The Dark Side of Technology

January 25th, 2014

The Dark Side of Technology:

I’m going to disrupt the Silicon Valley script. You know the one.  Every talk or article coming out of Silicon Valley follows the prescribed template: start with a dazzling description of awesome new digital technologies and then proceed to explore all the wonderful benefits and opportunities that these technologies will bring to us.

I’m going to do something different.  I want to explore the dark side of these technologies.  The side that very few tech evangelists want to acknowledge, much less talk about.

What do I mean? It’s the fact that all of these amazing digital technologies are coming together to create a world of mounting performance pressure for all of us, one where the performance pressure will continue to grow and expand on a global basis for the foreseeable future, rather than plateau and recede. Let me repeat: this pressure is not going away. Far from it. It will continue to intensify. If we make the mistake of standing still, we will fall farther and farther behind.


Put it all together and it spells out a growing challenge. How do we keep up? How do we learn faster? How do we prepare ourselves for the cascades of unexpected events coming our way? How do we avoid mounting anxiety and the looming risk of marginalization and burn-out?

What Is To Be Done? (Part 1):

My last post on The Dark Side of Technology definitely seems to have hit a responsive chord. Many of us see evidence of this dark side of technology every day in the world around us. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What Is To Be Done? (Part 2):

In my post last week, I made the case that we’ll only be able to overcome the dark side of technology by re-integrating passion and profession. But this is only the first step. If this is all we do, we’ll be doomed to lives of frustration and discontent. Here’s the problem.

What Is To Be Done (Part 3):

It’s fitting that we reach this third installment of my “What Is To Be Done?” series on Martin Luther King day.  He’s an icon of the power of narrative and its role in building movements that can fundamentally change how we live and work.

Something to think about over the weekend (or longer).

Very thoughtful Interview with John Hagel, done by Stowe Boyd. This is my favorite quote:

[About innovation] The design of the workplace, the information have been configured around the process as the center of the action. Our view is the only place to start — having being involved in organizational change for thirty years now, with many large companies — is at the edge of the business. The temptation when you have organizational change is that you need to confront the core of the business and change the core. The issue with that is fraught with risks, because the antibodies in the core are extraordinarily powerful, and crush any attempt to change the core. So there have been all kinds of permutations that have been developed, like skunk works on the edge,  innovation labs on the edge of companies. But the intent typically has been to build that up to a point and then pull that into the core. In my experience the core crushes even well-articulated edge initiatives. Rather than pulling the edge back into the core the alternative approach is what we called scaling edges. That is, if you can find an edge that has the potential to scale extremely rapidly — and given the world we live in scaling happens much more rapidly than ever before — you can actually pull more and more of the core out to the edge, to the point where the new edge over time becomes the core of the business. In our viewpoint thats a much promising approach to change than the original approaches of trying to transform the core.

I read that a few days ago, and have been preaching it to everybody since…

Not everybody knows How to Tell a Story with Data:

So how does a visual designer tell a story with a visualization? The analysis has to find the story that the data supports. Traditional journalism does this all the time, and journalists have become very good at storytelling with visualization via infographics. In that vein, here are some journalistic strategies on telling a good story that apply to data visualizations as well.

Stephen Wolfram is one of them, after a year of collecting Facebook users’ data. Data Science of the Facebook World:

More than a million people have now used our Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics for Facebook. And as part of our latest update, in addition to collecting some anonymized statistics, we launched a Data Donor program that allows people to contribute detailed data to us for research purposes.

Well done, and interesting read.

This is why we need strong data protection globally, not just in CH and EU. Washington State Allows Third Parties To Brand Youthful Offenders For Life At The Low, Low Price Of Only 69¢ A Record.

Your tweets are always on: Adam Orth leaving Microsoft proves personal twitter accounts are dead:

Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth caused quite a bit of controversy when he defended the idea of consoles that require an always-on Internet connection to function. [...] Remember that Twitter isn’t a private conversation with friends who follow you; other people will assume that each tweet is more or less a press release, and the media is more than happy to provide you with a megaphone for your messages, even if you didn’t ask for one. The personal Twitter account is a concept that has been dead for some time, and reports of Orth leaving Microsoft are yet more proof. Proceed with caution.

So much for work life balance ;-)

How Dave Goldberg of SurveyMonkey Built a Billion-Dollar Business and Still Gets Home By 5:30 PM:

Meetings. Who Needs ‘Em? Partly in reaction to his experience at Yahoo!, Goldberg only attends “two and a half” regular scheduled meetings every week. Goldberg said, “I’m probably more anti-meeting than most people in my job. It’s just in my nature.

Talking about corporate culture and setting priorities.

The Most Common Leadership Model – And Why It’s Broken:

When organizations’ hire, develop, and promote leaders using a competency-based model, they’re unwittingly incubating failure. Nothing fractures corporate culture faster, and eviscerates talent development efforts more rapidly, than rewarding the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Don’t reward technical competency – reward aggregate contribution.

Another inspirational objective for managers.

Role of Positivity in Risk Managerment Communication:

What is the cause of the stormy relationship [between Risk and Business]? Criticism and negative feedback! No one likes it, so why blame the business managers. What if risk managers change the approach? With the criticism they give a lot of positive reinforcement? Will the behavior of business managers change?

Sonia Jaspal cites a study that confirms – yes it will. Fascinating.

Two-Step Verification Will End Consensual Impersonation:

IT security pros are typically delighted to do away with employees’ option for consensual impersonation, and indeed, privileged identity management systems work really hard to make it impossible for those with superuser powers to do. But I suspect the consumer world isn’t quite ready for widespread two-step verification that cuts off this option.

I don’t know if that’s really so much a use case? Then again, I’m just one of these corporate IT security obsessed guys…

Via Two-factor authentication in two years.

What Is: Product Management

April 8th, 2013

What Is: Product Management:

In 140 characters or less, what is Product Management? Building. Communicating. Helping. Simplifying. Collaborating. (Sometimes) Crying. Leading.

Nice little article on Product Management. And more about PM in this portrait of Twitter’s Jason Goldman – The Silent Partner:

Jason Goldman helped build Google and Twitter into what they are today — but few outside of tech’s inner circle know his name. On shunning the spotlight in a star-obsessed industry.

It’s all about Product.