Writing Keeps Me Sharp

286 days have passed between the last post I published and this one, which is quite a long while as far as I’m concerned. In reality, though, 3/4 of a year of dormancy probably isn’t that bad relative to the general entropy facing long-form blogs, though I don’t have the statics to prove it. Either way, I’d like to think that I’m back in action.

I have many reasons to resurrect this inert writing project: I truly enjoy writing. I’ve made fascinating connections through sharing my thoughts on the web. But the most important reason surprised me: I could feel the effects of not writing.

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Is Google Making File Organization Irrelevant?

Recently, while working through a list of agenda items with several people on my team, I noticed a new feature in Google Docs: recognition of what is likely an action time and a suggestion to create a task for the person mentioned.

google-drive-google-docs-semantic-text-assignments-artificial-intelligence-google-tasks-google-project-management

This has been a common theme for Google products over the last few years. From consolidating travel information into easily-actionable bundles via Inbox to offering suggested analyses of data in Google Sheets, their ability to turn raw data sources into semantic, proactive features for users is impressive to say the least. (If you’re unfamiliar with these features, click on the “Explore” icon in the bottom right of your screen next time you open a document in Google Drive.)

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History Repeats Itself

2016 has certainly been a surprising political year for many people. Many words have been written from every perspective about the how and why of campaigns and elections happening the way they did (and what it means for the future). In my admittedly limited study of coverage, though, I’ve been surprised that many people view what has transpired as novel, unprecedented, even.

The political events of the past year certainly have new characteristics, but a review of history reveals that, while perhaps not common, shocking governmental upsets, defamation and fake news are anything but neoteric.

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Is an Online Presence Mandatory? Part 3: Societal Consequences

Since writing about varying opinions on social media and ownership of online content, I’ve been musing about ‘online presence’ as a concept in general. Last night I mentioned to a friend that in 10 years (or less), it’s very likely that some of the basic web development skills we teach at The Iron Yard to help people launch careers in software development will be either an expectation for most knowledge workers’ jobs, automated in some way, or, more likely, a combination of both.

This topic is a complex one without singular answers, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts that have been rolling around in my mind as of late. You can see a list of the posts in the series on this page. Here’s Part 3:

Societal consequences

In the first two posts of this series, I discussed the social and professional consequences of not having an online presence. Beyond our personal and work lives, though, many signs point to an online presence being a part of the way people function in modern society.

This topic is way above my pay grade, so I’ll lean heavily on people who have carefully studied the impact of technology on society.

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Is an Online Presence Mandatory? Part 2: Professional Consequences

Since writing about varying opinions on social media and ownership of online content, I’ve been musing about ‘online presence’ as a concept in general. Last night I mentioned to a friend that in 10 years (or less), it’s very likely that some of the basic web development skills we teach at The Iron Yard to help people launch careers in software development will be either an expectation for most knowledge workers’ jobs, automated in some way, or, more likely, a combination of both.

This topic is a complex one without singular answers, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts that have been rolling around in my mind as of late.You can find links to all of the posts in the series on this page. Here’s Part 2:

Professional consequences

Take a moment and think about this question: is it possible to be a successful professional in today’s world without an online presence?

Continue reading Is an Online Presence Mandatory? Part 2: Professional Consequences

Is an Online Presence Mandatory? Part 1: Social Consequences

Since writing about varying opinions on social media and ownership of online content, I’ve been musing about ‘online presence’ as a concept in general. Last night I mentioned to a friend that in 10 years (or less), it’s very likely that some of the basic web development skills we teach at The Iron Yard to help people launch careers in software development will be either an expectation for most knowledge workers’ jobs, automated in some way, or, more likely, a combination of both.

This topic is a complex one without singular answers, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts that have been rolling around in my mind as of late. You can find links to all of the posts in the series on this page. Here’s Part 1:

Social consequences

I’ve written before that “the interesting characteristic of many of our [online] tools…is that there are very real social (and sometimes business) consequences for people who don’t engage in them1.”

Continue reading Is an Online Presence Mandatory? Part 1: Social Consequences


1. I first mentioned the social consequences of not engaging in social media in a post called “Productivity Requires Removing Distractions.” You can read the full article here.

The Difficulty of Technology as a Cure-all

Did you know 72 percent of people globally believe that connected home devices offer hackers new ways to steal data? The internet and technology really does make you think about things you didn’t think you needed to know! The world I live in is steeped in technology. I don’t consider myself a true early adopter, but even still, in the last few months I’ve used modern technology to diagnose an issue with my car, find a mountain biking trail, have clothing sent to my home, exchange money, navigate to new destinations and more—much of which happened on a computer the size of a wallet. The latest version of Apples mobile operating system comes standard with a tool to control smart homes. Or have countless books and movies stored in Bulk Memory Cards to take where ever we want and watch them on whatever we want.

Because these modern tools have become standard operating procedure in my life, it can be easy to fall into the mindset that technology is the ultimate problem-solver. If there’s friction, surely some smart software or combination of software and hardware can smooth things out, right?

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Maciej Cegłowski on the Danger of Data

I wrote recently about thoughts that have been swirling in my head about data and privacy in the world we live in today2. Being back in the swing of things full time at work, I’ve been reminded more than ever that, in many ways, data is power.

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1. You can read my article called “Facebook, Photos, Privacy and Parenthood,” here.

Facebook, Photos, Privacy and Parenthood

This upcoming week is a big one for me and my wife: we will welcome our first child into the world. As you might know (or would expect), there are a myriad of ways becoming a parent challenges the way you think about the world you live in. When we first found out we were pregnant, one thing that surprised me was how uncomfortable I felt about photos of our child being posted on social networks.

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Quick Takes: Humans Beat Robots at Mercedes

Headlines about big data and algorithms as the infrastructure for modern companies seem commonplace in a world being eaten by software. I was surprised, then, to run across an article titled Pink slip for robots3. Here’s a brief summary:

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1. You can read the entire article, Pink slip for robots, on World Magazine’s website.