Great Moments in High School Science Club Management: Twitter and Zoom

March 30, 2020

Bird is a company with venture money renting scooters. One effect of scooteritis is the desire to throw scooters in ponds, dumpsters, and bushes.

A string of Tweets at this link report an example of the HSSCMM or high school science club management method. The technique is to use the Facebook friendly Zoom video conferencing app to hold a company meeting. (Why not have everyone move their Alexa close to the conference call too?)

Instead of a meeting Bird terminated with HSSCMM 400 employees. The happy news was provided by a pre-recorded Zoom message. Another Twitter service user insisted that the message was delivered by an allegedly human person who “started crying halfway through.”

Okay, Zoom. Firing lots of people. Nifty HSSCMM nevertheless. It will be interesting to see what the next “coming down to earth” high technology company can extend this method.

Efficiency when dealing with those NOT in the science club.

Stephen E Arnold, March 30. 2020

Google Stadia: Google Wood or Just Recycled Cardboard?

March 12, 2020

DarkCyber does not play games. Sure, there are some young-at-heart DarkCyber games, but I ignore them. One of these hard-working individuals spotted “Google Stadia Hits an All-Time Low With This Embarrassing Tweet.” I am not much of a tweeter.

Apparently someone at Google does read tweets and noted one that contained this high school cheer / acrostic thing:

image

Note that there is no game for I.

A Googler replied, with a tweet, of course: “Why would you bring attention to this?”

I assume the answer is one of these choices:

a. It’s millennial or Gen X, Y, or Z humor

b. Stadia is not performing

c. Someone actually cares about Stadia to try to spell a word using the first letter of games on the service

d. There is a game on Stadia which uses the “what’s up” emoji instead of words.

The write up states:

Clearly, whoever is in charge of the Google Stadia Twitter account has stopped caring. It’s probably for the best since everyone else stopped caring about it months ago.

Google Stadia seemed doomed from the start, and things haven’t gotten much better. It lacks games, has a terrible monetization system, and generally isn’t all that convenient. It even pales in comparison to other similar systems like GeForce Now and Project xCloud. If the state of their social media is anything to go by, Google is already well on its way to just checking out and letting the system die. It’s hard to blame them. So far, Google Stadia seems like it was just a horrible idea.

DarkCyber has little insight to how things work at Google. I would surmise that whoever worked on Stadia has made an effort to catch on with a hot project team. No, not solving Death. Solving Stadia, however, may be a comparable challenge.

Stephen E Arnold, March 12, 2020

Tech Experts Branching Out: No Different from MBAs Who Can Manage Any Business

March 9, 2020

Elite or self-perceived elite have some fascinating characteristics.

The Prodigal Techbro” explores a related idea in terms of those with technical expertise. The subtitle of the article provides a little more color on the idea:

The tech executive turned data justice warrior is celebrated as a truth-telling hero, but there’s something a bit too smooth about this narrative arc.

The article states:

The Prodigal Tech Bro is a similar story, about tech executives who experience a sort of religious awakening. They suddenly see their former employers as toxic, and reinvent themselves as experts on taming the tech giants. They were lost and are now found. They are warmly welcomed home to the center of our discourse with invitations to write opeds for major newspapers, for think tank funding, book deals and TED talks.

The write up explains:

The moral hazard is clear; why would anyone do the right thing from the beginning when they can take the money, have their fun, and then, when the wind changes, convert their status and relative wealth into special pleading and a whole new career?

The reveal in the article is:

Prodigal tech bro stories skip straight from the past, when they were part of something that—surprise!—turned out to be bad, to the present, where they are now a moral authority on how to do good, but without the transitional moments of revelation and remorse.  But the bit where you say you got things wrong and people were hurt? That’s the most important part. It’s why these corporatized reinventions feel so slick and tinny…

For the most part, I think the write up is insightful.

OHave you heard the assertion. “An MBA equips a person to manage any business.” Whether the business school accomplishes this depends upon one’s point of view. The more prestigious the business school, the more confidence some MBAs have in their abilities. Accountants and lawyers share this characteristic. If I am correct, there is a challenge facing business and social institutions because tech bros — at least some of them — have the same hubris about “we can do anything.”

