Do we really care about our data ?

Tips-and-Pointers-to-Avoid-Data-Leaks-e1494391398283

It’s 3 days since the facebook data hackIt appears there’s so much more to the consequences than we thought. Because facebook is larger than life with more than 2 billion accounts and we are so connected to it for our daily work and life, we carry on despite all the warnings out there. The activists, governments and policy makers do not have much leverage in the face of rapid fire technological advances. There’s a concern, but nobody seems to know how to keep ourselves connected and secure at the same time. Let’s try with basic hygiene as a starter in this blog post.

So what can we do to gain some control of our FB data ?

Beginner Steps:

I strongly suggest you,

  1. Change FB password now.
  2. Don’t use facebook login for other apps like airbnb, booking.com, spotify etc. At least in future don’t use facebook login for other apps.

Advance Steps:

  1. Go to  Facebook’s ‘Security and login’ page in your settings which tells you where your account has been logged in from. If you see a login from a location you do not recognise, you might have been hacked.
  2. Don’t use same password for different social media accounts and websites. Change it to individual, confusing ones. Long passwords with words that make no sense, numbers and special characters, such as &!#@?, are much safer than simpler ones with phrases like family and friends
  3. Use 2 factor authentication – go to the ‘Security and login’ page in your Facebook account settings and set up two-factor authentication. When this feature is activated you will get an SMS to your phone, if someone is logging in to your account from an unknown device or location.

Is your phone getting slower ?

There’s an ongoing drama between Apple Inc. and iphone users. Users had complained their phones are getting slowed down. Apple admitted it is a technical glitch, and few customers have sued the company.

Hardware or software issues had nothing to do with what slowed down my phone, it was something else. I’m a Samusung Note fan. Around the launch of Note 8, for about one month, I could feel my existing Note 5 getting slower. My insatiable appetite for the possession of a new shiny Note 8 was slowing down my Note 5. Of course my Note 5 is working pretty fine. I wrestled with my mind for a good one month, before giving up the idea of buying.

In the process I understood the stickiness of modern day marketing bubble. I watched few note 8 videos made my fans on unboxing and performance reviews on youtube. When I went to facebook, ads from local vendors on Note 8 were right on my face. It was literally everywhere. On internet, every click of mine is tracked to deliver me the most tailored suggestions.  I am screwed by the algorithms and cookies, because internet tracks my appetite. They feed me with more of it.

At the end of it, I saved Rs. 150,000. That much amount of money is no way an excuse for a few additional premium features. Note 5 is more than fine for me at-least for another year, if it does not die. Here’s the thing, whatever you look for in the internet, that preference will pilfer in to every site you go, as ads. Be alert on your expenses. e-commerce is here to sell, showing amazing deals as if they are here to help you save.

Savings and expenses are two different things not to be confused.

Managing what will increases your success now?

The hype about information economy is everywhere. The headlines scream some audacious thinking.

Information is the new crude oil.

Data is driving business.

Information is everything. Manage it or die.

The thing is- information is now in abundance. We create enormous amounts of data. No one, even machines can not keep track of the amount of data we create. We create more than what we can consume. So we consume more.

Here’s the catch. If information is the new crude oil, why we are not paying for 99% of the content out there in the internet ?

We trade our attention for the abundance of information. The more information we get, the more attention we give. More the attention, the more income for the tech industry. The big brothers of information tech ( mainly facebook, Google, and Amazon) are courting for our attention. The battle is fierce. The more time we spend browsing them, the more income they get. Which is why these tech is so smart. We don’t pay, right? Someone else is paying. But our attention? They take bets on our attention.

So, in effect, what is the most scarce resource out there now ?

Our attention.

Not sure yet ?

Look around you. Who can stand at a queue, travel in a bus or be at a meeting with out taking a peep in to their phones?

Can you ?

Balancing social media

tweetupsl
pic credit: Dialog

I went to tweetupSL 7 yesterday. I have missed last 2 years.

