JScott's Monthly Missive: May Edition

My monthly list of resources, life hacks, and life lessons. Hit reply and tell me what you have been up to and what neat stuff you have discovered lately ! If you find this information interesting or useful you can Forward to a friend.

-Scott

Discoveries

  • Copy'em Paste. This clipboard manager for the mac keeps a history of the last 30 or so items that you have copied, so that you can easily paste any one of those items. How many times do you have to copy and paste data from one application to another? If the answer is lots, then I highly recommend that you get this program. I have found this to be one of the biggest time savers in the past couple of months and well worth the price. And I am not even using it to the full extent. It also allows you to transform text as you are copy and pasting (Make upper case, Strip whitespace, etc.) or prepend or append other text.

  • My Monthly Missives are Quarterly Missives during busy semesters. Probably means that I am not putting aside enough time for the things that I want to work on.

Reading

  • So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. This is an important book that I would recommend to eveyone. It is somewhat disturbing as well. It looks at people who have been publicly shamed and had their lives ruined (mainly with the assistance of social media), why shaming is part of human nature, and its "good" uses as well as the misuses of shaming as a punishment. If you want an excerpt from the book, I recommend this article from the New York Times: How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life.

  • There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner Debacle and the Quest for the Digital Future by Kara Swisher. While this is an old book (published in the early 2000s) it is slightly more timely now that AT&T is trying to purchase Time Warner (and about every telecom company is trying to make a deal to aquire a content provider). For anyone investing in technology companies, this is a good retelling of one of the greatest mistakes in the history of business. Mistakes that we'll see repeated soon, I think.

  • Who Can You Trust?: How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart by Rachel Botsman. This was a very interesting book from a number of perspectives: How can you earn or establish trust; Why we have lost trust in our institutions (government and the press); How can you build apps and user interfaces that are "trusted" by users (hint: make them similar enough to something they already like and trust). Some quotes that I thought were important below:

  • Fall out from the panama papers: "The feeling of disillusionment that followed the leak wasn't just about money; it was about fairness and equality. Why did the wealthy, powerful and elite get to play by different rules? The revelation left the social contract in tatters; it destroyed the tacit understanding that we all work hard, pay our taxes and are 'in this together'..The message is clear; if you are rich and powerful you can break the rules, as long as it makes a lot of money. "

    1. "So why is trust in so many elite institutions collapsing at the same time? There are three key, somewhat overlapping, reasons: Inequality of accountability (certain people being punished for wrongdoing while others get a pass); twilight of elites and authority (the digital age is flattening hierarchies and eroding faith in experts and the rich and powerful); and segregated echo chambers (living in our cultural ghettoes and being deaf to other voices).

    2. Trust in products: "People don't want something truly new, they want the familiar done differently.... It was only recently I realized that that is exactly how I think about trust. Specifically, for us to trust a new idea, we need bridges that are easy to find and to cross. The unknown needs to be reduced just enough that our mind goes, "I get this, It's kind of like.....We have to put the strange on the inside and the rice on the outside. "

Must Watch/Read

  • The Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Joint interview on Recode/Decode. After watching the Mark Zuckerburg testimony in April, I was longing for a time when adults were in charge of the major tech companies. This is a great interview with two of the pioneers in tech at the end of their careers when they could look back with perspective and admiration for each other and what each had accomplished.

  • Are You in a BS Job? In Academe, You’re Hardly Alone from the Chronicle of Higher Education. If you have ever thought about becoming an administrator in Higher Education, think twice and read this first. The author also makes a good case for universal basic income at the end of the article: "In fact, the phenomenon of bullshit jobs is one of the most compelling arguments in favor of a policy of universal basic income. One common objection to simply providing everyone with the means to live and then allowing us to make up our own minds about how we see fit to contribute to society is that the streets will immediately fill up with bad poets, annoying street musicians, and vendors of pamphlets full of crank theories. No doubt there would be a little of this, but if 40 percent of all workers are already engaged in activities they consider entirely pointless, how could it be worse than the situation we already have? At least this way they’d be happier."

  • The above links to the Chronicle Web site, but it might still be behind a paywall, so here is a pdf version for you.

  • On the Rheology of Cats by M.A.Fardin from the Universit ́e de Lyon in France. A referred article about how well cats flow into various containers, with all the math describing this process. Thought Greg Z and Dan W would especially appreciate.

LifeHacks

  • I am a big fan of the Getting Things Done GTD) method by David Allen and use OmniFocus on my Mac/ipad/iphone to capture all my projects and items. On my computer I can easily suck in webpages and emails using one keystroke. However, I have always believed in going where your customers are at and right now my customers are mainly students, who like to use txt messaging. I was having a hard time easily translating incoming txts into items I needed to follow up on with my students via OmniFocus. Then I had a "oh duh" moment, and remember that the iPhone will now let you forward voicemails and txt messages, so it is easy to forward these to omni for later processing. Has helped me funnel tasks faster this last month.

Writing and Creating

  • Trying to keep up with the pattern of Exploring-->Learning-->Building--> Sharing. And finding more evidence that sharing information with others is the right way to "move the needle" on the issues you care about in this shifting economy. I managed to get a few things shared out during the semester:

  • YouTube Video: Fellow Faculty: We need to have a talk. Records Retention? Sunshine Requests? Oh My. Faculty need to learn that you never put anything in an email that you don't want to see on the front page of a paper.

    1. YouTube Video: Who Rules Highe

      r Education? Every year the US News and World Report rankings of colleges and universities come out to much fanfare. But what do these rankings really mean, and what impact do they have on our higher education system ? My take on the matter.

    2. YouTube Videos: A short series on Understanding Exponential Technologies, that looks at The Six Ds of Exponential Technologies, The Drivers of Exponential Growth, The Gartner Hype Cycle, and The Technology Adoption Life Cycle.

What I'm looking forward to

  • Getting responses to this month's missive from you all, hearing about the cool stuff you are doing and the resources/lifehacks you are using!! (just hit the reply button and fill me in!)

  • The ComoCypto Conference, September 21st and 22nd. Currently on the planning committee for this conference, so let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas. We'll have a call for proposals out soon.

  • If you want to know what all this crypto, blockchain, ICO stuff is about, then listen to this podcast/interview with a VC from Benchmark.

  • BTW, I knew that ICOs surpassed Angel and Seed stage funding in June of last year, but didn't realize that was true to 2017 as a whole. I think it is an abnormality, fueled by the cryptocurrency mania, and amateurs investing with money they made from bitcoin, etc. But it sure seems that ICOs will mature and be an investment vehicle in the future. But I wonder if startups will be able to understand the difference between just getting money, vs money paired with help.

Take care,

Scott