I’ve been thinking this week about how information is managed and provided to us. I’ve been contemplating that any way of presenting information other than in the order in time that it was created must have the motive questioned. You know that there has to be a goal because an algorithm cannot be built without one. So, anything other than sorting by time has a goal. Goal and motive are synonymous in this context.
If you look at social media platforms, they very clearly manipulate the sequence that information is displayed to increase the time you will spend on their platforms. Engagement is what it is all about. So, the sequence of information you are being shown is focused on increasing engagement. Not making you happier. Not making you smarter. Not making you more informed. It is optimized to make you stay engaged.
We see this naturally in news websites. They present the information in a sequence designed for their objective, to keep you as a customer and provide the value they believe you are looking for. The editor is making this choice instead of an algorithm. This is interesting since a human doesn’t need a singular goal as an algorithm does. A human can sequence things for a more abstract objective.
This is why I feel comfortable trusting systems like email and feed readers. Both of these rely heavily on ordering by time. Their motive is pedestrian. Let me show you the things as they happened. Email gets a little fancy by sorting into multiple buckets like Inbox, Junk, Bulk. But in those buckets, it is still organized by time. This feels safe. I know I’m not being manipulated.
Anytime that you are looking at content in something other than time order, ask yourself what the goal of the system behind it is.
Don’t even get me started on YouTube’s recommended sidebar. 😱
If you are interested in stuff like this, check out Identifying Addictive Application Patterns.
I appreciated Lints writing this and I hope that many more share perspective like this.
On another occasion (in 2018), I was attending a Kauffman Fellows module in Palo Alto. A few classmates and I decided to rent an Airbnb a few minutes from the Kauffman venue. I flew in from Singapore that day and arrived late at our Airbnb. My classmates were out that evening, so I parked my suitcases outside and proceeded to enter the house. Within 5–6 minutes, a police car pulled up with the lights shining in my face. Knowing the reality of police brutality in the US, I immediately felt fear and anxiety. The police officers asked what I was doing here. It seems they received a disturbing call from one of the neighbors who saw a black man walking in the neighborhood. After I explained the situation and showed proof I rented the Airbnb and texted the hostess, they left.
Reading stories like this reminds me of reading many of the things coming out of the #MeToo movement. I read many of those and was shocked and disturbed that there were men out there doing the things described. It was a wake up call. This feels similar. There are folks calling the police in this situation? We need to raise the visibility so that we can change and improve.
Teams should do this. In fact, I’d like to see a pull request to the git mainline to change from
main. For years I debated how much language impacted technology culture around gender. I came to the conclusion is was bigger than I thought. Technology has “master-slave architecture”. That language cannot be neutral for black technologists. We have “whitelists”, always allow, and “blacklists”, never allow. Call it being language police if you wish, I think it is about creating a culture and environment that is supporting of all.
Listening: Based on a recommendation from Tammy I decided to listen to the Rabbit Hole podcast from the New York Times this week. I ended up listening to all eight episodes one-right-after-the-other. The role that YouTube plays in spreading disinformation is incredible. I highly recommend listening to the whole series. 🎧
Playing: Not playing myself, but watching Tyler play Animal Crossing: New Horizons and can’t figure out if it’s more like Zelda, Farmville, SimCity, or what? 🎮
Buying: Hammer Nutrition is the only brand of vitamins and supplements I will take. I’ve taken Premium Insurance Caps for years, and also take their REM Caps to help me sleep. I decided to try their Tissue Rejuvenator product this week and ordered a 120 day supply. I’ll be curious to see what affect it has.
Deleting: Ulysses and iA Writer from all my devices. I don’t use them enough, and have consolidated all of my writing in Drafts. They are great apps, but just didn’t work in my workflow as well. Plus, having too many places to write text tends to result in less writing and more messing around with apps.
Sunset on Cannon Lake.
Jun 12, 2020 at 8:42 PM
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I wasn’t aware of this celebration.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
I’ve seen many organizations publicly starting to recognize this day.
This article is speculative, but there certainly is some data to back up the case.
Professional investors have largely abandoned the stock market amid the coronavirus pandemic, but sports bettors and bored millennials have jumped into the retail stock trading market with both feet.
That could explain the rather crazy run up in the market amidst such a terrible economic outlook.
I’m on OmniFocus power user and custom perspectives is one of the reasons for that. This is a great overview sharing how Vitticci uses Custom Perspectives. I added his Radar perspective to my setup.
Episode 2 of what I hope continues for many episodes. This time Matthew McConaughey joines Emmanuel Acho. See episode 1 if you missed it.
I like PagerDuty’s nine stated actions that they are working on.
This seems like good news. It also doubles down on the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread, and to avoid anyone that is coughing.
The virus is primarily spread via respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes or if they touch a contaminated surface, scientists say.
Facial recognition tech is being adopted by law enforcement and governments when it’s quality is really barely at entertainment level. It’s shown to be loaded with bias. IBM isn’t a big player here, so them opting out is pretty easy, but it’s a good thing either way.
I found this data interesting. You could easily read this and think “Epidemiologists sure are a conservative group!”. Probably more accurate is “Huh, people that know a lot more than me seem to be much more cautious.”
This is the web that we had when the blogosphere was robust, and the Internet really had different voices and no monoculture platforms pushing big blue icons at us while they harvested our personal data. It hasn’t died. There is still a great world out there to take part in.
These are amazing images! 😲
I am the first to admit that this is one hard and messy problem. The challenge we face today is that technology’s supreme commanders fail to fight the real monkey on their back — how the modern internet works. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, or Google, the core principle of these companies is engagement and growth. More engagement means more growth, and that means more attention and thus more money.