What’s fueling this? Maybe three factors:

  • Opportunism. Remember the fine leader Martin Shkreli and the 5,000 percent drug price hike. Pushing Daraprim’s price up was logical, and clever, entitled people can just do things.
  • Intelligence. Because some people are smarter than others, the thrill of being smart leads to more adventurism. Is that why the Google VP Forrest Hayes took drugs, engaged with an interesting female, and left a family to figure out what’s what. Does smart expand what William James called “a certain blindness”?
  • Indifference. When one is logical, facts trump emotions. When Facebook executives evade questions about Cambridge Analytica type activities, perhaps these individuals are indifferent to the impact of their actions or inactions? And Libra? Same VCR tape.

The alleged tech bros, by the way, are not all men. The behaviors of female executives evidence this tendency as well. One recent example is the Sheryl Sandberg NBC interview. Fascinating word exhaust.

Net net: The conversion from high tech superstar to social media mentor is similar to Jonathan Edwards’ Great Awakening; that is, a convenient redemption.Yep, that’s what the elite have delivered: A mindset for the top one percent. Outstanding.

Stephen E Arnold, March 9, 2020

Google and Its Trajectory from Dorm to Domination

February 21, 2020

I read the capitalist’s tool essay/opinion/analysis article called “From Exceptionalism To Unrest: Why Google’s Culture Is Changing.” The idea that Google and its change is an obvious one. The reason for the change, according to the write up, is relative deprivation. Here’s a bit of color on this interesting, MBA-meets-yoga-babble concept:

Insights on relative deprivation shed light on the dynamics Googlers may face in this respect. The research shows that when, for reasons outside of their control, people are denied opportunities that others possess and they desire or feel entitled to and equipped for, they will feel personally deprived, and grow not only dissatisfied, but also resentful.

What happens if a Googler perceives himself/herself/whatever self as being treated unfairly? Here’s the outcome:

The combination of feeling personally deprived as a result of a culture of exceptionalism and that progressive growth of sensitivity to or awareness of fairness components due to sustained uncertainty is an explosive recipe for Google.

Image result for google mouse pad

You know that most people want an official Google mouse pad. The mouse pad says, “I am beloved by the Google.”

Why aren’t today’s Googlers protesting in front of the building and not doing handstands of happiness?

Googlers don’t want to solely be part of a cool club. They, too, as most humans, are looking for a work environment in which people can enjoy working with others and making a difference without having to think first and foremost about where they fall on the ‘excellence’ curve.

Keep in mind that I am old (75 this year to be exact) and I live in rural Kentucky, which is to some who live in fantasy the epicenter of technology, fair dealing in health care and bourbon, and political acumen. (You know the track record of Senator McConnell perhaps?)

From my vantage point, the write up is like an Instagram story: Selected moments, a filter, and difficult to figure out for those not in the Instagram flow.

The Google has changed and maybe there are a few other factors at work:

  1. Lack of regulation allowed the company to do whatever it wanted with zero consequences. Google was not quite anything goes, but it was able to deal with issues because everyone wanted a Google mouse pad, work at Google, or wear a T shirt with the Google logo. The Disneyland for the technically adept has aged. Check out theme parks that have been around for more than two decades. Paint doesn’t bring the zing of the good old days. The zero consequence mode has begun to rundown, and Googlers, Xooglers, and others using the company’s services know that the roller coaster is being pulled downhill.
  2. The management method is what I call high school science club management which I abbreviate to HSSCMM (the final m means method). Science clubs were when I was in high school a place for a small number of people who like science, math, electronics, and mostly one another. It was an “us” versus “them” place. Decisions were made by members who looked at the world through a lens calibrated differently. Prom? Nope, physics. Sports? Nope, statistics. Dates? Nope, derivatives. The HSSCMM tolerated heroin addiction, crazy behaviors like wearing roller blades to a meeting with Sumner Redstone, and sexual fiddling around. Procedures, policies, and a mainstream culture were not part of the game plan. And when these were required, the founders and some original Googlers distanced themselves. The result was a wonky miasma of HSSCMM and what was “required.”
  3. The arrival of money created an elite among the elite. Google, chock full of interesting people with some interesting ideas, migrated from the intricacies of just being clever to having to make stuff work. Lots of smart people want to come up with ideas and then move on. That’s why products and services disappear overnight. No clued in Googler wants to work on something like enterprise search or a loser social network. Google is less like a real science club and more like a group of people who repair ATMs and set up mobile phones. Google faces class war. Sexual improprieties is just part of the annoyances. Money talks, and in Google’s present position, shouts loudly.

