robertogreco + mandybrown   25

A theory of nonscalability | A Working Library
"Tsing on scalability:
Progress itself has often been defined by its ability to make projects expand without changing their framing assumptions. This quality is “scalability.” The term is a bit confusing, because it could be interpreted to mean “able to be discussed in terms of scale.” Both scalable and nonscalable projects, however, can be discussed in relation to scale. When Ferdand Braudel explained history’s “long durée” or Niels Bohr showed us the quantum atom, these were not projects of scalability, although they each revolutionized thinking about scale. Scalability, in contrast, is the ability of a project to change scales smoothly without any change in project frames. A scalable business, for example, does not change its organization as it expands. This is possible only if business relations are not transformative, changing the business as new relations are added. Similarly, a scalable research project admits only data that already fit the research frame. Scalability requires that project elements be oblivious to indeterminacies of encounter; that’s how they allow smooth expansion. Thus, too, scalability banishes meaningful diversity, that is, diversity that might change things.

(Emphasis mine.) I think about scalability and diversity in my work-life quite a bit: the tech and media industries have explicitly acknowledged the need for diversity (while so far only making token steps towards achieving it). But there’s often a notion that diversifying an organization will not require changes to that organization’s culture: the concept of “culture fit” presumes someone can neatly fit into the existing culture, as opposed to challenging it or expanding it—or even razing it. That tech (and, increasingly, media—and oh, that boundary is nothing if not fluid) also speaks of scalability in religious terms puts Tsing’s contention here in an even more interesting light. Scalability is expressed not only in the external artifacts of an organization—the software, the servers, the business model—but also the people who work for it and the people who interact with it as customers, clients, and, increasingly, inconstant laborers. That latter category—the Uber drivers, TaskRabbits, and Postmates—seems especially relevant to notions of scalability. Uber can scale, but the single parent who works as a driver and can’t predict what they’ll make from week to week cannot.

Tsing continues:
Scalability is not an ordinary feature of nature. Making projects scalable takes a lot of work. Even after that work, there will still be interactions between scalable and nonscalable project elements. Yet, despite the contributions of thinkers like Braudel and Bohr, the connection between scaling up and the advancement of humanity has been so strong that scalable elements receive the lion’s share of attention. The nonscalable becomes an impediment. It’s time to turn attention to the nonscalable, not only as objects for description but also as incitements to theory.

A theory of nonscalability might begin in the work it takes to create scalability—and the messes it makes. One vantage point might be that early and influential icon for this work: the European colonial plantation. In their sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sugarcane plantations in Brazil, for example, Portuguese planters stumbled on a formula for smooth expansion. They crafted self-contained, interchangeable project elements, as follows: exterminate local people and plants; prepare now-empty, unclaimed land; and bring in exotic and isolated labor and crops for production. This landscape model of scalability became an inspiration for later industrialization and modernization.

There’s the savage bit again: scalability often swamps all other considerations. If you define scalability as the solitary success metric, then you are bound to ignore—or violently overcome—all other measures. So another place to begin to build a theory of nonscalability might be to ask by what other metrics we should measure progress. Scalability cannot be our only aim."
mandybrown  leadership  management  scalability  hiring  scale  2016  annalowenhaupttsing  nonscalability  diversity  small  business  annatsing 
july 2016 by robertogreco
All our imagined futures | A Working Library
"No, an end to growth will not look like Blade Runner, Mad Max, or The Hunger Games. These movies imagine what happens when we do not end growth soon enough.

So what would an end to growth look like? Writing in Dissent last spring, Daniel Immerwahr doesn’t paint the rosiest picture, but he also makes clear the alternative:
Such cuts can be made more or less fairly, and the richest really ought to pay the most, but the crucial thing is that they are made. Because, above all, stopping climate change means giving up on growth.

That will be hard. Not only will our standards of living almost certainly drop, but it’s likely that the very quality of our society—equality, safety, and trust—will decline, too. That’s not something to be giddy about, but it’s still a price that those of us living in affluent countries should prepare to pay. Because however difficult it is to slow down, flooding Bangladesh cannot be an option. In other words, we can and should act. It’s just going to hurt.

There’s the rub: those of us living in affluent countries must pay. Porter presumes that technology can get us out of climate change without that payment—that nuclear energy, renewables, carbon capture, and electric cars will let us continue to consume at current levels as if nothing had changed. (As an aside: you can follow the American love of cars all the way to Immortan Joe’s citadel.) But I don’t think it’s likely we’re going to get off that easy. Carbon capture is still a pipe dream, nuclear energy will take too long to ramp up even absent strong local objections, electric cars are hardly a panacea, and renewables such as solar and wind, while certainly promising, won’t help much if we continue to pull coal and oil out of the ground at the rates we are now.

