“According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, younger U.S. children now spend 5 ½ hours each day with entertainment technologies, including video games, social media, and online videos. Even more, the average teen now spends an incredible 8 hours each day playing with screens and phones. Productive uses of technology — where persuasive design is much less a factor — are almost an afterthought, as U.S. kids only spend 16 minutes each day using the computer at home for school.”
If you haven’t heard of persuasive technology, that’s no accident — tech corporations would prefer it to remain in the shadows, as most of us don’t want to be controlled and have a special aversion to kids being manipulated for profit. Persuasive technology (also called persuasive design) works by deliberately creating digital environments that users feel fulfill their basic human drives — to be social or obtain goals — better than real-world alternatives. Kids spend countless hours in social media and video game environments in pursuit of likes, “friends,” game points, and levels — because it’s stimulating, they believe that this makes them happy and successful, and they find it easier than doing the difficult but developmentally important activities of childhood.
Think about it…
“We can now create machines that can change what people think and what people do, and the machines can do that autonomously.”
Dr. B.J. Fogg. Founder of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab
What will we do with this power? Or more importantly, what will we do with this information?
Despite the cold, dreary weather, thousands of people showed up this year for the 2019 Women’s March in D.C. Even though we’ve come a long way and it felt good to celebrate some small wins over the past year, there’s no denying we still have a long ways to go. This is why I marched.
Some photos from my Instagram:
At one point I tripped on a grate falling into a woman in front of me. I apologized and was delighted when she said: “No need to say you’re sorry, I’m here to support you!” I was proud to be amongst so many supporters and I’m looking forward to seeing us put that support into action! 💪🏼
As with most inequality information shared, this talk is both infuriating and fascinating at the same time. Dana Kanze is a doctoral fellow at Columbia Business School where she applies behavioral insights to understand sources of inequality in entrepreneurship.
As the TED speaker bio explains:
Prior to embarking upon her PhD, Dana Kanze co-founded and ran a venture-funded startup for five years. Her experiences as a female entrepreneur and CEO inspired her to examine gender distinctions among founders. Her research embraces a mixed methods approach, combining field and archival studies that explore correlational relationships with controlled experiments that develop causal stories.
What’s this all mean? Well, it’s best if you just watch the 15m talk, but essentially, Dana and her team analyzed hours of transcripts from entrepreneurs trying to raise money from venture capitalists to review the language used and the questions that the VC’s asked. The results?
There were two approaches to the language used and the questions asked:
More often male entrepreneurs were asked questions around promotion.
While female entrepreneurs were asked questions around prevention.
Here were some of the examples she gave:
When VC’s asked male entrepreneurs about customers they used more promotional words such as what the acquisition rate is predicted to be. Whereas female entrepreneurs were more commonly asked what their retention rate is. Men were asked more about market size/opportunity, whereas women were asked more about their current market share.
The discrepancy was painfully obvious. In Kanze’s analysis, male entrepreneurs were asked questions with promotional sentiments 67% of the time, whereas female entrepreneurs were asked questions around preventative sentiments 66% of the time. Quite infuriating no?
One point that was somewhat surprising: Kanze’s analysis showed that it didn’t make much of a difference if it was a male or female VC asking the questions, which means that gender bias was not implicit. More likely it was an unconscious bias that was leaking through.
Sounds pretty depressing if you’re a female entrepreneur huh? Well, not exactly…
Rather than give up Dana’s full talk here I recommend taking a look. Towards the end she suggest strategies which have been proven to increase the fundraising efforts for female entrepreneurs. If you know of any women on there trying to raise money, or any VC’s that are in a position to invest, this is well-worth a share.
The first step towards fighting inequality is education and awareness.
I’m curious, what did you think of the talk? Let me know in a reply below!
One year ago I started this blog with the intentions of moving off Facebook completely. I knew something wasn’t right well-ahead of the 2016 election but this was before the full details of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal came out. Let alone the complete rundown in the New York Times article: Delay, Deny, and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis, which outlines a series of missteps, none of which gives me anymore reason to want to stay on Facebook. I’d always been uncomfortable with how much of my personal data Facebook owned, but I never realized the implications could be on such a massive scale that could bring us to where we are today. 😕
My Facebook History
I first started my Facebook account May 1st, 2005 while attending the University of Kansas, one of the earlier schools to gain access at the time. My posts started simply enough, mainly recapping college shenanigans, conveniently missing my early college days that I’m thankful aren’t fully documented online. I was a senior at the time. On November 19, 2007 Facebook removed the “is…” so posts no longer had to be framed in the context of “Maria Scarpello is…” which helped encourage us to post anything we wanted in any context we needed. When events and groups were added it made it that much more convenient to coordinate with friends and special interests.
As time evolved my use of Facebook took many forms. I went from mostly life status updates, to travel updates, to nearly exclusively sharing news articles or information I found useful or important. In the past 5 years as the newness of living life on the road wore off and the political news got more and more absurd, my Facebook posts were much less about this is what I’m doing vs. this is what I’m reading. I’m pretty sure this transition likely lost most of the interest friends had following me, as the liberal echo chamber probably seemed relentless.
