Author: Doug Belshaw (page 1 of 321)

Kith and kin

This is a great article about how the internet was going to save us from TV and now we’re looking for something to save us from the internet. What we actually need are stronger and deeper relationships with the people around us — our kith and kin.

We are conditioned to care about kin, to take life’s meaning from the relationships with those we know and love. But the psychological experience of fame, like a virus invading a cell, takes all of the mechanisms for human relations and puts them to work seeking more fame. In fact, this fundamental paradox—the pursuit through fame of a thing that fame cannot provide—is more or less the story of Donald Trump’s life: wanting recognition, instead getting attention, and then becoming addicted to attention itself, because he can’t quite understand the difference, even though deep in his psyche there’s a howling vortex that fame can never fill.

This is why famous people as a rule are obsessed with what people say about them and stew and rage and rant about it. I can tell you that a thousand kind words from strangers will bounce off you, while a single harsh criticism will linger. And, if you pay attention, you’ll find all kinds of people—but particularly, quite often, famous people—having public fits on social media, at any time of the day or night. You might find Kevin Durant, one of the greatest basketball players on the planet, possibly in the history of the game—a multimillionaire who is better at the thing he does than almost any other person will ever be at anything—in the D.M.s of some twenty something fan who’s talking trash about his free-agency decisions. Not just once—routinely! And he’s not the only one at all.

There’s no reason, really, for anyone to care about the inner turmoil of the famous. But I’ve come to believe that, in the Internet age, the psychologically destabilizing experience of fame is coming for everyone. Everyone is losing their minds online because the combination of mass fame and mass surveillance increasingly channels our most basic impulses—toward loving and being loved, caring for and being cared for, getting the people we know to laugh at our jokes—into the project of impressing strangers, a project that cannot, by definition, sate our desires but feels close enough to real human connection that we cannot but pursue it in ever more compulsive ways.

Source: On the Internet, We’re Always Famous | The New Yorker

Bring Your Own Stack

Venture Capitalists inhabit a slightly different world than the rest of us. This post, for example, paints a picture of a future that makes sense to people deeply enmeshed in Fintech, but not for those of us outside of that bubble.

That being said, there’s a nugget of truth in there about the need for more specific services for particular sectors, rather than relying on generic ones provides by Big Tech.

However, the chances are that those will simply plug in to existing marketplaces (e.g. Google Workplace) rather than strike out on their own. But, what do I know?

There’s a pressing need — and an opportunity — to build vertical-specific tools for workers striking out on their own. Much has been written about the proliferation of vertical software tools that help firms run their businesses, but the next generation of great companies will provide integrated, vertical software for individuals going solo.

Solo workers venturing out on their own need to feel like they can replace the support of a company model. Traditionally, the firm brings three things to support the core craft or product:

  • Operational support: functions like finance, legal, and HR that help people do their jobs
  • Demand: generating customers (through marketing/sales, branding, and relationships)
  • Networks: access to communities that support the individual

The solo stacks of the future will offer a mix of these three things (depending on what makes sense for any industry), giving workers the tools — and thus, the confidence — to leave their jobs. The software will be vertical-specific, as well, as lawyers, personal trainers, money managers, and graphic designers all need different tools, have different customers to market to, and require access to different networks to do their jobs.

Source: As More Workers Go Solo, the Software Stack Is the New Firm | Future

Fall Regression

I’ve only just discovered the writing of Anne Helen Petersen, via one of the many newsletters and feeds to which I subscribe. I featured her work last week about remote working.

Petersen’s newsletter is called Culture Study and the issue that went out yesterday was incredible. She talks about this time of year ⁠⁠— a time I struggle with in particular — and gets right to the heart of the issue.

I’ve learned to take Vitamin D, turn on my SAD light, and to go easy on myself. But there’s always a little voice suggesting that this is how it’s going to be from here on out. So it’s good to hear what other people advise. For Petersen, it’s community involvement.

A teacher recently told me that there’s a rule in her department: no major life decisions in October. The same holds true, she said, for March. But March is well-known for its cruelty. I didn’t realize it was the same for October, even though it makes perfect sense: the charge of September, those first golden days of Fall, the thrill of wearing sweaters for the first time, those are gone. Soon it’ll be Daylight Savings, which always feels like having the wind knocked out of the day. People in high elevations are already showing off their first blasts of snow. We have months, months, to go.

As distractions fade, you’re forced to sit with your own story of how things are going. Maybe you’d been bullshitting yourself for weeks, for months. It was easy to ignore my bad lunch habits when I was spending most of the day outside. Now it’s just me and my angry stomach and scraping the tub of the hummus container yet again. Or, more seriously: now it’s just me swimming against the familiar tide of burnout, not realizing how far it had already pulled me from shore.

[…]

Is this the part of the pandemic when we’re happy? When we’re angry? When we’re hanging out or pulling back, when we’re hopeful or dismayed, when we’re making plans or canceling them? The calendar moves forward but we’re stuck. In old patterns, in old understandings of how work and our families and the world should be. That’s the feeling of regression, I think. It’s not that we’re losing ground. It’s that we were too hopeful about having gained it.

Source: What’s That Feeling? Oh, It’s Fall Regression | Culture Study