Please keep checking in.
People often complain about social media. Facebook is time-consuming and pointless and self-aggrandizing and there’s no real connection — yes, all right. Twitter is a constant, exhausting, too-cool-for-school barrage. And both of them leave you feeling a little more distant from everyone, at the price of keeping a line open to everyone you’ve ever met.
But when awful news hits like the explosions at the Boston Marathon, suddenly all of this feels less like a nuisance and more like a social network. Everyone I know has gone dashing to Facebook. The newsfeed, for once, is full of the bits of news that matter. I’m okay. Are you okay?
– Read more in The explosions at the Boston Marathon and the Facebook huddle, the terrific latest piece from Alexandra Petri in her Washington Post blog
With college students, obviously, we assume that they are young adults–even there, we still need to do a lot more to educate them as they, too, struggle deal with the ramifications of privacy in a networked world where exposure can get out of control much quicker and in hard-to-anticipate manner.
— Your Children are not Your Children, a post by Zeynep Tufekci in response to recent exposure of children in the media by their parents and journalists. Tufekci objects to the widespread oversimplification of privacy that if there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just fine to make it public, and points to the risks of exposure for children far below the age of reasonable consent.
Many adults are now diligent documenters of their own milestones and minutia through images on social networks and newly-quantifiable data captured through apps and wristbands. Young hipsters transform seemingly overnight into dads who post everything from in utero shots to Vine video of their toddlers daily. Was the 2009 David After Dentist video intended to be exploitative, or a way to share an amusing parental anecdote in a contemporary way?
It’s a more complex world in which parents now navigate child consent. Parents receive pressure from schools to sign blanket image consent forms, which meant a lot less when the biggest risk was a flattering shot in a private school marketing brochure or a spelling bee win on the cover of the community weekly. There’s a structural lag for both individual parental and social/institutional approaches to privacy in the internet era, and most are making it up as they go along. And, as Tufekci points out above, college students are not magically immune, but face similar challenges figuring out privacy boundaries and the ramifications of broad exposure.
I have learned that when it comes to successful idea translation, whether in labs, ateliers, or startups, it is not only the breakthrough eureka ideas, but the chemistry of the team, that determines success or failure. Venture and academia are not polar opposites, as some might have you believe. After all, serial entrepreneurs and productive labs are known for their ability to rapidly re-assemble teams to exploit new opportunities. Pick your collaborators – your tribe – wisely.
— from Hugo Van Vuuren’s blog re the 2014 launch of the Lab Cambridge, but applicable to any project where people need to use ideas to build stuff.
Small business lending statistics take no account of Kickstarter and crowdfunding; [Andrew] Sullivan’s experiment with The Dish has so startled traditional media that people are only beginning to understand how potent, powerful and perfect a model it might be – that is, when people pay something for content they value because they understand that everything costs something.
– Zachary Karabell in The Atlantic on The Kickstarter Economy How Technology Turns Us All into Bankers. Perhaps “backers” is a better term than “bankers” – the new transparency into the layers of businesses allows people to see and determine for themselves where the value lies, and put their money there.
For social impact organizations to scale in the same way entrepreneurial tech companies do, investors need to increase their tolerance for non-moral failure. They need to foster a culture of innovation and risk-taking. … Most importantly we have to stop pumping support into struggling ventures because we are afraid to see them fail and be prepared to back again those who have learned from their failures. Smart people are more willing to attempt disruptive change when they know their value will not be destroyed if it doesn’t pan out.
– Sir Ronald Cohen and William A. Sahlman in HBR blogs on the importance of building a tolerance for failure and risk-taking in social enterprise. Two related thoughts:
- The corollary piece of advice is to start small – venture capital has ample homerun cushion to pay for all those strike outs and singles. Small, iterative projects that succeed or fail advance learning in the organization and promote risk-taking without betting the store.
- Being willing to stop doing something marginal is far more difficult to do than walking away from an absolute failure. The former is an important skill to cultivate – smart people with high aspirations and a lack of tolerance for “just OK” in an area where “great” is well within reach.
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.
“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.
“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