So many new young faces, and the interactions gave me the flavour of young aspirations and new trends in social media. Right now, the intensity of  interaction is high, one of the main factors is the inclusion of local languages. It’s much more engaging when one can type in your own language.

On twitter, we follow so many unknown people. It’s great to meet someone in person after I had followed and interacted with them for like 3 years. Most of the time, when I meet in person, I see a different personality from his or her online presence. So yeah, we have our split personalities: online and offline. This very core human nature brings in numerous issues and tensions on social media. Social media promised us harmony around 2007, we wanted everyone in the world to be on social media. Yet we find ourselves in unwanted trouble in 2017, because when we have many people on social media, we get to see all of their problems too. You just cannot have good things only. Just like life.

I was asked this question by Amila, and I had to answer to the audience – ‘how did twitter helped in your life and work?’

I actually reflected on this same question, few days back after I watched Chamath Palihapitiya’s rant about how bad social media is, especially facebook.. He asked people to move away from social media. I guess yes, when you are popular and influential. No one needs your tweets to validate your authority in the field. But for the rest of us, who are ordinaries, social media is a gift of unfathomable proportions. Provided, we use it safely, with empathy and with patience. (UPDATE: yesterday, Chamath has taken back his own words. Again emphasising my point, we need balance)

I joined twitter in 2009. I’ve connected to great people and brilliant ideas on twitter. I cannot count them, but I can assure it is in thousands. So many long term business partnerships were formed through twitter and other social media introductions. Many good friends were found, some of them feels like my family.

Yet where do I draw the line? Too much of anything is bad. Too much of video streaming is bad.  Getting to phone the moment we are bored is bad. Too much of scrolling in your phone as a habit is bad.

Part of what Chamath says is true. Social media can own you, take control of what you think. It can create a small bubble in your mind and can make you think that what you see in your feed is the truth. It has happened to me. It became an addiction and then I had to get out of it. That’s where digital detoxes helps me. And there are apps to help me to get in to digital detox. 

Technology inclusion in our lives are inevitable. We must be part of it to explore the opportunities. We must also take care of our personal hygiene, so we become mindful in a world full of information.

Attention: Apply urgently.

 

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pic: credit

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing, knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

~ Leonardo Da Vinci

I’m surprised about how much busy we are. No one seems to have time. Parents don’t have time for their kids. Managers don’t have time for their staff. And yet what happened to that promise of technology will make our lives much easier, speedier and better ?

Da Vinci’s statement above is a paradox in modern times. He mentions urgency, and applying. Well we all are busy, ain’t we ?

Working at office with inbox, whatsapp, facebook, instagram and twitter open is not urgency nor applying. It is simply distraction. What Da Vinci wants us to apply urgently is our attention. Reading about the maestro himself, I found how immersed he had been about his work. Nothing in the world – absolutely nothing would distract him from the work he had on his mind. He used to lock him self in his lab for hours, sometimes few days until he came up with a solution. Good that there was no social media back then.

Social media is great. Create your own work, show it to the world, get people to see you, your work and your dedication. Then, of course, social media can be an amazing platform for you.

Are we using our finite attention well ? Are you addicted to distractions to an extent you cannot control ?

A great book to read is ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport. Or search youtube to see his TED talk. You will be blown away.

Is giving tabs/smartphones an answer ?

Someone asked me “Do you think giving smartphones and tabs to school teachers , students and government officials, a good answer ?”

My answer was ” It depends on the answer you are seeking “

Yes, you may solve the accessibility problem. May be that will help the receiver be more connected. But with out training on content and tools ( let’s say apps) most of them will drift off to the vast ocean of interesting stuff like social media. Desired things like productivity and creativity doesn’t come easy. Internet is full of easy stuff.

Judgment and knowledge on hygiene while on internet are crucial. May be we all need it.

Breaking point

Every single human being has a breaking point.

Whatever the situation, hygiene of the mind is important. Whatever we put in to our mind, it takes hold of us as the reality, if we feed too much of the same.

