In Search of the Anti-Uber: The Companies Redefining the Sharing Economy – The Atlantic Reply

The classic tension between profits and priorities.

The frame of the sharing economy has been destroyed or radically challenged by people who are just trying to maximize their profits as their primary, sole goal,” says Adam Werbach, a former Sierra Club national president who co-founded Yerdle, a website and mobile app conceived as a means of encouraging people to give away their used goods. “When I think about the true sharing economy, I see libraries, parks, and common roads.

via In Search of the Anti-Uber: The Companies Redefining the Sharing Economy – The Atlantic.

From Cecil the Lion to Climate Change: A Perfect Storm of Outrage Oneupmanship – The Atlantic Reply

I find it hard to disagree with the author.  I am not so sure that the rightness or wrongness of this assertion is the issue.  Instead, understanding the larger pattern by which issue evolve online is worthwhile for communicators to understand.

The Internet launders outrage and returns it to us as validation, in the form of likes and stars and hearts. The greatest return comes from a strong and superior point of view, on high moral ground. And there is, fortunately and unfortunately, always higher moral ground. Even when a dentist kills an adorable lion, and everyone is upset about it, there’s better outrage ground to be won. The most widely accepted hierarchy of outrage seems to be: Single animal injured < single animal killed < multiple animals killed < systematic killing of animals < systematic oppression/torture of people < systematic killing of humans < end of all life due to uninhabitable planet.”

via From Cecil the Lion to Climate Change: A Perfect Storm of Outrage Oneupmanship – The Atlantic.

The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It – The Atlantic Reply

When scientists have studied procrastination, they’ve typically focused on how people are miserable at weighing costs and benefits across time. For example, everybody recognizes, in the abstract, that it’s important to go to the dentist every few months. The pain is upfront and obvious—dental work is torture—and the rewards of cleaner teeth are often remote, so we allow the appointment to slip through our minds and off our calendars. Across several categories including dieting, saving money, and sending important emails, we constantly choose short and small rewards (whose benefits are dubious, but immediate) over longer and larger payouts (whose benefits are obvious, but distant).

In the last few years, however, scientists have begun to think that procrastination might have less to do with time than emotion. Procrastination “really has nothing to do with time-management,” Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, told Psychological Science. “To tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

via The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It – The Atlantic.

The Surprising Benefits of Oversharing — HBS Working Knowledge Reply

are you oversharingHere we have two HBS research studies looking at information disclosure/hiding in the online world, and the audience’s attribution of acceptability that follows when they recognize that some information is perhaps being hidden (or not).

Despite the author’s best efforts, I am not sure a clear conclusion emerges from these studies but they do ask some very interesting questions that communicators might like to ponder.

“On the face of it, John’s and Luca’s studies seem to be showing different things. In John’s study, people think worse of those who hide information, while in Luca’s, they seem to give more benefit of the doubt to them than they should. The discrepancy may come from just how apparent it is that information is being hidden.

“People don’t notice the dog that doesn’t bark,” says John. By including the “choose not to answer” choice in their study, she and her colleagues intentionally made it clear that the person who answered the profile was hiding information-leading observers to conclude that the individual was less trustworthy.

In the case of restaurants, movies, or college rankings, on the other hand, consumers may not realize that information is being withheld from them. “If restaurants were required to say that they were choosing not to reveal their hygiene [rating], I think it would be a day before everyone would stop going,” says Luca. Of course, requiring restaurants to reveal that they are choosing not to reveal is probably just as difficult as requiring them to reveal in the first place.

The bigger takeaway from both studies may be that it pays for consumers to be aware of the information they should be looking for — whether that means going directly to U.S. News & World Report for the complete list of college rankings or looking up film reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — rather than just considering information a company provides. As for that organization and person choosing not to answer a question, they may very well be hiding something. Or they may just be choosing not to answer.”

via The Surprising Benefits of Oversharing — HBS Working Knowledge.

This Week in Asia: Social Commentary Around Singapore’s Domestic Workers Reply

Mums and Maids, a YouTube video generating some debate on this tropical isle, perhaps deserves more credit than local media coverage and public discussion currently grants.  Some have taken exception to the video’s portrait of maids who know children better than the parents in this video.  The argument is that parents might spend more time with the kids, thereby allowing domestic workers to have a day of.

And that is the point of the video–giving maids a day of rest.  #igiveadayoff

But perhaps something more important is happening here.  In a country where public bodies create messages about understanding dementia (Ah Kong), showing tolerance (or understanding) of people from different nations and cultures, and even arrange public networking for singles seeking a partner….to see a message like this coming from an NGO is important.

