With life being a series of opportunities for Siasto blog posts, I looked forward to reading that seminal tome of political theory: Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince.

The artist formerly known as Prince

I had in mind rendering a list of Twitter advice from the book’s wisdom on creating and maintaining princely kingdoms in Renaissance Italy. A harmless bit of cherry picking and digital refitting would surely make a social media guru of Machiavelli.

It soon became clear that while his broadly common sense advice about popularity could be used, Machiavelli really didn’t have a clue how to curry internet favor.

With deft pragmatism I changed tack: I’ll write a blog listing the old man’s wrong headed internet counsel: ‘Machiavelli the Digital Dunderhead’. Alas, in all intellectual honesty I must report The Prince is an equal hit and miss guide to courting online popularity.

See for yourself:

“One can acquire empire but not glory” RIGHT.

Quite right, Mr Machiavelli. The objective size/wealth of your empire, and your own personal virtue in governing are not directly proportional.

Clearly this is a comment on number of followers Vs quality of Twitter. Let’s be clear: size isn’t everything. A corporate twitter account like McDonald’s 2.2 million followers belies their drone of corporate sponsorship and fast food selfies. So don’t sweat the numbers too much, better to have 300+ followers who hang on your every word than 1000 who gloss over at the sight of your handle.

“The Mercenary is useless and dangerous” WRONG

Machiavelli would have ended that last paragraph with ‘One can buy followers, but not quality’.

Successful and lasting power needs to be totally self supporting; hired muscle can only fail you or become a threat. He certainly wouldn’t approve of paying someone a few dollars to do your tweeting for you. But twitter requires a low level yet constant attention; if you run a company it can be hard to find the time for this. Paying someone to ensure a consistent interaction with your support base is a smart move. Twitter is 90% wordplay too, and if that’s not your bag then you could do a lot worse than seeking out a pun for hire.

“Injuries must be done all together, so that, being tasted less, they offend less: and the benefits must be done little by little so that they might be better tasted.” RIGHT

Right on dude, a salient point about proportioning your tweets correctly. Would that Twitter were all japes, jokes, and wordplay; but it’s not and there’s business to be done. There’s an important balance to be struck between popular chat, and getting your company’s message out there and bringing in the revenue. Constant self serving publicity is boring, and a good ratio is 75% irreverence to 25% business (90% puns still). Keep people listening with interesting articles and engaging comments, then drop in the serious stuff every now and then.

The author of The Prince

“It is impossible for the new prince to escape the name of cruel, since new states are full of dangers” WRONG

Well this makes quite the social media monkey of Machiavelli. He assures us in starting up you’ve got to be ruthless, a real asshole, take no prisoners: ‘more secure to be cruel than to be loved’. A lot of people boil down The Prince’s complex, subtle, and ambiguous text to this simple mantra.

It’s probably Machiavelli’s most toxic piece of social media advice. The idiot. In starting out you want to be on your best, most ingratiating behavior. Twitter is full of people sharing great content, ideas, and puns; seek them out and let people know when you appreciate something. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like the quick one-two of a re-tweet and a follow-up comment; you’ll often gain a follower this way.

I could go on. There’s much to be learned in The Prince. Machiavelli’s ideas on popularity, exercising power, and dealing with people can often be brought to bear in the modern world.

But I’m afraid advice like exemplary killings to establish authority simply won’t cut it while the ‘report abuse’ button is so close to hand. There’s no need for such cut throat tactics when there’s enough of the Twitter-verse for everyone to share together. So be nice, go forth and seek both social media empire and digital glory.

It was only a year ago that the first Bitcoin bubble inflated and burst. In those short twelve months we’ve seen this biggest cryptocurrency go from being treated as a highly volatile financial gimmick, to gaining traction as an acceptable medium of exchange to returning to the realm of highly volatile “financial asset”.

In a nutshell, the appeal of Bitcoins is that they are very much anonymous like cash transactions and also currently unregulated by any sovereign nation. This lack of national and international regulation makes this currency impossible to be capitally controlled, impossible to inflate (a set number of around 21 million Bitcoins will ever be “minted”), and for the time being, free from taxation.