As it happens, though, I think Porter’s instinct to reach for science fiction to understand the future is a useful one. In Submergence, J.M. Ledgard’s novel of planetary depths, Danny remarks: “If this was happening in a science-fiction world we would see it clearly for what it is, but we don’t because it’s happening here and now.” Fiction, and science fiction in particular, can help us imagine many futures, and in particular can help us to direct our imaginations towards the futures we want. Imagining a particular kind of future isn’t just day dreaming: it’s an important and active framing that makes it possible for us to construct a future that approaches that imagined vision. In other words, imagining the future is one way of making that future happen. Writing in Essence in 2000, Octavia Butler asked,
So why try to predict the future at all if it’s so difficult, so nearly impossible? Because making predictions is one way to give warning when we see ourselves drifting in dangerous directions. Because prediction is a useful way of pointing out safer, wiser courses. Because, most of all, our tomorrow is the child of our today. Through thought and deed, we exert a great deal of influence over this child, even though we can’t control it absolutely. Best to think about it, though. Best to try to shape it into something good. Best to do that for any child.

Butler’s Parable of the Sower is, like Mad Max, a tale of the road. And, like Mad Max, it’s a difficult but hopeful one. Maybe Porter should read it."
mandybrown  2016  octaviabutler  mikeculfield  eduardoporter  zizek  peterwirzbicki  submergence  hungergames  dystopia  optimism  hope  scifi  sciencefiction  danielimmerwahl  jmledgard  fiction  imagination  future  futurism  capitalism  growth  zerosum  change  economics  climatechange  globalwarming 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Hypertext for all | A Working Library
"These rococo days of the web have been sadly lost to capricious corporate owners, and newer platforms almost seem to have recoiled from them. (I could write a whole other letter about the neutered minimalism common on a lot of platforms today, but I digress.) But I think that history is telling: in that, given a canvas on which to play, many people opted to express themselves with color and image, often spending much more effort there then on the words, and often in surprising ways.

So, I’ll ask again, is hypertext just the text? Are images, styles, video, fonts, and the like always subsidiary?

There’s an old saw about the web that says that when the web democratized publishing, everyone should have become a writer, but instead most of us became consumers. (Nevermind that email and SMS have most people writing more in a day than their Victorian ancestors wrote in their entire lives.) There’s more than a hint of disparagement and elitism in that saying: everyone should have taken up writing, which is obviously superior to reading or watching or (gasp!) consuming. And I worry that that same sentiment creeps in when we argue the supremacy of text over image on the web. Writing is an important and valuable skill, but so are many other things.

Here’s another way to think about it: over the past year, video after video has emerged showing cops shooting unarmed black people. Those videos have been shared on the web, and while they haven’t yet led to anything resembling justice for the victims, they have contributed to profound discussions around race, militarized police forces, guns, and more. They are not sufficient to bring about desperately needed social change—and there’s an argument to be made about whether they are at risk of becoming mere spectacle—but I think it would be hard to deny that they are an important element in the movement, that they have had a major impact.

You can describe what happens in each of those videos in words, but those words will never equal watching them. The words “Tamir Rice was shot two seconds after the police car pulled up” are wrenching, but not nearly as much as watching him fall to the ground as the car continues to roll. The words “Tamir Rice was twelve years old” are not as heart stoppable as seeing a photo of him. I am saying this as someone who believes in words, who spends more time with words than with pictures, who is more often moved by words than by images. But sometimes the power of an image dwarfs that of words. Even I have to admit that.

I worry that the push to keep the web defined to words, while pragmatic and reasonable in many ways, may also be used to decide what stories get told, and what stories are heard. Many more people are using their tiny computers to record video and audio and take pictures than are writing; as much as I may love writing, and as much as I know that transmitting writing via cables and air is a hell of a lot easier and cheaper than transmitting video, I’m not sure I can really stand here and say that the writing is—or should be—primary.

One of the design principles of the web is to pave the cowpaths: it looks to me like there are some new paths opening up, ones we may not have expected, ones that aren’t going to make many of our jobs easier. Maybe instead of putting up signs saying there are better paths elsewhere, it’s time we see where these ones take us."