If you scroll through FaceBook, every moment you get a chance to look in to your phone, you will be very much conditioned by your feed. Your ability to be in the moment will be compromised.

If you watch too much crime/war drama, your ability to see humans as peace loving will be very low.

If you have abusive, bullying friends, your ability to treat other people with goodness will be less likely.

If you have low trust with in your team, your next action better be trustworthy. Every action you take otherwise will be another step towards the breaking point. Everyone has a breaking point for everything.

Gossip brewed in news channels, pushes audience to their breakpoint of critical thinking. May be that’s what media channels want, yet hygienically not good for our minds. It makes us to be caustic and skeptical about even good things, even good people. People will start doubting the ability of humans to be human. They will stop believing that a human can help another human with no expectation of a return. People will love gadgets more, and would want robots to get things done. Singularity* seems a great tipping point in human evolution. May also be the breaking point.

Singularity * – The technological singularity is the hypothesis that the invention of artificial super intelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilizations (Wikipedia)

​Why is it hard to get news ?

With internet democratising the knowledge space, why is it I’m finding ever so hard to believe in news I get ?

The world used to get joy from watching parody shows. It was not just laughter, but good education too on issues that mattered.

The real news is now parody like. 

First, most of the actual news is absurd and puke worthy.  Then Media giants make their recipe of  click bait headlines. Then social media posts. Then parodies. Then parodies on parodies. Then more social media. 

Fake news , fake facts spread like wildfire. The collateral damage of omnipresent social media accessibility.

In the morning I used to get my daily dose of news through Twitter and Facebook. I have given up on Twitter and Facebook as news sources. They are ( it’s actually us, our contributions make those news feeds ) now just about pushing things faster, more. 

It’s absolutely excruciating to decipher facts. 

So how to survive this madness ?

This is what I do now. Read more. Read more from different sources, like news.google.com, AJ+ and Vox. 

I found, the more I read, the broader my understanding is, the more I’m open for different angles. 

The other side of ratings

I was waiting for my ride on Uber when I saw on app that the driver had a 3.5 rating.

Only 3.5 ?

A sudden irritation crept inside me. What could this 3.5 number mean?

Is he a reckless driver? Is he bad with using maps? is he mean? may be his car is in bad shape?

These thoughts circled my mind for the 5 minutes he took to arrive.

Reflecting on my mind state, I questioned my self “what if I had not seen the rating?”

I decided to act like I hadn’t seen his rating. I got in.

I was welcomed to a wide smile of a young man in his mid twenties.

To my surprise he drove exceptionally well. No crazy changing of lanes, no abrupt brakes, and he was very courteous.

He had been driving for 6 days on Uber. There can be many reasons for his 3.5 rating.

I judged him on his rating alone.

We already have enough criteria to be judgmental: monthly income, size of home, car, brand of clothes, number of degrees/MBA’s.

Now, with social media and apps: how many likes you get to your selfie? how many friends, followers, Shares ?

Ratings throw beauty of randomness out of human equation.

We judge people like they are things, not as humans who are capable of random acts of goodness.

These random, ad hoc characteristics of humans are been standardised to make humans palpable for big data. Then humans can be classified to include them in to target groups. Very interesting times.

Focus on customer behaviour

customer-behaviour

Arguments about technology changing needs of the customer is exciting, winding and depressing, because our assumptions are based on popular all or nothing trends. No, people don’t queue up for change in straight lines. It’s messy. So instead of zooming in on trends, try to zoom out and watch behaviour changes of people. You don’t need to be a tech wizard to observe people’s behaviours.

If tech changes everything, why there is still demand for printed books? printed news papers ?

If tech makes old structures go down, why Uber struggles in China, Taiwan and many East Asian countries ?

If digital music is the bomb, why still people call radio stations and request songs? Seriously?

While tech changes behaviour, it is vital to understand it doesn’t completely change the world as found in excited speeches of futurists. Strike a balance when you do your business planning.