On top of that, for years I’d always struggled with the fact that Facebook owns so much of my time. Their mechanisms to keep you coming back are apparent, effective, and annoying. I hate knowing how “easily”I could post on a site of my own, but that I’d still need to share back to Facebook if I wanted anyone to see it. I’ve also struggled with the fact that a few groups I’m fairly active in are mainly (or solely) active on Facebook. If I want to know about an upcoming event for my running club, or coordinate with my Burning Man theme camp, Facebook has really been the only way for me to do that.
Why not start a blog then?
Working daily with WordPress, one might ask, why not just blog what you want to say? Well the short answer is… I have, sort of. Since I was hired to work at WooThemes over 6 years ago, I’ve consistently blogged 5 days a week, however this has all been in the form of internal private blog posts regarding work. Between responding to support requests, writing internal p2 posts, and communicating with my team on Slack I always told myself I’d spent enough of my day writing, I didn’t want to spend more time blogging.
In fact, since Woo was acquired by Automattic in July 2015 I’ve posted 1,575 times with a total of 3,447 comments for a combined total of 498,332 words! So while I’ve done a ton of blogging, it’s not been about personal topics that are important to me outside of work, which is largely how I’ve used Facebook since, as a easy way to share information I think is important for my friends to know about.
“Problem” is it’s quick and easy to post to Facebook. I typically don’t have to give it a ton of thought past what’s on the top of my mind, which is often the exact opposite mentality I have when “writing a blog post”. We’re talking the difference of 2 minutes to post a thought vs. an hour or more to write a blog post, which is a very significant time difference. Not to mention the visibility Facebook posts can give me is superior to any other social network or site I could have posted to.
So what gives?
Despite all the excuses I’ve given myself, the mechanisms Facebook has put in place that gets me to stay, and delays I’ve had trying to motivate myself to start this blog, the time is now. For those that know anything about me, when I see something isn’t right, I’m not silent about it. Words aren’t enough for me, action is important. Which brings me to today…
I can no longer support what Facebook has built, nor will I continue to standby as reports of management and data missteps continue to be revealed. I do not trust Facebook and I (mostly) blame them for our current administration situation. Facebook will no longer own my personal information for their own profit. I’m taking my data back into my own hands. As it should be.
From now on any info I feel worthy to share will be posted here. I’d love it if you subscribed to this blog ⬇️to get updates. Even though I doubt many people will ever see this, I don’t care… this is something I personally have to do. It’s not worth it for me to continue the perception that Facebook is the only way for me to stay connected. The only way to prove it to myself is to unplug from them completely. So that’s what I’m doing. I’ve got many words for Facebook, but two ring most true to me today:
Maybe one day someone will build a WordPress importer for the Facebook content I’ve downloaded so I can archive past moments in my life that I’d want to share with the public, on my own site… 🙏🏽
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And leave a reply below to let me know what you think!
The WordPress iOS app does make it quite easy to share via the iOS share options:
However you have to enable the setting via the More … menu, so if you don’t know to look for it, it’s kind of hidden:
And on WordPress.com sites you can go to Configure > Share > Sharing Buttons settings to add a WordPress repost like the one you see at the bottom of this post*. 😁
*Although it only shows up for viewers that are logged in to their WordPress.com site. Whomp, whomp. ☹️
Which brings us back to the fact that there’s no real easy way for someone to share a post like this on their own self-hosted WordPress website, at least not as easy as we’ve made it to share on Facebook, Twitter, and the like.
Towards the end of this year the Automattic Design Organization has helped us to explore and discover what our personal professional mission statement would be as a way in which we can both individually and collectively take ownership of our growth and development.
We used this Mural as the template for the conversation. It helped us:
Brainstorm past successes, strengths, opportunities, and passions as they relate to you and your professional development.
Rank items in each category from most to least important. We worked with our team leads to vote on the top three most important items. Ideally, picking items that will have the most impact. For example, if we focus on A, it will also have an effect on B and C.
Develop a strategic action plan by answering the following questions:
How do you use your successes to take advantage of opportunities?
How do you overcome weaknesses preventing you from taking advantage of opportunities?
How can your strengths reduce the probability of stagnation?
What can you do about your opportunity areas to align to your areas of passion?
Steps two and three were a collaborative discussion with our team lead that resulted in 3, 6, and 12 month goal timelines.
When @johnmaeda, Head of Design and Inclusion, at Automattic asked me if I could summarize my PPM into a 280 character statement he helped me refine it to a place where I could then put it out to the world saying:
The web is your coloring book. You’re at a company where this is what we’re (supposed to be) good at. Just fill in the blanks. And all will go the way you want.
And thus my PPM was born:
I am a classically-trained designer who is passionate about the customer experience who strives to deepen research practices among designers while taking full advantage of my operational and leadership skills.
Back to blogging again! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for far too long now, mainly knowing my growing distrust and distain for Facebook, but also to get back using the product that got me to where I am in my life today. Quite the journey it’s been I must say!
I’ll be writing more about my thoughts on this in the weeks, months, and hopefully years to come. If you’d like to be notified of my posts in the future, sign up below!
Good company makes the journey better.
Good people drink good beer.
also meWhatcha drinkin?