Arms Dealers in a War of Rage.
This article paints a very bleak picture of the Third Precinct.
These and more substantiated incidents, detailed in court records and police reports, help explain a saying often used by fellow cops to describe the style of policing practiced in the Third: There’s the way that the Minneapolis Police Department does things, and then there’s the way they do it “in Threes.”
This is the precinct that was burned down in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing.
All of these rules will result in a significantly better presentation and experience for those consuming your information.
Nobody should believe any of this. I thought that Zuckerberg had decided to no longer do any “Apology Tours”. I suspect this is because of pressure from Facebook employees. But nobody should be fooled into believing that anything will happen here. Zuckerberg has only one thing in mind, Facebook revenue. He runs a company that is an arms broker in a war of rage. It helps them tremendously to fuel both sides of that rage and profit from all the time spent.
Thorough list of activities that us in Tech can take to help reduce impacts of racism in our communities and our teams.
Public pledges from Mayors to take action on police use of force policies seems like a good step in the right direction.
Why does Zuckerberg make the decisions he’s making?
Like the notorious architect Philip Johnson, Mark Zuckerberg is a social engineer. He knows what’s best for us. And he believes that what’s best for Facebook is best for us. In the long run, he believes, Facebook’s domination will redeem him by making our lives better. We just have to surrender and let it all work out.
Facebook is a net destroyer to our culture and society. I refuse to submit. My Internet has not had Facebook or any Facebook property on it for well over five years. It’s great out here. Delete your account. Take action.
Nine specific action items that companies and individuals in tech can take to work for racial equity.
Great article and interview with my colleague Dan Juckniess!
I recently shared a selfie from my office and a friend emailed me to ask what books I had on the book shelf behind me. I tend to keep multiple copies of a set of books in my office and I happily give them to anyone that wants a copy. The books that I keep in there change slowly over time, but this is what I’m stocking today and why. These are in no particular order.
Measure What Matters by John Doerr
This is a great introduction to OKR’s. Wether you adopt OKR’s formally or informally, it is worth reading to understand the mechanics and how various organizations have used this framework.
An Elegant Puzzle by Will Larson
This is a thorough and complete writeup of many topics related to managing and leading technology teams. Well written and useful information. As an added bonus, it’s an incredibly well designed and produced book.
Inspired by Marty Cagan
Insightful book that covers on the critical aspects of creating great products. Covers all of the aspects, not just building the software.
Getting Things Done by David Allen
I’ve been using the GTD method for over a decade and routinely recommend it to people as a way to manage not just their work, but their whole life.
Agile Software Development with Scrum by Schwaber and Beedle
I have probably bought over 100 copies of this book over the years. I still reference it for those that want to learn about Agile and Scrum. I don’t remember how I was introduced to this book, but I’m very thankful I read it early on.
The New Leaders 100 Day Action Plan by George B. Bradt, Jayme A. Check, John A. Lawler
This book was recommended to me by a friend when I joined SPS Commerce. It served as a great roadmap and absolutely helped me be more successful as I started as a new leader. I give this book to every Director and up that we hire!
Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle
The story of Bill Campbell who coached some of the biggest technology companies in the world. This book provides some great insight into the role of a coach in business. By reading it, I think you can be a better coach too.
Accelerate by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim
Great overview of how a modern technology organization should run and deliver value.
Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows
System thinking is one of the most critical things for growing and changing companies to keep in mind. As managers you are often designing systems that people and processes operate in and around. This is a good entry level discussion of the topic, and will make you a better designer of those systems.
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
I enjoyed this book for it’s approach to candid conversations in the workplace and how to approach them.
Leadership Pipeline by Stephen Drotter, Jim Noel, and Ram Charan
Good book on thinking about leadership development from entry level manager to functional leader and enterprise leader. I like how this book is structured and the critical questions it asks the reader to consider.
The Goal: A Business Graphic Novel based on The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt with Jeff Cox, adapted by Dwight Jon Zimmerman and Dean Motter
The Goal is a classic book, and the concepts in it are one that many technology leaders may not have front of mind. The graphic novel is a fun way to make it even more approachable.
The Change Monster by Jeanie Daniel Duck
This book is a simple way to think about organizational change, and how to lead your organizations through it. I found this book when I was doing a lot of mergers and it was helpful to think about the process and the emotions associated with it.
The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within by Edward R. Tufte
I share this with people who want more information on why I’m so suspect of bullet lists and “PowerPoint thinking.”
I was able to participate in one of the first run-throughs of our new Distribution Center Simulation! It was a fabulous experience that will help #TeamSPS contextualize the benefit our services have for our customers. Hats off to the team that made this vision a reality. I love how they made it all real by using real products and staging everything just like it would happen in a distribution center. They even had speakers with truck and forklift sounds! 🚚
Also, extremely impressive how they modified the process to allow us to do this in-person experience during the pandemic. 😷
Gorgeous blue sky in downtown Minneapolis today.
Today was my first day in the office in 85 days. It is very quiet! Devices updated, password changed, and other things that were easier to do on office network done.
We all watched The Secret Life of Bee’s tonight.
How cool to have a “print at home” edition of Ticket to Ride! Very cool idea for our PANDEMIC times!
Okay folks, why is everyone all of a sudden building Zettelkästen? I get that the name is cool, but this seems like a huge fad.
Good overview of some fundamental approaches to web site accessibility.
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There is a fly on your nose.
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The Weekly Thing highlights helpful, engaging, or insightful articles from the week. I am a voracious reader of technology, culture, leadership, privacy, and many other topics as my interests roam. Each item I share is framed with personal commentary combining my decades of experiences. My goal is to positively impact your journey with knowledge and insight.