Thoughts on online authenticity

As I hunt for a job, I think more and more about my online activities. Given the recent firing of Gina Carano from Lucasfilms, I wondered briefly about whether that was fair, but then I came away from it thinking she Tweeted under her real name and representing the Mandalorian and Disney under that same account. Of course, Disney/Lucasfilm has the right to fire her for any reason including posting public Tweets they don’t like, so that’s that. Then I think, what if she had kept her named, verified account professional and Tweeted only about her entertainment projects and supported her cast members and instead tweeted authentically under an alias? Why was it so important to her to tweet authentically under her real name? Thinking back to myself blogging internally when I worked, it was important to me to be authentic because I believed I was right, and I believed I had to tell people my truth and to get people to think. Looking back, it was narcissism and folly on my part. Fortunately, I had the good sense not to bring politics into work (or so I thought. I can’t really say now since that was about the time that everything was becoming polarizing and political.)

Now, thinking about having aliased online personas for authentic posts and discussions and named accounts with sanitized posts, I feel conflicted. Part of me says if an employer doesn’t think my authentic self fits into their culture, then why am I employed there? I should be able to be myself when at the workplace, right? Then I think about how I would feel knowing that a co-worker feels that black lives don’t matter or if that co-worker writes that people who go against their religious beliefs are evil and it’s okay to discriminate against them. On the flip side, how would it make someone feel to know I think black lives matter and that I support trans rights. It would make the workplace uncomfortable and I think people would have a hard time working together. I imagine we have all worked with someone like that, but didn’t know because they kept it outside of work.

When I worked, Facebook and Twitter were in the infant stage, so there would have been no way to surface those writings then. But what about now? Personally, I’m not curious enough about other people to look them up online. In my mind, unless it’s an internal blog or chat, it’s a private life matter and it’s none of my business. However, there are nosy people and nosy companies. Should it matter what I write online outside of work? Should employers seek out what employees are writing about online outside of work? I will always err on the side of privacy and preserving the boundary between work life and private life. So long as the employee is not using work equipment, work time, or engaging online at the worksite, I don’t care what that person writes. This means that the employee has to respect the work life/ private life boundary too, meaning no blogging explicitly about the company you work for unless you are the company’s representative and authorized to do so, and not linking yourself to a company in your non-work online identities. It seems that most companies respect this boundary, because if they didn’t, most people wouldn’t have a job.

So, where does this put me with respect to online authenticity? Well, regardless, be prepared for anyone to sleuth out your online identities and punish you for whatever reason. Words have consequences in general and each time we post, we take the risk of offending someone. Practically speaking, it can be fun and therapeutic to engage authentically with people online and it would be awful to be judged and punished by people who aren’t engaged with you and your online communities. My advice is to have aliased accounts or private accounts for authenticity and a sanitized public named account for nosy employers and busybodies to scrutinize. Be aware though that persistent busybodies will sleuth you out, so ask yourself before you post whether your family, friends, co-workers, and boss would be comfortable with what you are posting, and, conversely, would you be comfortable with them knowing what you are about to post.

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The Disappointing 2010s… Because Ads

I’ve spent the past few days considering what changed from 2010 and now. Of course, there are the obvious things like better cameras in mobile phones leading to an explosion of user content.  In my life specifically this has led to more YouTube content and the ability for me to even create and post my own YouTube content. And now I primarily watch YouTube content. This of course is aided by cord cutting, which we did in 2012. We cut event TV, evening news, and cable news out of our life and we’ve been better for it. Apart from that, nothing much has changed. We’re still driving the same cars, using the same printer, we only upgraded our computers once, and we still don’t have any kind of personal assistant or Internet of Things device in our house.

The Internet of Things is the most disappointing thing of all. I was excited all the way back in 2005 when we went to CES and learned about Zigbee standards. We dreamed of having a fully networked house that would adapt to our needs. Our lights would come on when they needed to, my fridge would generate a basic grocery list, my fridge would give me meal suggestions based upon what’s in my fridge, music devices would know what I wanted to hear and suggest new music to me based on my habits, and I’d basically have a second brain to offload mundane tasks  to. My data was supposed to be for me and stored within the confines of my personal network. But instead, what should be mine was sold and shared with all manner of unknown entities to sell to advertisers and to be used by state actors to influence my political leanings. Instead of a recommendation engine that deepened my gardening knowledge, YouTube led me to end-of-the-world gun-nut preppers. Instead of advertisements for cheese and ice cream, Twitter puts random content on my feed that is not relevant to me like the duration on iPhone batteries and eggs (which I’m allergic to). I’m afraid to get a connected TV and appliances because they will all be spying on me, and I don’t dare go near a Facebook associated website or service because Facebook is in essence malware.