[Noted here: https://twitter.com/rogre/status/683849479385001984 ]
mandybrown  2016  web  hypertext  maciejceglowski  geocities  myspace  webrococo  waybackmachine  pinboard  javascript  webdesign  webdev  images  multiliteracies  video  flash  zefrank  design  writing  text  words  language  listening  elitism  typography  tools  onlinetoolkit  democacy  activism  maciejcegłowski 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Building an inclusive culture | Vox Product Blog
"On the product team and throughout Vox Media, we've made a commitment to foster a welcoming, inclusive environment that's safe for people of all backgrounds, including historically underrepresented groups such as people of color, LGBTQ people, and women.

That's a big commitment. This year, the product team has started the work to formalize our hiring and interview processes to eliminate bias; established best practices for hiring and outreach in order to diversify our candidate pools; expanded a program of community events with a focus on inclusivity; formed a task group to identify harassment and abuse targeted at our staff and assess how we can help; and are exploring many other avenues, including participating in after school programs, identifying diverse conferences we can support and attend, and looking into training programs to educate our staff on topics around diversity.

And yet, we're only getting started.

In a recent newsletter, Deb Chachra defined her three laws of working towards diversity and inclusivity:

I. It is hard work.

II. You can never stop doing it.

III. You will definitely fuck up.

To which we'd add: you have to do it anyway, because it's right.

It's in that spirit that we have approached all the work we're undertaking with our diversity initiatives, including this one: we're sharing and open sourcing our product team code of conduct, both as a public commitment and in the hopes that other teams may find it inspirational or instructive.

You can find the code of conduct on GitHub at github.com/voxmedia/code-of-conduct. We anticipate it will evolve and grow with our team as well as with input from the community.

Many company diversity initiatives focus on hiring, an area we've also begun to work on. But hiring for diversity is worthless if it isn't followed up by a real commitment to inclusion: as the saying goes, it does not matter how good your pipeline is if it leads right into the sewer. Any work to improve the diversity of your job candidates needs to be met with equal or more effort towards ensuring that the culture they join is one that will unequivocally welcome them, learn from them, and adapt in response to their unique contributions.

Codes of conduct have been something of a hot topic in the tech community of late, with many people establishing them as litmus tests for industry events while others question their effectiveness. For our own purposes, we don't believe the sole purpose of a code of conduct is to prevent bad behavior: we've set very high standards for ourselves, and expect that many of us will, on occasion, fail to live up to them. In those situations, the code is useful not as a preventative but as a north star—an articulation of our values which we can use to reorient ourselves should we ever fall astray.

This code of conduct is undoubtedly imperfect—as any code will ever be. But we believe it to be a sincere representation of our hopes for our team and that to improve upon it we must first find a place to start. This is that place. Let's see where we can go from here."
mandybrown  codeofconduct  vox  voxmedia  diversity  feminism  2015  inclusivity  inclusion 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Whole of Work - Features - Source: An OpenNews project
"I shouldn’t have to say this, but here we are: work that is excessive, consuming north of 40 hours a week and without regular holidays, leads to burnout and reduced productivity, not to mention a toll on workers’ mental and physical health. We should build workplaces that encourage healthy work habits because we are not monsters, but also because we benefit from sane work cultures because they achieve better results.

With that out of the way, parental leave, holidays, paid sick time, flexible hours, and remote-friendly environments are all table stakes for a holistic work culture. Holistic technologies rely on the creativity and leadership of all parties involved—so they are especially sensitive to environments that engender fatigue. Too often, work cultures neglect the fact that workers have bodies, forgetting that food, exercise, and rest are design requirements.

In addition to long hours, push notifications arriving 24/7 and expectations that workers are “always on” are similarly dangerous. A lot of recent technology makes connecting with far-off colleagues trivial, but that’s both a boon and a responsibility. Team leaders have to set an example by promoting responsible time off policies and setting expectations that off time is off limits. Likewise, unlimited vacation policies are only a perk if workers make use of them.

Most importantly, the egalitarianism necessary for productive collaboration requires that we work to reduce the effects of structural discrimination—otherwise, not every team member will be able to contribute fully. We don’t—we cannot—live in a meritocracy, so habits and expectations that force workers to prioritize work over life silently privilege the young, healthy, wealthy, and childless. If we’re going to build diverse workplaces—and we’d better—then it’s critical that we support the whole life of every worker, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

***

There’s one final point I’ll make about holistic technology: it need not be constrained to the work of making products, but can extend to the products themselves. Many of the products most in vogue today—Slack, GitHub, Trello, or any member of the somewhat misnamed category of content management systems—are themselves tools for collaboration. Which means those tools can also aspire to holistic processes, creating environments in which individuals can take control of their work rather than being controlled by it.

