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  • feedwordpress 01:38:55 on 2016/01/07 Permalink
    Tags: , Random, But Interesting, Web Design   

    Dear Microsoft. I Want To Use Office 365. But… 

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    The post Dear Microsoft. I Want To Use Office 365. But… appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    Here’s what I encountered when I, as a first time ever user, was directed to a document that lived in Office 365 World:
    Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 12.08.38 PM

    Holy crap, Microsoft! I just wanted to read the document a colleague at another (much larger, older, and traditional) company had sent me.

    When this happens with Google, well, most of us have a Google account, so the link would redirect to this:

     Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 12.12.47 PM

    Pretty easy, and even if you don’t have a Google account, you see this:

     create google

    Better, but still not great.

    So I wondered what it’s like at, say, DropBox.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 12.10.05 PM

    Ah, yes. That’s the ticket.

    Microsoft, you have a lot to learn about living on the web.

    The post Dear Microsoft. I Want To Use Office 365. But… appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

  • feedwordpress 21:24:25 on 2015/12/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , Kodak, , Random, But Interesting, Steven Overman   

    Can Business Get A Conscience? 

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    The post Can Business Get A Conscience? appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    Conscience Economy BookThis post is a book review, but it starts with a story from my past.

    Way, way back, before San Francisco begat hip startups with nonsensical names, I found myself on the second floor of a near-abandoned warehouse on South Park, now one of the priciest areas of SF, but then, one of the cheapest. I surveyed the place: well lit in the front, but a shithole in the back.  Detritus from years of shifting usage littered the ground – abandoned construction materials lurked in the poorly lit rear recesses, toward the front, where a wall of dusty industrial windows overlooked Second Street, a couch faced outward, and it was in this space I first met Louis Rossetto, founder of Wired and for all I could surmise, Willy Wonka’s twin brother from another mother.

    The floorspace around the couch was tidy and inviting, and soon Louis and I were joined by Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor – Yoda without the articulated ears. We bonded that day, and so began an extraordinary journey for me, all of 26 years old: A chance to work, play, and most importantly, engage deeply with all manners of extraordinary characters, all of whom were drawn by Wired’s early message of digital revolution.

    One of the most luminescent of these was Steven Overman, who joined Wired as Louis’ right hand. Steven brought a patina of order to our merry enterprise, but in those early days, as with so many of the band mates we called colleagues, I had no idea how fortunate we were to work with him.

    Steven is now the President of the Consumer and Film Division and CMO of Kodak, responsible for guiding a brand that once enjoyed near-infinite permissions on the difficult journey back to its birthright. Prior to Kodak, Steven held senior roles at Nokia, first during its remarkable ascendance, and then through its capitulation and ultimate defeat through combination with Microsoft. But in between, Steven’s also been a company creator – in the 20 or so years since we worked together, he’s launched multiple consulting, social impact, and services businesses – all focused on the core DNA that bound us together at Wired: The transformation of our world through a potent brew of business, technology, and culture.

    In 2014, Steven wrote a book that I now recommend to you all:  The Conscience Economy: How a Mass Movement for Good is Great for Business. That I initially missed the book’s publication, with its clear resonance with the work we’re doing at NewCo, is both a personal misgiving and a joyful revelation. That Louis wrote the foreword, in full and impossibly messianic voice, was pitch perfect – what a joy it was to once again hear his distinct tone, and then to experience Steven’s energy in the pages that followed.

    So yes, this “review” is flawed in its subjectivity, and if you’ve no patience for deep and abiding optimism, you best stop reading now. Because Steven hits the optimism pipe hard. He argues for nothing less than a global awakening to a more spiritual and conscious approach to business – a movement based on the arguably careworn idea of  “doing well by doing good.”

    This idea is not new – in fact, I’d argue the phrase has already run its initial course through business culture and been canonized – and therefore defanged – as “CSR” in Fortune 500 parlance. But Steven readily skewers mainstream approaches to “corporate social responsibility” as toothless bolt-ons to a dying business culture. CSR isn’t a sideshow, he argues, it’s the whole show. And I believe sweeping trends in society – many of which Steven details in his book – will prove him right.

