Is ‘Empathy’ Really What the Nation Needs?

What social networks like Facebook really offer is empathy in the aggregate — an illusion of having captured the mood of entire families and friend networks from a safe, neutral distance. Then they turn around and offer advertisers a read on more than a billion users at once. Buzz Andersen — a tech veteran who has worked for Apple, Tumblr and Square — told me that in Silicon Valley, “empathy is basically a more altruistic-sounding way of saying ‘market research.’ ”

(Via Amanda Hess on the New York Times.)

Stay Angry

Our actions or inaction help determine the direction the world takes. If we quickly accept a new normalized state of being in order to avoid the discomfort of being frustrated or angry, we put ourselves in a dangerous position of inaction. If you let your mind say that everything will be okay, tune out, and coast back to a relaxed state of mind, no change is ever going to come of the world.

(Via Quartz)

Social Media Loves Echo Chambers

Quattrociocchi has published a series of papers (awaiting peer-review) that analyze the rigidity of “echo chambers.” His findings suggest that people, not social networks, have been their driving force. We commonly sort ourselves into rigidly like-minded groups—and stay there.

(Via Quartz)

Break Rules and Be Yourself

A third reason for the prevalence of conformity is that we tend to prioritize information that supports our existing beliefs and to ignore information that challenges them, so we overlook things that could spur positive change. Complicating matters, we also tend to view unexpected or unpleasant information as a threat and to shun it — a phenomenon psychologists call motivated skepticism.

(via hbr.org)

Expose the Vampires

It is difficult to measure the internal cost of energy lost to process because no one measures the energy of organizations. No one can really quantify the costs energy-sucking people and tasks exact from your people. Instead, you see the costs indirectly: In the defection of your stars, in the recruits you didn’t land, and in the direct advice and feedback you’re not getting because the truth-tellers are reporting to energy vampires.

(Via hbr.org)

Nesting and Networking

Three years ago at the Heathrow airport, the handle on my roller bag snapped, and my luggage leaped to its death on a series of stairs. Trauma is a good source of writing inspiration as evidenced by the subsequent article that documents my obsessive-compulsive travel habits.

One other habit I neglected to document was that whenever I arrive in a new hotel room, I follow the same pattern. I examine the room and assess the view, the bed, storage, and the bathroom. I sigh when there is no bathtub; I do a little dance when the minibar has Pringles. After an assessment, I immediately unpack. No matter the degree of jet lag, I unpack.

Nesting describes this compulsion. As an introvert who is deeply concerned with the precise location of all my stuff, the process of unpacking gently places me in my temporary home.

Unpacked? Good. Not done, yet.

Next up, I assess the network. Once I jump through whatever login hoops the hotel has presented me, I run Speed Test to assess both ping, download, and upload speed. This quick test gives me a high-level assessment of my potential network comfort while in my temporary nest. Worldwide, wireless networking and networking has vastly improved over the last five years. Not only do I now expect download speeds of 10+ megabits per second (Mbps), it’s usually much faster.

In the infrequent case that something smells off in the network, I perform a deeper triage. My old lame move here used to fire up terminal and type “ping cnn.com.” The new hotness is MTR. Written in 1997, MTR combines the functions of traceroute and ping and “probes routers on the route path by limiting the number of hops individual packets may traverse, and listening to responses of their expiry.”

It looks like this:


What you see in the image is both the route to Yahoo and all the results of pings to all of the routers on that path. O

Most often, Speed Test tells me what I need to know about my network, but when something is off either in my temporary or permanent nest, MTR gives me a clearer picture of my network situation.

You can install MTR via brew. Once installed, here’s a handy bash alias to fire up MTR with minimal terminal fuss:

alias netwtf='sudo /usr/local/Cellar/mtr/0.86/sbin/mtr -n'

Managing Humans, Third Time’s a Charm

I’ll have more to say about this topic later this week1, but the third edition of Managing Humans is out there. I updated the now rather silly site which first promoted the first edition of the book. Briefly:

  • There are eight new chapters. It’s now 331 pages.
  • Two chapters are no longer present. #rip_crap_writing
  • The most fun I had was editing the glossary.

You can buy them in a variety of formats right here.

  1. I’m thinking a San Francisco-based book launch party? Are you in? 

More Managing Humans

Last week, I signed off on the final proofs for the third edition of Managing Humans. I’ll have more to write when I’m holding the atoms in my hands, but briefly:

  • The 2nd edition had 44 chapters, this has 52.
  • Two chapters removed. 10 added. Those two removals were easy because they were simply awful.
  • By far, the most fun is editing the glossary because each time it’s a slightly revised lens into high tech. The first edition didn’t even have Apple. Why? Because I worked there.
  • Yes, there will be digital editions, but it’s more fun to hold a printed book in your hands.

I’m pleased chapters of the book that are holding the test of time and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you in a few weeks.


Turn on 2FA before it’s too late

Two-factor authentication (“2FA”) is intended as another layer of security to your online accounts, so if your password is hacked, your account can’t be accessed without a special code. While I clearly understand the value, I’ve been lazy about enabling on various services since… it’s a hassle. I’ve only enabled it when I’ve been required by an external force. This reactive strategy isn’t even a strategy; it’s just a bad idea.

This morning, I went through all the services I’m using and was impressed how many services had 2FA enabled and, more importantly, how trivial it was to enable. Here’s the list. Turn on 2FA now.

Two Factor Auth List is a comprehensive online resource that documents two-factor authentication for the bajillion sites I didn’t list above.