The New York Times Fired My Doppelgänger

A black-and-white photograph of Quinn Norton superimposed on an upside-down image of the New York Times building in New York

Excerpt from this article:

But this isn’t what the internet did with the idea of me that emerged from a scatter of tweets before Valentine’s Day. The internet lets people create and then interact with a character. Regardless of who I am and what I’ve done, there is now a Nazi-sympathizing and homophobic “Quinn Norton” out there: She was born into privilege, and in some versions of this story even attended two universities in California. She is an abusive and deceptive person, who lies about her family, her disabilities, and even her sexuality. She is also fictional, a creation of a collaborative writing process that took place on social-publishing platforms, over a matter of days, between countless people who had never met each other. That creativity, however much I believe it was misapplied in this case, is part of what makes our networks miraculous and wonderfully strange. I wish it hadn’t affected my life, but it also illustrates to me why my work is important, and why I must continue exploring and explaining these things.

Context collapse is our constant companion online. The openness of the web that has given us so much has given us this phenomenon, too, and it complicates things. It isn’t inherently dangerous, but it does require work and critical thought. The internet makes us telepathic, angry, and weird—but it also lets us collaborate, remix, and rapidly reconfigure one another’s ideas on a massive scale.

Around Valentine’s Day, people found some things I’ve said over the last decade upsetting. Some of those things I said, and the way that I said them, I stand by completely. They require context to understand, but that’s not a flaw—that’s part of what makes them complicated and useful thoughts. Some things I’ve said—mostly things not discovered by the mob, to be honest—are not so great, and I don’t agree with them now. But that’s a worthwhile part of my story. I’d hate to think I haven’t learned anything in the last 20 years. I used to think that color-blindness and not talking about race would fix racism. They won’t. I used to be too scared to let people know when I didn’t understand something, and just muddle through hoping I wouldn’t get caught. That was a terrible way of dealing with the world. I used to think that showing someone how wrong they were on the internet could fix the world. I said a lot of stupid things when I believed that.

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Business or Pleasure?

A peach emoji nestling into a folder emoji.

Excerpt from this article:

Peers of mine had experienced both men and women “sliding” into their DMs on LinkedIn with more personal than professional goals in mind. One friend made what she thought was a professional connection in real life that led to a LinkedIn connection. Then she got an ambiguous message suggesting they get drinks to help “build the connection.” One friend met someone out at a bar one night and was later contacted by him on LinkedIn based off only a first name. Potential daters love as much information at their fingertips as possible, and app developers, who treat dating and networking like two sides of the same social media coin, have found big business in gathering that data.

So what’s behind the rise of career apps and dating apps that look almost identical to each other? It’s all about being forced to actively market ourselves to stand out in a hyper-competitive crowd. Work for millennials is a very different experience than it was for most of our parents or grandparents. We live in a gig economy. We stay at a job for shorter amounts of time, our email is almost always on, and independent contract work is on the rise. This economy creates a growing pressure for new professionals to learn how to sell themselves, to turn their skills and themselves into a single, coherent package someone will want to buy (or at least contract out).

When Your Dad Is BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith Featuring Hugo Smith, age 14, grade 9.

Hugo Smith.

Excerpt from this article:

How much time would you say he spends on his phone?

Well, a lot. He used to do this thing that would just drive me insane where, while I was talking to him, he would be doing work on his phone, and he’d just be like, “Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh.” And eventually I’d be like, “OK, what do you think?” And he’d be like, “Uhhhhhhhh.”

So what we convinced him to do was, when he needs to do work stuff, but he wants to spend time with us, and we catch him working like that—he goes into another room, does the work he needs to do, and then he can come back and give us his full attention.

So how did you get him to do that? Did you have to stage an intervention?

No, he sort of came up with it a bit. But also I’ve found that when I’m playing tennis, even just ping-pong, it’s great because we’re both so focused on each other.

