Geeks often talk about “layer 8.” When an IT operator sighs resignedly that it’s a layer 8 problem, she means it’s a human’s fault. It’s where humanity’s rubber meets technology’s road. And big data is interesting precisely because it’s the layer 8 protocol. It’s got great power, demands great responsibility, and portends great risk unless we do it right. And just like the layers beneath it, it’s going to get good, then bad, then stable.
Other layers of the protocol stack have come under assault by spammers, hackers, and activists. There’s no reason to think layer 8 won’t as well. And just as hackers find a clever exploit to intercept and spike an SSL session, or trick an app server into running arbitrary code, so they’ll find an exploit for big data.
– Alistair Croll in Stacks get hacked: The inevitable rise of data warfare. Croll points out that with each new technology, there’s an evolution from good to bad to stable — and we should expect that same trajectory with big data.
Interesting to think about how large-scale exploits to corrupt the data about everything from public opinion on an issue to real estate attributes could have massive effects on decisions and markets.
…But I am suggesting that the mean-spiritedness of geek culture—a mean-spiritedness that is often, but by no means always, directed at women—is not an accident. A culture that values knowledge and access above all things is going to be a culture dedicated to hierarchy and to power—to defining who is in and who is out. Such defining involves, and is meant to involve, a good deal of antagonism, score-settling, back-biting, and cruelty. There’s not much point in defining yourself as the knower if you cannot define others as those who do not know.
– Noah Berlatsky explains in The Atlantic why Fake Geek Girls’ Paranoia is About Male Insecurity, Not Female Duplicity
There’s a lot of discussion lately about the idiot nerd girl meme (see original meme and a great subversion here). Some of this is routine insider/outsider tension — who’s in the know and fluent in the jargon, and who’s just posing — and some of it’s still the gender wars in full effect.
Last week an analyst firm predicted that Foursquare will fail in 2013, citing (among other issues) low revenues despite 3 billion check-ins to date. As an early adopter, I agree that there’s a need to create value for the user, with more concrete benefit either in content (à la Yelp) or deals (for people other than Amex users). Other apps now make me more aware of others’ physical locations and favorite venues, so I’m more likely to relegate Foursquare to the second screen of my mobile.
In a perhaps not-entirely-unrelated event, Foursquare has released a map what Quartz calls marvelous footprints of world cities revealed via Foursquare check-ins. Above is a map of Cambridge — you can see Harvard Square lit up, and even a burst of activity at the Harvard i-lab.
I follow Arsenal because I am a committed glutton for punishment. Agency Signal | Noise built this handy visualization to help you follow the rate and flow of players and money in European football. It’s helpful to see who’s accelerating the pace of cash out for talent — and vice versa.
h/t Information Aesthetics
Do Women Need to Realize that Work Isn’t School? Whitney Johnson and Tara Mohr point out in HBR that behaviors that enable young women to excel in school may serve them less well in the workplace. Johnson and Mohr argue, and I agree, that all employees and particularly women need to become more comfortable with behaviors like questioning authority, embracing improvisation, and engaging in self-promotion. (N.B. Approach the last of these far more carefully than your male peers.)
I’d add another important item to their list — learn how to disagree, and how to get over it. Engaging in conflict in the workplace and managing it toward resolution is part of the job, particularly in the fluid modern workplace where the need for constant adaptation can cause friction.
While school doesn’t always prepare us for that conflict, athletics may. Anecdotally, I’ve observed that many women who can tolerate workplace conflict well have participated in team sports. We know athletics correlate with career success; a 2002 study found that 82% of women in executive-level jobs had played organized sports in middle, high or post-secondary school. Discipline and focus are two obvious benefits, but I’d argue that team sports in particular offer participants experience in managing conflict and achieving resolution.
Image credit: U.S. National Archives: Department of Labor poster 1941-1945
“I don’t believe in futurists that much anymore – they are usually wrong,” he [Ito] says, responding to a label that is often applied to him. “I’m calling myself a ‘nowist,’ and I’m trying to figure out how to build up the ability to react to anything. In other words, I want to create a certain agility. The biggest liability for companies now is having too many assets; you need to learn how to be fluid and agile.