There are other factors as well; for example, Wall Street’s need for more and more financial performance. Also, competition from outfits like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook which make it more difficult to make Google the way it was in its first five years of existence. Plus, the slow realization that advertising is not just annoying, it fuels an approach to information that requires comprehensive data about individual’s conscious and unconscious behavior on a 24/7 basis.

The analysis of Google by a culture architect is, as I suggested, interesting. It is, however, a small part of the Google ethos. Reducing Google to grousing employees concerned about fairness misses the mark. Google’s culture is changing, but the changes pivot on the post IPO world, the lack of government regulation, the lust for colorful tchotchkes, and a failure to look at the distinct phases through which Google moved. The calculus of these data combined with the real time information about the “now” Google leads to oversimplifications and fundamental misunderstandings about what Google set out to do, did, and is now doing.

Stephen E Arnold, February 21, 2020

Managing a Science Club Is Hard: Human Re What? Personnel Who?

February 13, 2020

DarkCyber noted a story titled “Google HR Chief Eileen Naughton Steps Aside As Worker Activis…” No, that’s the title. There are other versions of the story, but the Gadgets 360 take captures how many Googlers respond when human resources is mentioned. “Human re what? Personnel who?”

The story is a revolving door tale. Get out while the getting is good. Recently some high profile and somewhat interesting people have left the online ad machine: A lawyer, two founders, some disgruntled employees, and now the head of human re what?

The article states:

In recent years, the Google workplace has been disrupted by employee opposition to top-level decisions ranging from forging contracts with the US military to tailoring a version of the search engine for China. Google in November fired four employees on the grounds they had violated data security policies, but the tech titan was accused of persecuting them for trying to unionize staff. The dismissals of the quartet — dubbed the “Thanksgiving Four” on social media — deepened staff-management tensions at a company once seen as a paradigm of Silicon Valley freedoms but now embroiled in numerous controversies. One of the workers fired was connected to a petition condemning Google for working with the US customs and border patrol agency, which has been involved in President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration. Google employees have also openly opposed the company pursuing contracts to put its technology to work for the US military.

The Googlers are a frisky group of youngish wizards. Managing a science club is difficult. A high school science club? Yep, more difficult than a college science club.

Human re what? Personnel who? There is LinkedIn for those in need of a job.

Stephen E Arnold, February 13, 2020

Blue Chip Consulting Firm: Killers of the American Middle Class

February 6, 2020

After reading “How McKinsey Destroyed the Middle Class,” I wondered if the company’s name should be McKroni & Co. For those who did not read the Akilattirattu Ammanai, Kroni was more evil than the demon Kali of the Mahabharata and Kalki Purana sharing similarities with Lucifer.

image

Kroni celebrating after closing a big deal for streamlining work flow processes.

If the information in the Atlantic article is on the money, MBAs are manifestations of evil. There are other candidates as well; for example, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, Booz, Allen, SRI, and other blue chip consulting firms. These outfits are more similar than some people understand, including their clients. My information is first hand. I worked for one of these big outfits and did contract work for another. My boss at Booz, Allen went to SRI, and I know that he did not make any significant changes in his thought processes. In fact, one BAH professional told me, “We require that teams fly on separate airplanes. If one plane goes down, we can send in other team members. Most are inter changeable. Heart warming, no?

