Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

Posts made in November, 2018

More Fallout from the Zuckerberg Files

By on Nov 12, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Should the unintended consequences that emerge in the course of a company’s evolution be a primary concern of management? Is the exponential creation of shareholder value still the overriding force when a wildly successful company grows even faster than its own outsized vision? Are the naive philosophical aspirations of under-experienced entrepreneurs a get-out-of-jail-free card from the ramifications of otherwise noble intentions? In answering these and similar questions, is Facebook somehow a different animal? These are some of the issues examined by a new Frontline documentary recently aired on PBS that frames a deeply damning critique of Facebook and its leadership team. While purposefully steering past the warm-and-fuzzy aspects of Facebook’s innocent exchanges of family photos and recipes, The Facebook Dilemma dives into Facebook’s structural roots. The critique presented is strident but not unfair: Why didn’t Facebook as an enterprise heed the many early warnings of the pervasiveness of its influence and more strongly consider mitigation strategies, and now that the political chaos has been unleashed, is there any possibility of getting the bad genie back in its bottle? When Facebook launched, founder Mark Zuckerberg braved a bold and curious global community manifesto: “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected.” That sounds good on the surface, and it sounded so good to so many of Facebook’s early employees that they rallied around the life-affirming purpose. They believed they were building a platform toward the betterment of humanity. Simultaneously, the size of the audience embracing the platform created a media opportunity unlike any other in history. No company has ever thought about achieving monetization of a billion (heck, now two billion) individuals. To make sure no money was left on the table, Zuckerberg hired Sheryl Sandberg from Google to build that side of the equation. The inherent conflicts soon became apparent. Facebook claimed to be a technology company, not a media company, even though its business model was selling advertising, which is what a media company does. To be the most valuable media company it could be, it needed two things: the world’s most in-depth data warehouse, and a rule set of utilizing that data with the fewest possible restrictions. As a business, this all made sense....

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The Press and the President

By on Nov 3, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at a briefing of journalists this past week exclaimed in exasperation: “You guys have a huge responsibility to play in the divisive nature of this country, when ninety percent of the coverage of everything this president does is negative, despite the fact that the country is doing extremely well, despite the fact that the president is delivering on exactly what he said he was going to do if elected.” It would be difficult to disagree with her observation that media coverage of the president is 90% unfavorable. Why is the press overwhelmingly negative toward this president? 1) He lies obviously, shamelessly, and constantly. 2) His ideas and policies are uninformed, constructed from whim, and largely empirically wrong. 3) His behavior is morally repugnant and his driving force is feeding his ego. 4) The circumstances of his election are being investigated for criminal intervention by credible authorities. The press is doing its job. The press is reporting on the dangers it sees threatening our nation. Were the weighting of critique not so uniformly negative, we might wonder if there was some hidden agenda in an institutional bias, some collusion with ulterior motives. The only collective agenda I can glean is the reporting of information allowing us to make critical decisions about our freedom and well-being. Fake news is not the work product of trained journalists under credentialed editorial supervision. Journalism and a free press are the backbone that anchors the ongoing experiment that is our democracy. Fake news is the drivel that emerges from undisciplined commentary and targeted propaganda. Misdirection is a tactic of human divisiveness, subversion of logical process, and chaos that beckons autocratic control. Journalism and misdirection are not the same, unless one purposefully hijacks the other. When a true journalist makes a mistake or misstates a fact, the press runs a retraction. When an ignorant or hateful opinion-maker deliberately attempts to mask a lie as the truth, the lie is left to stand because it was intended to spread falsehood. To confuse journalism with fake news is to misunderstand the fundamental pillar protecting democracy from authoritarian rule. The press is not the enemy of the people. Our president is not...

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