Franklin notes that the real danger of prescriptive technologies is that they lend themselves to a culture of compliance: that is, a prescriptive process teaches people that they must do things a certain way, and so instills in them habits of following the rules. She writes:
The acculturation to compliance and conformity has, in turn, accelerated the use of prescriptive technologies in administrative, government, and social services. The same development has diminished resistance to the programming of people. (19)

The programming of people. In other words, prescriptive technologies lend themselves towards systems and structures that treat people as automatons, diminishing both their talents and their humanity. If we want communities of creative people—that is, people who do not merely accept the way things have always been done but try to improve them—then we cannot afford to breed compliance, in either our workplaces or among our users. The Times expose of Amazon also notes, almost as an aside, that the inhumane culture extends all the way down to warehouse workers who are expected to operate under conditions better suited to robots. If we bristle at working under those kinds of conditions ourselves, what excuse have we for imposing them on others? Moreover, what makes us believe that the programming of people will be limited to those on the lower rungs?

We can’t hoard holistic processes for ourselves—we need to also imbue the tools and systems we create with those same principles. That is, we should encourage collaboration and documentation; anticipate needs for both synchronous and asynchronous workflows; create meaningful ways to denote time working and time away; and most importantly we should resist, at all costs, the temptation to build rigid, prescriptive processes that users must slavishly follow.

Holistic technologies represent better ways of working—and living. We should both enthusiastically adopt them and work to ensure they are the norm, not the exception."
mandybrown  work  collaboration  communication  diversity  2015  ursulafranklin  generalists  specialists  labor  technology  burnout  care  caring  productivity  autonomy  competition  documentation  process  transparency 
september 2015 by robertogreco
No legal merit | A Working Library
"In happier news, The Verge reports on Amazon’s shameless enforcement of non-competes for low-wage temporary workers, and Amazon rapidly about-faces. Nevermind pageviews and reading time, let’s measure publishing success by the actual change we bring about. Metrics could include unjust laws repealed, despicable company policies reversed, social welfare improved, centimeters of sea level increase averted, pseudo-science rejected, reduction in atmospheric carbon, happy children, puppies with loving homes. I’m only half-kidding. Business metrics are critical, but they’re not why we pour our hearts into this work, and we can’t ever let the numbers obscure that."



"An interesting aside: media Twitter was understandably aghast at Facebook’s new initiative, while seemingly unmoved by similar patterns on YouTube. I suspect this is because we have feels about words that we don’t have with video. It’s worth noting that while the web has become the de facto distribution method for video, the internet—that is, the open network of hypertext documents—privileges words over images. HTML is words annotating words. Words are foundational to HTML; images and video are not. Even our relationship to images is driven by language: one can “read” a picture, and our interpretation of images is constrained by words. I’m tempted to think our angst about the economy of letters should be directed at the underlying economic concerns—of which publishing is only one victim—and away from the words themselves. The words will be fine."
2015  mandybrown  metrics  journalism  activism  justice  policy  politics  business  measurement  publishing  success  change  changemaking  socialwelfare  society  law  legal  progress  climatechange  science  education  happiness  ellenpao  gender  inequality  amazon  labor  exploitation  women  facebook  html  text  images  video  youtube 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Hypertext as an Agent of Change on Huffduffer
"Thomas Pynchon. The Anthropocene. Ferguson. Geoheliocentrism. Teju Cole. Thomas Kuhn’s theory of paradigms. Antigone. A wall. The sixth extinction.

The ways we transmit information—and the ways in which that information accumulates into narratives—is changing. And if we aren’t careful, it may not change in all the ways we want it to."

[Full text: http://aworkinglibrary.com/writing/hypertext-as-an-agent-of-change/ ]
mandybrown  change  dconstruct  dconstruct2014  storytelling  antigone  tejucole  thomaspynchon  anthropocene  2014  ferguson  michaelbrown  geoheliocentrism  thomaskuhn  perspective  paradigmshifts  context  framing  metcontexts  transcontextualism  transcontextualization 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The parable of the bees | A Working Library
"The prevailing storyline these days would have you believe that valuations and profit margins represent the complete and singular picture of a business’ worth. No other metric figures into the conversation. Schumacher, again:
Economics, moreover, deals with goods in accordance with their market value and not in accordance with what they really are. The same rules and criteria applied to primary goods, which man has to win from nature, and secondary goods, which presuppose the existence of primary goods and are manufactured from them. All goods are treated the same, because the point of view is fundamentally that of private profit-making, and this means that it is inherent in the methodology of economics to ignore man’s dependence on the natural world.