Now back to the write up:

The main idea is from a journalist who wrote in 2010:

consultants openly sought to “foment a stratification within companies and society” by concentrating the management function in elite executives, aided (of course) by advisers from consultants’ own ranks. Management-consulting firms deployed a panoply of branded processes against middle management.

News flash: The mind set of the major consulting firms was in place and humming along the first time a Booz, Allen person contacted me in 1970. He explained the objectivity and need for data as part of the analytic process the firm practiced. I agreed, but because I was working at a university and had zero “experience” in anything except studying, going to meetings, and fooling around with my analyses of language for Psychology Today magazine, I was not too engaged in the conversation. He said, “We will put you on file. We may come back to you.” By golly, Booz, Allen did. I met with a fellow who would become my boss. Guess what? He explained that the BAH approach was designed to increase efficiency and reshape organizations by reducing layers of management. The BAH charm school made clear that friendly Mr. Booz in 1917 had this very idea, and it was part of the Booz, Allen DNA.

Kiechel was right in the main idea; he just muffed how long the mindset was in play at Booz, Allen and the other firms. McKinsey was founded in 1926, a decade after BAH. In fact, one Booz, Allen professional with 30 years of continuous service under his belt said, “McKinsey borrowed from our method. They changed our dot points to dashes; otherwise, it is a copy of this firm.” True or false? I don’t know, but the date of McKinsey’s founding makes an interesting historical factoid.

The article’s objective is to make McKinsey into McKroni & Company. The inequality evident in the US today is a result of one company. I agree that the thought processes of the blue chip consulting firms lead to inequality. The write up also takes aim at a presidential candidate who worked at McKinsey. The same notions of efficiency help produce Google and other high performance firms as well. Amazon is a case study in efficiency, the blue chip consulting firm way. Warm and fuzzy, not the words I would use to describe Amazon.

Net net: Interesting write up. Not exactly in line with reality, but McKroni & Co. is a convenient peg on which to hang a polemic about the way the real world is.

How does one change this obvious problem? May I suggest calling one of the blue chip consulting firms. You may be surprised how useful their through processes are. But wait. Publishing companies have got this revenue, credibility, and information trifecta figured out.

Begging for dollars is not a business model that inspires confidence.

Stephen E Arnold, February 6, 2020

Bezos-tics: A Billionaire and an Alleged Political Alignment

February 6, 2020

Jeff Bezos heads Amazon, but he allegedly has goals beyond changing the face of retail. The Strategic Culture Foundation examines Bezos’s political views in the article, “Jeff Bezos’s Politics.” Heads up. DarkCyber thinks this “strategic culture” write up is a one-sided argument about Mr. Bezos’ goals to spread American imperialism, control other nations, and spread the ideals of neo-conservatism.

Bezos’s political power exploded when he purchased the Washington Post from Donald Graham (Washington D.C.’s daily newspaper) and negotiated with CIA Director John Brennan a ten-year cloud computing contract hosted by Amazon. As this quote says he is definitely wise about business:

“He was now the most influential salesman not only for books, etc., but for the CIA, and for such mega-corporations as Lockheed Martin. US imperialism has supercharged his wealth, but didn’t alone cause his wealth. Jeff Bezos might be the most ferociously gifted business-person on the planet.”

The article continues that Bezos, like all of American billionaires, ally themselves with neo-conservatism and imperialism. They seek to preserve these systems at all costs. Also Bezos has this going for him:

“Bezos also wants to privatize everything around the world that can become privatized, such as education, highways, health care, and pensions. The more that billionaires control those, the less that everyone else does; and preventing control by the public helps to protect billionaires against democracy that would increase their taxes, and against governmental regulations that would reduce their profits by increasing their corporations’ expenses. So, billionaires control the government in order to increase their takings from the public.”

But, use the word coined by DarkCyber, the Amagenic responses to Amazon a moving, just slowly. With employee push back and dissention in a close friend’s brother sister bond, is negativism being pulled to the man and the Amazon machine.

