JScott's Monthly Missive
Hello from Bergamo, Italy! I am here with a great group of MU students on a summer study abroad program. It has been hot here, and last week our room was so warm that we took our project management (scrum and kanban) exercises out on the lawn.
Sorry, it has been so long since I have sent a note. It was a busy but very productive spring semester. I hope that everyone had a great spring! As always, be sure to hit reply and tell me what you have been up to, what you are reading and what neat stuff you have discovered lately!
Discoveries and Lifehacks
Quitting Facebook. Sometime after the 500 th Facebook scandal this past spring, I deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts. I had already removed the apps from my phone sometime earlier, but I didn't want to support a company whose impact on society was now clearly so negative. Jason Lanier , Cal Newport (Author of Deep Work ) Walt Mossberg , and others convinced me that it was time.
The negative consequences: I am sure there are events I am missing and or some friends with whom I am losing contact (I sent a notice to most of my facebook friends with my cell phone and contact info before I left). But I don't know what I am missing, so I don't feel any impact. I did feel some FOMO at first, but that subsided quickly. I had stupidly used facebook to login to several other websites (convenient but allows for much more detailed tracking of your activities across the web). However, it was easy to create a new login by just selecting "forgot password" and entering my primary facebook email on all the sites I had used Facebook to login.
The positive consequences: A lot more productive time, feeling less anxious. After deletion, I was surprised to find how many times a day I was mindlessly opening a browser to check Facebook. Usually, when the next task on my list was something I didn't want to do (typically grading or responding to emails). I have also started to make more time in my day to interact with friends and family via phone, text, or in person. Research has shown over and over that humans can maintain about 150 relationships at a time, and probably just 5 really close relationships. Investing in those relationships will yield more benefits in regards your happiness, than having 2000+ "Friends" on Facebook. I generally feel more focused and I have started to inventory how I am spending my time and what meaningless activities can I stop doing so I have more time to invest with close family and friends.
App/Website: Libro.fm. I listen to audio books while working around the house and walking to and from work/appointments. I had been using Audible but recently switched to Libro.fm , which seems just as good but shares their profits with your local bookstore, in my case Skylark in downtown Columbia. Skylark has well-curated selection, but sometimes I would rather listen to a book than read it (histories, biographies, and fiction fall into this category for me). So now if I see a book at Skylark and decide to listen to it instead of purchasing the book in the store, I don't feel like I am mooching off the hard work of the proprietors who spend their time finding great books. Libro.fm made it easy to switch with a new subscriber offer of three audiobooks for the price of one.
Internship opportunity: Kleros. Many of my students are interested in blockchain and cryptocurrency, and several former students are now working on blockchain projects at major companies. Kleros is an innovative platform that uses blockchain for dispute resolution and they currently have an internship program open to current students and graduates. More details are here .
Audio Book: The Rise and Fall of Dodo by Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland (Amazon Link). I don't usually read fiction, but I eventually get around to reading anything Neal Stephenson is associated with (my favorites are Seveneves and Reamde ). Dobo is a little bit sci-fi, but mostly a fun story about some time-traveling witches; the sci-fi part of the book is where quantum physics is used to explain magic and how to bring it back into the world.
Audio Book: In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum [also read by Lindsey Hilsum] ( Amazon Link ). Great book and excellent audio narration. Tells the sometimes sad, fast-paced, and intense life of Marie Colvin. I know several films have been produced about Ms. Colvin (focusing on her last days in Syria), but I can't imagine that they paint as vivid and fascinating portrait as Ms. Hilsum does in this book. I learned a lot, and it confirms a lot that I had suspected about this particular journalistic niche. The death of Marie Colvin's death was controversial in the journalism profession. Many thought that her paper and editors pushed her or allowed her to take too many extreme risks. As a result, some news outlets have pulled back their reporting in war zones. This lack of reporting has probably hurt the lives of thousands of civilians and refugees throughout the world by decreasing the coverage and public knowledge of their plight.
What I Need Help With
Renaming this newsletter! Over 300 of the neatest people you could know receive this "Missive" and I am working to make sure I get these notes out on a more regular basis. "JScott's Monthly Missive" just sounds odd to me. "The Interface," "Five Bullet Friday" and "Wake Up" are all interesting newsletters to which I subscribe. I am hoping that you'll have some brilliant ideas (mine have not been good). Please click here to email me with you brilliant ideas.
Two Articles about the Case of Anna Delvey (born Anna Sorokin) who faked her way into New York high society and got hotels, banks and many others to extend her credit on the promise and appearance of being rich. Frankly, I am on Anna's side for most of this story. What she did was wrong, but these businesses did hardly any due diligence to protect their interests. I think it is illustrative of the difference in the way the 1% and the rest of us experience the world. If you are part of the 1% (or can fake it) you can rack up 30K or more in bills at luxury hotel based on the promise of a wire transfer. You and I have to fill out reams of paperwork to get a 30K home equity line on our already paid off house!! I see her as a modern day Robin Hood, although the poor to which she gave was herself. If a bunch of really rich people/companies didn't do their due diligence and got suckered out a small amount of their money, I guess it doesn't really bother me that much.
Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track of It by Jessica Pressler in The Cut (This is a great read).
Glitz, glamour, now guilty: spectacular fall of New York's socialite scammer from the Guardian.
Interview with the author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff (which I currently reading; Amazon Link ). My friend Mike C. forwarded me this interview from NPR's "On Point." It is worth listening to and this interview will give you a good idea of what the book is about and the ways that Facebook, Twitter, and Google make their money by collecting our data, bundling it and selling it. An enterprise that simultaneously nets lots of money for these companies and destroys our societal bonds. Listen to the interview here. Kara Swisher also intervieed Zuboff on Recode. That interview (text and audio) can be found here.
An Article about the work of my friend and colleague John Howe in the Contrarian Spotlight: "The Contrarian Spotlight features a reader of this newsletter who's redefining the status quo in their corner of the world. This week's guest is John Howe, author of The Foolish Corner: Avoiding Mind Traps in Personal Finance Decisions, and Professor of Finance, Missouri Bankers Chair, and Chair of the Finance Department at the University of Missouri – Columbia (MU) . In the interview, John explains how he discovered his passion for finance, what it means to study behavioral finance and why it's important, and what kind of biases can block smart financial decisions." Read the full interview here .
Trying to keep to the habit of Exploring-->Learning-->Building--> Sharing. I managed to get a few things shared during the past month that might be of interest:
Pepper and Friends. Paul Pepper is an icon in Columbia, having a TV or radio show on the air for well over 40 (perhaps over 50) year and so I was gratefully when John H. recommended me as a guest to Mr. Pepper. The first appearance was a success, and I have continued to be invited back. The second program-- Programming Morality into Self-Driving Cars --was a mixed bag, but the third time was a charm and had us both laughing. Looking forward to doing it again in August!
I updated a number of my course videos on Youtube, including Information Systems Roles , Information Systems of the Past and Crossing the Chasm . Probably only of interest to those who are teaching similar topics.
What I Am 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! Thanks to everyone who reads my monthly (not quite) emails and provides me with great new ideas.
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