Karl Schmieder M.S./M.F.A.

Three by Five.6 | Teenage Engineering. Hemingway.

Posted in 3x5, biotech in kids books, biotechnology, Music, Observations, Uncategorized, Writing by Karl S. on February 23, 2018

Teenage Engineering is a Swedish manufacturer of synthesizers and audio gear. For my birthday, Tomás and Felix, my youngest sons, gave me a Pocket Operator Arcade. It’s a calculator-sized, AAA-battery powered synthesizer. Pre-programmed with 16 video game sounds, 16 prebuilt patterns, and 16 sound effects, the Arcade is a simple, elegant sound maker. I’m using it for chiptunes-making (and time wasting!). It was the perfect, sweetest birthday present.

Question: What will be the synthetic biology equivalent of a PO-20?

Hemingway Editor. I usually jot these three by fives on an actual notecard, then transfer them to Hemingway for editing. Hemingway shows me what sentences are hard to read, reminds me not to write in passive voice. Plus, it tells me how readable my prose is. Usually, I aim for 6th grade but given the long, biology-related words I use, I’m usually happy for 12th.

Organism Design. Minecraft Chemistry | Three by Five by Eleven.5

Photo by Heather Schwartz on Unsplash

Organism or microbe design is an emerging industry.

It’s analogous to the semi-conductor industry. Companies design and manufacture the semi-conductors found in computers, phones, cars, and televisions.

Today, end-users rarely make semi-conductors themselves. They hire the expertise and apply what is manufactured to create a product.

Organism design companies are reprograming yeast and bacteria to produce useful molecules. Those molecules are used in consumer goods, foods, medicines and industrial products.

Perhaps the best known organism company is Boston’s Ginkgo Bioworks. Sarah Zhang profiled the company this week in an article I enjoyed in The Atlantic. (We featured co-founder Jason Kelly and creative director Christina Agapakis in What’s Your Bio Strategy?)

Minecraft Chemistry. A couple of week’s ago, Microsoft added a Chemistry Set to the popular game. Since there are about 55 million people worldwide playing (and some 122 million games sold) that’s a lot of potential exposure to chemistry. What about a synthetic biology expansion kit?

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My Billboard

Posted in 3x5, Advertising, Influences, Marketing, messagingLAB, Observations, Writing by Karl S. on February 14, 2018

Three by Five by Eleven.2

Posted in 3x5, Influences, Observations, Writing by Karl S. on January 25, 2018

Here’s this week’s 3×5.

like to work in 90 minute blocks of time, often split in sprints of 2×45.

To help focus, I’ll use a timer app: Forest on my phone, Freedom, on my computer, and Insight for meditation.

Of these, I find Forest the most useful and fun. You’re growing a (virtual) tree while you focus. You can choose different species of trees and more unlock over time. My current favorite: stalks of bamboo.

My niece Violeta introduced me and I am forever grateful.

I’ve been a fan of Steve Blank and Bob Dorf’s The Startup Owner’s Manual for a long time. It’s a big book. It’s also full of practical insights (“Get out of the building…”). I’ve recently been referring to it since I’m launching a new business offering. It’s a book that breaks down the Lean Startup process.

Tim Ferriss’ Impossible Questions (email subscription required). There’s 17 of them. I’ve been thinking about these…

Product Market Fit

Posted in 3x5, Book Reviews, Marketing, messagingLAB, Observations, Writing by Karl S. on January 24, 2018

Figuring out product-market fit’s probably harder than this game. Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

To paraphrase, Lean Startup author Eric Reis,

“We can build any product. The question is: Will anyone buy it?”

True Story:

She is developing a new chip set. It’s revolutionary in its design and potential applications.

When I ask about customers, she answers, “We’re building a platform, like the app store.”

When I ask about validated customers, she answers, “It will be a hundred times cheaper. Than the competition. They’ll all buy it. Wouldn’t you?”

When I asks about product-market fit, she asks, “What is that?”

It means, I explain, you have a product that people want to buy.

She repeat her statement about cheaper cost assuring – not just driving – sales.

To me, that’s the end of the conversation.

I can’t help people who haven’t spoken to their potential customers.

Or, those that think they don’t have to.

I can’t draft messages in a void.

I can. Sure. 

But there’s no guarantee they’ll work and I won’t take the risk.

If we agree with Reis (and I do), we’re lucky we can build almost any product today. We also have more knowledge about building businesses.

What we don’t have is insights into customers.

Will they buy our product?

Or not?

The Lean Startup methodology forces you to get in front of your customers.

It helps ensure that you’re developing something the market wants. Before you create it.

Wouldn’t you rather know that up front?

Image from SeekingWisdom.io

Three by Five by Eleven.1

Posted in 3x5, biotechnology, book notes, Influences, interviews, Observations, Science Fiction, Writing by Karl S. on January 19, 2018

I’m starting a new weekly feature. Not to clutter your life –  you can opt out if you’d like – but to document and share the things that influence me during a week.

To keep myself focused and brief, I promise to only share what fits on one side of a 3×5 filecard.

Why?

The file card. The notecard. A small piece of lined paper. Blank white, or colored.

Three inches by five inches. They’re typically printed with eleven lines.

Highly useful. I consider them an essential tool for a writer.

Easy enough to carry anywhere, they’re old school. Like a pencil.  They can be anti-technology. Turn off your phone, your computer, and focus your effort on the little card in front of you.

I usually carry around a stack but if I’m pressed for time or room, I’ll fold a couple, put them in my pocket, grab a pencil or pen.

Here’s this week’s file card:

Christopher Payne takes pictures of General Pencil, in New Jersey.

Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories – A New York Times Magazine photo essay on General Pencil Company. “Pencils eschew digital jujitsu. They are pure analog, absolute presence. They help to rescue us from oblivion.”

Genemapper – This near-future novel follows a “leaf and flower color” designer as he solves the mysterious collapse of a crop he designed. Full of ideas, especially around from-scratch genetic design.

The Chaco Quarterly because “one must distinguish between Information, knowledge, and wisdom.” Wisdom distilled into 90 seconds because there’s not enough wisdom in the world.

That wraps this first issue. What do you think?