Work culture is changing

Expect to read more about this issue in the coming years. Sam Harris talked to Jason Fried on his podcast about this. All-In has talked about it. Coinbase is making its own media house to get around the traditional media. A16Z, a venture capital company is doing the same.

The message is clear – we are here to work on our mission nothing else and we cant have others speaking for us. The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew touched on the same issue when Osaka boycotted the French Open press conference. “Athletes now have their own direct line to the public, and spoiler: it’s not us”. Companies are doing the same.

Matt Taibbi writes:

At cryptocurrency firm Coinbase, employees demanded that CEO Brian Armstrong make a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. Armstrong, for a while, demurred. Then some employees and executives began what Wired called a “virtual walkout,” in which “senior engineers encouraged junior staff to close their laptops in solidarity.”

Armstrong quickly got religion, or so it seemed. He went on Twitter to announce, “I want to unequivocally say that Black Lives Matter.” Then, within weeks, Armstrong and Coinbase leadership flipped completely, announcing that the firm would no longer engage in “social activism,” and any employee who didn’t like the new policy could get the fuck out.

Coinbase offered 4-6 months of severance (depending on service time) and six months of COBRA, in a statement saying — in the thickest corporate sarcasm — that the arrangement could be a “win-win” for the politically minded, as “life is too short to work at a company you’re not excited about.” Only about 60 of the company’s 1,200 employees took the buyout.

At another tech firm, Basecamp, CEO Jason Fried — long the owner of a rep as a progressive corporate leader, as his company has published five books on workplace culture — put the kibosh on controversial talk at work, banning “societal and political discussions.” Shopify, an e-commerce firm that broke ground after the January 6th riots by closing online stores tied to Trump or MAGA merchandise, has now become a symbol of corporate pushback. CEO Tobi Lütke just sent an email to employees explaining that work is not life and life is not work, and employee demands should be adjusted accordingly:

Shopify, like any other for-profit company, is not a family. The very idea is preposterous. You are born into a family. You never choose it, and they can’t un-family you. It should be massively obvious that Shopify is not a family but I see people, even leaders, casually use terms like “Shopifam” which will cause the members of our teams (especially junior ones that have never worked anywhere else) to get the wrong impression. The dangers of “family thinking” are that it becomes incredibly hard to let poor performers go. Shopify is a team, not a family…

Shopify is also not the government. We cannot solve every societal problem here.

Good reads of the week #5

We’re not the good guys: Osaka shows up problems of press conferences

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2021/may/31/were-not-the-good-guys-osaka-shows-up-problems-of-press-conferences

[…]the world No 2 Naomi Osaka announced that she would be boycotting press conferences at the French Open in order to preserve her mental health.

On Monday night, after being fined and threatened with expulsion, Osaka quit the tournament altogether.

And so the modern press conference is no longer a meaningful exchange but really a lowest‑common‑denominator transaction: a cynical and often predatory game in which the object is to mine as much content from the subject as possible. Gossip: good. Anger: good. Feuds: good. Tears: good. Personal tragedy: good. Meanwhile the young athlete, often still caught up in the emotions of victory or defeat, is expected to answer the most intimate questions in the least intimate setting, in front of an array of strangers and backed by a piece of sponsored cardboard.

There’s an odd ritualistic quality to all this: the same characters sitting in the same seats, the same cliches, all these millions of wasted words, the unopened bottles of mineral water. Is there not a better way of doing this?

This dynamic is only exacerbated in women’s tennis, a highly visible enterprise that takes place not just in a largely white male space, but a white‑male‑with‑free‑food space. That sense of voracious, engorged entitlement often manifests itself in exceptionally creepy ways. Question: “I noticed you tweeted a picture. Are you prepared that if you go on a long run you may be held up as a sex symbol, given you’re very good looking?” (Genie Bouchard, Wimbledon 2013.) Question: “You’re a pin-up now, especially in England. Is that good? Do you enjoy that?” (A 17-year-old Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon 2004.) And of course there are plenty of decent, curious journalists out there doing decent, curious things. In a way, this is what makes the chronic lack of self‑awareness so utterly self-defeating. Read the room. We are not the good guys here. We are no longer the power. And one of the world’s best athletes would literally rather quit a grand slam tournament than have to talk to the press. Rather than scrutinising what that says about her, it might be worth asking what that says about us.


https://www.notboring.co/p/the-cooperation-economy-

If Power to the Person was about technology empowering individuals, and The Great Online Game was about how the internet blurs the line between work and play, this essay is about how we play the game as teams of individuals or small groups


The 2021 AI Index provides insight into jobs, publications, diversity, and more

https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/artificial-intelligence/machine-learning/the-state-of-ai-in-15-graphs

Number of AI Journal publications, 2000-20
Number of newly funded AI companies in the world, 2015-20
Global corporate investment in AI by investment activity, 2015-20

Can Exposure to Celebrities Reduce Prejudice? The Effect of Mohamed Salah on Islamophobic Behaviors and Attitudes

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/american-political-science-review/article/can-exposure-to-celebrities-reduce-prejudice-the-effect-of-mohamed-salah-on-islamophobic-behaviors-and-attitudes/A1DA34F9F5BCE905850AC8FBAC78BE58

Abstract

Can exposure to celebrities from stigmatized groups reduce prejudice? To address this question, we study the case of Mohamed Salah, a visibly Muslim, elite soccer player. Using data on hate crime reports throughout England and 15 million tweets from British soccer fans, we find that after Salah joined Liverpool F.C., hate crimes in the Liverpool area dropped by 16% compared with a synthetic control, and Liverpool F.C. fans halved their rates of posting anti-Muslim tweets relative to fans of other top-flight clubs. An original survey experiment suggests that the salience of Salah’s Muslim identity enabled positive feelings toward Salah to generalize to Muslims more broadly. Our findings provide support for the parasocial contact hypothesis—indicating that positive exposure to out-group celebrities can spark real-world behavioral changes in prejudice.


Evidence of brain damage after high-altitude climbing by means of magnetic resonance imaging

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16443427/

Results: Only 1 in 13 of the Everest climbers had a normal MRI […]

Conclusions: We conclude that there is enough evidence of brain damage after high altitude climbing; the amateur climbers seem to be at higher risk of suffering brain damage than professional climbers.

Colette

This is a must see. It’s a short, intense story with a lot of heart and heartbreak.

As we get further away from WW2, there are fewer survivors to tell the first hand accounts of the war. Hearing Colette talking about her family and visiting the concentration camp her brother died in moves you in a way history books can not. It shows humanity, love and sorrow which is so vital to keeping the history alive. Colette has the most charming, french, personality. A beautiful person and the way she speaks and uses language adds so much to the film.

Colette is a 24-minute short documentary directed by Anthony Giacchino and produced by Alice Doyard. The film follows former French Resistance member Colette Marin-Catherine as she travels to Germany for the first time in 74 years. Her visit is inspired by a young history student who enters her life and convinces her to visit the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp where her brother died at the hands of the Nazis.
It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject at the 93rd Academy Awards.

Wikipedia