There is a great deal of mythology surrounding the birth and growth of AWS. Tech idustry awe and amazement is mostly justified but generally focuses on weaving together a linear narrative path that was taken that got us where we are:
Internal Problem Identified
Solution Identified and resourced
Aggressive iteration with continual expansion of problem/solution scope such that External stakeholders would see value
These steps are indeed a recipe that an established business could follow to create new high growth businesses but it does not fully explain how Amazon was uniquely in position to make AWS happen. It does not explain why AWS does not happen a lot. More often you see established companies shelving or selling off the fruits of internal innovation without ever capturing its value.
The secret seems to be a willingness to consciously avoid a “great idea – but that is not our business” trap where so many internal innovations go to die. It seems too easy too many times for leadership to do this. Avoid working at such places fellow dreamers and doers.
I still buy a lot of used vinyl online, mostly out of print jazz, soul and funk online but sometimes I wish I lived nearer to more used record stores. One thing that was great about growing up in Rochester, NY in the 80s was the record stores. These were the cathedrals of my youth. I would spend an entire day making the rounds and come home with several records for less than a tank of gas. The itinerary was something like this:
1. Fantastic Records, Pittsford NY [Now Closed]
A small-ish store in a nondescript plaza but a great well-curated collection. The staff were all musicians or music aficionados and they hand wrote reviews on 3×5 cards throughout the store. It was particularly gratifying when Steve at the counter said “Good Choice” as he checked me out.
2. House of Guitars, Greece NY [Still Open!]
An absolutely crazy tangled mess of used and new vinyl, often still in shipping boxes and usually organized by label. You could literally dig around here for truffles all day.
3. Record Archive, Rochester NY [Still Open!]
A terrific record store with a vast used collection. They are still in business so if you are ever up in Rochester – go there. Record Archive were also cult famous for airing so-awful-it’s-awesome local TV commercials.
NPR has posted an archive of a 1985 Piano Jazz episode to commemorate his 91st birthday. It is definitely worth listening to. Marion McPartland plays some particularly tasteful solo renditions of Mancini tunes and there are some interesting facts revealed in the hour-long interview:
Mancini always believed that The Pink Panther theme painted a complete “picture without words” and he never permitted lyrics to be set to the song despite many requests. He does mention that if he were to change his mind, it would have been Johnny Mercer he would have wanted but Mercer never asked and Mancini never brought it up.
TV theme writing always appealed to Mancini because of the constraints imposed. You had to “say what you needed to say” in under a minute or you failed.
In 1958 Victor Feldman had recently emigrated from the UK to LA was originally hired to be a side-line musician for the Peter Gunn nightclub scenes at Mother’s. Essentially he was part of a combo being paid to “mime” the music so the nightclub scenes looked authentic. Mancini heard him playing and offered him a slot in the scoring orchestra. The Feldman vibes sound became a signature part of the Mancini sound.
You can also watch her talk at React.js Conf here:
Are Netflix and HBO are rescuing the TV theme song from sad decline? A few years ago it was widely reported that the TV theme song was likely to disappear altogether as hunger for ad slots encroached on once sacred 30-60 second intro/outro time real estate. Today, the theme song is once again a critical storytelling and mood setting piece of creative on many of the most critically acclaimed small screen productions. One of the new greats who has been part of this transformation is Bear McCreary. Battlestar Galactica, Walking Dead and other awesomeness including the S.H.I.E.L.D work here:
There are multiple ways to interpret data pointing to relative decline in mobile web usage. There is evidence of massive consolidation around a few key app behaviors vs general web usage on mobile devices but it also seems that evidence of the death of the mobile web is probably exaggerated or at least premature. If app usage of facebook, video, audio and messaging services are stripped out the picture becomes more interesting. As the baseline mobile web experience improves on high traffic sites, the incentive to install “yet another app” for an infrequent yet important use case diminishes. This will be interesting to watch
I have always thought Vernon Duke / Yip Harburg’s April in Paris is particularly evocative of a time and place and a fantastic marriage of melody to lyric but I never really gave it’s origin much thought. It turns out Yip Harburg had never been to Paris. He wrote the lyrics at Lindy’s while looking out at the Winter Garden marquis. Here lies further proof that in songwriting “write what you feel” trumps “write what you know”. The song was composed for a 1932 musical revue called Walk a Little Faster that closed quickly. The show closed but the song survived.