Unfortunately, a lot of this is our fault because as consumers we want everything free, so companies leapt at selling ads space on devices to provide revenues. But then something happened, and the consumers and content creators shifted from being the customers to being the products. And since then, energy has been spent creating algorithms to mine consumer data and to sell advertising space rather than making a better customer experience. And now multi-billion dollar, too-big-to-fail companies are completely dependent on serving ads and selling our data to anyone who will pay for it.

What is the right balance of privacy and community? I’m not opposed to providing anonymized data for recommendation engines or to help companies improve products and experiences.  I am also not opposed to providing personal information to get personalized recommendations. My problem is why does my personal identifying information need to leave the confines of my house and why do I receive advertisements I haven’t “pulled”. For instance, when I’m doing research to decide which mobile phone to buy is the proper time to show me an iPhone battery advertisement. Apple doesn’t have to know this specific information about me or my search, but I feel comfortable letting Apple know that someone, not me specifically, clicked to find out more information.

I’ve thought about a disruption to Facebook that offered similar features with privacy and then it occurred to me that I have that now with my family and friends via media rich text messaging and groups. As for a kitchen assistant, we use our iPad to display recipes, monitor cooking via Bluetooth thermometers and timers, and to stream music and videos to our stereo and TV. I keep a running shopping list on my mobile phone. As for the connected home, we have certain lights timers and movement sensors. We’ve programmed our heater/AC as well as our outdoor sprinkle system. Are these workarounds? Or is this how it should be done? Of course, I would like to have weather responsive outdoor sprinklers, but am I doing fine without them? I’d say yes. Did I expect to be doing things the same way I did in 2010 or before? No.

In the 2020’s I hope to see a radical shift towards companies providing truly personal experiences for customers. I’d like to have a personal assistant that isn’t sharing my data with the manufacturer’s partners or governments.  I don’t want to fear that my devices are spying on me or are being used as part of a botnet. Most importantly, I don’t want to be bombarded with advertisements. When I look back to the year 2020, I want to be doing some things differently. I want my house and garden to be semi-automated with statistics for me that I can either choose to share or keep to myself. I want to be able to track my life in the same manner. I want my private personal life assistant as was promised to me from sci-fi like Star Trek and those many aspirational corporate videos I sat through at meetings and conferences.

My Thoughts on “The Last Jedi”

I’m very worried about writing this post because so many people are angry at “The Last Jedi” and angry at anybody who criticizes “The Last Jedi”.  Hopefully I’m just relaying my thoughts to the few people who follow my Twitter and therefore I won’t receive any destructive comments.

Anyhow, here it goes. There were moments in “The Last Jedi” that I absolutely loved only to see the possibilities presented in those moments thrown away by the end of the movie. Just to get it out of the way, I loved the parts of the movie that did not include the space battles and the casino. I thought the casino was a great concept that should have been a separate side movie like “Rogue One”.

Here’s what I love:

  1. Cranky Luke training Rey while hearing the story of what happened with Kylo Ren.
  2. Rey and Kylo Ren secretly building a relationship through force chatting.
  3. Rey exploring both the dark and light side of herself with Luke as her guide and mentor.
  4. Rey and Kylo Ren coming together to take down Snoke and then Kylo suggesting that he and Rey team up to destroy the First Order and the Resistance.
  5. Finn and Rose finding out that arms dealers were supplying both the First Order and the Resistance for profit. (Just that understanding, but it didn’t need a 30 minute casino detour to get there.)

I wanted more of all of this. These parts of the story showed the possibility for a wonderful episode 8 leading into an episode 9 that wouldn’t have been about the First Order versus the Resistance, but instead a story that could have gotten to the root of why there’s a galactic war in the first place and an explanation for the demise of both the Jedi and the Sith.