While to the libertarian in all of us these Bitcoins sound like financial manna from heaven, the reality is that this lack of regulation is a two edged sword. Consider Mt. Gox’s recent collapse. In the span of a few weeks, the largest online exchange for Bitcoins (think stock market where currencies like USD, GBP, Euros, Yen, etc. can be converted to Bitcoins and vice versa) went broke and in the process lost more than $450 million in investors’ and company Bitcoins due to an apparent cyber attack. While the investigation is ongoing and some are claiming the collapse of Mt. Gox was an inside job, the takeaway here is that if you had Bitcoins on the Mt. Gox exchange, you are out in the cold as far as getting your money back goes. What this whole episode in cryptocurrency has taught us is that no matter how much we hate it we do need financial regulation.

1. INSURANCE FOR DEPOSITORS:

Remember when cash deposits at commercial banks were uninsured? No, well most of us won’t because we are far too young to have been alive for the passing of the Banking Act of 1933. What this act essentially did in the United States (amongst other things) is set up a safety net for depositors so that if a bank became insolvent, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation would reimburse those people who had deposits in that distressed bank up to a certain limit ($250,000 per account today). Think about when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008, those holding Lehman Brothers stock their investment (stock is uninsured by the FDIC). However the FDIC did insure those people with actual deposits with that bank assuming they had an FDIC insured account.

The lesson here is that every Bitcoin exchange (for instance Mt. Gox or BitStamp) functions simultaneously as an uninsured bank and independent stock exchange with no underlying asset guaranteeing the worth of the traded Bitcoins (somewhat like commodity markets). In other words while a US dollar is guaranteed by “the full faith and credit of the United States Government” each Bitcoin exchange is currently backed by the full faith and credit of whoever is managing the servers that day.

Obviously, the issue here is trust in the currency. This is where regulation is needed to help insure those who use Bitcoins as cash equivalents. This regulation needn’t necessarily be governmental, perhaps an independent organization like the Bitcoin Foundation could back certain exchanges in return for a reserve of Bitcoins to insure investors of that said exchange (somewhat like the Federal Reserve of the United States). Either way greater regulation by some governmental or non-governmental body is necessary here for Bitcoins to move from this era of wildcat banking to a mature and stable financial system that traditional currencies currently enjoy.

2. REGULATION OF TRANSACTIONS:

Can anyone recall why Martha Stewart went to jail? Oh yes, that’s right insider trading.

Currently, there are no legal safeguards against Bitcoin exchanges being manipulated by the company operating the exchange. For example, exchanges like now defunct Mt. Gox could potentially inflate or deflate the price of Bitcoins on their exchange by manipulating the bid/ask spread without anyone knowing. Due to the byzantine nature of Bitcoin transactions, no one usually knows from whom they are buying or selling.

This obscure transactional reality is part of the allure of Bitcoins but is also a main drawback as there really is no way of determining if and when price manipulation occurs. Moreover, this decentralized systems of unregulated exchanges has created huge potential for arbitrage, a symptom of market inefficiencies (check out bitcoin-analytics.com for a detailed look at the arbitrage opportunities). Essentially, Bitcoin exchanges are functioning a lot like Wall Street before the Securities and Exchange Commission was established…unregulated and highly subject to manipulation.

3. INVESTIGATORY JURISDICTION

When a Bitcoin exchange like Mt. Gox or Flexcoin bites the dust, which law enforcement entity is responsible for investigation? Should it be the law enforcement agency of the country where the exchange is incorporated? Or the law enforcement agency of the country whose currency was converted into Bitcoins? Or both?

The question is still unsettled as these first investigations begin to take place, however it appears as though the country in which the exchange is incorporated seems to have jurisdiction for the time being.

Additionally, while the jurisdiction for investigation of exchange collapse is important, what is of greater import is the jurisdiction for investigation of illegal activities paid for using Bitcoins. For instance, the FBI’s shutdown of Silk Road is most assuredly a harbinger of things to come. Since as long as laws have existed people have broken the law. The appeal of Bitcoins is that they make payment and laundering of money for illicit activities much easier and convenient. Ultimately, until a comprehensive legal framework is established for dealing with the investigation of Bitcoin exchange failures and illegal activities conducted, the average Bitcoin user will pay the price of unpredictable and uncertain legal oversight of Bitcoins as a whole.

