The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

This article from HBR gets a little life-hacky for my comfort, but I thought this bit was smart:

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.
Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.
Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.
Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

Paid, Earned, Inspired

From Ben Thompson’s latest on Stratechery:

This has profound implications for products and politics. First and foremost, it is fundamentally misguided to simply view “digital” as another channel that you layer on top of traditional marketing/campaign tactics like TV advertisements. In fact, products and politicians designed for the TV age — that is, meant to be palatable to the greatest number of people — are at a fundamental disadvantage on platforms like Facebook. The products and politicians that win inspire passion, stirring up a level of engagement that breaks through on a scale that far exceeds an ad buy. To put it another way, above I mentioned “paid” media and “earned” media; what matters on Facebook is “inspired” media.

Politicians don’t need the media to reach people anymore, and people don’t make decisions based on rational thinking. It’s the new baking soda volcano.

This means national elections aren’t about policy anymore. They are about the gnashing of teeth and who can inspire more teeth to gnash.

Oddly, while we’re naturally attracted to big inspirational ideas, we tend to gravitate towards the rational when doing our own thinking or work.

And in doing so, we risk being ignored.

Every election since the turn of the century has swung based on inspiration and connection. Whoever has the bigger idea will win.

Write-Only Social Media

Cal Newport has written extensively about how social media is ruining our attention spans. He recommends not using it at all. But I don’t think that’s necessarily the best idea. At least for what I do for a living.

So I’ve been thinking about how to create a write-only social media system. A way to still get some of the value out of social networks without getting all of the outrage and distraction.

News and ArticlesNuzzle is an app that aggregates articles that your friends and friends of friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t even have to have the social apps on your phone, because it taps into the services’ APIs.

Posting Dad Jokes or Links or WhateverDrafts.app on iOS is a great way to write whatever you want to write, then share it to another app or service. It’s great for a write-only email experience as well. Open drafts, write whatever it is, and then share it without having to see any timelines or feeds or inboxes. I’m not sure if this will work without having the social apps on your phone, but its a start if you have something to say but don’t need to take on other people’s anxiety.

Facebook without the Feed: For people that still need some of the functionality of Facebook on a desktop, it’s possible to use it without having to deal with the newsfeed.

From an older Venture Beat article:

…thousands of users have installed a new Chrome Extension, “News Feed Eradicator for Facebook,” to silence Facebook’s news feed. And tech-savvy Safari users have opted to eliminate Facebook’s News Feed via a simple CSS tweak.

It’s a start at least.

KFC’s facial-recognition stereotyping machine

Once stereotypes are embedded in The Algorithm, what chance to any of us have?

KFC wants to find out: 

The two companies are opening a new restaurant in Beijing “which employs facial recognition to make recommendations about what customers might order, based on factors like their age, gender and facial expression. Image recognition installed at the KFC will scan customer faces, seeking to infer moods, and guess other information including gender and age in order to inform their recommendation.”

People will use this. Not because it’s better. But because of the novelty. Imagine an online quiz, but without all of that dreadful hard work. And then imagine that after Facebook reveals your house to be House Targaryan, you were handed a 1500-calorie lunch.

I can’t imagine that this will be successful…at first. Eventually, things like this will work their way into the everyday world. The question is whether customers will see any of the benefit.

(via macdrifter)