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People First

It used to be that we lived in private and chose to make parts of our lives public. Now that is being turned on its head. We live in public, like the movie says (except via micro-signals not 24–7 video self-surveillance), and choose what parts of our lives to keep private.

Ben Schott – 2010 – TEN YEARS AGO

Read More.

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Technology

ClubHouse

People … Process and THEN Technology … but as usual the world at large is ignoring the advice – and jumping straight into an app without much thought … let me explain.

If you are a celeb – you can get in.

Photo by kilarov zaneit on Unsplash

If you are one of the masses … we have a wait line for you … once you have downloaded our app and given us your telephone number … curiously out of the box it asks you which of your telephone numbers you want it to use … so it has already read the data on my phone – without my permission – even before I have been accepted.

It is iPhone only for now. (They know where the money is).

The site itself tells you nothing – but others have explored and looked and opined. (Links at the end.)

But What About Privacy?

One thing the site could have done would be to talk about their privacy policies, where the data is, why they have it (because they don’t seem to ask for it) and why they need it. Not to mention how they intend to handle things like harassment. But like all good ‘bro software’ – we’ll sort that out later ….

Nothing on the site reveals much about what people should be concerned about, only what they are concerned about … access to celebrities!

Diving further down …

“Recording any conversation is strictly forbidden, meaning your encounters with VIP members or general conversations are protected.”

ClubHouse

… how do they manage that? They don’t. Nothing stops me audio recording a conversation … if I can hear it … I can record it. (By the way – they record it.)

Also – any idea if your contacts are safe? Or are they going to be mined aswell? (In fairness – I just checked my phone – they aren’t even listed on the ‘approved apps’ – but then again, I’m not in yet.

Before we get to what others are saying … this is what they are saying (not much and it goes back to July last year).

Some highlights:

Clearly not yet worked out:

How will we evaluate complaints of abuse or harassment when we don’t record user conversations? 

Clubhouse Post (and the only reference to ‘harassment in the entire post)

But It’s Already Valued At $100 Million!

Of course it is. Andreesen Horowitz dropped a cool $10 million into their bank – and if they got 10% of the company for that deposit – then the company is valued at $100Million … The ‘V’in ‘VC’ stands for ‘Voodoo’.

But still – nothing as to how they recoup that investment. (Except this quote from 10 years ago in the NYT.

So How Do They Make Money?

No idea.

I lie. Lots of ideas …

They will upload all your contacts to their servers.

They aren’t recording – but they say nothing about scraping the conversation running it through AI and building a profile of you – after all – they know who you are – what you are saying – which groups you are in …. (and if don’t think they can dynamically and in real-time scrape and transform your spoken words into text – then clearly you have not seen Descript.

Of course – I have no idea if all this is happening, could happen, would happen – but just three months ago – Facebookers were up in arms after watching ‘The Social Dilemma’ and now here we go again – flocking like lemmings to become the latest product for Silicon Valley tech bros to use.

This is their privacy policy. Take a read, that policy doesn’t say anything about not being able to do all that I just described. In fact, it all but spells out that this is exactly what they are going to do. Also interesting that they keep it on ‘Notion’.

Various people have said different versions of these words in the past – I like this one from Rounders

Maybe I’m wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time …. but if I am – can someone tell me how they make money?

Clubhouse Articles

(I have ignored all the puff stuff from March and simply linking to December / January stuff – now that the honeymoon is over.)

Vanity FairThe Murky World of Moderation on Clubhouse.

spoiler alert – what moderation?

VogueEverything You Need to Know About Clubhouse, the App Celebrities Are Flocking To.

spoiler alert – that ‘celebrity access’ is both a clue and the key.

BloombergPrivate Social App Clubhouse Courts Fresh Controversy

One exception, Wired – back in May.

WiredThey aren’t big fans.

Conclusion

No, I don’t know everything about what this app is setting out to do.

When that blog post came out, there were only two full time members of the team – the two founders. One is ex Pinterest. The other is ex Google. So nothing to worry about there. Right?

To my mind their ‘Field of Dreams’ approach – ‘Build it and they will come’ is working for them … but at what cost to the people that join in. I’ve requested access – and sitting quietly waiting to hear back from someone. I am not going to push for access – I am just interested to see how long it actually takes.