Conclusion

Regulation, while a frustrating part of modern life, is a necessary evil for all financial transactions. Much like the growing pains PayPal went through in the late 90s, Bitcoins will have to endure through this period of fraud and uncertainty by submitting to greater regulation.

Ultimately, while a market completely free of regulation is worshipped in the myth of American capitalism, the reality is that unregulated markets are inefficient and easily manipulated. As much as we hate it, we need financial regulation. As an unregulated financial market, Bitcoins have already demonstrated this spectacular need for oversight twice in just twelve short months.

Well the winter games are now in the books, Ukraine has had a revolution and the results from our little examination of work habits in the US and PRC are ready; what a difference a week makes right?

Anyway, if you recall from last Thursday’s post (or just scroll down the page) we introduced acclaimed social psychologist Geert Hofstede’s theory on cultural dimensions and did a cursory examination of the differences between US and Chinese (PRC) cultural traits.

Today we examine what these differences mean for productivity and workflow at a company that operates in these two largest world economies. So, like skeleton racers in the winter Olympics, let’s just jump headfirst into our results.

Individualism:

Of Hofstede’s six dimensions, the PRC and the US differ most significantly in the value each culture places on the individual. Meaning that workers in the PRC place greater emphasis on group success rather than individual success.

That is not to say that individual achievement is not valued in the PRC, but rather the notion of success is more group centric than individually based. Thus, the conclusion here is that within a Chinese workplace there tends to be less desire for individual glory and a more group based idea of success.

Moreover, Business Insider recently published a short article that explored some of the cultural habits Chinese students educated in the United States have picked up. Of interest from this article is the section on assertiveness from the point of view of a now a 20 something professional originally from China:

“I work in an American firm with American bosses. I also work at a public affairs consultancy so it is a fast-paced industry/office-- so I may be biased. I've heard in state-owned enterprises people are still very conservative, group-thinkers, and slow. But my Chinese colleagues are not afraid of expressing themselves, they are more independent thinkers. Instead of shying away, they know the work place (and our generation) is more competitive and they need to be more aggressive and speak up. Note that 90% of my colleagues have overseas education experience or have worked in foreign companies before. So I consider it a western influence.”

The big takeaway here is obvious; in China the group is foremost whereas in the United States the individual is foremost.

Pragmatism:

Chinese and American cultures are diametrically opposed with regards to the cultural dimension of pragmatism. In a nutshell, in normative cultures (the US) time horizons are much shorter, rules are more likely to be universal, and transparent methods are valued.

In contrast, in pragmatic cultures (China) time horizons are much longer, rules are more relativistic and method transparency is not as important. With this hypothetical understanding, let’s briefly examine evidence of this cultural difference.

From the point of view of a French national who lived in China:

“In China, the time is infinite and uncontrollable.  Chinese people are very patient; waiting is not a problem for them. They are rarely stressed; they are never in a hurry. French people have difficulties to understand that because they always go fast and they do not want to waste their time: Time is money!
So, it has not always been so easy to work with Chinese people… I try to take time and stay peaceful, but sometimes I cannot control myself, and I would like to cry ‘hurry up, hurry up’.”

And from an American educated Chinese national talking about how China is changing:

“Emphasis [is now] on more on fair and transparent working environment. The promotion standards are more transparent these days. Care more for the long term career development. A relatively clear career path is usually laid out when firms try to recruit people.” These two assessments of Chinese culture versus Western/American culture there is a large disconnect.

While China is beginning to emulate American and Western work habits when it comes to transparency and time orientation, there still is a great difference. In essence, this dimension of culture and these pieces of personal evidence support the statement that, time required to complete a comparable project in China versus the U.S. tends be longer.

Indulgence:

When it comes to indulgence, the US and China again differ significantly in culture at the national level. In the United States, gratification is a socially acceptable (if not encouraged) norm whereas in China delayed gratification is ingrained in the more ancient culture. This short article from The Register demonstrates this dimension in China from an economic and cultural point of view.