The fact that this public conversation has been sparked by a workers’ rights group, Transient Workers Count Too, represents an important act of participating in a  civil society.  This is a more sophisticated act of public discourse compared to the blunt stridence communicated by opposition parties or the “move to the centre of the train” messages facing commuters each day.  Both are important, so please do not mistake my point, but many of these messages fail to generate genuine public discourse around the issue.

#igiveadayoff has generated such discourse, and they should be credited for their civic contribution regardless of which side of the issue you may fall.

This Week in Asia: China Mounts a Canon Atop Its Great Firewall Reply

This week I share 3 items that may interest my APAC readers.

  1. China adds a new weapon to its web control arsenal.  While many links are available, this one is courtesy of Fortune.
  2. Hank Paulson’s new book, Dealing with China, is receiving favourable comments from may China watchers.  I wonder if the timing of this book makes him a possible candidate for a VP nomination or embassy nominee?  hmmm
  3. A few weeks ago We Are Social released a huge report on digital APAC and it is worth a look (especially if you are a data junkie, like me).

Click below to listen, and as always do subscribe to For Immediate Release over at iTunes.

The Connection Between Facebook and Unhappiness — Science of Us Reply

Need a good reason to ignore your friends’ fake-ation photos?  Continue reading to learn how these photos, at least in part, resonate through one popular social network.

The authors write, “Both studies provide evidence that people feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook because they feel badly when comparing themselves to others.” The researchers also tested the reverse idea — that depressed people spend more time on Facebook, are more likely to make social comparisons, and therefore see worse outcomes — but didn’t find much statistical support for this idea. So overall, it seems to be the case that Facebook generates a stream of endless opportunities to compare ourselves to our peers — via their vacation and spouse pictures, their employment updates, and so on — and these comparisons stress us out and depress us.

via The Connection Between Facebook and Unhappiness — Science of Us.

For A Change…Good News Regarding a Corporate Cover-Up Reply

Ever since listening devices were found at Democratic Party HQ in Washington’s Watergate building, the suffix “gate” has been appended to high-level scandals. But it was not until 2013 that the conspiracy that brought down a US president was equated with see-through yoga pants. This week, pant designer Lululemon told latter-day Woodward and Bernsteins it had recovered from ‘Sheergate’.  A cover-up that worked.

via Week in Review, March 28 – FT.com.

3 Good Reads for Your Sunday Morning Reply

morning-coffee-and-newspaper-debwireSelecting only 3 good reads this weekend has been a challenge.  Given the plethora of sharing around the passing of Singapore’ Lee Kuan Yew, I could probably select 3 from that theme alone.  But wanting to spread the wealth, here are 3 reads which I hope add some richness to your morning.

1. The Wise Man of the East.  Economist has published what I believe is one of the more thoughtful remembrances of of Lee Kuan Yew.  Given the caricature of Singapore so often found in western media and minds, this article offers good insight on what Singapore’s first Prime Minister has accomplished.

2. A better understanding of cybershaming.  Jon Ronson has published a new book titled So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and it appears to be a thoughtful work.  In this interview, Ronson looks at folks like Monica Lewinsky, Justine Sacco, and Lindsey Stone whose behaviors have brought upon them tremendous public shane, scorn, and even death threats.  Centerstage in Ronson’s inquiry you find the behaviors of everyday people–basically good people doing their part in society day in and day out–who heap tremendous hurt and pain onto those deemed guilty of some unspeakable crime.You all know what I mean.  Look at your Facebook feed.  Who are the people in that feed delivering daily posts telling us how wrong someone else’s choices are, how stupid someone else must be, or how ignorant some party is–all in the tone that the author is somehow superior, in the know, or better positioned to be judge and jury.  I am sure you most likely have one of these people in your newsfeed.Now multiply that same basic behavior by hundreds of thousands of people across many continents, merge it all into a herd mentality, and try to imagine what it must be like to be on the receiving end.

Ronson makes what I believe is a fairly good point.  Social media has enabled a certain behavior set similar to that practiced by the Stasi (neighbor watching neighbor then shaming).  Given the speed with which we eagerly and with a smile screen capture someone’s less-than-finest moment and broadcast it beyond that person’s network makes me think Ronson offers a lesson we should be thinking about.

3. Exhaustion is not a Status Symbol.  Last for this weekend, does overwork and exhaustion create a certain numbness that allows us conveniently overlook other parts of our lives?  Do we then justify this numbness by wearing it as a badge of pride about how hard we work and the excesses of our accomplishment?  A darned good question, and a final read worth your while.

Have a great weekend!

This Week in Asia for March 24 Reply

This week, upon the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, I share different views I gathered in obituaries from around the world, and the evolution of my own thoughts about Singapore’s founding father.  In short, part of his brilliance and success was genuinely knowing what it took to read the context, govern in Singapore, and build the nation.

Congratulations to Shel and Neville for having delivered 800 episodes of For Immediate Release.  What an accomplishment!

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