Failure is very much a part of our daily life experience. How we approach failure is important. Om Mailk published a terrific post about failure, titled “Failure is part of learning“. It’s well worth reading.
The morning also reminded me of a vital life lesson: you fail only if you don’t learn. A lesson successfully learn cannot be called a failure.
We all have bad days, and I had a particularly rough day yesterday. I made some mistakes in how I handled a situation, and created a bit of a mess for a colleague (thankfully not a customer, though).
I felt pretty lousy afterwards, and my confidence took a knock. Objectively, it probably wasn’t that big a deal, but it felt pretty crappy nevertheless.
This morning I started work still feeling the after effects of that, and not feeling particularly confident. Still, I was determined to just put one foot in front of the other, and try learn from my mistakes.
Sacha Baron Cohen recently spoke about how social media services have become the “greatest propaganda machine in history”.
Much of the media’s focus, when reporting on his remarks, was on his attack on Facebook. While he certainly targeted Facebook, he also spoke about how Google, YouTube, and Twitter shape online discourse, and how they help spread lies, bigotry, and attacks on fact-based discussions.
Think about it. Facebook, YouTube and Google, Twitter and others—they reach billions of people. The algorithms these platforms depend on deliberately amplify the type of content that keeps users engaged—stories that appeal to our baser instincts and that trigger outrage and fear. It’s why YouTube recommended videos by the conspiracist Alex Jones billions of times. It’s why fake news outperforms real news, because studies show that lies spread faster than truth. And it’s no surprise that the greatest propaganda machine in history has spread the oldest conspiracy theory in history—the lie that Jews are somehow dangerous. As one headline put it, “Just Think What Goebbels Could Have Done with Facebook.”
As much as we embrace free expression, we find it difficult to draw a line when liars and bigots abuse their right to free expression because doing that feels like hypocrisy.
Free expression isn’t unlimited, though. And pushing back against channels that help propagate misinformation, abuse, and false statements that impact substantial segments of the population is becoming more important.
At the very least, it’s worth watching Cohen’s talk, or reading his remarks:
We should also think carefully about how much trust we place in services that profit from the social chaos we see around us.
We have an amazing culture at Automattic that includes giving each other kudos as one form of recognition for great work, whether that’s delivering happiness to a customer, or to each other.
Typically we use a Slack bot to share kudos, and that’s posted to an internal WordPress site dedicated to showcasing internal kudos.
At the Grand Meetup (which we attended in mid-September – I’ll probably share more from that soon), we also have the option of giving handwritten kudos to each other. I like the ease of giving digital kudos, and at the same time I really like being able to write a note to my colleagues to express my appreciation for their efforts.
This year I was fortunate to receive a few cards from my colleagues, and really appreciate each of them.
I decided against sharing details of all of the cards I received as the messages can be pretty personal. At the same time, I’m grateful for each card.