Does your dad use Twitter a lot on his phone?

Oh yeah, occasionally at family events and stuff.

How do you know when he’s tweeting?

I check his Twitter account. He is always on Twitter.

So you’ll be at a family event, and you’ll look at Twitter just to see if your dad is tweeting?

Definitely. I’ll be like, “Dad, you retweeted something 30 seconds ago.”

But usually at those family events I’m retweeting things too.

Would you say your parents have a healthy work-life balance?

I think my dad’s definitely gotten better about it. A couple years ago, he worked more, but he’s definitely figuring it out now, it’s good.

What do you think motivated him to figure it out?

Just a lot of “Dad, get off your phone. Daddy, we’re talking to you.”

Forget about Fake News, the Real Problem Is “Fake Productivity”

From this website:

We’ve gotten very good at making time for busywork and very bad at making time for our best work. In this recent talk, I outline why we’re so addicted to “fake productivity” — those small, mindless tasks that feel productive but actually get us nowhere — and how we can shift our attention back to the work that matters.

The inevitable future of Slack is your boss using it to spy on you

A woman is at her desk partially hidden behind her monitor

Excerpt from this article:

Constant interruptions are the bane of life in today’s open-plan offices. And a Swedish-Swiss industrial engineering company, ABB, says it has a solution: It has given some of its employees a kind of automated “do not disturb” sign: custom-designed traffic lights for their desks.

The FlowLight system evaluates how busy someone is by measuring their combined mouse and keyboard activity against that person’s baseline average. When activity is in the top 9% of their typical range, the light turns red, letting colleagues know that it’s the wrong time to amble over with a funny anecdote or any question that’s not absolutely burning. Non-emergencies can wait until the light is green.

… maybe the FlowLight is just the latest and most blatant manifestation of a reality we’re already living with: The office productivity tools we’ve been told are meant to facilitate collaboration, improve communications, or encourage collegiality are constantly watching and measuring us.

… He imagines a day when Slack conversations will be subjected to sentiment analysis and managers will offer employees granular, daily feedback in place of yearly reviews. And if Slack doesn’t go there, maybe one of its competitors—Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace, Google Allo, and lesser-known names—will.

I’m Not Texting. I’m Taking Notes.

Excerpt from this article:

As I headed to the bathroom feeling on top of my advisory board game, Craig pulled me aside and said, “Listen, you’re doing great, but I want you to be super-successful here.”

Uh-oh.

“Many board members noticed that you were on your phone a lot,” he said. “If you can hold out on texting friends or checking your Twitter feed until the breaks, that would be great.”

Mission failed. Now I did feel like an idiot.

But I was also quite angry. The thing is, I hadn’t checked my Twitter feed for over two hours. I’d been taking notes.

…What really upset me at the meeting was the assumption that by pulling out my phone, I wasn’t paying attention. I’m a digital native. My friends and I have only known a world where phones are smart. My iPhone is a computer, and it’s natural to take notes on it.

I thought I was being diligent, yet they thought I was being rude. I even thought I was being efficient by quickly looking up something online and not missing a beat, and they thought I was playing video games. Clearly, my generation cannot assume the older generations know how we use technology.

 

A Short Guide To Work Phone Calls For People Who Grew Up Texting

A Short Guide To Work Phone Calls For People Who Grew Up Texting

Excerpt from this article:

From an evolution perspective, human communication is optimized for face-to-face interaction–in small groups and in real time. Conversations are a delicately choreographed dance in which speakers gather constant feedback from listeners, and vice versa, about whether their points are getting through. The nonverbal cues are just as valuable as the verbal ones, if not more so.

So a phone call is already a significant deviation away from that ideal situation, and a text message falls short even more. In fact, the further you get from unmediated face-time, the more likely it becomes that a conversation will go off track. Missing somebody’s tone of voice can make it harder to detect jokes and sarcasm, no matter how many emojis you throw in…