“Feng Tongqing, a labor professor at the China Institute of Industrial Relations, gave the Daily that line and also believes that competition for the domestic market means Chinese entrepreneurs are pushing their staff to work more. The party organ also reports that some familiar-seeming cultural pressures are behind some of China's work habits, quoting a PR operative named Feng Nan as saying ‘Our supervisor admires the busy bees and is one himself, so how can I leave the office and go home if my supervisor is still at his desk?’"

Self evident in both this article and the cultural dimension difference between the US and China, it seems that the assertion that, workers in China tend to work longer but not necessarily smarter when compared to their American counterparts.

Power Distance:

Power distance can be summarily characterized, as basically how willing a person is in a culture to accept discrepancies in power and how great is that power discrepancy. To employ the analogy of an organizational structure, Chinese culture more closely resembles a hierarchical organization while American culture more closely resembles a flat organization.

In concrete terms, you can think of Chinese culture as a mature corporation (like General Electric) with many tiers of power and American culture as a San Francisco startup where the CEO of the company sits across from the summer intern.

Succinctly described, by the aforementioned French national working in China:

“Chinese people attach a great importance to the hierarchy.
When I make some audits, the staff’s store does tend to be afraid when they know that the report will be sent to their boss. They often try to solve the problems immediately in order that I do not mention the issue on my report”

Power distance helps explain in large part the sociological phenomenon of “Face”. While each culture that has the notion of face has a different take on it. In a nutshell this concept boils down to a person’s prestige, honor or reputation.

For instance, in Thai culture getting publicly angry with another person leads to a loss of face of the person that got angry because in Thai culture there is great emphasis on tranquility and harmony. Or in South Korea, not obeying the wishes or orders of a person older than you leads to a loss of face as South Korean culture places a great emphasis on seniority.

Ultimately, power distance is of import for our understanding of work habits as in general Chinese workers more often than American counterparts give unquestioning deference to superiors.

Uncertainty Avoidance:

Moving to cultural similarities between the PRC and US, uncertainty avoidance can be understood as how much a culture tolerates ambiguity of details. In reality, the US (score of 37) and China (score of 21) are quite similar in how each culture deals with ambiguity. While Americans avoid uncertainty more than their Chinese counterparts, neither country avoids uncertainty to the degree at which Germany (score of 55), France (score of 75) and most markedly so Japan (score of 81) do.

Uncertainty avoidance can be thought of as how many details you write down when planning a project. For instance, if you’ve ever had a German, French or Japanese manager and you are from a low uncertainty avoidance culture, I guarantee that you can think of an instance when your manager insisted on knowing the seemingly minutest details of a project you were planning.

While at the times it may have seemed that your German, French or Japanese manager was trying to make your life miserable, this insistence on details is really just a cultural trait that is less observed in low uncertainty avoidance cultures.

You can probably guess how our French national felt about uncertainty avoidance whilst living in China, “Another thing which distinguishes French people and Chinese people in work, is the way of communicating.

 

In fact, French people are often direct when they communicate, that means they say the things as they are; they accept the critics, they like asserting their point view. In contrary, Chinese people adopt an indirect way of communicating; they protect their idea and let others decode the hidden meaning of their message. Therefore, they communicate slowly and they do tend to beat around the bush.


So, when I work with them, I need time and I need to ask them a lot of questions in order that they explain me the real situation and understand the why and how of things. At the beginning, it was a little bit frustrating and I took time to adapt myself because I am used to communicate by saying what I think swiftly”

Understanding this facet of cultural similarity helps explain why American and Chinese workers can both effectively frustrate managers from high uncertainty avoidance cultures. The big take away from this understanding is that American and Chinese workers both embrace uncertainty and thereby remain quite flexible but at times frustrating to deal with when planning workflow.

Masculinity

At long last we have reached the dimension of greatest similarity between the PRC and the US, Masculinity. Both American and Chinese cultures are masculine scoring 63 and 68 respectively. What this essentially means is that these two cultures value achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success over cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life. In other words both American and Chinese workers are results driven. Or to put it another way, both American and Chinese workers value the outcome of work more than the process of work.

