#93 You don't prepare for world cups by playing world cups.
Lessons in community building, game design and value creation
In “Explorers are bad leaders”, Derek Sivers points our attention to two key observations: 1) Explorers are hard to follow, 2) Leaders go in a straight line. Leaders simplify.
It’s not just about their way of working, but the core skills as well. One is geared to find the unknowns, other to reduce them. It’s critical you have the right person in the right situation.
We’ve some interesting new ideas to cover. Let’s jump straight in.
1. Building community
Amber Atherton’s post on a16z blog around community building covers two critical elements of community building - community quadrant & community funnel.
Here’s a snippet from the post introducing the two:
Before diving in and hiring a dedicated community team, I’ve learned, founders need to have a strong grasp of two essential concepts: 1) the community quadrant (to understand how community differs from other groups of people who interact with a product), and 2) the community funnel (to understand what makes a community compelling to prospective members).
The post goes on to explain these in detail and helps set the fundamentals right.
This snippet about how to look at the initial stages of community building is my key takeaway from this post.
The early days of community-building should feel like user research. You’re not trying to build an audience or sustain engagement. Instead, you’re experimenting with different offerings to figure out what your evangelists want. Audio? AMAs? IRL meet-ups? Ask them directly. Not only will you learn what they find valuable, you’ll also give them a sense of belonging.
2. Data & narrative revisited
Harkanwal Singh’s “Data & narratives revisited” is a great slide deck on data visualization for communication. We all use charts & decks to convey some trends, observations or learnings. This deck expands it beyond functional level. It builds the case & offers inspiration for beautiful storytelling on the back of the data.
(via Wonder Tools newsletter)
3. What makes a game engaging?
There are many theories and many more suggestions when you ask anyone about - what makes a game engaging. Stoa newsletter’s post on this topic is the best take on the topic for me, so far. It’s jargon free, almost an ELI5 level stuff.
Here’s the core idea that it proposes:
Take a moment, check if this makes any sense. I was blown away by this articulation. I tried to apply to whatever I know about games, and it felt like a super easy explanation.
Authors have done a fairly good explanation using highly relevant & interesting examples. I highly recommend this for anyone even remotely interested in the world of games.
Kevin Kelly’s “better than free” is based on the following core premise:
If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies?
I have an answer. The simplest way I can put it is thus:
When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable.
When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.
He goes on to define 8 “generatives” that are uncopyable and are better than free. Here’s his definition of a generative.
A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced. It is generated uniquely, in place, over time. In the digital arena, generative qualities add value to free copies, and therefore are something that can be sold.
With ChatGPT and all the discussions around generative AI content, you may believe that KK wrote this recently. Check out the post date and you will be surprised!
(via BrainPint newsletter)
5. Art & Entertainment
What I think about LeBron breaking my NBA scoring record: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s heart touching account of a great milestone in NBA history.
“Whenever a sports record is broken—including mine—it’s a time for celebration. It means someone has pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible to a whole new level. And when one person climbs higher than the last person, we all feel like we are capable of being more”
Hollywood 2032: The far-out future of entertainment: Some experts & big names from Hollywood and tech world share their predictions for what to expect a decade from now.
"Streaming is the way of the future, but it won't kill theatrical. In fact, I think moviegoing will become more eventized, where it's like going to the theme park or a concert, as opposed to your regular viewing experience."
I’ve my own predictions - Songs & dance (as we know them) are a thing of the past; mythology & sci-fi are established genres; gaming content is mainstream entertainment, experiential viewing will be shaping up the theater/stadium space.
6. Little moments of joy
India Wants To Know (@IWTKQuiz) has been one of the most useful follow in recent times. It shares interesting threads on entertainment, history, sports, art etc. There is an India connection to most of this ‘knowledgetainment content’, of course. Their trivia led storytelling is always fun to read.
Quizzing is a great hobby. It’s the application layer for all knowledge you consume. It favors those with great observation, good recalls and uncanny ability to connect the dots. You may not need all these skills to start quizzing. But quizzing becomes a lot more fun when you become good at these skills. The inherent challenge of trying to decode a puzzle is an addiction unlike any other.
Keerthi has been hosting some fantastic quizzing sessions in our weekly team huddle for quite some time. Those are the highlights of these huddles, no doubt.
Thanks Keerthi & IWTK team for giving me a chance to experience the joy of quizzing again.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Making of the artistic manhole covers in Japan. Hats off to the folks who care for details & beauty of things that are banal for the most out there. (via Refind)
But.. therefore approach of creating engaging plot, as taught by Matt Stone & Trey Parker of South Park fame. (via Out of Curiosity newsletter)
Gaurav Sabnis teaches a course titled “How Avocados conquered the world”. He wrote a twitter thread covering key highlights from his course. This must be a fairly fun course.
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370? Is a long investigative read on the unfortunate incident in 2014. Some technical & evidential arguments, but you never know! (via YC newsletter)
Out of Office; another beautiful deck on the world of ‘memes’. It’s got a lot of text, but does a fairly good job in introducing the topic & raising some curiosity. (via Wonder Tools newsletter)
Julieanne Kost is the Principal Evangelist at Adobe. Her instagram feed offers rich & colorful snippets of the god’s creation. (via Dense Discovery)
“Pigeon Neck” Illusion (via Joost Plattel)
And, here’s a random post from the past.
Title of today’s post is from Stoa newsletter’s post “7 career truths you will realize too late”. It’s a fantastic read; for everyone.
Before we sign off, here's a hack for finding success more often than others.
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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