09 October 2017

Please punch yourself in the face

I can't even.

So... this article is not only Exhibit #3098247 demonstrating the insane, over-the-top arrogance (and ignorance) of Designers - it's also a perfect illustration of Tech's willful blindness when it comes to its own shit.
"Exclusive: Meet The Designer Who Could Reshape Uber"
No designer is going to "reshape Uber" unless they also happen to be the CEO, the Board Chair or perhaps a senior person in the US Gov't. Thinking otherwise (much less saying so) isn't just arrogance - it's psychotic.
"The company’s new VP of design, Michael Gough, is a former architect who wants to make the maligned company more empathetic."
You want to make Uber more "empathetic?"
Start by replacing most of the BoD. Then a bunch of the exec team. Then many of the managers. Then a ton of the engineers. Oh... and also your HR team, and your processes, and your policies.
I mean... for fuck's sake, the person writing this is ostensibly a "journalist." How hard is it to go and read the stuff on the Holder report.

I'm super sorry it makes you feel helpless, but better UX ain't fixing SHIT at Uber.
"But can design fix what is ultimately a PR problem of global scale?"
In all seriousness - go fuck yourself.

What is going on with Uber isn't, and has never been, "a PR problem" and saying so is not only incorrect it's immoral.

If you genuinely believe that what's going on with Uber is a "PR" issue - then you're saying that all the things that Uber has done (and continues to do) are totally fine, and that the problem is the way all of this is perceived.

And if that is the way you feel, again and with all due respect - go fuck yourself.
"This arc, all of the [PR] challenges aside, is a natural arc. The next big step is to become a company that’s really, really good at connecting with people and people’s needs."
"All of the PR challenges aside?!?!?!?!"

Again, and this time from the heart, kindly go fuck yourself.

What you all need to become is a company that isn't evil, that cares about something other than IRR and User Adoption, that respects humans (including your employees, your customers and your drivers), that understands and follows laws and regulations and that, basically, isn't staffed by sociopathic douchebros.
"...this idea that there’s a physical world, and it’s being manipulated by tech in positive ways, is just super, super enticing to me."
The idea that you think that the physical world's manipulation by tech (illustrated by Uber) is a positive thing is just super, super depressing to me.

The idea that you unconsciously used "manipulated" in this context, about Uber, is super, super telling to me.

The idea that your world view is so myopic and divorced from the reality of the people within it makes it clear that the idea that you're going to make Uber "really, really good at connecting with people" is at best super, super laughable.

Be better.


08 August 2017

All the apples are bad

Software engineering, while not the easiest way to make a living, has been elevated to ludicrous proportions by those who would like you to think they are superhuman wizards of the computer. It’s a skill that could be shared equally by motivated men, women, or anyone else with an aptitude for math and problem-solving given proper training and encouragement, much the same way medicine, education, or music is taught. - Tom Krazit, Geekwire




28 June 2017

Smartphones make Humans Stupid

Results from two experiments indicate that even when people are successful at maintaining sustained attention—as when avoiding the temptation to check their phones—the mere presence of these devices reduces available cognitive capacity. Moreover, these cognitive costs are highest for those highest in smartphone dependence. 

This is both shocking and, frankly, illuminating research. In my opinion, this study is an absolute must-read, not just for those of us working in technology but for all humans.

After reading this, I will be making changes in my behaviors and usage starting today. I would suggest you consider some changes (assuming your cognitive ability matters to you).

26 June 2017

What's up?

It seems like every single day someone asks me what I'm up to, in terms of work. Since the curiosity seems to be increasing, I thought I would give a little update.

tl;dr I'm consulting while also sniffing around for something full-time.


At present I'm working as a strategy consultant. The majority of my work is for traditional mid-market Private Equity investment funds, where I focus on due diligence and evaluation / analysis. I also have a sideline in strategic consulting for operating companies (most commonly companies which have recently been acquired by PE) focusing on internet business, go-to-market and revenue strategy.

I've been a consultant on an off for a few decades now, and I've established a good track record and a lot of credibility. The work is lucrative and often presents enormous opportunities for new learning.

At the same time, being a consultant has always been a bit abstract for me. Even in the best consultant / client scenarios, as a consultant the company wins are never truly personally meaningful. And I miss that meaning, that accomplishment, and that reward. I miss being able to move the needle materially (and personally) for a company.

So I've been talking to folks about full-time jobs.

I'm focusing on the intersection of Strategy, Corporate Development and Business Development. While I have been talking to firms in Tech (this is, after all, the Bay Area), I'm also quite interested in seeing if I can apply the skills I've developed from two plus decades in the internet business world to more traditional businesses. In my current consulting work, a huge percentage of the companies I'm working with and evaluating are non-tech businesses and it has been very exciting to see the impact I (and my hard-gained knowledge and experience) can have on these businesses. In some ways I think that the knowledge and experience that I (and other OG, Web 0.5 folks) have is now of more value to non tech employers than to those in tech because we can have more direct and material impact on the success of those businesses at this time.

In the meantime, I'm keeping busy helping folks in the traditional retail distribution channel grasp the enormity of the coming challenges.

05 June 2017

My Dream for SF

All I dream of - all I ask for - all I want for San Francisco is for people who move here to try and give as much to SF as they take from her.

28 April 2017

Professional Standards

Pro-tip for Recruiters....

If you have a candidate interview through four rounds you simply cannot proceed to 'ghost' the candidate. If a candidate has invested that much time in pursuing a role at your company, basic professional standards of behavior require you to inform them if you're passing.

And no... ignoring repeated email requests for updates and then reposting the job doesn't count as informing them.

Be better.

27 February 2017

We were so blind

I started getting paid to do work on and around the Web in 1993 and my career became "the Web" in 1994. I remember the early days - I remember the excitement we all felt about how we were "changing the world."

Over the last five to ten years I've struggled to explain how painful it is to see what has become of the dreams that we all had back then for the Web. I've had a hard time explaining the deep, philosophical sadness that I feel when I look at what we've done.

This morning this piece was shared with me. And now I can explain my depression and my disillusionment. Finally I can explain why and how I have become an internet apostate.
And when you give the average person an infinite reservoir of human wisdom, they will not Google for the higher truth that contradicts their own convictions. They will not Google for what is true yet unpleasant. Instead, most of us will Google for what is pleasant but untrue.
We were irresponsibly idealistic and naive. We thought that, because we were so fucking smart, we understood how things work. Instead we broke everything and there doesn't seem to be a good way to fix it now.
Civilization was built on people’s ability to suppress their baser instincts—their tendencies towards tribalism and narcissism, their penchant for slaughtering each other over superficial and imagined differences. It took millennia of education and advancement for us to learn how to not do this. Much of this education and advancement revolved around a respect for science, public debate, rational argument, putting multiple institutions in power to balance one another, and so on. We’ve barely even gotten it right the couple hundred years we’ve had it.
This piece is a long read, and I know that for many of you that means you won't read it. And sadly that might illustrate why I think this is important more effectively than anything I can say.
The problem is, as far as I can tell, the internet and its technologies don’t deliver us from tribalism. They don’t deliver us from our baser instincts. They do the opposite. They mainline tribalism into our eyeballs. And what we’re seeing is the beginning of that terrifying impact.
At least I'm old and don't have kids.