Business

I think there is a continuum of cruelty. But cruelty may be the wrong word; if I stick to the letter C I might pick coldness or convenience. It’s about whether other people are real or not. Dehumanizing begins in a perception and then reveals itself in actions. I’m starting in the coldest spot I can find and working toward “room temperature” because of the perspective it offers.

Murder is scorn for the very existence of another. It may be for hate or profit or amusement but the exchange is based on a “good for me” foundation that takes EVERYTHING from the other for our profit. Raymond Chandler said that murder was “infinite cruelty” because you aren’t just taking everything a person has, you are taking everything they ever would have had. Whether it’s a robber in an alley or a spouse killing because divorce is too hard, it comes to the other being an inconvenience. This has to be because the other person is already seen as “something in the way”. 

 Slavery is scorn for the life and aspirations of another. It is based on a “good for me” foundation that takes everything from the other while harnessing their energy and abilities for our profit: Essentially it is a form of parasitism. Slavery is “murder lite”. If murder is “infinite cruelty” then slavery must be only a certain number of steps removed. They are visible on the same spectrum of coldness. You have taken what they had and what they would have had, but left them alive to see the sky and think their thoughts. 

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Built to fail

As a software teacher/trainer I am amazed by something. Every company and institution in the US apparently has the budget to subsidize ~65% of their employees being shit with computing…forever… but only a few of them can scrape a budget together for training. And when they do, it’s designed by middle management in a way that almost always misses the actual problem in favor of some oversimplified guess about what is wrong.

Whenever I have taught corporate groups I sense about a dozen issues other than the one I am there to teach going unaddressed. And if I try to get at those problems I’ll be seen as not teaching the right subject.

Usually, power users are mixed into the same class as the weakest users. The result is that the material will be wrong for part of the group no matter what… unless you teach “right down the middle” in which case it might be right for nobody. Also, the power users are forced to sit through such basic material that it wears out their goodwill and\or the “baby” users sit through advanced material that makes them feel stupid and hopeless. All of this crystalizes the idea of training as ineffective in the mind of management.

To get it right, do better research on the problem you are fixing.

  1. Don’t be superficial or complacent about imagining what the problem really is. Details matter.
  2. Identify your “power users” and find out what they need to know and why.
  3. While you’ve got them, ask what they consider to be the baseline skillset for the software in question in the context of this office. Compare notes on these assessments.
  4. Ask them (and any IT support people) what problems the focus group of employees seem to get stuck on. The power users and IT staff get hit up regularly for help and they have a lot more data points than you will get by asking the group what they need.
  5. The group doesn’t really know what it needs. The problem is concealed in the mist above their comfort zone.
  6. If it is possible to have the trainer come in for a chat with some representative students ahead of time, they will be able to target the actual need far better.
  7. “But the cost!” It’s going to be expensive either way. Do you prefer an expensive success or an expensive failure? Besides, if you do this correctly you will be saving real money and increasing real efficiency. Doing it wrong is mismanagement.
  8. Consider a break with form. If the trainer is open to it, propose working with smaller groups with a shared problem and consider doing this in the area where the work is done rather than a classroom. The trainer will almost always spot problems and growing out of local issues which would not come up in a classroom.

 

 

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A professional social network sounds like a good business tool and a useful thing but the best-known entry in this market, LinkedIn, has a number of flawed and selfish premises that have led to it Winning, but not Succeeding. I mean that while they are clearly dominant, they are a failure as a social network.

1. LinkedIn-flation: Linked in tells you to be discriminating in adding people to your network because the resulting networks are supposed to be a tree of solid integrity and merit. At the same time, they are indiscriminate in throwing contacts at you, constantly encouraging you to expand your network. When a new person asks to join your network (typically with an invitation as impersonal as a bid in a game of  Bridge) it doesn’t let you contact the person before accepting them. You literally cannot even say “where do I know you from?” until you have said, “this person is in my network”. Either that or you have to reject them outright.  The upper limit of contacts you are allowed to have is 30,000.

2. Taste the Beige! There is no experiential reward for participating. Nobody enjoys being on LinkedIn. The payoff to Facebook is pleasurable or at least personal contact with others. The payoff of LinkedIn is that you are on LinkedIn. This is because LinkedIn is essentially fear based. You better be there if you don’t want to be overlooked when the big recruiter in the sky comes to check and see if you are a “self-starter with excellent organizational skills.” The value is purely in being findable in this database.

3. InHuman: Which leads us to the fact that everyone there is being flat and careful, creating an idealized portrait of themselves from a corporate point of view. This means that 70 percent of the content is pure methane in a cardboard cup. It is appropriate to the professional context yet dreary, flat and thin. It is the online equivalent of driving across Kansas.

4. Lousy Host: Because there is no joy or (experiential) profit in participating, and no sensible business model,  LinkedIn has to jealously withhold information and limit access to the people it has aggressively gathered together for the purpose of sharing information. It’s like a host who has invited as many people as possible to a party and then tries to limit the guests from talking to each other unless they pay for the drinks at this party and next month’s party too.

5. InVasive: Finally, LinkedIn is so aggressive about recruiting people for these non-festivities that it makes the NSA look like the ACLU. Honestly, people, even if you don’t use the invite contacts feature, LinkedIn requires you to sign in to your email and accept membership and when you do they come along with you, into your email every time you have LinkedIn cookies in your browser. Yes, they check your email along with you, noting every single one and comparing addresses to people in their database. So if you have LinkedIn you will get messages like “This guy you exchanged a single email with 7 years ago has joined LinkedIn. Accept him to your network?

6. It gets worse: Their new iPhone App actually channels ALL YOUR EMAILS COMING AND GOING, THROUGH THEIR SERVERS. This is appalling, This is insane! These are serious, even shocking violations of privacy! The implications for anyone in medical or legal fields should be a radioactive red flag! You could violate client privacy or HIPPA conditions without even knowing it. The import for anyone is deeply worrying.

But why? What could possibly justify these outrageous violations of trust? Why do they do things this way?

So that LinkedIn, the terrible party you are obligated to attend, can become more inevitable, a bigger ant pile, a greater Gasbag.


Update:

How to get the value, while fucking them over: I eventually rejoined but in a way that protected my privacy better. I created a new webmail address (yahoo, gmail, whatever) to use as my LinkedIn username. And I NEVER ever use it to communicate with anyone. Therefore even when they brazenly invade my email account there is nobody and nothing there for them gather up. I just reach out to the people I feel like reaching out to and keep a profile there for the odd case where it comes in handy.

 

 

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