"I’ve long thought (though I’m aware just how unlikely this is) that economics, as a discipline, ought to be kicked down a notch or two. We treat it, in our ordinary political conversations, as if it were all that mattered, or at least as if it mattered more than many other things. The subtitle to Small Is Beautiful—“Economics as if People Mattered”—remains an aspiration."

[More from the MacKinnon: http://aworkinglibrary.com/reading/once-and-future-world/ ]

[More from the Schumacher: http://aworkinglibrary.com/reading/small-is-beautiful/ ]
mandybrown  jbmackinnon  efschumacher  economics  sustainability  bees  nature  capitalism  profits  measurement  value  values 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Together - Rob Brackett
"When people ask me about Draft, I usually say it’s a pretty decent product made by a pretty good guy named Nate. It’s got a slew of useful features (plenty more than Editorially had) and more are coming at an incredibly fast clip.

We had more people working full time on Editorially, but we couldn’t match Draft’s speed or features. It took us a while to do things that one person with a simple idea might be able able to bang out pretty quickly.

At Editorially, I could pretty much guarantee that the first attempt any of us made at anything would be quickly followed by a deluge of ideas for how it could be approached differently, coexist better with some other part of the product, or how it could simply be improved. I threw out so much great code because it wasn’t the right code. I doubt we ever built anything less than twice. Our pull requests often featured very active discussions, annotated screenshots, and animated gifs demonstrating ideas.

It took us much longer than Nate to get these things done. Sometimes I worried that we were too slow. But I knew, very surely, that the product was dramatically better for the time and effort we took to work together. Where Draft had lengthy menus, an inconsistent interface, or an imperfect workflow, Editorially shone.1

Of course, we also had our share of miscommunications and mistakes. Sometimes we locked horns. I wish we’d collaborated as well around the code as we did around the user experience. There were still plenty of bugs. No collaboration is perfect.

When Paul concludes:
“It’s important to remember that many of these tools are built as side-projects, whereas Editorially benefited from a full-time team working on the product for a year. There is plenty of promise in each of these apps, and with continued development we may see a worthy successor.”

I think of all the teams I’ve known that don’t collaborate well. I think, too, of all the individuals and side projects I’ve seen be highly successful because of a few close collaborators. And I think of everyone I could depend on at Editorially to push back on my hare-brained schemes, sometimes encourage them, and always force me to think more critically about my work.

The strength of our collaborations just might be the most essential part of every endeavor we take on."
robbrackett  collaboration  editorially  mandybrown  teamwork  howwework  criticism  slow  critique  2014  remote 
april 2014 by robertogreco
18. Webstock 2014 Talk Notes and References - postarchitectural
[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/91957759 ]
[See also: http://www.webstock.org.nz/talks/the-future-happens-so-much/ ]

"I was honored to be invited to Webstock 2014 to speak, and decided to use it as an opportunity to talk about startups and growth in general.

I prepared for this talk by collecting links, notes, and references in a flat text file, like I did for Eyeo and Visualized. These references are vaguely sorted into the structure of the talk. Roughly, I tried to talk about the future happening all around us, the startup ecosystem and the pressures for growth that got us there, and the dangerous sides of it both at an individual and a corporate level. I ended by talking about ways for us as a community to intervene in these systems of growth.

The framework of finding places to intervene comes from Leverage Points by Donella Meadows, and I was trying to apply the idea of 'monstrous thoughts' from Just Asking by David Foster Wallace. And though what I was trying to get across is much better said and felt through books like Seeing like a State, Debt, or Arctic Dreams, here's what was in my head."
shahwang  2014  webstock  donellameadows  jamescscott  seeinglikeastate  davidgraeber  debt  economics  barrylopez  trevorpaglen  google  technology  prism  robotics  robots  surveillance  systemsthinking  growth  finance  venturecapital  maciejceglowski  millsbaker  mandybrown  danhon  advertising  meritocracy  democracy  snapchat  capitalism  infrastructure  internet  web  future  irrationalexuberance  github  geopffmanaugh  corproratism  shareholders  oligopoly  oligarchy  fredscharmen  kenmcleod  ianbanks  eleanorsaitta  quinnorton  adamgreenfield  marshallbrain  politics  edwardsnowden  davidsimon  georgepacker  nicolefenton  power  responsibility  davidfosterwallace  christinaxu  money  adamcurtis  dmytrikleiner  charlieloyd  wealth  risk  sarahkendxior  markjacobson  anildash  rebeccasolnit  russellbrand  louisck  caseygollan  alexpayne  judsontrue  jamesdarling  jenlowe  wilsonminer  kierkegaard  readinglist  startups  kiev  systems  control  data  resistance  obligation  care  cynicism  snark  change  changetheory  neoliberalism  intervention  leveragepoints  engagement  nonprofit  changemaki 
april 2014 by robertogreco
The Pastry Box Project: Mandy Brown: Tuesday, 25 March 2014
"The creators of an app fail to consider how it could be used to harm. A founder implements significant changes to community tools with little thought given to the consequences. Thousands of entrepreneurs and investors contribute to the creation of an advertising model that collects enormous quantities of data on users but apparently never imagine how that data could be abused. Organizations declare an end to “structure” without asking themselves how power is exercised absent such systems. Others claim they operate in a meritocracy without, it seems, ever really wondering what such a world would even look like.