Conclusions:

Understanding culture is foremost for understanding differences in work habits in different countries. By understanding how cultures are different, we can understand why workers in different countries work differently. The intent of this examination is not to proclaim a winner in work habits, but rather to simply understand why and how people work differently in the US and China (PRC). In this sense the examination is descriptive rather than prescriptive.

Ultimately, culture is ever fluid, always changing and completely relative to other cultures. If in the workplace as an employee or manager you can understand cross-cultural differences, then there is no doubt that you will take home the gold in the Olympic sport of global workflow management.

It's A New Feature, It's A New Feature

Niccolo Pantucci · · Comment

Hey Siastfriends!

It's Tuesday, so it's time for a new feature! This time: recurring tasks. From now on you'll be able to create tasks that can be scheduled to recur after you've completed them.

That means you won't have to worry any longer about reminding colleagues to send you reports on their work every week. Or remember to create a task for yourself to pay a bill or submit a monthly time sheet.

Repeat/Recurring Tasks

As you can see above in the task creation screen, you will now be able to select a 'repeat' for your task right after you've chosen the date it's due. That means the task will recur every day, week, month, or year from the time you have completed it.

The task will continue to recur until you either delete it or remove the repeat.

Benefits

In the future you won't have to remind your colleagues to send you their weekly updates any longer, you can simply set them a task to do it weekly! And Siasto will keep reminding them, without you having to reset the task.

You won't have to remember to send your book keeper your bank statements every month any more, or remember to run payroll: Siasto's got your back! Just remember to create a recurring task, and you can solve one of life's irritating problems: forgetting stuff!

Every two years the countries of the world gather to try to set aside their differences and compete in a series of games in the winter or summer season.

We're talking about the Olympic games, of course, with the frozen version of these games currently taking place in Sochi, Russia.

While the athletic prowess of these Olympians is always captivating and at times awe inspiring in the classical sense of the word, what is of interest to sociologists is “why do different cultures value different traits and have different strengths?”

For instance, why is Norway so dominant in the winter games despite being a scarcely populated nation in northern Europe sixty three times less populous than the United States (US)? Or, why is Iran ascendant in the wrestling events at the summer games while the People’s Republic of China (PRC) routinely cleans up in the diving events?

Money?

Obviously, financial support for Olympians and the facilities at which they train play a big factor in success, however there has to be more to the explanation for success than just financial considerations.

If you explore factors beyond money, national prowess in specific areas can be explained. For instance, when one realizes that for a significant portion of the year Norway is a winter wonderland set against the Scandinavian Mountains, or that Iran has a several thousand year old tradition of wrestling it seems obvious why these nations are so successful in their respective events.

So by introducing the geographic and historical fondue of a country, we have a clearer picture! Yet if you dig deeper and exhume national cultures, a far richer and more detailed body of cultural strengths and weaknesses is revealed.

Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture

Now that we've embarked on this cultural oddessy let's take a quick look at Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory.

While the Siasto team would recommend reading Hofstede’s theory in its entirety, Hofstede tells us that national cultures can be explained by understanding six dimensions of culture. These dimensions of culture are as follows:

  1. Power distance index (PDI)
  2. This dimension expresses the degree to which the less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. The issue here is how a society handles inequalities among people. People in societies exhibiting a large degree of power distance accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification. In societies with low power distance, people strive to equalize the distribution of power and demand justification for inequalities of power.

    I'm big, you're small!

  3. Individualism (IDV) versus collectivism
  4. The individualism side of this dimension, can be defined as a social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their families, and little else. Its opposite, collectivism, is a framework in which individuals can expect their relatives, friends, and groups to look after them without question. A society's position on this dimension is reflected in whether people’s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “we.

  5. Masculinity versus femininity (MAS)
  6. The masculinity side represents a preference in society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success. Society at large is more competitive. Its opposite, femininity, stands for a preference for cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life. Society at large is more consensus-oriented.

