Doing the Work, with lessons from Magnum PI

Introductory interface talks are boring. More importantly, by neccessity, they are the same old content recycled. And recycled uselessly, to no end.

Because if the audience members were interested in interface design, they would already know the content of the talk. Or, to put it another way, if they didn’t already know the content of the talk, they clearly didn’t care.

So when I gave a talk last week at the Italian Perl Conference, in Pisa, Italy, I didn’t give the type of introductory interface design talk that you’d expect.

Instead, I gave a talk entitled: “Doing the Work”

In Doing the Work, I asked the following questions:

  • What if software development was like Magnum, PI?
  • What if software development was like a seesaw?
  • What if software development was like a mathematical problem?

I could tell you more, but I don’t want to give away the punchlines.

The audio was recorded, so as soon as I get it, I’ll be setting it up with the slides for a more complete experience.

What do you think?

Where do you see opportunities to apply leverage?

Where’s the worst repetition in your everyday computing life?

What other software do you know, where all the competitors work exactly the same?

What tools help you multiply time?


  1. Amy says:

    Yes, indeed. I spotted that as I gave the talk. It doesn’t seem worth re-uploading though ;)

  2. Erik says:

    Really cool! I think the 1 developer hour = X user hours thing makes a lot of sense. And I love the term "cheerful software" and that you include anticipating users’ needs in your list of Good Stuff.

    Just curious… there’s nothing in there about methodology… even just a basic "how do you find places to improve? watch your users" kind of thing. Was that left out on purpose?

    Thanks for posting.

  3. Amy says:

    Erik, thanks!

    And yes, of course there are suggestions how to find places to improve.

    The list of Going the Extra Mile turns into Finding Points of Leverage, with the relevant bits highlighted in red.

    The "Finding Points of Leverage" slide shows you a lot of great places to look for fixes. Just like the "repetition" slides. :)

  4. Michael Gold says:

    Great presentation Amy. I’m looking forward to hearing the audio. What tools were you using on slides 77-78?

  5. Arik Jones says:

    What a great presentation (slide-wise anyway since I wasn’t there). I thought those were all really awesome points and ones that every developer should practice. It all sort of takes the science out of building great products. Again, awesome!

  6. Thank you so much for this! I’m an aspiring developer and firm believer in the church of "cheerful software"! Thanks again!

  7. pete says:

    awesome.. as soon as the audios in I’ll put it to our dev team :)

  8. Matt Allen says:

    Magnum CAN help me program better! Does he know no bounds? I particularly like the bending time concept….a little effort in the right place can create time for end users. Very motivational.

  9. Emmanuel Mwangi says:

    Is that audio available for this talk yet?

  10. Armando says:

    This could not poslbisy have been more helpful!

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