Thursday 16 September, 2021

Worried about going back to the Office?

Watch this nice reassuring Dutch film. (And don’t forget to turn on the sound.)

There, that wasn’t too bad, was it?

Quote of the Day

“It is said the pandemic pulled forward a decade or more of “digital transformation”. Yes. But what it really is going to be is the equivalent of what WWII did to the corporation or the microprocessor to mainframe.”

  • Steven Sinofsky (see below)

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Paul Brady & Arty McGlynn | The Humours of Ballyloughlin


And old recording of two of the best guitarists in Ireland.

Long Read of the Day

 Disruption at Work: It’s More than just WFH

Marvellous essay, constructed as a Tweetstorm, by Steven Sinofsky, one of the most perceptive (and experienced) observers of the tech industry.

Here’s a sample:

17/ The line from Walmart to Amazon is not straight or predictable, but it was exponential. And most of the entire time, “everyone” assumed that Walmart would just catch up. How did Walmart not do same day delivery when the “warehouse” is 2 miles away from me?

18/ That is what disruption looks like — it is not linear or predictable, and most importantly, when it is happening no one knows it. The one thing we know is entities being disrupted claim to be doing the new thing everyone is talking about — BUT THEY ARE DOING IT THE OLD WAY.

19/ Second is a tendency to view disruption as a single variable — Amazon has a web site so Walmart needs one. But Amazon had warehouses, custom software, its own last mile shipping, and on and on. Disruption is never one variable, but a wholesale revisiting of all the variables.

20/ That is why the debate over remote work vs hybrid vs HQ is only part of the picture. It is very interesting and will forever change to something, but that is not where the focus should be. It is, however, why the large companies are the first to start looking to the old ways.

21/ In other words, the incumbent in this disruption is not the headquarters or office, but the full list of structures and approaches of the company.

Do read the whole thing.

Apple seems to be persisting with its car project, but nobody knows what it’s planning

Interesting note from Ben Evans’s weekly newsletter:

The Apple Car, still The head of Apple’s car project moved to Ford, and Kevin Lynch, the head of the watch (a huge hit) took over. I sometimes wonder if Apple has worked out what, exactly, it would do in cars. Making a ‘better Tesla’ seems obvious but unambitious. Yet full autonomy (even if possible) isn’t an Apple sweet spot either. The iPhone was not a Nokia with a nicer case, nor a Blackberry done better. It was a completely new concept. What would an Apple car do that wasn’t just a Tesla with a better interior? It’s clearly working on autonomy, but it’s unlikely to do that better than anyone else – though it might work out how to explain whether the car is driving or not, which may be a big deal. I’m not sure that Apple knows.

Somehow, I don’t think it’s a Tesla with a better interior.

Musings On The Anthropocene

Excerpt from an interesting essay (last of 12) by Usha Alexander…

Whatever the geologists decide about the formal definition, it is useful to think about the start of the Anthropocene. It is useful to focus a question on what so fundamentally changed in human behavior that we went from being just one creature among many, to a becoming a dangerous entity on a scale unlike any other life form in billions of years, drastically upsetting the balance of life on our planet with such force that it’s crashing the biosphere. When did our species cross that threshold? If we can understand what changed in our ways of being, then we might be able to figure out what can be set right and how we might restore human societies to their useful place within the living world. Returning to the popular metaphor of humans as a cancer, what if we instead liken the human community to an organ that—just like every other community of life—plays a part in the regulation of the Earth as an organism, imagined as Gaia? It might then be fair to say that something in our tissues, or social fabric, has become diseased. This is to say human beings are not _a disease; rather, human societies are _infected by disease. If that metaphor holds, then our societies can also be restored to health. With proper diagnosis and treatment, why couldn’t we return to our salutary functioning in Earth’s web of life?

Readers of this series will know that I’ve come to think the present disease was caused by an idea — a meme, if you prefer — contracted by societies in the Fertile Crescent during the early to mid-Holocene, an idea that humans are essentially different from all other living creatures and are entitled to destroy or co-opt other lives without regard in the service of human paramountcy. Early Mesopotamian societies at least provide the first textual evidence in which people were beginning to compare themselves favorably with their gods.

Human exceptionalism is at the root of our environmental crisis.

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