Participation medals for moral panic

I’ve always wondered about why some words are deemed to be more dangerous than other. I’m not referring to offensive language here, that’s an entirely different conversation. But words that are simply shunned for their perceived power. Words like “problem”.

A problem is a complication in your way. Something to be solved, worked around or on. In engineering and design a problem is not a negative word, it’s what you’re there to straighten out. Not exactly the focus of your work, but an important part.

In other fields, like politics, a words power comes from the perceived effect it might have. So Problems get renamed into Challanges, and recently I saw the next logical step; Opportunities.

The problem with this second way of working with language is that we’re shooting the messenger. We’re reframing and retooling language instead of working on the problem.

Instead of doing PR about a crash we’re pretending new words can achieve less crashes.

Language has power, and choosing the right words is important. We should continue to do so. But not to absurd extremes.

Fear of problems will not diminish because we change the vocabulary every five minutes. Showing that problems can be worked on and overcome might diminish that fear.

The truth about our shortening attention spans

Attention spans are rapidly shortening. Social media, texting and the always-online lifestyle is destroying our ability to focus for more than seconds at a time!

You’ve probably heard this a hundred times, maybe experienced it yourself on occasion? The strange thing is, it isn’t true.

How do I know? While we’re reading about shortening attention spans the same sources also report new trends like binge watching shows on Netflix, long form articles, and the popularity of book long podcast episodes the likes of Hardcore History. These two ideas contradict each. Both can’t be true.

The truth is that media consumption is changing radically. We are so inundated with content that we simply have no tolerance for things we don’t like. At the same time we will put in every effort to indulge in the things we love.

If your content needs to be trivially short to catch your audience attention, chances are your content just isn’t that great. On the other hand, it might just be suited for very short consumption?

The real reason diversity makes better companies

Here in Sweden it's common, maybe even mandatory, to say that diverse companies are more innovative and even more profitable. But why are they?

Normally when something as good as this is being discussed, people are so afraid of looking like idiots they avoid discussing the reasons. Or better yet, just shout loudly about how good it is. I don't think this is good for society. Not only are we shaming smart people into silence, but we're also spreading ignorance by not discussing why good ideas are good.

Therefore here is the reason, as I've understood it, that diverse companies are better than no- diverse companies.

To make sure we're on the same page I need to explain how a company works: Companies are the sum of the people working at them. A company culture is just the accepted behaviour of individuals at the company. The profits of a company is the margin between the value the people at the company delivers, and the effort they have to put in.

This is why a company can do more than individuals. Cooperation leverages the employees efforts and smarts.

This is really - really - hard to do well, and the larger the group, the harder it is. The reason for that is that every individual has biases and points of ignorance, putting them all together you might start leveraging stupidity instead of smarts.

This is where diversity comes in

One really simple way to make sure you're not leveraging stupidity is to make sure you have a wide range of ideas floating around at the company. Having different points of view does not stop a company from having a culture. It does demand more communication between employees though.

The easiest way to make sure you have many points of view is to put people from many different backgrounds in the process.

Diversity limits the risk of taking stupid actions, and it can push people to communicate more instead of leaving things unsaid.

So the next time you hear diversity is great, now you at least know one concrete reason why.

Twitter reinvents the web comment

If you’ve read my posts before you’ve probably heard me complain about Twitter before, and I’ve thought about it some more: 

I loved Twitter when it was in its infancy, the distributed social asynchronous communication let me learn from and get into contact with people who shared my interests from all over the world. It was empowering.

But Twitter is changing. It's no longer designed as a platform for discussion, but as one for publication.

This new Twitter feels way-to familiar. It looks like Twitter have reinvented the web comment. Same format, same bad tone, same bad social grace. Good job Twitter.

The only real difference between a blog, twitter, and a news site is interface. That's how powerful design is in informing behaviour.

Newsletters are the new Blog

We’ve come full circle. The 2000 era internet is back! Newsletters are now The way people publish content online. They’ve replaced blogs almost perfectly after the short blip of social media became a garbage pile of algorithmic ads. 

Just like blogs they’re trending each other’s content, intermittently updated, and completely distributed. There no one newsletter service. 


Because the Pull Behavior (go out and find information, spread it by creating more information, making it easier for others to find when they search) we so loved about the web is over. It’s been replaced through lazy social media with Push Behavior (I want something now, just keep gushing everything to me and I will “curate” what I want.

It’s a brave new world.