Mic drop…

April 15th, 2015

Ben Hammersley:

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Everything you need to know about strategy speak in one handy table

April 12th, 2015

Wardley's Scale of Corporate Desperation:

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Expertise is a two-edged sword

March 30th, 2014

You're The Expert, Can You Or Can You Not Do This?

A very productive meeting indeed, I think you'll agree.1

[Via The Tao of Mac]

  1. I mean, the expert neither garrotted his bosses nor took his own life with a sharpened paperclip. And his reward for such exemplary behaviour is to get to do this all again. And again. And again…

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'You make it seem as if the capitalists would entirely remove all human labor from their businesses in deference to robots, if they could. This would constitute an egregious disregard for the communal good, and so I'm afraid it's impossible to imagine proprietors acting in this horrible way!'

March 16th, 2014

A Preliminary Phenomenology of the Self-Checkout is long, but totally worth it:

III. The Ghost in the Machine

[…]

You have bought a greeting card, you indicate. Why, then, can't I feel its heft in my bagging area? Is it because of the appalling taste you have? I will not abet this item. I will never detect it, for you are unscrupulous and depraved. This disingenuous gesture will not cause your niece on the occasion of her birthday ("Time to celebrate!") to feel any particular tenderness. Welcome to the new phase in human history that my presence has inaugurated: soon, greeting cards will no longer be available for purchase. So, too: yarn, cotton balls, postcards, feathers, stickers, and some seasoning packets. In their stead, you might dare enjoy communing with your fellow man.

Also features a man who pays a terrible price for trying to game the Machine for the sake of saving money on half a dozen lemons, and Karl Marx chatting with John Locke1 about the price of lemons (among other things.)

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. No, not the character from Lost.

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Much as your mind is screaming, 'Go for it!' it is definitely not okay to have a strategy session with Chloë.

February 4th, 2014

From McSweeney's: Son, It's Time We Talk About Where Start-Ups Come From.

[…] I realize it's awkward, discussing these adult matters with your father, but have your buddies asked you to join a start-up? Be honest – Dad knows the HTML. Seriously, have you already started a start-up in the attic? I see you moved the family computer up there.

I want you to know I love you, even if you've experimented with JavaScript or started wooing venture capitalists. I'm just worried. […]

[Via Pop Loser]

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Data mining as a security measure?

January 5th, 2014

Los Angeles Times reporter David Lazarus, prompted by a tip-off from a reader, tried registering with a UPS service that offered more control over parcel delivery schedules and found that UPS already knew quite a bit about him and his family:

In my case, UPS wanted me to name the city I'd formerly lived in. San Francisco, where I resided before moving back to Los Angeles, was on the list.

The next one was a trick question. It asked me to name the street I'd once lived on or "none of the above." The answer was "none of the above."

The third question asked me to name the city I'd never lived in. The list included three Connecticut cities I'd never visited and the one where I was born. Since you could pick only one answer, I picked "all of the above."

The UPS site then said it would need more information to verify my identity and asked for my birth date. Maybe this was just a glitch. Or maybe it was a sneaky way to get me to cough up this most important of data points.

I provided my birth date and was presented with a trio of much more specific questions. The first asked the month that my wife was born, and it included both the correct month and her full name.

The second one again identified San Francisco as my former home. The third question included the street in San Francisco that I lived on.

Like Miller, I was completely creeped out.

I'm not sure what's creepier about this: the notion that data mining lets companies know this much about potential customers, or the idea that they might have gathered incorrect information and there's no practical way for me to correct it because I don't know where they got it from.

[Via RISKS Digest Vol. 27, Iss. 65]

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26. Anything longer than a tweet is 'tl;dr'.

October 30th, 2013

Tom Morris updates a classic:

It has now been fourteen years since the Cluetrain Manifesto. I have updated it to reflect contemporary reality and society.

  1. Markets are conversations in much the same way as the school bully picking on the disabled queer kid is friendship.
  2. Markets consist of human beings. Smelly, horrible human beings who we want to fuck over.
  3. Conversations among human beings sound human. Conversations with social media marketers sound like people attempting to sound human.
  4. One of the problems with the market is that people make stupid decisions based on a lack of information. This is not like Twitter at all.
  5. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. But NSA wiretapping subverts hyperlinks, so we've got that covered.

[…]

[Via The Null Device]

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If you were waiting for someone to lean in for child care legislation, keep holding your breath.

September 25th, 2013

Susan Faludi in The Baffler, on Leaning In:

The scene at the [Lean In event addressed by Sheryl Sandberg at the] Menlo Park auditorium, and its conflation of "believe in yourself" faith and material rewards, will be familiar to anyone who's ever spent a Sunday inside a prosperity-gospel megachurch or watched Reverend Ike's vintage "You Deserve the Best!" sermon on YouTube. But why is that same message now ascendant among the American feminists of the new millennium?

Sandberg's admirers would say that Lean In is using free-market beliefs to advance the cause of women's equality. Her detractors would say (and have) that her organization is using the desire for women's equality to advance the cause of the free market. And they would both be right. In embodying that contradiction, Sheryl Sandberg would not be alone and isn't so new. For the last two centuries, feminism, like evangelicalism, has been in a dance with capitalism.

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Why The Sharing Economy Isn't

August 31st, 2013

Tom Slee is unimpressed by an attempt to hijack the 'sharing economy' for the benefit of venture capitalists:

So a couple of months ago Douglas Atkin, head of Community and E-staff Member at AirBnB, took to the stage of the Le Web conference in London (video) to announce the formation of Peers: "a grassroots organization that supports the sharing economy movement." I like grassroots organizations and I like the co-operative impulse, but this… Well here is his speech (in quotation marks) in its entirety with comments from yours truly.

[…]

Now why should you do this? Well it's the right thing to do. We literally stand on the brink of a new, better kind of economic system, that delivers social as well as economic benefits. In fact, social and economic benefits that the old economy promised but failed to deliver. As Julia, an AirBnB host, told me just last night, "the sharing economy saved my arse".

The sharing economy is not an alternative to capitalism, it's the ultimate end point of capitalism in which we are all reduced to temporary labourers and expected to smile about it because we are interested in the experience not the money. Jobs become "extra money" just like women's jobs used to be "extra money", and like those jobs they don't come with things like insurance protection, job security, benefits – none of that old economy stuff. But hey, you're not an employee, you're a micro-entrepreneur. And you're not doing it for the money, you're doing it for the experience. We just assume you're making a living some other way.

[…]

Well worth reading in full.

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'… if you had said something like that to Steve Jobs, he would have taken your head off with a dull knife.'

July 11th, 2013

Former Palm and Apple executive Michael Mace has written a perceptive exploration of the question of Why Google Does the Things it Does:

"What does Google want?"

A favorite pastime among people who watch the tech industry is trying to figure out why Google does things. The […] topic also comes up regularly in conversations with my Silicon Valley friends.

It's a puzzle because Google doesn't seem to respond to the rules and logic used by the rest of the business world. It passes up what look like obvious opportunities, invests heavily in things that look like black holes, and proudly announces product cancellations that the rest of us would view as an embarrassment. […]

But in Google's case, I think its actions do make sense – even the deeply weird stuff like the purchase of Motorola. The issue, I believe, is that Google follows a different set of rules than most other companies. Apple uses "Think Different" as its slogan, but in many ways Google is the company that truly thinks differently. It's not just marching to a different drummer; sometimes I think it hears an entirely different orchestra. […]

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