Here’s a very simple method: when you set out to make something, whether it be software or policies or mechanisms for organizing information, ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen. Imagine a powerful person, someone endowed with the right circumstances of birth such that the odds are nearly always in their favor; and imagine, also, the reverse—someone for whom discrimination, oppression, violence, and poverty are commonplace. Then optimize to protect the latter, even at the expense of the former. And do it right away: not after you scale, not after the money is rolling in, not after a leak exposes you, but now. Yesterday, even. Go."
mandybrown  information  software  2014  discrimination  violence  poverty  exposure  privacy  anonymity  policy  meritocracy  power  abuse  circumspection  consequences 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Pastry Box Project: Mandy Brown [Tuesday, 25 February 2014]
"In The Comedy of Survival, Joseph Meeker argues that much of Western civilization is modeled after the “tragic mode.” You’ll recognize that mode from the Greek and Renaissance tragedies you read in primary school. In the tragic mode, a larger-than-life character attempts to bend the world to his (and it’s always his) image. He succeeds, in part, by mutilating and murdering and generally dragging a swath of blood behind him. But his success is also his undoing, and at the end of the play, his head is carried off the stage. A eulogy praises his bravery while also issuing a caution against those who would follow in his path.

But Meeker proposes an alternative: the comic mode. As you might suspect, the comic mode takes its cues not from the great tragedies but from comedies. Whereas tragedies follow men who are determined to remake the world to suit them, comic characters remake themselves to fit the world. They are flexible and adaptable; they use their wits to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, rather than using their sword to make such opportunities appear.

Where tragedies end in funerals, comedies end in weddings — less blood, more drink.

The tragic mode is the one we slip into when we talk about men who’ve had an outsized impact on the world. We speak of the many things they’ve accomplished, the obstacles they overcame, their ambition, their disruption. We scoff at the companies or people left in their wake. If they fail, we praise their effort and courage. If they succeed, we eventually conspire to get at their throat, and the cycle begins anew.

But what of the comic mode? The comic mode eschews heroic acts. The comic mode pokes fun at ambition and celebrates leisure. The comic mode trades late nights for weekends off, empty savings accounts for day jobs, bravado for brains.

The comic mode lives beyond the curtain fall.

Less blood. More drink."
mandybrown  trickster  worldview  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  comedy  tragedy  2014  heroism  humor  ambition  disruption 
february 2014 by robertogreco
STET | Making remote teams work
"I’ll be the first to admit that remote work is not a panacea for all that ails the modern workplace, nor is it suitable for everyone. It’s just as possible to have a dysfunctional remote team as it is to have a broken and unproductive office space.

That said, in the tech community today, remote work has some clear advantages. For the employer, it enables hiring from a more diverse set of workers. Yahoo! may be unwilling to hire an engineer who lives in Kansas City and isn’t inclined (or able) to move to Sunnyvale or New York, but another team may be more than happy to accommodate her. Remote teams also don’t incur the costs associated with expensive campuses and their roster of caterers, laundromats, buses, and gyms, making them more appealing to smaller and leaner organizations. (And, since those perks are usually designed to keep workers at the office, employees could be said to benefit from their absence.) For employees, remote work can permit a flexibility and freedom that is especially valuable to those with less-than-perfect home lives. Caring for children or elderly parents, or contending with an illness or physical or mental disability, may all be made easier with the flexibility to work when and where it best works for you.

This last point is, in some ways, the most damning criticism of Meyer’s policy at Yahoo!: a mother with a full-time nanny may find no difficulty in making it to the office every day, but most parents are not so well-supported. Of the remote workers I spoke to, a recurring theme was the ability to time-shift one’s day to meet their kids’ schedules (as were various techniques for insulating the workspace from tantrums, about which more in a moment). Remote working holds the promise of adapting work to fit our lives, rather than requiring that we twist and bend our lives to fit the space that work demands.

