Categories
Life Tech

The Millennial Lifestyle Sponsorship

“You might call it the Millennial Lifestyle Sponsorship, in which consumer tech companies, along with their venture-capital backers, help fund the daily habits of their disproportionately young and urban user base. With each Uber ride, WeWork membership, and hand-delivered dinner, the typical consumer has been getting a sweetheart deal.”

The Millennial Urban Lifestyle (The Atlantic)

From a customer POV? Sweet.

From an employee POV? Not so much.

Forgive me for being dense and never fully understanding the scheme behind VC-backed startups that rake in billions of dollars but don’t turn a profit.

I’m a simple guy. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to tech companies that have a clear model: it costs us X, we charge X+20%, we re-invest the profits, we’re a sustainable business.

Categories
Life

An incredible sky

“This morning I saw an incredible sky. I was driving so couldn’t photograph it, but it was the most amazing pale salmon with golden lemon tones. There was a heavy mist lying on the fields and wrapping the trees like a comfort blanket. The rising sun lit up the drops of dew on the grass like fairy lights. Everything was distilled but diffuse and shining. I wanted to keep it safe.”

Morning sky (bsag)

An example of the sort of stuff you can find on Micro.blog. It’s an ad-free, community-centric alternative to Twitter. Less noise. More personal. It feels like a throwback to the early web. From their About page:

“Tweeting is one form of microblogging. But when you use Twitter, your content stays at Twitter. At Micro.blog, you can write short posts that appear in the Micro.blog timeline, as well as on your own blog that you control.”

It’s free to join and connect your own blog, but hosted plans start at $5/mo.

Categories
Life

Extreme weather is shrinking the planet

All this has played out more or less as scientists warned, albeit faster. What has defied expectations is the slowness of the response. The climatologist James Hansen testified before Congress about the dangers of human-caused climate change thirty years ago. Since then, carbon emissions have increased with each year except 2009 (the height of the global recession) and the newest data show that 2018 will set another record.

[…]

“We can plan now and retreat in a strategic and calculated fashion, or we can worry about it later and retreat in tactical disarray in response to devastating storms. In other words, we can walk away methodically, or we can flee in panic.

How extreme weather is shrinking the planet (New Yorker)

I’m sharing excerpts from this piece again because it’s worth emphasizing. Things are happening faster than expected.

How will we cope as a society, as a civilization, as a species?

Categories
Life

Deadly excess heat threatens human life

“Last year, Hawaiian researchers projected that the share of the world’s population exposed to deadly heat for at least 20 days a year will increase from 30% now to 74% by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to grow. (It will rise to 48% with “drastic reductions”.) They concluded that “an increasing threat to human life from excess heat now seems almost inevitable”.”

Heat: the next big inequality issue (The Guardian)
Categories
Life

We’re on a path to self-destruction

“We are on a path to self-destruction, and yet there is nothing inevitable about our fate. Solar panels and wind turbines are now among the least expensive ways to produce energy. Storage batteries are cheaper and more efficient than ever. We could move quickly if we chose to, but we’d need to opt for solidarity and coördination on a global scale. The chances of that look slim.”

How extreme weather is shrinking the planet (New Yorker)

…and yet Ontario’s provincial government will spend hundreds of millions to scrap green energy projects. (Kicker? They also lied about it not costing taxpayers.)

“Premier Doug Ford said Thursday he is “proud” of his decision to tear up hundreds of renewable energy deals, a move that his government acknowledges could cost taxpayers more than $230 million.”

Doug Ford ‘proud’ of tearing up hundreds of green energy contracts (CBC)

Proponents say it’ll save Ontario millions more in the long run, but here’s the thing: we need to invest in alternative energy sources.

Scrapping the investment now, and wasting hundreds of millions of dollars to do it, doesn’t change that fact.

Now we’ll need to spend hundreds of millions more in the future to get us to the point we were already at before the Ontario PC party threw everything out.

