If you want to find interesting things on the Internet, you need to go do the work of looking for them.

In memoriam Google Reader | Jeremy Cherfas:

Of course, one of the huge plus points of the big silos is that they supposedly make it easier to get your stuff in front of gazillions of people. Maybe. I have no idea how many new, regular readers come here from a social post and then cut out the middle man. Maybe some. But discoverability remains a problem. That’s why I like the very nineties idea of a webring, connecting websites that have something in common, even if that is only that they belong to the same webring.

Yeah, I can relate.

I think there are two different problems here, though. Sure, Facebook and Twitter may offer a better means of getting your stuff in front of gazillions of people, but I’m not sure that’s anything any of us really even wants. The small handful of experiences I’ve had with a post getting a lot of views and responses outside for my usual small circle of friends and acquaintances have been enough to convince me that it’s not a good idea.

The discoverability part, though… I feel like a lot of folks (although not the above post) are still stuck on the bogus idea pushed by tech evangelists that algorithms will save us, that we will automagically be given list of interesting people to follow, articles to read, and products to buy, all uniquely tailored to our specific needs and wants.

In reality, what we end with are famous people who already had 3 million followers, promoted posts, and “people who bought that also bought this” suggestions.

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Small men who want to feel big

Thinking about Rittenhouse and Right Wing Murder Safaris | Talking Points Memo:

Over the years at TPM we’ve done a lot of coverage not only of the ‘gun rights’ movement but so-called ‘open carry’ activism specifically. These are those cases where men engage in a kind of wingnut performance art by going into restaurants or other public areas carrying various kinds of long guns, most often AR-15s, like the one Rittenhouse used. Many states have made this legal in recent years and these guys want to show they can do it. Open carry types have a whole story about why they do this. But it seems obviously part and parcel of what we now call Trumpism, a form of performative aggression and provocation. People who show up at a local Denny’s or a Walmart with an AR-15 strapped over their back are trying to menace and terrorize people. Because they can. Because it feels powerful.

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Writing for work should be concise, even if that means people actually read it.

Writing that’s meant to be seen and not read – Mike Crittenden:

Someone wrote a gigantic doc that provides zero value because nobody will ever read it. But the fact that it was long made people trust that they know what they’re doing. What an insidious form of preening.

The part I hate most (as someone who’s ranted about how everyone’s writing is too long and too wordy) is that it’s such an effective strategy for building trust. Sometimes the easiest way to show your boss or skip level that they don’t have to micromanage you is to give them a super long doc that they can pretend to read.

Replacing that doc with a one pager that they’ll actually read doesn’t have the same effect, because what gets read gets nitpicked and questioned and debated and bikeshedded. Remember, negativity is another insidious form of preening, and where better to “show value” via negativity than in the comments of a Google doc?

Mike goes on to suggest that this antipattern leaves to options: writing short documents that lead to micromanaging, or writing long documents that no one reads.

I’m not entirely sure I buy that dichotomy, but it is certainly one that exists in some organizations. If you’re stuck in that situation, I would say that you are better off picking the first option. Sure, you may have to deal with micromanagement from managers and leaders who do actually read the docs, but that interaction then become a starting point for dealing with those behaviors.

If you write the long docs that no one reads, the situation will never improve.

…and I should note that the same holds true for presentation slides, where I find this problem tends to be even worse than it is with documents.

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As I listen to it, I am reminded that Tomb Mold’s album Planetary Clairvoyance is very good. I should listen to it more often, but I have to be in a very specific mood (often related to the time of year, it seems) to listen to death/black metal.
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Friday afternoons

That’s a Big, Poorly Camouflaged Red Flag – by Anne Helen Petersen – Culture Study:

If you’ve ever been in an organization that is very focused on butts-in-seats, you know the general listlessness of a waning Friday afternoon. Maybe you have a a few spurts of work, maybe someone has convinced you to be part of a meeting, but mostly you’re fucking around, draining down the hours. That’s because your mind is done, or, more precisely, your mind needs to be done with the work week. And yet, at least historically, companies have people in non-hourly jobs in offices as a means of 1) justifying their salary and 2) leveraging and maintaining control and power. Mandatory office time, in other words, as a cudgel to keep employees in line, because if they aren’t forced to be in the office, workers won’t work, or at least won’t work the way employers want them to.

At my new gig, leadership has recently implemented Focus Fridays, wherein everyone is discouraged from scheduling meetings between 1p and 5p on Fridays. It’s a new policy, so adoption is uneven, but it seems to be pretty well received.

On a side note, I spent my first Friday afternoon sifting through an enormous stack of resumes, looking for candidates for an open spot on my team. My main takeaway from this exercise is further confirmation that the entire system of posting, recruiting, and applying for jobs is pretty broken.

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