But only if it’s done well. Remote working is a different way of working, with different constraints and practices. It undoes decades of management policies and, given its relatively recent uptake, there’s scant information about the best way to proceed. What follows is some advice, drawn from our own experience at Editorially, with guidance from others about how to make remote teams work — and which pitfalls to look out for."



"One of the most unexpected things that I’ve learned from working remotely is that it isn’t just about accommodating different lifestyles or taking advantage of technology’s ability to compress long distances. Remote working encourages habits of communication and collaboration that can make a team objectively better: redundant communication and a naturally occurring record of conversation enable team members to better understand each other and work productively towards common ends. At the same time, an emphasis on written communication enforces clear thinking, while geography and disparate time zones foster space for that thinking to happen.

In that way, remote teams are more than just a more humane way of working: they are simply a better way to work."

[See also: http://blog.timoni.org/post/75073922089/and-importantly-the-team-chat-room-tool-needs ]
mandybrown  collaboration  tools  communication  2014  stet  technology  remote  work  howwework  editorially  accessibility  inclusivity  chat  video  management  organization  organizations  administration  inclusion  inlcusivity 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Writing on Writing and Other Resources ∙ An A List Apart Blog Post
"Some of you asked for further writing resources after reading Sally Kerrigan’s article, “Writing is Thinking,” in last week’s issue of the magazine. Word nerds that we are, we’re more than happy to oblige.

For new writers, or those looking to get back in the habit, we recommend William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style also holds a special place in our hearts. Of course, no set of writing resources would be complete without mentioning The Chicago Manual of Style, but Words into Type, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, and Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace are all reference resources our editors find helpful to have on hand as well.

If you enjoyed “Writing is Thinking,” you may also wish to add Draft, from The New York Times, and STET, from Editorially, to your regular reading lists. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Betty Edwards’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain are also great reads.

Nicole Fenton’s talk from Build 2013 offers great advice for beginning writers, and Mandy Brown’s “Babies and the Bathwater” in Contents is a great piece to read as you begin thinking of your writing in the larger context of publishing and the web.

If you’re looking to make writing a habit this year, you might also consider Relly Annett-Baker’s online course Write On, which begins February 1st.

Please continue sharing your favorite reads and resources on writing with us in the comments. Whenever you’re ready to share your writing, we’d love to hear from you."
writing  resources  via:nicolefenton  annelamott  williamzinsser  sallykerrigan  marieconnelly  rellyannett-baker  mandybrown  nicolefenton  stet 
january 2014 by robertogreco
STET | You keep using that word
"What’s perhaps most remarkable about the sequence of events that Young-the-narrator describes is just how little imagination it requires: any worthy member of the new (or old) elite could presumably lounge comfortably in his beach chair, margarita in hand, and — without working up too much of a sweat — count off the real-world institutions and privileges which are at odds with a system of merit. Unequal access to schools, hierarchies of needs, nepotism, and so on: all would be obvious targets for someone even half-heartedly considering the idea of meritocracy.

That none of Young’s proposed reforms have taken place should be enough to convince anyone that no real meritocracy exists. Those who claim it does must then be incapable of even that half-hearted thought experiment. (For that matter, anyone who asserts the meritocracy is real is almost certainly too thick to be a member of it.)

But words do not adhere to their creators’ intentions, and the word “meritocracy” has certainly not clung strictly to Young’s definition. In usage it has morphed from a flawed sociological experiment to a disingenuous defense: having failed to introduce the necessary changes to produce an actual meritocracy, the wealthy elite simply appropriated its trappings. The new meritocrat is simply the old aristocrat with a righteous smirk on his face."



"The book’s message is clear: not only is a purely merit-based system unachievable, it is also undesirable. It’s a mechanism not for expanding opportunity but for cementing inequality. It believes that some humans are more valuable than others, and naively proposes that we can measure the difference. It rests on the foundation that those declared less equal will accept their inferiority without resentment. It is thus both unsustainable and morally bankrupt."
mandybrown  2013  meritocracy  siliconvalley  economics  society  michaelyoung  stevesoutherland  newpuritans  homeslessness  poverty 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Robin Rendle · Call Me Interactivity
"We are all tempted by inter­ac­tiv­ity; video & audio snip­pets, data charts that can be flicked and pushed, let­ters that can be popped & pinched. But how many of these fea­tures enhance the rela­tion­ship between reader and writer? Due to the con­straints I men­tioned pre­vi­ously, we most likely won’t recog­nise the dig­i­tal book in a decade. This is because they won’t be built in the same way, they won’t be writ­ten in the same way & they won’t be funded & pub­lished in the same way either. These prob­lems, some eco­nomic, some tech­ni­cal, will force us to con­sider alter­na­tive meth­ods of think­ing about con­tent, space, sto­ry­telling & time.