Now to outline my hopes being crushed. When Kylo and Rey finally get together, I thought the story was going to go sword and sheathe when Kylo suggested, after doing glorious battle together, that they team up and destroy the past. Rey should have gone with Ben (since he would have dropped that Sith BS) to rein in Kylo’s power and shape his ambitions, and Finn should have come along to support Rey and temper her expectations for Kylo. (King, Queen, and the Queen’s Knight — I love that shit!) I was in love with the idea of throwing away the First Order and the Resistance, especially after Finn and Rose found out arms dealers were supplying both sides. I thought at that moment in the Red Room, episode 9 would be about the force-pair taking down the true evil behind the perpetual galactic war. This would have led to the real reason for the demise of the Jedi and Sith — technology. The Jedi and Sith were yen and yang (peace makers and enforcers) to keep order in the galaxy until some folks decided to pit them against each other and against non-force users for profit. Technology, which leveled the field for non-force users, arose to replace the force users as the galactic power and peace broker. The bones were there for that story and it would have tied in the prequels while leaving plenty of room for stories before episode 1 and after episode 9. But all of that was thrown away. That is why I have no interest in episode 9. I don’t know what Kylo Ren and Rey’s motivations are now. No one answered the call of the Resistance, so now what? The First Order won. Game over.

Ultimately, this leaves me on the side of the people who want this movie removed from canon. Yes, the good parts were good, but as a complete movie, it killed Star Wars. There’s no where left to go and nothing that happens before episode 8 matters, because it was all thrown away in episode 8.

Random Rambling about the Recent Past

It’s be a long time since I’ve blogged on this site, but I think maybe I should do it more often as a way to vent my frustrations and talk in long form about things that interest me. So let’s get started.

The US Presidential Race — I am having a hard time accepting the 2016 US Presidential race as reality. Hilary Clinton shouldn’t be running because of that leaky server of hers and Donald Trump is only running for President because he craves attention. Meanwhile bug-eyed Republicans are scared of their own shadows and reflections in mirrors as they realize they’re the party of evil. I keep waiting for someone to call a news conference to announce “Just kidding! Here are your real candidates!” But that’s not happening. I can’t help but think that the terrorists won.

El Nino — I’m worried that anti-science people will use the incorrect weather prediction for Southern California as ammunition to undermine climate science. I’m really upset at the scientists who should know better than to make reckless predictions. I’m even more upset at the clueless news outlets who took that reckless prediction and amplified it. Better to stick with the fact of El Nino as an equatorial ocean water warming phenomenon and that the various ocean temperature oscillations and their interactions with each other and the atmosphere are under investigation and not well understood yet. I don’t think it was made clear that El Nino forecasts are long-term and based on 50/50 chance of wetter or dryer each month, that the ocean water temperature visuals were relative to average and not absolute, and that the El Nino oscillation has a secondary influence on the US and a primary influence on the equatorial region. I’m waiting for the multiple finger-pointing “How they got El Nino so Wrong” news stories. Of course the news won’t examine their own role in the hype. Just like in 1997-8, the news was bungled resulting in unmet expectations, and people started taking El Nino lightly. I wonder if people will be so ready to prepare the next time the news cries “El Nino”.

VR— It feels like 3-D all over again, again. Yes, current VR is better than past incarnations, but it’s still a gimmick that I’m not interested in yet. This is mostly because my eyesight is unequal in both eyes, so when I’m forced to view a perspective, I get headaches and disoriented very easily. Reality is a multi-sensory experience, so without the other senses, the experience will be incomplete and ultimately something that people can’t endure for extended time periods. I think as an aspiration, VR is wonderful and I applaud those people who will be early adopters. But for me, I’m gonna bank more on augmented reality for now and jump into VR after it’s truly immersive — as in you plug it into your brain somehow.  I have a feeling that will happen long after I’m dead.  I do look forward to the multiple gimmicks that will come out of VR like 360 videos and theme park applications. VR will end up like 3-D is now — in movie theaters, theme park, and arcades (or whatever they are called now.)

That’s all for now!

The Pursuit of Money is Ruining the Pursuit of Money

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here. I’ve been immersing myself deeply in shoujo and josei manga (Japanese comics for young and older women), so I haven’t been taking time to maintain this blog. Outside of that, there hasn’t been much for me to ramble on about. Maybe you’ve noticed like I have that not much has changed in the past 5 years. Just in my own life I’ve noticed my husband and I are driving the same cars and don’t feel the need to get new ones, we are still driving our entertainment off the same two laptops, I’m still using an iPad 2, and both of our “newer” laptops are equivalent to the Blackbirds we had 5-years ago.  I feel this enormous sense of stagnancy, and quite frankly most everything bores the hell out of me. Okay, okay, there are three things that excite me: Manga, 3-D printing, and drones — specifically the prospect of food delivery using drones (I want the taco-copter yesterday).

