prevention vs promotion. Dan asked the authors a couple of questions about focus. Here are their answers:

Some of us are red lights. We’re prevention-focused. Our overriding goals are to minimize losses, to feel secure, and to elude the looming possibility of failure. Some of us, meanwhile, are green lights. We’re promotion-focused. Our overriding goals are to maximize gains, to feel nurtured, and to take chances even if it means making big mistakes. Red lights aren’t better than green lights — or vice versa. But knowing your own focus — and, equally important, knowing the focus of those you’re trying to lead, teach, or woo — can make a huge difference.

The concept is interesting, and it resonates with me significantly. But is being Prevention-focused and promotion-focused innate or is it something we learn?

We aren’t born with a dominant focus, and we all use both promotion and prevention focus at least some of the time depending on the circumstances. But our upbringing at home and the culture surrounding us can make us more promotion or prevention-focused. How were you raised? When you did something wrong, did your parents punish you with extra chores (prevention) or withdraw their attention and affection (promotion)? What culture do you live in? Americans grow up in a society that praises individual accomplishments and loves innovators, making us more promotion-focused (on average) than societies that emphasizes rule-following and self-sacrifice. And yes, we can change over time because situations can put us in a promotion focus or a prevention focus, and when these situations are institutionalized, they can have stable long-term effects, as when people work in a company that itself has a promotion or prevention “culture.”

I would argue that even if I'm mostly prevention-focused, there is a lot more energy and positivity in being promotion-focused, in my opinion.

There is also the concept of motivational fit:

Motivational fit happens when your experience – the way you are working, the kind of task you are working on, or the feedback you receive – sustains or enhances your motivation. Promotion motivation feels like eagerness, a desire to really go for it. Being optimistic, working quickly and creatively, making choices based on the pros of each option, and being offered incentives framed in terms of potential gains all provide a motivational fit for someone who is promotion-focused.

Prevention motivation, on the other hand, feels like vigilance – being careful and on the look-out for problems. Being a realist (or even a skeptic), working slowly and accurately, making choices based on the cons of each option, and being offered the incentive to avoid losses, all create fit for prevention.

What strikes me is that education and parenting in the US tend to favor promotion motivation, while in Europe, prevention is a bigger part of the culture (which probably explains why entrepreneurship is less striving in countries like France).

But what's the impact when giving feedback?

Promotion-focused people thrive on optimism, so it’s really important to keep them feeling positive even when you are delivering bad news. They need to learn from their mistakes, but not dwell on them for too long. They also respond well to praise, and work best when they feel that they are making real progress toward their goal.

Prevention-focused people, on the other hand, aren’t optimists. (At least, the successful ones aren’t.) They are what psychologists call “defensive pessimists.” It’s not that they believe they will fail – that’s just plain pessimism, and that doesn’t work for anyone. It’s that they believe they might fail, if they don’t work hard and take the necessary steps to keep from getting derailed. This kind of thinking keeps them vigilant, and keeps their motivational machine humming.

This brings me to something that I have witnessed very often in my career, with American coworkers giving feedback to European counterparts:

Prevention-focused people are often visibly uncomfortable with too much optimism or praise – on an often unconscious level, they realize that having a sunny outlook would make them lower their guard, and that their work would suffer as a result. So avoid effusive praise with the prevention-focused – instead, give them honest, realistic feedback about how they might improve.

On the other hand, European, often prevention-focused, may sound harsh and/or rude for giving realistic feedback while praises are expected.

Batman slapping Robin

Above: "slightly" exaggerated version of how an American Robin perceives the feedback given by a European Batman ;-)[1]

Of course, this is just a tiny part of the story, but this is a nice explanation of culture disconnect that I have witnessed in global organizations over the year in my career (Netscape, AOL, Sun Microsystems, Mozilla) between Europe and the US. Conclusion? If you're prevention-focused, try to learn more about become more positive, you'll enjoy it. Also, be gentle when giving too honest and straightforward feedback to promotion-focused colleagues. It will mean a lot to them and they'll be listening harder: your message will come across more efficiently.


