John Naughton is surprised at journalists and commentators being horrified at corporations doing despicable things.
Don’t they understand that a corporations is essentially a superintelligent AI which is entirely focussed on achieving its purpose — which in the case of corporations these days is to maximise shareholder value? That’s why Facebook could be entirely run by clones of Mahatma Gandhi and St Francis of Assisi and would still be a toxic company.
I have been taking an unscientific survey among friends, acquaintances, and clients about the type of manager they have had throughout their careers. No list of types or categories. I just ask. Bob Sutton would not be surprised to learn that most of the answers can be clustered around the concept of asshole.
But Naughton’s idea here is different. He is talking about the corporation as a whole. He calls on John Steinbeck to illustrate his pont:
a passage from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrathin which tenant farmers are objecting to foreclosure:
“Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land… We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours…. That’s what makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.”
“We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.”
“Yes, but the bank is only made of men.”
“No, you’re wrong there — quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.”
The corporation is something more than the human persons in it. It’s a monster. They made it but they can’t control it.
When you read what everyone else is reading, you’re likely to think what everyone else is thinking. And you might only be reading what the algorithms are putting before you. It’s time to rewild your attention.
Big-tech recommendation systems (…) pose a (…) challenge for our imaginative lives: Their remarkably dull conception of what’s “interesting”. It’s like intellectual monocropping. You open your algorithmic feed and see rows and rows of neatly planted corn, and nothing else. (Clive Thompson)
Here’s a simple idea: go to a bookstore or a library, look for a book, and let serendipity (the books around the book you’re looking for) provide surprises and discoveries.
Creativity is not about “being creative”. It’s work. And it doesn’t have to be hard work.
It seems self-evident. Starting to speak before another has finished violates their right to the floor. In formal contexts such as political debates, it breaches the rules. In casual conversation, it is simply rude.
But it’s not so simple. As a linguist who studies the mechanics of conversation, I’ve observed and documented that beginning to talk while another is talking can be a way of showing enthusiastic engagement with what the speaker is saying. Far from silencing them, it can be encouragement to keep going.
In some [groups], you grow up with the expectation that it’s OK to ask for anything at all, but you gotta realize you might get no for an answer. This is Ask Culture.
In Guess Culture, you avoid putting a request into words unless you’re pretty sure the answer will be yes. Guess Culture depends on a tight net of shared expectations. A key skill is putting out delicate feelers. If you do this with enough subtlety, you won’t even have to make the request directly; you’ll get an offer. Even then, the offer may be genuine or pro forma; it takes yet more skill and delicacy to discern whether you should accept.
“Lockdown provided an opportunity to reflect – and help me realise what I want from work. I want a job that suits my life and means I’m not tied to a desk all day, every day. And if I don’t feel happy, I can just quit. There are more than enough jobs out there.”
“Workers are drafting up resignation emails, handing in their notices and heading for the exit door in their droves. The trend is worldwide.
In the UK, job vacancies soared to an all-time high in July, with available posts surpassing one million for the first time.
In the US, four million people quit their jobs in April – a 20-year high – followed by a record ten million jobs being available by the end of June.
A Microsoft study has found that 41 per cent of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year.”