Climate change isn’t avoidable. It’s happening. It’s here. The questions are how do we adapt? and how do we keep from making it worse?

Categories
Life Tech

Own your platform

“The original dream of the web is dying. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Medium, and YouTube entice us to give them our creative work.

They control what gets amplified and what gets monetized. A few conference rooms in Silicon Valley dictate our online culture.
It’s time to take it back.

Stop giving away your work to people who don’t care about it. Host it yourself. Distribute it via methods you control. Build your audience deliberately and on your own terms.”

Always Own Your Platform

A brilliant little webpage from Sean Blanda that extolls the virtues and reasons for establishing and owning your presence on the web.

If this sort of thing matters to you, I highly recommend creating your own site, whether with us at GoDaddy or somewhere else.

Categories
Life Tech

Our misinformation apocalypse

“Our misinformation apocalypse has many contributors across the political spectrum, but one group benefits: authoritarians. They flourish when citizens overwhelmed with bad information give up on trying to figure out the truth.”

The age of misinformation (Axios)

It’s like a DDoS attack that targets the general public.

Categories
Life Tech

The place for web regulation

“Any system that allows for automated processing of messages is subject to directed, sophisticated abuse. The place for regulation is not in advertising (even though that’s where it’s begun with the Honest Ads Act), it’s in how the system works architecturally.”

The Internet Must Change. To Get There, Start With the Data (Newco Shift)

The 20th century was about infrastructure. The 21st century is about data.

Television and radio broadcasters are subject to regulation. Telcos are subject to regulation. Google (YouTube), Amazon (Twitch), and Facebook (Instagram, WhatsApp) are the 21st century equivalents. So why aren’t they held to the same level of accountability?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for an open web, and I agree that government involvement can be a burden. But when you hit the scale and scope of a company like Facebook, where the decisions made behind closed doors can have such a dramatic impact on the public, I believe you’ve crossed an important threshold where oversight is absolutely warranted.

Categories
Life Tech

Design ethics in tech

“When we think about design ethics, especially in tech, it’s about slowing down and being more conscientious and intentional about what we are creating and what we’re putting out into the world.”

What We Talk About When We Talk About Design Ethics (99u)

My not-so-hot take: ethics in technology will be a dominant topic for the next decade.

Morten Rand-Hendriksen (@mor10) is ahead of the curve. He’s an instructor with LinkedIn Learning and has a course coming out on the subject.

Pulling from a recent-ish post on his blog:

“Part of the problem is the term “ethics” is often equated with statements like “do no harm” or practices to avoid legal issues. In reality, ethics refers to the principles and practices we agree upon as a society to judge the goodness and rightness of acts.”

ASPIRE: An acronym for better web practice (MOR10)

Give the whole thing a read.

IMO, up until now, ethics in tech felt like an afterthought. Important? Sure, in a we’ll-get-around-to-it-eventually sort of way.

Accessibility and inclusive design. Data privacy. Information security. Fake news. Harassment. Moderation. Censorship. The list goes on and on.

We rolled into the 2010’s high on rapid growth. Now, ten years later, we’re reeling from it. Ethics matter more than ever.

Categories
Business Life

Consumers search online, buy offline

What most marketers still don’t fully appreciate is that most online research results in an offline purchase. This is the dominant use case now for non-informational searches: a user on a smartphone looking for a product or service, where the transaction or fulfillment is offline.”

Google Maps the dominant local search tool (Search Engine Land)

This is absolutely how I shop. For example: I’m doing a lot of housework this week, so I keep checking the Home Depot and Canadian Tire sites to browse their inventory.

If I see something I need, I’ll add it to my shopping list, and then pop up to the shops to buy everything in one go.

If I’m looking for a new local store to buy from, I’ll check Google Maps for business-level information: where they’re located, what their hours are, the reviews, and if they have it, a link to their site. Ditto for restaurants.