The line that bor­ders pixel & paper has been crossed, bound­aries have been bro­ken, but the hori­zon swells with oppor­tu­nity. And so these uncharted, dig­i­tal spaces demand not only new types of think­ing, pub­lish­ing and design, but also a new form of sto­ry­telling, new kinds of heroes and mon­sters, new worlds to explore…"
technology  mobydick  leonwiedeltier  oliverreichenstein  craigmod  content  flexibility  control  mandybrown  design  ebooks  digitalpublishing  publishing  interactivity  interactive  2012  future  books  robinrendle  epub3  html  html5  moby-dick  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Starts / from a working library
"I’ve seen many people—those I knew well, and those I knew only from afar—venture out to start their own thing over the years. For many of them, the impetus for that move was discontent: the feeling that they were never going to get what they wanted out of a job unless they built it, wholesale, for themselves. Their backs up against the wall, there was no where to go but out.

Today marks my last day with Typekit. But I feel no discontent. I am not leaving because of what I can’t do—I am leaving because of what I can.

The people working on Typekit (and, now, other exciting projects within Adobe) are among the smartest, most generous people I have known. Under their tutelage, I have learned how to build a product, and—just as importantly—a company. I can think of no better way to honor that learning than to put it to use."
growth  howwegrow  howwelearn  cv  leaving  starting  movingon  learning  yearoff  2012  mandybrown  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
Deploy / from a working library
"What if you could revise a work after publishing it, and release it again, making clear the relationship between the first version and the new one. What if you could publish iteratively, bit by bit, at each step gathering feedback from your readers and refining the text. Would our writing be better?

Iteration in public is a principle of nearly all good product design; you release a version, then see how people use it, then revise and release again.…

Writing has (so far) not generally benefited from this kind of process; but now that the text has been fully liberated from the tyranny of the printing press, we are presented with an opportunity: to deploy texts, instead of merely publishing them…

where fixity enabled us to become better readers, can iteration make us better writers? If a text is never finished, does it demand our contribution?…

Perhaps it is time for the margins to swell to the same size as the text."
publishing  marginalia  readingexperience  reading  unfinished  editing  fixity  elizabetheinstein  change  permanence  impermanence  stability  metadata  revision  print  productdesign  design  deployment  contentstrategy  content  digitalpublishing  digitial  process  writing  2012  unbook  iteration  mandybrown  aworkinglibrary  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
On the library / from a working library
"I wonder, then, if the promise of an ebook isn’t the book but the library. And if, in all our attention to a new device for reading, we’re neglecting methods for shelving. A search engine cannot compete with Warburg’s delicate, personal library. The metadata of a book extends beyond the keywords held between its covers to the many hands the text has passed through; it’s not enough just to scan every page. We need to also scan the conversations, the notes left in the margins, the stains from coffee, tea, and drink. We need to eavesdrop on the readers, without whom every book is mute. That is the promise I seek."
books  library  reading  mandybrown  via:tealtan  libraries 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Represent / from a working library
"But there’s a point just a few steps beyond belonging that is perhaps even more important: advocating. Belonging to a community means participating, observing, and generally being in attendance (either physically or virtually). But being an advocate requires stepping forward and helping to articulate that community’s needs, or advance their interests, or—when necessary—protect their rights. You need to both amplify and clarify the values of a community, not merely share them.

In practice, this means identifying what your community needs to prosper, and either providing that directly or advocating for its provisioning. There are many ways to do this. You can lobby for changes the community needs (…); you can facilitate discussions (e.g., by hosting and supporting safe, productive forums); you can challenge the status quo (e.g., by bringing in ideas from outside the community and fostering discussion); and so on."
advocacy  community  belonging  tcsnmy  presence  commitment  participation  observation  understanding  lcproject  organizations  leadership  administration  publishing  mandybrown  audience  internet 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Ways of reading / from a working library
"Always read with a pen in hand. The pen should be used both to mark the text you want to remember and to write from where the text leaves you. Think of the text as the starting point for your own words.

Reading and writing are not discrete activities; they occur on a continuum, with reading at one end, writing at the other. The best readers spend their time somewhere in between."

"Read voraciously, many books at a time. Only then will you hear the conversation taking place among them."
writing  reading  books  howto  tcsnmy  2009  library  literature  libraries  mandybrown  howweread  howwewrite  howwelearn 
december 2009 by robertogreco

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