Once in – I will be able to say more, but my initial thoughts are very much of a ‘wait – haven’t we been down this road before’?

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Work

Where Do You Work

A response to a recent newsletter. Specifically one where I explored Work Location. (You might want to click in and have a read to get the context.)

Sometimes people have a lot to say, but they don’t join into the dialogue – nor even make comments. I get it. I really do. Another post from an anonymous reader, this time answering something I wrote in a newsletter and again – reproduced with permission from the original writer.

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

Now, this is a subject that really gets to me!!

I have long argued that the biggest conflict in the world today is that between global and tribal politics. I have met anthropologists who maintain that the human-animal is basically tribal – pre-programmed by history, if not genetics, ‘to want to belong’. They argue that this is at the root of all sorts of things we see today – including racism/xenophobia at the most serious level and, more prosaically, things like fashion fads, football fans, pop group mania, etc., at the daily level. However, there is, in my eyes at least, clear evidence of emerging subsets of humans who want to throw all that away in favour of seeing the world, and our species, holistically.

One rather crude indicator of this – a frequent topic in my Operations and Supply Chain Management consultancy and teaching – is the tension between global companies (not of all which are the spawn of the devil, planet-destroying, secret cabal members, but simply businesses whose raw materials, skill-base and customers cannot be defined by random, historical, “lines on the ground”) and national Governments, most obviously over issues like differing tax regimes (and where it’s paid) and customs (import/export) processes.

Extend this to the individual with the option of working at very long distance from ‘the office’, and we see similar issues. Some 6 years ago, I did a piece of work for a Greek client, itself funded by the EU, whose direct customers were mainly from the new Eastern EU member states. HMRC was out of the traps like a top greyhound: within days I was in receipt of paperwork explaining what I needed to do to make sure that my work was taxed (and subject to National Insurance) ‘here in the UK’ (despite me NOT actually being in the UK), rather than in Greece. I presume the argument would be that we are a UK-registered company, I am a UK citizen and the education/experience that enabled me to win the contract were gained in the UK, some of it at University, at the taxpayer’s expense. That’s fair enough. However, many of the people who would say “quite right too” are EXACTLY the same people who complain when a US company, say, elects not to be taxed in the UK on earnings made here. Yet, those companies are employing UK people, who pay (quiet a lot) of tax, when you take NI, VAT, duty etc., into account as well as direct PAYE, they are renting or buying UK property, and paying local tax on it, they are consuming UK products and services that create more jobs and tax, etc. If they moved all their operations out of the UK, would we win or lose? It’s not such an easy calculation as the ‘red top fury’ suggests.

So, back to your individual, living where (s)he wants to live but working for a company ‘back home’, or, in the extreme, in the economy that places the highest monetary value on her/his skills. Would (s)he pay tax in the country of residence, the country of origin, the country employment, or several of these? Would the value of the residence (shopping local tax, etc.) be offset against the value of direct employment taxation in deciding policy?

Or is this another nail in the coffin of nationalistic division?

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Categories
Work

Message From A Musician

As a reader of this blog and newsletter or as a listener of my podcast – you know that I am a keen supporter of the broad category of ‘creative professional’ – and specifically ‘musician’. What follows are not my words, but those of a musician that wrote to me recently. Reproduced with their permission and names and venues changed/anonymized to ‘protect the vulnerable’.


I just got my first real paying gig since March 17 for Saturday December 26th. Meanwhile, due to an uptick in local COVID cases the county has announced that restaurants are to remain open, but no one allowed at the bar for the next 2 weeks.

By my calculation from today (Dec. 10), that takes us to December 25th. So, December 26th we will be back to normal?

Photo by Marscella Ling on Unsplash

After 9 months of ‘COVID communications with the owners of a local ‘hostelry’ – and having played there every Friday for over fourteen years, I have now experienced a full u-turn, so instead of returning to my Friday Afternoon slot – which they said “would be there for me whenever I was ready to return”, they have instead told me I will be “on call”, if they need a last minute substitute as ‘their schedule is booked full’.

I told them actually no …. no I won’t.

Beyond that, they are no longer paying what they used to – and that was never a lot to begin with!

The business (music AND the hostelry) has never been stacked with integrity, but this has to be a new low. Maybe to match the pay rates of the stand-ins?