‘It’s kind of a spiritual thing,” he continues. “You want to have your peripherals wide open and adapt as quickly as you can. I think that will be an important survival trait of people and companies in the future.”
– Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab on trends to watch in 2013.
I couldn’t agree more. Your organizational goals and digital strategy need to be declarative and not reactive – but peripheral vision, fluidity, and agility are vital for success in a rapidly changing digital environment. Without understanding the speed and direction of the changes around you, it’s easy to bury yourself in a five-year-plan to nowhere.
How is the digital explosion affecting arts organizations? Last week, a Pew Internet report revealed the current digital focus of arts orgs, and what they identify as emerging opportunities and costs. Unsurprisingly, 99% have a web presence and many struggle with the time and expertise cost of social media. A few other findings that leapt out:
- a full 97% have a presence on social networks and 45% post at least once a day
- the “brand champion” strategy of having patrons help manage negative comments on social media is working for many
- widely varied audience use cases (e.g., older/younger patrons divide on social media) creates need to support traditional alongside new media outreach
- 20% have reprimanded employees over content shared online, which speaks to tensions between employees’ right to freedom of expression and the organizational needs for confidentiality and appropriate, public behavior (if this isa tension in publicly-funded arts orgs, what does this look like for banking?)
One opportunity that stood out was the sizeable gap between adoption of websites (99%) and social presences (97%) and that of mobile apps (24%).
Certainly, not every arts org needs a native application, but if I were working on a low-cost SaaS mobile solution with ecommerce baked in, arts organizations would be on my target list.
“The fact that we can even offer a ‘preview’ shows how tight the association is between content management and delivery….The existence of a preview button reinforces the notion that the desktop website is the “real” website and mobile is a satellite, an afterthought.”
– Karen McGrane, in Content Strategy for Mobile
Having survived the near-miss apocalypse, today we’re all turning our calendars over to 2013. Many are pausing for a natural moment of reflection and resolution — all those things we were yesterday will henceforth cease to be, and today we begin again as our newer, better selves. At least until we remember where we hid the cookies.
Here are five apps useful to those looking to track time, create new habits, or merely keep a firmer grip on their to-do lists in 2013. I recently read The Power of Habit, which underscored the importance of documenting what you intend to do in order to actually get the damn thing done. The social overlay is powerful in these aspirational apps — it’s one thing to tell oneself in the mirror of one’s intention to walk five miles a day, and quite another to tell a couple hundred Facebook friends. These apps promote behavior change by understanding the importance of social capital, and that “‘individual’ health behaviors are actually complex network phenomena” which play a part in spreading conditions like happiness to obesity.
- Wunderlist 2 :: Ideal for the task management obsessed, this app has elegant list making and sharing. Am still muddling through its recent (Christmas Eve!) upgrade and attendant syncing problems, but a really lovely user interface.
- Evernote :: This is my go-to productivity app, and Evernote 5 delivers a raft of useful, new features. It always makes me feel vaguely guilty — am I Evernoting to my full potential? — but features like the page camera and the audio are killer.
- Lift :: Think of Lift as cleanly-designed reminders to be that better person in 2013. Pre-set options include “Unclutter” (4,190 participants); “Go to gym” (10,867 participants); and “Tell my wife I love her” (3,426 participants — presumably the husbands are already hearing this, or the wives just can’t be bothered?). The social network feels like a big benefit here: if that many other people can unclutter a cabinet, why shouldn’t I?
- Everest :: Everest captures your long and short term goals and allows you break them into small steps. It’s designed to be a lush, photo-rich experience. As the name implies, much of the user content seems more focused on long-term goals rather than the banal day-to-day. (h/t Eric Kuhn for prompting me to check this out.)
- Timer :: If you’re anything like me, a task can expand to fill any amount of time allotted to it. There’s no hidden, killer feature — it’s set of lovely, clean programmable buttons that prompt you to keep yourself on track and on time.