It would be too easy to blame the economy and the government gridlock for this stagnation. The economy is a symptom of stagnancy rather than a cause from my point of view. Companies and very rich people are sitting on huge piles of cash rather than using that money to create things and employ people.  Money is power, yet as long as companies and rich people sit on that money, it’s reduced to worthless paper, and thus diminished in power. Somewhere along the line monied people have forgotten about this and instead believe hoarding cash has some kind of meaning. We are seeing the value of money challenged by the Bitcoin “Revolt” (and yes, this is a revolutionary movement, because let’s face it, paper is just as worthless as bits), the rise of bartering, and the Maker movement. People simply have no money to trade, so some of us have gone back to actually trading useful stuff; you know that thing called “doing BUSINESS”. Anyhow… keep sitting on that paper, companies and rich people. The world will move on with or without your money. The question is do you want use your power to shape the future or are you playing “he who has the most paper when they die wins”?  Nobody cares about that beyond where your money, and hence your power, goes after you die.  So you may as well spend it all now and make the world in your model.  This thought brings me great sadness because so many idiots have lots of money.

I think it’s safe to say the stock markets are no longer engines of innovation. People put money in the stock market for short term gain and not because they believe in the long term vision of a company. Company chase the stock price quarter to quarter and concentrate on the paper rather than on the products that they sale. Hence the endless pursuit as cutting back to profit, a line of thinking that makes absolutely no sense. In this paradigm, R&D is another expense to minimize rather than the engine of growth. Instead strategies like currency exchange become the engines of growth to get more currency — worthless paper chasing after worthless paper. Meanwhile companies find themselves 3 to 5 years later with no new products in the pipeline, a bunch of worthless MBA spouting nonsense about hockey-sticks, and no actual engineers to design new products because they were all laid off in the relentless pursuit of the bottom line.  Raise your hand if this describes the current state of your workplace? Is your company going broke? Is your company’s stock price in the toilet? When will CEOs realize this is not “business”. The company’s stock is not the company’s product and the stock market brokers and analysts are not your customers.  Seriously, what does it matter whether Wall Street likes your latest product? They aren’t the ones buying your product. Your CUSTOMERS are the ones buying your product. Ignore the whims of the stock market and get back to selling actual stuff and services to paying customers.  When business is doing well, meaning your company is selling lots of stuff and services for a profit, stock market adulation will come.  I imagine as long as executives and boards are paid with stock and when they bonuses are dependent on hitting stock market targets, their focus will be on the stock market rather than on products and the customer.  And because these folks make money whether the company is doing well or not, executives could care less. They’ll move on to the next company to drain on the way to the bottom, without it being acknowledged that these executives may actually be a very poor manager.  It’s a vicious cycle. I wonder when a group of execs will get together and decide that this compensation scheme is doing to great harm to society on the whole and change compensation to focus on customer satisfaction and true market growth — as in actual paying customers — and not the stock “market”?

Another harmful consequence of chasing the bottom line is severe risk aversion. Executives don’t want to try something new and revolutionary because they fear if it’s not a hit, they’ll be clobbered by the stock market. I wish I could say it had nothing to do with getting executive bonuses, but it is human nature to put oneself before all others and everything.  This seems silly considering how much money big companies are sitting on. I suppose not every company is like this. To Microsoft’s credit, they tried with The Surface and they are trying with the XBox One, but they totally misread the market and are getting clobbered by customers. Honestly that sounds like a bunch of their tech leadership is completely out of touch of with everyday people, and  is usually a problem caused by lack of diversity, siloed organizations, and corporate inbreeding (driven by ranking). But I digress… Anyhow… I look around and ask myself, with the exception of Google, why don’t I see a 3-D printer from major tech giants who have giant printing divisions (Uh HP, cough, cough, Canon, ahem….cough, cough…the remnants of Kodak… hack… ugh… Whoo! I don’t know what frog got caught in my throat). Of course, it’ll be over once Amazon builds an army of 3-D printers and delivery drones that let people get whatever they want overnight… >_>…. Sigh… Bezos wasn’t kidding about that alarm clock. Wake the hell up and quit chasing the iPad. The iPad is a commodity. Quit piling on that.  Instead, why don’t you rehire the Engineers you laid off, pay them fairly, and let them loose on creating new markets. And, no creating new markets is not what an MBA does.  Masters of Business Administration are Administrators. They administrate.

Ugh… okay, enough rambling for now and back to enjoy my manga.

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