Tag: culture (page 1 of 11)

Getting serious

This is a great article by Katherine Boyle that talks about the lack of ‘seriousness’ in the USA, but also considers the wider geopolitical situation. We’re living at a time when world leaders are ever-older, and people between the ages of 18 and 29 just don’t have… that much to do with their time?

The Boomer ascendancy in America and industrialized nations has left us with a global gerontocracy and a languishing generation waiting in the wings. Not only does extended adolescence—what psychologist Erik Erikson first referred to as a “psychosocial moratorium” or the interim years between childhood and adulthood— affect the public life of younger generations, but their private lives as well.


In many ways, the emergence of extended adolescence was designed both to coddle the young and to conceal an obvious fact: that the usual leadership turnover across institutions is no longer happening. That the old are quite happy to continue delaying aging and the finality it brings, while the young dither away their prime years with convenient excuses and even better TikTok videos.


So in 2023, here we are: in a tri-polar geopolitical order led by septuagenarians and octogenarians. Xi Jinping, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin have little in common, but all three are entering their 70s and 80s, orchestrating the final acts of their political careers and frankly, their lives. That we are beholden to the decisions of leaders whose worldviews were shaped by the wars, famines, and innovations of a bygone world, pre-Internet and before widespread mass education, is in part why our political culture feels so stale. That the gerontocracy is a global phenomenon and not just an American quirk should concern us: younger generations who are native to technological strength, modern science and emerging cultural ailments are still sidelined and pursuing status markers they should have achieved a decade ago.

Source: It’s Time to Get Serious | The Free Press

Artificial metrics are flying by instrument

We had a conversation earlier this week about how we’re going to measure the progress of some community work we’re doing. In the end, we decided that there were no metrics that would make sense. It’s a vibe.

This post says much the same thing. Sometimes there are no  objective measurements for things that matter. And that’s OK.

Flight deck controls

Artificial metrics are flying by instrument. They’re individual “better/worse” dials that in amalgamation are supposed to tell you which way things are going, as long you are paying attention to the correct combination of them at the correct moment, and don’t over-react to the feedback loops and crash the whole thing via a PIO. Instrument-only flight is harder than visual flight, it takes extensive practice, and the mistakes have worse repercussions.

You can instead choose to just fly visually. It’s easier, it’s safer, and it’ll get you where you’re trying to go. The thing is, your entire industry thinks it’s impossible, and worse, they think it is irresponsible. They’re kinda right. You have to be good at the innate skill of flying, instead of the skill of navigating by instrument. Guess which one the “become a manager in tech” system produces. Bonus points: recognize how that is itself a PIO.

Bonus Bonus Bonus points: Consider that if you’ve learned the skillset of visual flight poorly, and you don’t use the instruments to correct yourself, how will you ever know it’s going wrong in time?


What matters for your team/org’s success is the fundamental human relationships, comradery, esprit de corps, support and space-curation, and especially, all of the prior while treating-em-like-adults. Those things make up the totality of why people want to work on your team and are excited about working with and supporting their peers. These are not invisible things. These are things you can pay attention to, structurally. These are not things you can quantify with numbers. You’re going to have to get comfortable with forming, expressing, and defending opinions based on things besides “data.” Not because you don’t have data, but because you don’t have quantifiable numbers that represent themselves, and our industry is poisoned into believing that only such things are data. We’ve got thousands of years of evolution helping us understand how group dynamics are flowing. Yes, using that is a skill set. That’s my point. Build and use that skill set. Learn how to read people’s reactions. Learn how to understand people’s motivations. Learn how to see how people work in groups and as individuals. Do the work.

Source: How to build orgs that achieve your goals, by absolutely never doing that | Graham says wrong things

Image: Jp Valery

Signalling that you’re AFK in a world where you can never really be AFK

*AFK = ‘Away From Keyboard’

I used AIM and MSN Messenger as a teenager, from around 1996 to about 2001. It was great, and I remember messaging with friends and the woman who is now my wife using it.

Part of the whole experience of it was that you were using the service on a shared device, a computer that the rest of the family would use. In that sense, it was more like a text-based landline phone. It wasn’t personal like the smart devices that live in our pockets these days.

There a lot of nostalgia about how things used to be, and we’re certainly not going back to shared devices as a primary means of getting online anytime soon. So that means that we need other ways of respecting one another’s boundaries. This is something we can actually reclaim ourselves by responding to messages on our own terms.

Sometimes you had to step away. So you threw up an Away Message: I’m not here. I’m in class/at the game/my dad needs to use the comp. I’ve left you with an emo quote that demonstrates how deep I am. Or, here’s a song lyric that signals I am so over you. Never mind that my Away Message is aimed at you.

I miss Away Messages. This nostalgia is layered in abstraction; I probably miss the newness of the internet of the 1990s, and I also miss just being … away. But this is about Away Messages themselves—the bits of code that constructed Maginot Lines around our availability. An Away Message was a text box full of possibilities, a mini-MySpace profile or a Facebook status update years before either existed. It was also a boundary: An Away Message not only popped up as a response after someone IM’d you, it was wholly visible to that person b they IM’d you.

Nothing like this exists in our modern messaging apps.


People send too many messages. I send too many messages. The first step in making messaging amends is to admit that you, too, are an inconsiderate messaging maniac.

But I’ll never stop, and neither will you. Quick messaging is a utility. It is, in many cases, the most efficient and meaningful form of communication we have. It’s crucial for relationship building, for organizing, for supporting others through hard times. It can be joyful.


Would something like the Away Message, a relic from an era when we just didn’t message so darn much, actually put up the guardrails we need? Maybe not. But I’m willing to try anything at this point. If we can’t ever get away from messages, at the very least we can create a digital simulacrum of ourselves that appears to be away. What else is the internet for?

Source: It’s Time to Bring Back the AIM Away Message | WIRED