  7. Uncertainty avoidance (UAI)
  8. This dimension expresses the degree to which the members of a society feel uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. The fundamental issue here is how a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? Countries exhibiting strong UAI maintain rigid codes of belief and behavior and are intolerant of unorthodox behavior and ideas. Weak UAI societies maintain a more relaxed attitude in which practice counts more than principles.

  9. Pragmatic Versus Normative (PRA)
  10. This describes how we relate to the fact that so much that happens around us cannot be explained. In societies with a normative orientation most people have a strong desire to explain as much as possible. People in such societies have a strong concern with establishing the absolute Truth; they are normative in their thinking. They exhibit great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future and a focus on achieving quick results.

    In societies with a pragmatic orientation, people believe that truth depends very much on situation, context and time. They show an ability to adapt traditions easily to changed conditions, a strong propensity to save and invest, thriftiness and perseverance in achieving results.

  11. Indulgence versus Restraint (IND)
  12. Indulgence stands for a society that allows relatively free gratification of basic and natural human drives related to enjoying life and having fun.  Restraint stands for a society that suppresses gratification of needs and regulates it by means of strict social norms.

    Indulging in a little self-flattery

    China vs USA

    With this understanding of how to evaluate varying cultures under an objective framework we can look at differences between the US and the PRC.

    Keep in mind that these results are in the aggregate for the nation; meaning these traits do not necessarily apply to every individual. Instead they are the statistical significant indicator of culture as a whole. The results are as follows:

    As can be seen in the graph, the US and China (PRC) are markedly opposed in four dimensions, loosely aligned in one dimension, and closely aligned in one dimension. To put it another way, only in the masculinity dimension does Chinese culture closely align with American culture under Hofstede’s framework.

    With these observed results we now can examine just what this means for a practical business relationship when working in China.

    Stay tuned for next week's post where these results are examined at an individual level. In the meantime enjoy the winter games while you wait for the results!

New Feature ̶F̶r̶i̶d̶y̶a̶ … Tuesday!

Niccolo Pantucci · · Comment

Hola Siasto Amigos!

Today we've got an exciting new feature to announce. Now you will be able to edit and delete your comments!

Ever been irritated that you couldn't change something you said? Ever just wish you could take back that last group email you sent? Well now Siasto has a solution: today we are introducing the ability to edit and delete your comments, so no one will ever know about that mistake!

Editing

You'll now be able to edit comments in the overview of your projects, and the activity feed of your team. That means that if you hit return too quickly or wrote the wrong thing you can correct your mistake!

All you'll need to do is find the pesky comment that needs changing, like the picture shown below, then select the edit option just below the comment.

As shown below, once you've selected the edit button a new comment box will open up, which will show you your original comment that you can now edit.

Once you've changed your comment to what it should be, hit the green update button shown above, and voila! No one knows about that spelling mistake!

It's also useful if you need to update a comment with further information or add further linked remarks, and you don't want to create a ton more notifications.

Deleting

Sometimes you don't even want to edit a comment, sometimes all you can think to do is simply delete your comment. Well now Siasto let's you do that with your comments and activity feed items.

Below you can see to the right of the edit option, you have a delete option.

And then when you select the delete option, Siasto will ask you if you are sure that you want to delete the comment, and by selecting 'OK', as shown below, that will get rid of it forever!

The benefits of being able to delete comments is you can eliminate any mistakes you or your team have made. You won't have to worry about writing comments on the wrong comment string. And if information has been shared in the wrong project or with the wrong person, you can now delete it.

So go ahead, venture forward and make mistakes - Siasto's got your back!

‘Tis the season for 30th anniversaries, just ask Apple about its Mac. This humble computer revolutionized personal computing and no doubt touched your technological life directly or indirectly if you are reading this.

Yet, there is another invention from 1984 that will no doubt impact your technological life in the coming three decades just as much as the Mac has in the past 30 years. I speak of course of the 3D printer.

In a nutshell, 3D printers construct real world objects from raw materials such as metals and ceramics based on downloadable designs. Think building a tree from wood chips rather than making wood chips from the wood of a tree, this is essentially what 3D printers do. If you haven’t seen what these machines have already produced, might I recommend this, a fully functional 3D printed firearm.