Worth monitoring to see if this “house divided against itself” is a myth or a reality.

Whitney Grace, February 6, 2020

Data Are a Problem? And the Solution Is?

January 8, 2020

I attended a conference about managing data last year. I sat in six sessions and listened as enthusiastic people explained that in order to tap the value of data, one has to have a process. Okay? A process is good.

Then in each of the sessions, the speakers explained the problem and outlined that knowing about the data and then putting it in a system is the way to derive value.

Neither Pros Nor Cons: Just Consulting Talk

This morning I read an article called “The Pros and Cons of Data Integration Architectures.” The write up concludes with this statement:

Much of the data owned and stored by businesses and government departments alike is constrained by the silos it’s stuck in, many of which have been built over the years as organizations grow. When you consider the consolidation of both legacy and new IT systems, the number of these data silos only increases. What’s more, the impact of this is significant. It has been widely reported that up to 80 per cent of a data scientist’s time is spent on collecting, labeling, cleaning and organizing data in order to get it into a usable form for analysis.

Now this is most true. However, the 80 percent figure is not backed up. An IDG expert whipped up some percentages about data and time, and these, I suspect, have become part of the received wisdom of those struggling with silos for decades. Most of a data scientist’s time is frittered away in meetings, struggling with budgets and other resources, and figuring out what data are “good” and what to do with the data identified by person or machine as “bad.”

The source of this statement is MarkLogic, a privately held company founded in 2001 and a magnet for $173 million from funding sources. That works out to an 18 years young start up if DarkCyber adopts a Silicon Valley T shirt.

image

A modern silo is made of metal and impervious to some pests and most types of weather.

One question the write up begs is, “After 18 years, why hasn’t the methodology of MarkLogic swept the checker board?” But the same question can be asked of other providers’ solutions, open source solutions, and the home grown solutions creaking in some government agencies in Europe and elsewhere.

Several reasons:

  1. The technical solution offered by MarkLogic-type companies can “work”; however, proprietary considerations linked with the issues inherent in “silos” have caused data management solutions to become consultantized; that is, process becomes the task, not delivering on the promise of data, elther dark or sunlit.
  2. Customers realize that the cost of dealing with the secrecy, legal, and technical problems of disparate, digital plastic trash bags of bits cannot be justified. Like odd duck knickknacks one of my failed publishers shoved into his lumber room, ignoring data is often a good solution.
  3. Individuals tasked with organizing data begin with gusto and quickly morph into bureaucrats who treasure meetings with consultants and companies pitching magic software and expensive wizards able to make the code mostly work.

DarkCyber recognizes that with boundaries like budgets, timetables, measurable objectives, federation can deliver some zip.

Silos: A Moment of Reflection

The article uses the word “silo” five times. That’s the same frequency of its use in the presentations to which I listened in mid December 2019.

image

So you want to break down this missile silo which is hardened and protected by autonomous weapons? That’s what happens when a data scientist pokes around a pharma company’s lab notebook for a high potential new drug.

Let’s pause a moment to consider what a silo is. A silo is a tower or a pit used to store core, wheat, or some other grain. Dust is silos can be exciting. Tip: Don’t light a match in a silo on a dry, hot day in a state where farms still operate. A silo can also be a structure used to house a ballistic missile, but one has to be a child of the Cold War to appreciate this connotation.

As applied to data, it seems that a silo is a storage device containing data. Unlike a silo used to house maize or a nuclear capable missile, the data silo contains information of value. How much value? No one knows. Are the data in a digital silo explosive? Who knows? Maybe some people should not know? What wants to flick a Bic and poke around?

Read more

Silicon Valley: Management Talent Available for the Challenges of 2020?

December 24, 2019

Ho, ho, ho. It is the eve of a big time holiday. What do some Silicon Valley companies want to kick the festivities off in grand style? Fresh, experienced, capable management talent? New hires create new opportunities.

DarkCyber may have spotted several candidates. With proven leaders a company struggling in today’s difficult business climate may be able to revivify trust, increase market influence, and enhance credibility via key hires. Some MBAs believe that new management is just the ticket to win the revenue lottery.

