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The Genius ISMs (genius.com)
18 points by tomlemon on Oct 7, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments

A lot of this stuff is kind of... uh... drivel? Eg. sure, tons of companies would like to hire "only A players" But that isn't realistic. In my opinion, Genius is not as compelling of a product to work on as they seem to think. They got big basically via appropriating rap culture. The bit about your job title not mattering because ultimately the success of Genius depends on you is nice on the surface but instantly problematic after you start to think about it a little bit.

> In my opinion, Genius is not as compelling of a product to work on as they seem to think.

I guess it could be helpful to define what the product exactly is. Genius is a high traffic transactional site, so they probably have the same problems that any large site has. They're also incredibly text heavy, and I probably wouldn't being going too far if I said that they are striving to eventually have every piece of written text available. Looking at these two qualities alone, I feel that there is enough going on to make their product compelling to virtually any person that has done software engineering, applied statistics, machine learning, or read a book.

It started as a way of annotating rap lyrics to explain the content to the uninitiated. Unfortunately, many of these annotations are flat-out wrong (not to mention many of the subject matters are more or less open to interpretation). So right off the bat, the whole notion of calling the platform "Genius" is highly dubious, I feel. Not sure why they think that they can easily expand out into other mediums which will require more, not less, intense analytical thought, intimate knowledge about the subject, etc. as opposed to just being knowledgable about what mostly amounts to slang.

(Stackexchange would make a better Genius.com)

So the original product has now morphed into some sort of "global" annotation system for any kind of text (including literature, law, tech). I just feel like they will have a hard time attracting true experts in these subjects.

I guess I'm also just not a fan of the site's overall aesthetic. The design is very dark and cluttered. Not very inviting.

Also soon we're going to take our annotation technology to OTHER SITES! This will allow anyone to create annotations anywhere (and save us the trouble from copying EVERYTHING to Genius.com)

I feel you on "only A players" being a bromide – but I do think there are some counter-intuitive elements to "why do that" and "how to do that" and "what makes an A player anyway" that I tried to spell out.

Likewise with "It's not not your job"; there's definitely a conflict between "take ownership over the overall success of the business" and "focus instead of trying to do everything all the time", and I tried to nod toward this, but I do think both sides are true! You do want to focus AND you don't want to be saying "Well, the company failed by at least I did my job".

Anyway, these are definitely far from perfect but I'm throwing them out there anyway because I think they're better than nothing.

I'd love to see your criticisms in the form of annotations on the piece itself tho! Everyone should get to read them!

Drivel? "Only hire A players" has 800+ words of justification, c'mon. Read a little more and I think the vague quality of the titles will become much more clear.

You're not exactly impartial in this situation.

This annotation:


That picture of Bruges is from Seeing Like a State[1], which should be required reading for all managers.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0300078153/ref=as_li_tl?ie=...

Slash for all HUMANS! it's basically the best book ever – i'll add a link in to the annotation..

I'm impressed by the attention to detail. I also really like the "Run into the Spike" point, especially the line, "Want to chill and watch TV? Go to a gym-esque place instead." Having effective distractions is a great strategy. On a similar note, my hockey coach in high school used to tell us to stretch if we we're watching TV. Even if you are "chilling", maybe there's a way to utilize that chill time in a positive way.

A lot of this is inspired by Quicken Loans' Isms. Both companies are at least partly owned by Dan Gilbert. http://www.quickenloans.com/press-room/fast-facts/our-isms/

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