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  • feedwordpress 16:24:01 on 2020/03/25 Permalink
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    Will The Coronavirus Save Big Tech? 


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    Who’s Really Behind That “Death of the Techlash” Narrative?

     

    One of my least favorite kinds of journalism is the easy win. It’s the kind of story that just lands in your lap. It feels immediately counter intuitive and of the moment, and  it simply writes itself. It’s the kind of editorial sin most often committed by columnists facing immutable deadlines, and a perfect example can be found in the Wall St. Journal last week. “OK, Fine, Let’s All Get Back on Facebook,” the headline read. The subhead explains further: “All it took was a pandemic to make Facebook’s privacy-challenged products seem highly appealing.”

    Couched as a review of Facebook products helpful in our current era of social distancing and mandated work from home, the column may well stand as a turning point in what was once knows as the “techlash.” Has the coronavirus pandemic earned the world’s most powerful purveyors of surveillance capitalism a collective pass from the press?

    It certainly seems that way. A rash of articles over the past few days have picked up this narrative – and the comms teams at Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon would be fired for malpractice for not stoking it. A good crisis must not be wasted, after all.

    But as the Journal columnist noted later in her piece, the reasons underlying society’s broad misgivings around Big Tech remain. With that prophylactic caveat duly administered, the columnist then profiled her own usage of Facebook’s services- and declared them a trend. Before COVID, the company’s many privacy missteps had led her to back away. But now that everyone she knew was stuck inside, she found herself once again checking her feeds, monitoring her neighborhood Facebook groups, and even pointing a Portal camera at her son.

    This narrative isn’t making it into the press without a bit of help. Facebook’s been quite public about the fact that people just like our columnist are in fact flocking to its products. “Facebook Is ‘Just Trying to Keep the Lights On’ as Traffic Soars in Pandemic” crows a recent Times piece. That headline quote comes from Facebook’s famously media-trained CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who hasn’t exactly made a practice of calling the press and offering offhand observations these past few years.

    It’s always instructive to note when the company actively participates in stories, and when it declines comment. Lately, there’s been plenty of open lines of communication. The Times further wonders if “Big Tech Could Emerge From Coronavirus Crisis Stronger Than Ever.” And somehow (I can’t imagine how), an “internal report” from Facebook made its way into yet another Times reporter’s hands, leading to this chef kiss of a headline: ‘The Coronavirus Revives Facebook as a News Powerhouse.” Over at Wired, Facebook author Steven Levy asks “Has the Coronavirus Killed the Techlash?” He explains: “Facebook has gotten rare kudos for its responses to the pandemic, and perhaps even more significantly, more people are using it for the kinds of meaningful interactions that Zuckerberg has been promoting for a long time. Could this be a turning point?”

    Well, yes, but I certainly hope it’s not the kind implied by present day reporting. Again, the issues our industry struggled with Before Covid won’t disappear After Covid simply because the public is thankful for services (and business models) to which we’ve already become addicted. Perhaps instead, this pandemic could offer more of a step-change opportunity, one that might just offer us new approaches to connecting to others, buying shit we need (and don’t), and staying informed. I can see those new habits already starting to form, and I certainly hope they won’t be limited to Instagram dance parties. More on those in future posts, I hope. For now, back to work.

     
  • feedwordpress 14:49:03 on 2020/03/13 Permalink
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    This Too Shall Pass 


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    In my younger years, I found myself working at a digital agency during the height of the dotcom bubble burst. This was the early 2000s.

    We closed offices, let people go and grappled with the fact that the economy we helped build in code seemed to crumble before our very eyes. It was humbling, to say the least. During these same years, we also endured 9/11 and on a personal front, we had just brought two new lives into this world—a world in transition and turmoil. The uncertainty was palpable.

    I can remember thinking to myself that I might have to move back home with my parents if things got really bad and if I lost my ability to provide. We were a single income family facing uncertain times in an even more uncertain world.

    Today, things are feeling uncertain once again. Markets are in flux, oil prices are plummeting, and of course, a virus triggering fear and impacting economies...

    But wait. We’ve been here before.

    Maybe not exactly. Every time it’s a little different. But this isn’t the first time. We’ve been through much together. And we’re more resilient than we give ourselves credit for.

    This too shall pass...

     
  • feedwordpress 16:30:03 on 2020/03/09 Permalink
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    Investing In The Future Is Investing In Yourself 


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    Recently, I spent an hour with a colleague who is just starting out in his career and wanted to learn more about what I do, how I do it and how he can apply that knowledge to his exploration of a career path.

    If you have the opportunity to have conversations like these—you should take them. First, because if your professional life has been good to you (and mine has) you have an obligation to pay it forward, especially to those who will build the future.

    Secondly, it's not just an investment in someone else's future but it's also an investment in yourself. When you are faced with the energy, passion, and curiosity of someone just starting out, it's a great inspiration and a reminder of why you do what you do.

    In a world where win-wins are becoming less frequent, this is one. So make time for that person just starting out and don't be surprised if you both leave the meeting better than when you started it.

    The investment is mutual.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:11:12 on 2020/03/06 Permalink  

    The Gift of Saying No 


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    Beads

    If I’m really being honest with myself, one of my greatest opportunities for career development is that I say yes too much.

    It is, in fact, possible to say yes too much.

    I’ve gotten much better at selectively saying no over the years, but I still have to work at it. There are many good reasons why we say yes too much:

    -We want to be helpful
    -We want to be both valued and valuable
    -We want to come through for someone who’s asking for assistance

    All good reasons.

    But there are good reasons to say no too. They can be things like:

    -Keeping the quality of your work high
    -Maintaining a healthy work/life balance
    -Not spreading yourself too thin

    Saying no to the right thing at the right time can be a gift to yourself and others as well because you’ll be ensuring that what you’re really great at stays that way.

    Because that’s why you’re being asked in the first place.

     
  • feedwordpress 15:16:28 on 2020/03/02 Permalink
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    True Leaders Are Forged In Fire 


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    I’ve had some success and some failures in leadership.

    Leadership opportunities come in many forms—from formal to informal. I’ve done both kinds and probably more of the latter.

    I’ve also seen other leaders in action. Some great ones. Others less so. The great ones have something in common—they really step up when things are at their worst. This is a sign of true leadership. Actually it’s a great test to see who’s manager material vs. the stuff of leadership.

    Some of the best managers know how to fly under the radar when times are tough. And I don’t blame them for it at all—leadership is meant for the few and even fewer excel at it.

    It’s fun to watch leaders work when they are at ease but it’s educational to watch the really good ones go to work when they are under duress. They take it all on. The challenges, the responsibilities. The fire.

    True leaders are forged in it.

     
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