ITSinsider is Heading to… Paper.

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.”

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.

Namaste.


*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?

Crowd clout du jour– did you say Facebook?

investor FB group

I was flipping through The Economist this morning (one of two publications I subscribe to) and this headline caught my eye:

Beware grannies on Facebook

The story details about how hundreds of small investors self-organized and forced a decision reversal and reimbursement of investment funds. This is a terrific example of the power of citizen collaboration and crowd-clout. I’ve started reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. Shirky details several examples along the same lines. If you have some time, watch Shirky’s talk from Harvard last month.

From the Economist piece:

People who would never have met in real life, from pig farmers and retired loggers to MBA students and pastors, created a formidible interest group.

This piece also busts two myths: only kids on Facebook and Facebook is dead.

The Remix on Generation Wired

It occurred to me that I was introduced to Facebook by Euan Semple in April of this year. By June, I had about 60 Facebook friends, and I have been progressively adding them since then. When I do a cursory review of my friends’ demographics, it surely does not skew GenX/Y/Z/New Millennial, and if I had to guess the median age of my social graph? Well, I’m thinking it could be over 40, definitely over 35. And, no, this is not another marketing post about affluent buyers and purchasing power and how I might be influenced to buy a specific brand of camera lens because one of my friends recommended it (although, I still argue there is a powerful case to be made here.) In addition to Facebook, I’m also starting to get connected up on Plaxo, more people are finding me every day on LinkedIn, and I make heavy use of the Ning social network at work. Same universe though, predominantly– seasoned professionals with over 20 years in the tech business.

What I’m getting to is recognizing the profound crowd wisdom density in my social graph. For those of us “of a certain age” who are getting this, it’s like striking and mining intellectual gold. I check the Facebook stats every so often and the fact that “more than half of Facebook users are outside of college” and that “the fastest growing demographic is 25 years or older” reinforces my own observations and experience. About a month ago there was a somewhat ugly conversation on Paul Dyer’s social media blog about whether anyone in my age group was qualified to consult, teach, or otherwise claim expertise in the social media arena. (The accused held their own in the comments; see for yourself.) Yet Dyer’s POV nothwithstanding, what’s more important is what those who do not participate in social networks are missing. These powerful social networking tools make knowledge and people more accessible. That sounds overly simplistic, but you have to put it to the test to experience the results.

Ed Yourdon and Susan ScrupskiPersonal Case: On Nov. 7, via Twitter, I noticed that Ed Yourdon was speaking in Austin. I asked him if he would have breakfast with me here. He agreed. Now, I could have done this via email and via a web page or newsletter, but Twitter has a way of making something that could be formal, quite informal and casual. It breaks down barriers. Ed Yourdon, for any Gen X/Y/Z/Millennials who may be reading, is an icon in the world of software design and analysis. My short breakfast was delightful, and I’ve since added him to my broader social network on Facebook, Dopplr, etc. The “network effects” of adding Ed’s knowledge and experience to my social graph has immeasurably added gains to the IQ (insight quotient) of my social graph. And now, Ed’s wisdom is within reach of all my friends. This is where weak ties theory really can begin to return tremendous benefits.

Ed is currently inviting collaboration on a massive slide deck that captures everything that has been published on web 2.0. This deck is available for sharing on SlideShare, as well as editing on google docs.


Incidentally, Ed posted a note last week on the failure of his middle-aged friends to adapt to this new way of connecting, learning, and growing. Here is an excerpt:

And so it is today with social networks. It doesn’t matter which ones you belong to; the point is that, to increasing degree over the next few years, if you adamantly and noisily refuse to participate in any of them, an entire generation of people who do use these networks will conclude: you’re irrelevant. They won’t bother trying to convince you or persuade you; they won’t object, protest, march, or complain loudly. They’ll simply ignore you. It’s okay with them — and if it’s okay with you, then everyone is happy. But if you wonder why fewer and fewer people are paying attention to you, there’s a reason …I find myself slowly building a new network of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances … and slowly leaving behind a much larger network of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances I’ve built up over the past 40 years of my adult life. It’s not that I dislike any of my old friends and colleagues … but it’s almost as if they’ve consciously chosen not to have an email address, not to have a cell phone, and not to have a fax number… There’s a younger generation that’s learning how to communicate, collaborate, share ideas, and keep track of each other’s travel plans, and day-to-day activities through a variety of new networks. As for the increasingly irrelevant set of old friends: good luck, have a nice life, and send me an annual Christmas letter to let me know if you’re still alive …