[1] Please note that Europeans do not slap their American counterparts, as they should not. It's just that straight honest feedback by someone who's promotion-focused feels like slapping when it comes from someone who's mostly prevention-focused.

mardi 29 janvier 2013

Firefox OS App Days in Paris

Photo by André Reinald, used under CC-BY licence

Over the week-end, More than 150 people gathered in an engineering school classroom to learn, hack and celebrate:

  • Learn about HTML5 and Web applications.
  • Hack such applications for Firefox OS (and Firefox for Android) with the assistance of Mozilla hackers.
  • Celebrate that we're changing the world with what could become a universal mobile application platform.

FirefoxOSappDays Paris: demo time!

FirefoxOSappDays Paris: demo time![1]

Mozillians (paid staff and volunteers) gave talks about mobile development with HTML5 on Firefox OS, then the hacking session started, with Mozillians helping those who wanted. In the meantime, updates on Twitter connected us with the 25 or so other App Days events taking place around the world.

At the end of the day, 36 applications were ready to be demoed, and the authors of the best demos have received a voucher for the upcoming and very cool Firefox OS developer preview phones. Of course, everyone has been handed a T-shirt!

I would like to thank all the people who helped making this amazing event possible. I won't name names because I would surely forget someone, but you know who you are. The event was a blast and it demonstrated the hunger for an Open Web mobile platform like Firefox OS!

Photo by André Reinald, used under CC-BY licence


[1] More photos.

mardi 23 octobre 2012

Blue Griffon EPUB Edition

BlueGriffon Epub Edition (bgee) logo

Tristan - So Daniel, you're launching BlueGriffon EPUB Edition

Daniel Glazman: Hi Tristan. Yes, it has been made available earlier today. The end of a long road!

Tristan - What problem is it trying to solve?

Daniel: People authoring and/or publishing EPUB ebooks today use a too complex and too expensive editorial chain. BlueGriffon EPUB Edition aims at drastically easing that pain.

BlueGriffon EPUB Edition implements all of EPUB2 and almost all of EPUB3, offering full UI-based control on metadata, table of contents, guide, spine, NCX and other exotic species of the EPUB world. And it's of course based on our popular Web editor BlueGriffon, so powered by Gecko, the rendering engine of Firefox. The application is not based on a proprietary format, it only knows IDPF standards (EPUB2 and 3) and W3C standards (HTML, CSS, SVG, etc.) and it's then easy to integrate it into the previously mentioned editorial chain to simplify it, replacing existing and complex other software or even manual hacks!

And the price is rather cheap, and that's quite disruptive in that space given the often very expensive price of everything tagged «EPUB» in the authoring space...

Tristan - How much does it cost?

Daniel: A license for a single user on a single computer will cost 195.00€. Software in the ebooks' world are usually (much) more expensive but we have decided to keep the price relatively low to allow individual authors to buy it. Please keep in mind BlueGriffon EPUB Edition is the result of two years of extremely hard work...

We will of course offer OEM licensing and discounts for multiple licenses (>10).

Blue Griffon Epub Edition's main window

Blue Griffon Epub Edition's main window

Tristan - Who would be interested in using it?

Daniel: If I look at the many inquiries about BlueGriffon EPUB Editor we have received during the last twelve months, many different people: individual book authors, publishing companies, software companies working in that space, translators, Academia, private companies using EPUB in their Knowledge Management, etc.

As far as I know, it's the only real EPUB3 Wysiwyg editor on the market. With vertical writing about to hit a Gecko engine near us, it will be perfect for the Asian market and in particular the Japanese one where EPUB3 is already a hit.

Tristan - What are the alternatives for them?

Daniel: If you except the free Sigil that is restricted to EPUB2, offers less metadata control, has no CSS SVG or MathML editor, there is no alternative at this time. All existing solutions implement only part of what authors or publishers need. It implies they have to rely on manual cleanup based on deep technical knowledge, permanent switches between almost incompatible tools or tools based on proprietary formats and only exporting to EPUB but unable to open it...

Tristan - What does BlueGriffon EPUB Edition do that other solutions don't do?