Fortunately, 3D printing offers many more constructive possibilities beyond its use as a homemade firearm factory. This technology now also entering its fourth decade of existence offers us the possibilities of a paradigm shift in productivity in many areas of business and life:

Shorter Down Times:

While those of us who have Amazon Prime only have to wait two days for our orders to arrive, this facet of modern life that requires patience, paying, and praying for the correct delivery may become a relic of the past much like the mail catalog.

Imagine instead of ordering a replacement part for a broken device in the office or machine in the factory and having to wait for said part to arrive, you could have the part in hand in a few hours after downloading a design off the Internet.

Forget Amazon’s Drones as relief for the delay in order and receipt, 3D printers can already print replacement parts in a matter of hours. The savings and increase in productivity from not having a critical machine out of commission for long is an attractive proposition that 3D printing offers.

Reduction in Shipping Costs and More Flexible Manufacturing

Today supply chains span the globe. Assuredly, the device on which you are reading this was designed in a country other than the one in which it was produced and assembled. Conversely, 3D printing allows companies to potentially do away with the global supply chains that require long lead times for production and massive economies of scales for profitability.

3D printing could actually bring about the manufacturing of goods at a local level by facilitating the production of a finished product from raw materials at a single location. This giant leap forward in production would allow businesses to cut costs on shipping and respond to local demand with greatly improved agility, as the production time lag decreases exponentially.

Printing Everything You Need or Want!

Think about never having to set foot in a home furnishing or clothing store again. Instead imagine browsing a selection of downloadable blueprints for anything from flatware to flat front pants. Using 3D printing all objects that you purchase could be customized and tailor made to fit your tastes and needs before being produced at your home.

Much like how content is now predominantly consumed through a non-physical medium (i.e. over the Internet and not via a DVD or Blu-Ray etc.), 3D printing has the potential to change the way in which physical consumer goods are distributed. Essentially, consider printing a new wardrobe every day simply by purchasing the plans from your favorite designer.

What more needs to be said about this invention from 1984? While still behind the Mac in terms of influence, 3D printing is poised to revolutionize physical goods production and consumption much like the Mac computer and its successors revolutionized personal computing, and media consumption. Funny how 1984 was a year that begat two inventions that are revolutionary each in their own right; cheers to that infamous year.

3 Ways To Stay Productive On A Long Project

Niccolo Pantucci · · Comment

3 Ways to Stay Productive On A Long Project

We've all been there, a long project is assigned to you and it's common to become overwhelmed, frustrated, and distracted. And that's just from when you start figuring out your first tasks!

Feeling this way can inhibit progress and cause unnecessary stress, just like photographers to Kanye West. Below are some tips to stay focused and productive in order to guarantee that you have more time to do the things that you enjoy.

1. Create a game plan and stick to it

Before starting your project, draft a detailed list of what needs to be done. Although creating this to-do list may take some time, it will help keep you organized and allow you to be as efficient and productive as possible.

Make sure to be thorough and include the order in which you want to complete each task—prioritize them! Breaking up a large project into smaller ones will help you feel less overwhelmed.

Setting deadlines for when you would like to complete each of these small projects will help you stay on track. Additionally, the satisfaction of crossing things off of this list will help keep you motivated to finish your project in the most productive manner.

2. Take scheduled breaks

Taking breaks will often increase your productivity during the course of your day, we've written about this before. Working on a project for long hours can cause delirium and increase the risks of procrastination and distraction.

Planning breaks will help time pass more quickly by giving you something to look forward to while working. Do not forget to include these scheduled breaks when you create your game plan. Although it may initially seem like a waste of time, taking breaks will trigger your brain to think more effectively—ultimately saving you time.

3. Find a workplace that works for you

Do you find yourself working better in a quiet place such as a library? Or do you prefer completing tasks amongst the hustle and bustle of a café?

It's often beneficial to work on a project in a setting outside of your home to limit distractions from twitter and facebook feeds. Having a set location or space to go to every time you need to get work done will help promptly get you into the productive zone.

If you do not know what type of backdrop you prefer, test the waters! Try setting up shop in a bookstore, coffee shop, or even a park bench. Do not be afraid to find what works best for you.