    First and foremost is technology. Yes, cue the eye roll, but stay with me: As I’ve said for 15 years, technology is no longer a vertical industry, it’s a horizontal force enabling all manner of new value creation. Second is demographics: the two largest generations in our workforce are in legacy assessment phase: The purpose-driven, entrepreneurial millennials now dominate our economy, and the wealthy “joiners” we call Boomers are retiring, facing mortality, and wondering if they’ve left the world a better place.  Third is social geography: in three generations, two thirds of humanity has moved into cities, now the engines of our global culture and economy. And fourth – and most importantly – is the simple fact that all of humanity is now on a shot clock of our own creation: Climate change is the animating force uniting every person on this planet.

    These four forces are the heart of what I call the NewCo narrative, and they inform Steven’s book from start to finish. “The global wave of young entrepreneurship is an indicator not only of an increase in personal self-belief and empowerment,” he writes. “The once quaintly idealistic motivation to make a positive impact on the world has thrown off its unbleached, woven-hemp cloak of hippie self-righteousness.”

    Overman reminds us that it takes forty years for a Big Idea to move from the fringes to the mainstream, and argues that the core values of the Boomers in their youth are being embraced by their descendants, the millennials. Over those forty years, the rise of technology and the quickening of our global sustainability crisis have forged a new consciousness around how we do business. “An emergent global conscience is merely a practical prerogative for human continuity in a world facing the consequences of unchecked population growth and limited natural resources,” he writes. “We’ve reached a moment full of evidence from which we can’t turn away any longer.”

    If I have any criticism of the book, it’s that a fair portion of it offers advice to corporate executives interested in applying Overman’s ideas to practical, day to day work. While I understand the intent, it takes away from the work’s mainfesto-like qualities. Then again, I’m clearly not the core audience, and if you are laboring away in the marketing department of a large corporation, you’ll most likely find his suggestions and check lists quite useful.

    I’ll leave you with a few more quotes that I found particularly resonant, and encourage you all to read this book. It’s a keeper.

    “Businesses that engender a deeply felt sense of shared mission will be poised to attract and keep the most talented and committed employees.”

    ‘“Responsible” is patronizing and out of sync with the new culture. The next generation wasn’t introduced to environmentalism as a fringe movement; they grew up with it as a given.”

    “In this era, business innovation begins with a mission of social impact that’s as mission-critical to the enterprise as profit is today.”

    “Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is no longer invisible. It has revealed itself. The invisible hand is us, the connected citizens of the world, held out metaphorically and digitally—thumbs up, thumbs down. We like, or we don’t like, and we let everyone else know. We vote for the outcomes in which we most believe, not only with our voices but with our wallets.”

    The post Can Business Get A Conscience? appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

  • feedwordpress 05:47:36 on 2015/12/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , predictions 2015, Random, But Interesting,   

    Predictions 2015: How’d I Do? 

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    The post Predictions 2015: How’d I Do? appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    ea8e9ff77d5d1332ef85b4eded4b28953aa4f64bEach January for the past 13 years, I’ve been making predictions on this site. Twelve months later, I pull back and review how those predictions have fared. I’ve already got a running list of predictions for 2016, but in this post, I want to handicap how my prognostications for 2015 turned out.

    I made a total of 12 predictions in 2015, so I’ll run through each in turn.

    1. Uber will begin to consolidate its namesake position in the “The Uber-ization of everything” trend. 

    In essence, I predicted that Uber would launch delivery and logistics businesses in 2015. This wasn’t particularly insightful of me – the company had already launched two small pilots (UberEssentials and UberFresh)  in the Fall of 2014. But in January 2015, Uber killed UberEssentials, and for months, there was no expansion of either service. So was I wrong? Nope. In April 2015, Uber launched UberEats in four markets (since grown to a dozen), and this past October, Uber launched Uber Rush in three major US cities.  I think I got this one right.

    2. Related, Uber will be the center of a worldwide conversation about the impact of tech and business culture on the world. 

    Well, again I think I got this one right. And again, it was a pretty safe bet that the company would be the talk of tech and culture throughout 2015. A major proof, to my mind, was Rachel Whetstone’s decampment from head of Google comms to take a similar role at Uber this past May. For nearly a decade, Whetstone had successfully guided Google as it consolidated its position as the world’s most controversial and talked about tech brand (yes, yes, Facebook and Apple might compete for that honor, but we can argue that another time). But in 2015, Uber was the go to protagonist (and antagonist) of the tech conversation, from its incessant opportunistic fundraising to its starring role in critical economic, policy and cultural issues, I think it’s fair to say the company took pole position from Google, Facebook, and Apple in 2015.

