Early this morning around 3am, in the throes of insomnia, I finished listening to Ed Snowden’s interview with Kara Swisher. It was one of the many interviews he’s been giving about his new book, “Permanent Record.” Like Swisher, I honed in on his “romantic” attachment to the early Internet and what the space meant to him as a young adolescent, and perhaps what he still thinks it can be today, presumably, if people will just do the right thing and stop using their power for no good.
Oy. Good luck with that. I’m on #TeamSnowden at least in the same way Swisher is. At the very least, he succeeded in ratcheting up my interest in reading his book.
I started the ITSinsider blog in January 2006. To refresh your memories, that was before the first iPhone release. I had no idea what I was going to write about, nor did I have any idea what a blog was or how to do it. I only knew I had to write my way into remaking a career for myself after being a stay-at-home Mom for five years. Being out of the technology field for five years was like being in a cave for 50 years. The catch-up factor was ~10x. I struggled to become relevant in those early days. But, eventually I did. It’s amusing to read how I did that in the early entries on this blog.*
I found my footing in the dawn of the web 2.0 phenomenon that morphed into the “enterprise 2.0” movement. I’d like to think I helped shape that movement. Like the young Snowden, I had an idealistic, altruistic belief in the goodness of decent people to share and collaborate for a better world. I encouraged hundreds of corporate professionals to attempt to “#changetheworldFTW.”** In their own ways, they did. I have receipts.
My former colleague and friend, Dion Hinchcliffe, recently presented at a digital workforce conference and announced to his audience that, “For the first time in human history, we are all connected.” And more importantly, he noted this milestone as, “An Unprecedented Power of Incalculable Value.”
Thrilled to be keynoting @iomsummit next week in beautiful Cologne, Germany. I’m joining the terrific @CelineSchill and a cast of all-stars as well. Still some seats left. Hope to see you!https://t.co/vRkmmrCUSN#ioms19 #digitalworkplace #ESN #FutureOfWork #digitaltransformation pic.twitter.com/N2BrWlNNCY
— Dion Hinchcliffe #CCE2019 (@dhinchcliffe) September 13, 2019
I could not agree more with Dion. But maybe not for the same reason. I love seeing the enthusiasm on the social web for all things “digital workplace.” I love seeing my friends making inroads with these revolutionary concepts including collaboration, transparency, trust, and breaking down silos.
From the very beginning, although I believed that these new tools and philosophies would lead to accelerated innovation and profitability, privately I always hoped greater transparency would deliver a greater sense of responsibility. I hoped that as professionals had more views and access into the goings-on of the corporate machine, they’d begin to question upper level management decisions and their personal role in any harm their companies were committing in the pursuit of profit. That twang of guilt is the seed of real systemic change. In this way, I think about Snowden and other whistleblowers who’ve come forward.
More recently, I enjoyed learning that the employees of Facebook are using its social collaboration network, Facebook Workplace, to voice their dissent over the company’s policy to allow false advertising on its platform.
The Internet of 2019 headed into 2020 is a far different place than when I first wrote about it in 1984. The best education that came from those decades of web maturity was not learning about the technology, it was learning about humanity. It revealed who we are. The good, bad, and the ugly.
I’m no longer an “insider” in tech. I’m very much an outsider. I’m grateful to the field of technology for my long-tenured career and the many adventures it afforded me. This blog will now retire and, ironically, turn from 1s and 0s to paper. I will create a volume of books out of the 125K words of this blog, so I have a permanent record of this exciting and important second wave of my career. I’ll put it on my bookshelf and look at it from time to time. Of course, you can buy a copy if you’d like.
Thanks for being a reader these many years. I’ve enjoyed writing for you here. You can find me writing today on Medium and on my personal blog. If you want the brave stuff, I’m writing on Patreon now too. I’m not writing about tech, but I’ll still be writing for many more years to come.
*In reviewing my early posts, I realize I have a lot of men to thank for my comeback in tech. That’s a tough circle to square. I highly recommend every woman in tech my age near retirement read Danah Boyd’s Great Reckoning speech. In the ways I was complicit and aligned with the patriarchy in tech to advance my career, I have regrets. I’m with Danah. Let’s change the norms.
**That’s change the world for the win. A win for humanity, ‘k guys?