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 them.”

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A Good Reminder that Startups Fail (and Thoughts on Infrastructure)

During a stage of significant growth at The Iron Yard, several executives had a conversation about how to quell what had become the insanity of our heavy travel and meeting schedules. The CEO asked me to test out a virtual assistant that could spend a few hours a week booking transportation and wrangling calendars. After a bit of research, I decided to try a service called Zirtual.

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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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Productivity Hacking: What Snake-oil Looks Like

This is the sixteenth post in a series on productivity. This article adds to content from a workshop I led at The Makers Summit.

I took a few minutes this week to cull through a backlog of blog post ideas and found a few screenshots of what I call ‘productivity snake-oil.’

I’ve written at length about the fact that finding new productivity to use is counter to productivity, but recognizing snake-oil ‘in the wild’ is helpful because, well, companies are spending lots of money to convince you their product is a balm for your to-do-list pains.

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A Few Photos of Clouds

It’s been quite a while since I picked up my camera. I used to be an avid photographer, but the backlog of photos to process became so oppressive that I lost motivation to shoot when faced with the idea of adding more to the pile. Leading up to a recent addition to our family, though, I spent a few months chipping away at thousands and thousands of photos, knowing that there was a huge amount of pending demand from mothers-in-law for cute baby pictures.

It’s been fun to take pictures again. Just the other night I went out onto our porch and the clouds were a stunning contrast of color. I grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots, then tinkered around with a few different edits in Lightroom (a program I’m still learning). If, for some reason, you’d like the full-res versions (for a desktop background, etc.), you can download the full-res photos in a .zip file.

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Productivity Hacking: Notifications as Distraction-by-Default

This is the fifteenth post in a series on productivity. This article adds to content from a workshop I led at The Makers Summit.

In college I had a professor who, for many years, held an executive position at one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. Everyone loved his class because theory collided with decades of experience and practical advice.

Several lessons he taught us probably skimmed the surface initially because of our lack of age and experience, but, looking back, were they were extremely valuable bits of wisdom that I wish I’d paid more attention to. One story I’ll never forget. As he rose in the ranks at the agency, my professor had made a promise to his family: “no matter when or where or what meeting I’m in, if you call and ask for me, I’ll be available to you.” The man walked out of the most important meetings with the most important clients to take calls from his family.

I’m not such a luddite that I would exchange the powers of modern communication and technology for an age of landlines and secretaries, but part of me envies a clear way to separate signal from noise (if these three people contact me, answer, always).

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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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