Meanwhile on the other side of town, my Tuesday night gig (again over 14 years) has been taken over by a guy playing bass with a karaoke backing machine … in return for ‘a burger and a beer’ !!

The musician said “he did not want to steal my night” … funny – because he did. He could have said no. I guess the burger temptation was too great.

He was offered the gig by the owner because his belief was that I wouldn’t work for free. (Correct!).

I grew up in a Union town. I remember what those kinds of people were called.

I get it. I really do. I know the venues are struggling with finance like us all – musicians included – but if they can’t afford musicians – why bring them on at all?

If your business model is to offer live music – shouldn’t you pay for it?

And sure – I can hear the gallery calling down – you’ll make it up in tips.

With luck – but in reality – no.

So take a share of the profits of extra beer sold …. yeah – good luck with that! When THEY are doing well, YOU are on a fixed (low) fee – “make it up in tips”. But now they are down … well, you know how it goes.

As you know I’ve made my living as a full time musician and creative all of my life, so sad to reflect on COVID lessons;

  • loyalty – out of the window
  • promises – not worth the paper they are written on
  • dogs – they will eat dogs

Don’t get me wrong, the competition is just getting ramped up. The number of musicians – in this area seems to be growing by the day – and I am pretty sure that the number of hostelries are reducing. (One of the biggest just 10 miles away has announced that it is closing for GOOD. )

Not sure how this is going to play out – but I stand with my belief that a business should only offer what it can afford – and the race to the bottom of price is not a race I am going to join in.

When I order Lobster, I don’t expect to eat it and then renegotiate the price – but that seems to be the life of the live performer.

Still – one door closes, another opens – I wonder what happens when two doors close!

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Categories
Work

Employee Surveys

Why employee surveys, like political polls, are misleading.

They should have called me!

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Categories
Work

Digital Nomads

The War For Digital Nomads Heats Up As Greece Passes New Tax Law

Categories
Commerce

Business Bifurcation

The Hard Part Was Knowing What Business We Were Actually In.

Another Gaping Void nails it. Full piece here, though they don’t use the phrase ‘business bifurcation’.

For a long time, it has been clear that business is bifurcating. The two models are either;

  • the ‘pile-em-high-and-sell-em-cheap’ model to borrow from Tesco’s Jack Cohen’s business strategy
  • the ‘totally-high-end-special-and-niche’ model – think $20 dollar pints of beer, $300 bottles of wine, handcrafted artisan wafers …

Gaping Void’s piece brings you right up to date with stories form Saville Row – a set of businesses you might expect to fail in thelight of (say) Brookes Brothers collapse. But no – business bifurcation.

To be fair – those high-end examples aren’t the only way to be in that niche space. Business that scale and deliver low price, do so at the cost of service, value, the personal touch, sometimes quality …

If you are a small business – don’t wonder how to compete with Amazon … work out how to differentiate from Amazon. What worked 20, 30 years ago – still works. It’s just that the ‘what’ is different.

And the first ‘what’ is ‘what business are you in’. It might not be what you think. The business you are in is your ‘core’. Everything else is context. (To borrow from my ‘old’ friend Geoffrey Moore.)

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Categories
Work

Don’t Fear The Future Of Work

The Future of Work

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the source of this piece on The Future of Work. I don’t disagree with the headline, but the article itself falls short of providing solace. In fact it falls short of being an article – but that’s another story.

An altogether disappointing piece that ends …

“I really come away from this concerned about the direction [of work], but optimistic about our ability to change it.”

David Autor, Co-chair, MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future and MIT Professor of Economics

On what grounds? Their was nothing of substance in the piece. Just opinion.

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Categories
Learning

Philosophy Week

podcaster
Photo by Jeremy Enns on Unsplash

Part 2 of my conversation with Cristina DiGiacomo, M.S. goes live at 5 am Pacific Standard Time on Monday 23rd. You are going to love it. Hell, we loved it so much that when we finished – we just kept going – you’ll see what I mean.

Part One – if you want to catch up first.

And it’s not as if there is a theme going here BUT – later on in the week, part 1 of my conversation with Tim Walters Ph.D., goes live.

It must be philosophy in the workplace week!

Categories
Learning

War – What Is It Good For?

Absolutely Nothing! Say it again.

Simon Sinek talking about what game theory teaches us about war.

Maybe why we no longer win wars?

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