    3. Google will face existential competition from Facebook due to Facebook’s Atlas offering.

    This prediction stemmed from my penchant for adtech geekery, and while I think it will prove long term true, I didn’t find a lot of proof that it came to fruition in 2015. Facebook made steady gains here, including the hiring of key Google adtech talent, but I think this one needs another year to prove true.

    4. The Apple Watch will be seen as a success.

    Well, you didn’t see this one coming did you? I’m usually an Apple naysayer (though I love the Mac), but I believed that the watch was a natural extension of the phone, and I still believe this to be the case. The results are decidedly mixed – Apple’s Tim Cook agrees with me, naturally. But plenty of others believe Apple’s foray into wearables was a disappointment. Apple doesn’t break out units shipped for its watches (a strong sign the company is itself disappointed), and estimates range from a low of single digit millions to a high of nearly 20 million. Given the paucity of data here, all I have is my gut, and my gut says, the Apple Watch was a push. Not a failure, not a success. Since I said it was going to be seen as a success, I think I whiffed this one.

    5. And Apple Pay will not.

    Long term, I think I’ll be proven wrong on this one, but in 2015, I think I got it right. This Fall, Bloomberg called Apple Pay “underwhelming,” and Cook’s prediction that 2015 would be “the year of Apple Pay” is widely seen as off the mark. However, I think 2016 will prove Cook directionally correct.

    6. But Beacons will re-emerge and take root.

    Ummm…my first reaction to this one is to cringe – beacons were not really top of mind for anyone in tech this past year. And try as I might, I couldn’t find proof otherwise. So, another whiff, at least for now.

    7. Google’s Nest will build or buy a scaled home automation service business.

    Well, no. Nest did launch a developer platform, which is related, but not the same. I still think this is a natural fit for Nest, but it didn’t happen in 2015. Whiff.

    8. A breakout healthcare startup will emerge in the consumer consciousness

    Well, does Theranos count? Because, well, I think it does. Not in the way I had expected, but still…give me half credit for this one.

    9. A breakout mobile startup will force us to rethink the mobile user interface.

    Oh man, we are so so so close here. Overall, my intent with this prediction was to say that in 2015, we’ll finally realize that it’s time to break out of the “apps and home screen” approach to mobile. And I really think that happened. Just so much great work happening here. There’s Google App Streaming, of course. And there’s Wrap. And this widely cited post from Intercom.io on the end of apps as we know them. And much, much more. But again, no one breakout mobile startup that acted as a forcing function. Alas. I’d say half credit here, right on the intent, wrong on the specifics.

    10. At least one hotly-anticipated IPO will fizzle, leading many to declare that the “tech correction” has begun.

    Ok, pretty much nailed this one.

    11. China will falter.

    My point here was that China could not keep growing the way it had been, nor would its endless cyber attacks on US and other corporate assets continue to go unnoticed. And in 2015, both were called on the carpet.

    12. Adtech comes back.

    My final prediction was that adtech would rebound by the end of 2015, after a terrible 2014. And while the public adtech stocks are still battered, I think I got this one right as well. Rubicon, seen as a bellwether in the category, is on an upward trajectory after hitting a low in September. AppNexus is once again looking to go public, and my sources with knowledge of the company say it’s doing quite well. And while I can’t delve into specifics, I’ve never been more bullish about sovrn Holdings, where I am Chair. The company completed an opportunistic financing round in 2015, and is positively killing it going into 2016. Overall, I think the world is going to figure out that adtech is about more than ads – it’s about creating an open, accessible processing and notification layer for the entire Internet. In 2015, adtech was definitely back.

    So overall, how’d I do? Well, by my count, I got seven right and two half right, and whiffed on three. Not a bad year, to be honest – 8 of 12, for an average of .750. That’s at the upper end of my predictions, which usually come in between .500 and .750. I guess I’ll try again in a week or so. Till then, thanks for reading in 2015. I plan on writing a lot more in 2016…here, at NewCo, and on Medium and LinkedIn as well.

    Have a great New Year, folks. See you in 2016.

    The post Predictions 2015: How’d I Do? appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

  • feedwordpress 01:13:04 on 2015/12/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , Random, But Interesting   

    Bring Back the Ozone Hole   

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    The post Bring Back the Ozone Hole   appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.