Daniel: In two words: many things! I just can't list them all but here's a sample: real conformance to EPUB2 and EPUB3 specifications, conformance to XHTML1.1 (EPUB2) and HTML5 (EPUB3), one of the best CSS editors on the market, builtin SVG editor, builtin MathML editor, UI for epub:type, and much more. And since it's based on Gecko, it's truly Wysiwyg and also extensible through add-ons just like BlueGriffon, Firefox or Thunderbird.

Editing Japanese text in BlueGriffon Epub Edition

Editing Japanese text in BlueGriffon Epub Edition

Tristan - What makes users choose BlueGriffon EPUB Edition instead of alternatives?

Daniel: Certainly three things:

  1. simplification of their editorial chain
  2. the long features list offering them a UI-based manipulation of their ebooks requiring less technical knowledge
  3. the low price

Tristan - Under which license is it? I understand that your work is based on the Mozilla codebase

Daniel: The codebase uses two licenses: since it's based on the Web editor BlueGriffon and then Mozilla, that part is MPL. The source is already available through the web site and our SVN. The extra code specific to EPUB is proprietary and won't be open-sourced.

Tristan - Are there options for customers, like add-ons for example?

Daniel: Not at this time since we already integrated our best BlueGriffon add-ons into the EPUB Edition bundle. But we have plans for EPUB-centric add-ons that we will release later this year, yes.

Tristan - What are the features that come with it that the "normal" version of BlueGriffon does not have?

Daniel: Of course, all the EPUB2 and EPUB3 management. On the HTML/CSS front, the EPUB Edition comes with our CSS Pro Editor, Table Layouts, Word Count, MathML Editor, Active View and Eye Dropper commercial add-ons built-in. We also tweaked a bit the theme, mostly changing the icon set, to make it look different from the Web editor version.

Tristan - how did you manage to release 4 binaries on 6 platforms? (Win XP, Win 7, Win 8, Mac OSX, GNU/Linux 32 bits & 64 bits)

Daniel: In 3 words : working a lot :-) More seriously, that's a benefit we (Mozilla contributors) all get from the Mozilla platform: one codebase, many builds. So all I have to do is to set up multiple build environments, launch builds, and collect final packages. Works like a charm. All praise Moz! Like I said on my blog, and I do mean it: "On the Mozilla side, this is quite good news I must say. Most current EPUB readers and authoring tools are based on WebKit or the rendering engine inside Apple Pages. BlueGriffon EPUB Edition shows that Gecko is a 100% viable solution as a rendering engine for EPUB. It also shows that XUL is still a superb technology allowing very complex consumer- or business-oriented applications."''

Tristan - Thanks Daniel, and good luck with this new edition of BlueGriffon!

lundi 22 octobre 2012

The danger of closed marketplaces

Earlier this week, a very good article about closed app stores (aka marketplaces) was published by Seattle developer Casey Muratori: The Next Twenty Years: What Windows 8's Closed Distribution Means.

This is a long, thoughtful article focused on the new Windows 8 app store that clearly demonstrates the dangers of app stores monopolies, pioneered by Apple with the iPhone then the iPad, with now Microsoft taking a page from Apple's book and applying it to the tablet version of Windows 8.

Here is a part of Casey's conclusion, which I fully agree with:

Experimentation on open platforms is one of the primary sources of innovation in the computer industry. There are no two ways about that. Open software ecosystems are what gave us most of what we use today, whether it’s business software like the spreadsheet, entertainment software like the first-person shooter, or world-changing revolutionary paradigms like the World Wide Web. It will be a much better world for everyone if this kind of innovation continues.

Keep reading the article on Beyond the Code.

vendredi 12 octobre 2012

People and principles are beyond the code

This is how we, Mozilla, define what we do in our Manifesto:

We create communities of people involved in making the Internet experience better for all of us.

What’s interesting here is that — in this sentence — we don’t mention Firefox at all. The goal is to make the Internet better for all of us, and that’s why we make Firefox (along with the very promising Firefox OS project). But a big piece of what we do, even if it’s not very visible from the outside, is to create communities of people. These people — that we call Mozillians–, in turn, build the products that make the Internet better. What makes makes Mozillians — most of them are volunteers — contribute to Mozilla?

French-speaking communities in MozCamp EU in Warsaw

French-speaking communities in MozCamp EU in Warsaw, cc by Flore

Keep reading the article on Beyond the Code.

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