Who are these candidates?

If the information in Reuters’ story “Boeing Fires CEO Muilenburg to Restore Confidence Amid 737 Crisis” is accurate, “Muilenburg’s departure followed a week of dramatic setbacks for Boeing, which vies with Europe’s Airbus for leadership of the $150 billion jet industry.” But one person’s setback is another company’s opportunity. It seems that this individual may be seeking his future elsewhere.

For companies looking for senior management talent for their European ventures, HR professionals may need to look no farther than the French executives who made headlines recently. According to “Three French Executives Convicted in the Suicides of 35 of Their Workers,” the method used to motivate colleagues was described as harcelement moral institutionnel. That means energetic constructive criticism.

DarkCyber believes that traditional hiring practices typically do a good job identifying and motivating professionals. Some individuals stand out for different reasons.

Stephen E Arnold, December 24, 2019

Google: We Can Be Avis, National Car Rental or an Off Airport Outfit Too

December 18, 2019

Quite a goal. Google wants to beat Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud. Err, isn’t Google a cloud centric outfit, or at least since it morphed from the cutesy Backrub into the behemoth it is today? What if Google doesn’t think it is a cloud business? Hmm.

Image result for avis rent a car

The answer, of course, is Googley. Google has waffled a bit. The phones, the home helpers, and the mouse pads. But the company operates “out there”, from data centers in regular buildings to wonky containers which can be towed to a location where power is cheap and skills are hard to come by.

A series of stories is zipping around about Google’s new desire to become the big dog in cloud computing. Just like the PR program featuring Jeff Dean, the Google is starting to realize that it may have more in common with the low rent business of scalping tickets than with high technology outfits changing the way business does business.

That’s an interesting thought because it runs counter to the received wisdom that Google is the font of technology. Like the fountains in Rome, lots of work is needed to keep the fountains spouting water. Tourists don’t see Rome’s plumbing, and for good reasons.

The goal of knocking off Amazon and / or Microsoft (love that lawyer conjunction, don’t you?) will be achieved by 2023. That works out to 24 months. Microsoft’s NT project turned into a death march, and I think this goal is likely to follow the same trajectory.

First, Amazon and Microsoft are not standing still. Good old Microsoft is working overtime to make Azure stable and semi-coherent. How many search engines does one desktop software company need? How many analytics solutions? How many servers? These are questions Microsoft engineers are rushing to answer. The airplane is aloft, and making adjustments to an engine when the plane in in flight can be difficult when it has to operate in a hybrid mode and the ground stations can be crashed by a software update. Cool?

Plus, Amazon is moving along a different trajectory. The company is engaged in a multi front war, and it is less and less a cloud company. That bookstore in Nashville and the undoing of FedEx make clear that not even a mid tier state like Tennessee is exempt from the Bezos bulldozer.

Second, Google has not been particularly adept at sticking with projects over time. Examples range from the social media attempts, to the Alon Halevy semantic tools, and to some as simple as messaging services. The culture of incompleteness is a hurdle. Managers can fiddle with incentives and tweak the hiring processes. But the company is a bit like a flotilla of sailboats generally heading toward port when a bad storm presents itself. Everyone knows where to go, but there may be some delays. Delays when trying to knock off Amazon and Microsoft may not be desirable.

Third, there are lots of other companies which want to be the Avis and National to the Uber business. Oracle, down but not out. IBM, a bit of a clueless geriatric but still capable of surprises like its sales success in India, and dozens upon dozens of other companies.

Net net: The write up “Google Brass Set 2023 as Deadline to Beat Amazon, Microsoft in Cloud” is useful, but it contains one telling statement:

Google shifted headcount growth to its cloud platform sales and engineering teams.

What’s going to be the Google equivalent of Windows 10 updates which don’t work, arrive late, and kill some data? If it is ad systems, Amazon is going to get the best location in the airport to serve rental car customers.

Stephen E Arnold, December 18, 2019

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