    Way back in 1985 an unlikely coalition of world governments, business, and enlightened citizens did something extraordinary: Responding to the findings of leading scientists, they united in decisive action to address a looming and existential global climate threat.

    That threat was a dangerous thinning of the Earth’s ozone layer due to society’s use of man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Ozone, it turns out, protects the Earth’s surface from dangerous UVB radiation — which causes skin cancer, cataracts, and all manner of unpleasant ecological chaos.

    Invented in the 1920s to power chemical processes that enabled refrigeration and aerosol spray cans, CFCs rapidly accumulated in the Earth’s atmosphere. By 1985, CFCs had effectively blown a massive “ozone hole” over Antarctica. A single scientific paper noted the threat, and subsequent press pickup engendered a “hot crisis” — the public perceived a clear and present danger, and as a result, we demanded a cohesive government response.

    The narrative was easy to understand: Ozone protects us from cancer-causing UVB rays, CFCs deplete ozone, so unless we eliminate CFCs, we’re all going to fry.

    I was in college in 1985, and I remember how common the ozone hole meme had become. My mother used to call and remind me to wear sunscreen, citing “the hole in the atmosphere” created by narcissists addicted to hair spray. I even remember telling my friends to stop staring into open refrigerators, because taxing the machinery that kept our food cold meant releasing more CFCs in the air. CFCs became an international boogie man, and within two years, world governments had banned them. And instead of denying the existence of the threat, industry found alternatives to CFCs. As of this year — 30 years after the public’s initial awareness of the threat — the ozone hole has effectively closed.

    Which of course begs the question: Why can’t we run the same play against our current climate change crisis?

    Remember the Ozone Hole? Oh, right, you probably weren’t born yet…

    We can’t because for most of us, climate change isn’t personal. We don’t walk outside, feel the warmth of the sun on our skin, and then wonder “Wait…is this going to kill me?”

    Climate change lacks a clear villain. Instead, we’re all rather like the frog in the boiling pot — it seems things are getting a bit warmer, but no matter, we’ve got our lives to get on with. We look at photos of smog in China or melting glaciers in faraway places, and we think — yeah, we should probably do something about that.

    No galvanizing metaphor elicits public outrage. If scientists had proof that climate change was ripping a cancer-causing hole in our atmosphere, I’d wager we’d be well past debating with climate deniers. But absent that, responding to climate change requires enlightened, long term thinking. And most of us kind of suck at that.

    I never thought I’d say it, but I kind of miss the ozone hole.

    (cross posted to Medium)

    The post Bring Back the Ozone Hole   appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

  • feedwordpress 02:52:12 on 2015/10/01 Permalink
    Tags: email, faux pas, , Random, But Interesting   

    Do It Right. Not Fast. Right. 

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    The post Do It Right. Not Fast. Right. appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.


    (Cross posted to LI and Medium. Cuz that’s how we roll these days)

    If you’ve never blown it big time using email — you will.

    I have several times — in fact, I just did it earlier this evening. And gaaaah!, I wish technology had an answer for the clear and present danger that is myself, rushing through an afternoon, trying to GSD and hit inbox zero. Then again, life does have an answer: SLOW. THE F*CK. DOWN.

    Allow me to explain. Earlier today I got an email newsletter from an organization that is doing a NewCo session next week. I noticed that while the newsletter was promoting all manner of things, it didn’t mention its own NewCo session — even though the contents of the newsletter were all about upcoming events and other goings on that might be of interest to the intended audience.

    A bit miffed, I forwarded said newsletter to my team, asking in rather frank terms why our partner wasn’t promoting its own session in its main communications outlet. A typically frank back and forth ensued, ending with my decision to forward the offending newsletter to folks I knew at the organization, with a polite top note enquiring if they might include mention of their session in a subsequent missive.

    If you’ve made the same mistake as me, you know what happened next.

    Yep, I forwarded the email with all of the frank back and forth between my team included.

    Holy f*ckin’ mother of christ I am such a huge assh*le. That was my first response. Second response? “Wait, isn’t there a way to unsend this?” Third response. “Oh sh*t, I have to change settings and it only works within 30 seconds and sh*t it’s already been longer than that.” Fourth response? A servile, lame-ass apology to the (most likely forever offended) parties involved.

    Fifth response? Write this post. Reminding all of us to- slow down. The goal is not to get shit done. The goal is to get it done right.

    The post Do It Right. Not Fast. Right. appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

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