Betrayal of Users. Market forces just don’t work.

Chuckle. I deleted WHISPER because it was vapid beyond all belief, and not particularly interesting. It turns out that the stuff people say if they’re anonymous is droll, predictable, and mainly drivel. Except … it turns out that Whisper was tracking people after all, even the people who had asked not to be tracked. I think this is hilarious! To those who think “the market’ will eventually take care of our privacy, this is yet another example of … NOT!

Read the Guardian article about the little violation of user privacy Whisper engaged in:

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/oct/23/10-questions-whisper-senate-hearing-privacy

Many of my friends believe there’s this invisible thing called “the market” that will magically provide us what we need to be safe as a society. I just don’t buy it. “The market” encourages all businesses to exploit every possible opportunity for profit, including those that are ethically gray or downright evil, as long as they’re legal. Whisper, it seems, is no exception.

Posted in Business, politics | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Laziness Expands to the Maximum

Are you lazy? How lazy? I think technology is giving us opportunities to take laziness to an entirely new level!

I remember life before the Internet took over. Many things have changed. Now we can buy stuff online. We can watch movies and TV shows on our computer instead of our TV, when we want them. And we cam get access to an incredible wealth of the world’s information by simply visiting a search engine like DuckDuckGo.com and typing a few keywords. We can store infinite photos in our iPhones. We can use templates to quickly create presentations and reports. All that automation should be freeing us up to get smarter than ever. But that isn’t my experience.

Our brains take shortcuts. For example, it’s hard to know if someone is competent. So research shows that we interpret confidence as competence. Our brain substitute the easy decision for the hard decision. We aren’t even aware of this consciously, however. That’s why certain professions wear suits—to give clients the knee-jerk impression of competence, even if none exists.

In the last two days, I’ve had a few younger people demonstrate a remarkable laziness factor. Whereas someone in my generation wouldn’t look something up because it involved going to a library or calling a reference librarian on the phone, these younger people tell me they did a web search and couldn’t find the information they need. So they stopped trying. Without an answer delivered up instantly, even in the age of the Web, kids who have never known anything else get stopped in their tracks the instant their preferred method requires extra effort.

Of course, if it’s happening to them, it’s probably happening to me, too. Where once I wouldn’t have minded picking up the phone and calling someone to arrange a meeting, now it’s just easier—and lazier—to send them a million emails, even though objectively, it’s far less efficient. That’s because my new standard is twitching a finger and clicking a mouse button. By comparison, lifting a phone to my ear is a huge amount of work.

Be on the lookout! In the long run, our in-the-moment laziness may seriously hamper our ability to get big-stuff-done. Our brains are substituting the question “is this easy to do right this instant?” for the question “will this make reaching my overall goal any easier?” And it’s the latter question–the one our brain skimps on–that is most important. It’s the one that will help you reach you goals.

Posted in Productivity, Psychology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Engage People at Work with a Simple Framework

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If people in your team or at your company are just going through the motions, get them engaged. This podcast presents a simple framework for helping people re-engage with their jobs at work.

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Brainpower boosters? Not so fast…

Happy BrainBeing in the self-help space to some degree, I see an awful lot of products designed to “boost your brainpower.” This is an interesting value proposition, but it’s incomplete. You need to ask: how will you use the boosted brainpower? What will you expect it to do that your current brainpower isn’t doing?

This is an extremely important question. In my experience, brainpower is NOT what holds people back. What holds people back is not brainpower, it’s how the brainpower they have is organized. Brainpower is secondary to the ability to take action, align actions in mutually reinforcing ways towards a goal, and use feedback from the world to make mid-course corrections.

For example, if your primary attitude towards life and the world is a “victim mindset,” do you really want to boots your brainpower? You’ll be that much more effective at finding ways to explain why you’re a victim and not in control of your own life.

Boosting brainpower without making sure you’re using it for something worthwhile is like putting in a high-horsepower engine without making sure your car is pointed in the direction you want to go. What determines where you end up is the direction of the car. The horsepower only affects how fast you’ll get there.

FIRST choose a worthwhile direction.
THEN boost your brainpower.

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Social Media and “The Good Life”

I just spent a week camping at a festival. We were in a far away place, with no power outlets and only spotty cell phone coverage. It seemed best to put my iPhone away and spend the entire time disconnected.

Logging into Facebook, checking my email, and returning to the online world, it’s once again glaringly obvious how little it seems to add to my life. The quiet and serenity was lacking in reaction-driven seratonin hits, but it was wonderful for just enjoying being in the here-and-now.

Try disconnecting for a while. It’s really fun!

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