Email: Embrace The Chaos

02/21/2020

Really enjoyed this piece by Rachel Kramer Bussel:

 Not for the first time, I considered declaring email bankruptcy: mass-deleting all the newsletters, marketing promos, Google news alerts, and notes from friends, family, and work contacts that accumulated over the years. I’d give myself a blank slate, one that allowed me to actually notice the professional opportunities that came my way. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to nuke my inbox entirely. What if I wanted to reread a note my late grandmother had written to me? Or look up which Black Friday promos a company offered in 2016 to better inform my shopping this year?

I long ago learned to stop worrying about my email. We all get a ton of email, and if you’re a grownup, you probably have 3-4 different email accounts that you are responsible for patrolling. My work account has 48,322 unreads; my primary personal account has 2,805; secondary personal (the one where the volume of junk is so high that it exists only for shopping receipts; everybody has that one account) is at 95,776. Collectively, it’s a lot but it’s not impossible.

Here are my tips for managing the chaos:

Turn off unread flags.

If you are determined to leave behind that “inbox zero” silliness, then this should be your first step. Go into your email app or notification settings, and turn off the unread counts/flags. I’m referring to the “14,778” number that appears on the icon of your email app, which signifies the number of unread emails therein. Turn that shit off. That number is meaningless, and it just causes anxiety.

Search is your friend.

Don’t bother filing emails into a labyrinth of folders and sub-folders. It takes too much effort and it won’t really help you find anything any faster. Use the Archive function if you must, but the Search feature is your best friend in taming the chaos. The search function in most modern email apps is fast and accurate. Need to find that one email from HR that they sent six months ago? Type in a few keywords and scroll the results to the correct time frame…there’s the email you wanted.

Flag the vital stuff

If it’s an email that you will absolutely need to reference or respond to later, go ahead and flag or star that bad boy. This is particularly important if the sender or content isn’t memorable or unique enough to easily surface in a search.

Never Delete

Most email takes up very little actual storage space, so there is rarely any benefit to deleting something — especially if there’s any chance of you needing it later. Again, search is your friend.

Just wait.

If you receive an email that gets lost in your chaos and it needed a response, just wait. If it’s truly important they’ll email you again.

“…no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys”

01/13/2020

Apple responds to AG Barr on phone unlocking: read the full statement here:

Earlier today Attorney General William Barr called on Apple to unlock the alleged phone of the Pensacola shooter — a man who murdered three people and injured eight others on a Naval base in Florida in December. Apple has responded by essentially saying: “no.”

“We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation,” the company said. “It was not until January 8th that we received a subpoena for information related to the second iPhone, which we responded to within hours,” Apple added countering Barr’s characterization of Apple being slow on its approach to the FBI’s needs. However, it ends the statement in no uncertain terms: “We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys.”

Apple’s position is the correct one. If you create a software backdoor or a weakness in encryption, it will inevitably be exploited by bad actors. How do we know this? Because even the NSA can’t keep its top secret tools and methods out of enemy hands.

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella also got in on the debate:

“I do think backdoors are a terrible idea, that is not the way to go about this,” Nadella said. “We’ve always said we care about these two things: privacy and public safety. We need some legal and technical solution in our democracy to have both of those be priorities.”

Walkabout

05/29/2019

What’s lurking behind that fence? 

Challenges and Opportunities

04/18/2019

Sometimes I write for other sites:

> All of this is to say that the privacy landscape is changing. For consumers, these are changes for the better. Proper regulation of the collection and protection of private information is probably long overdue. For marketers, we have a new challenge — how do we comply with these regulations and remain effective, without risking legal repercussions?

I tackle privacy and more in a post for my day job.

MCU Movies – The Definitive Ranking

03/19/2019

(Revised 2019-07-06)

There are many lists of Marvel movies, but this one is mine. There’s no particular criteria for my rankings, though “rewatch-ability” is very important. Here is the Definitive Ranking of Marvel Cinematic Universe Films (in order starting from least favorite):

  • Thor: The Dark World — This movie just kind of a mess. It’s like a less-good remake of Thor (which itself wasn’t great.)
  • The Incredible Hulk — The forgotten MCU movie. This is the most optional of the films, so feel free to skip.
  • Thor — I think of it almost like two movies. The first movie is all of the “sword and board” action and royal politics. Most of these scenes are a snooze fest. The other movie takes place on Earth, and it is really fun. Sadly, there is too much of the former to overcome the latter.
  • Iron Man 2 — It’s Iron Man and it’s fun, but it’s the weakest of the trio.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron — This movie felt overly long and I never quite understood the motivations of the antagonist (voiced by the always great James Spader.)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — A visual spectacle, but this movie has always seemed like one of the least necessary entries in the MCU. Other than advancing Quill’s daddy issues, I’m not sure what this film did other than set up Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
  • Doctor Strange — Our introduction to the mystical side of Marvel, this was a fun film. Stephen Strange is an arrogant asshole, but his origin story was great.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger — It took me a couple of viewings to really appreciate this film. I think this is one film where having an understanding of the origin of Captain America really helps you understand why this movie was actually pretty good. Though if you don’t like it, you don’t like it.
  • Ant-Man — I did not expect to like this one as much as I did. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly were great.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp — Low-stakes, lighthearted, and enjoyable. This was the first Marvel film with a female hero to receive top-billing. 
  • Avengers: Infinity War — Part 1 of the big payoff for all of these films. It’s still hard to believe that they managed to center this film around an entirely CGI character and make it work so well.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home — So much fun. They masterfully balanced the humor with the post-Endgame sadness. 
  • Captain America: Civil War — Almost an Avengers movie, there was conflict, politics, and solid action. This also introduced Tom Holland’s Spider-Man into the MCU.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy — This was the point where Marvel really started flexing. Up to this point, their films had been headlined by relatively established characters. Guardians was something else. With it, they absolutely nailed the introduction of a new universe of characters who were virtually unknown to non-comics readers. The script was hilarious and the casting spot-on.
  • Iron Man 3 — A slight shift in tone and stakes from the other two entries, but a solid film. Ben Kingsley steals the show.
  • Thor: Ragnarok — Maybe the funniest MCU movie? This one made me want more Thor films.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming — I love this iteration of Spider-Man (long my favorite comic character) and what Tom Holland brings. So great.
  • Marvel’s The Avengers — The gang finally comes together. Fun action, though I still think helicarriers are dumb.
  • Captain Marvel — The first solo MCU movie with a female protagonist. Loved every minute of it.
  • Iron Man — The first film. This one set the stage and the tone for the MCU. Somehow they lucked into casting Robert Downey Jr. and the rest is cinema history.
  • Black Panther — This was the first MCU film that actually felt important. Black Panther had things to say about race, isolationism, oppression, and family. An incredible film that could stand on its own outside of the MCU.
  • Avengers: Endgame — What a ride. This movie pays off ten years with fan service delivered in a way that I wouldn’t have predicted that Marvel could pull off, but they did! 
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier — I loved everything about this film. I think it had the best action scenes of any MCU movie to date, and echoed some of my favorite thrillers like Three Days of the Condor and Marathon Man To me, this is the most re-watchable entry in the MCU, and that’s why it is at the top. 

End of Watch

02/14/2019

NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity Concludes a 15-Year Mission – The New York Times:

Opportunity, the longest-lived roving robot ever sent to another planet, explored the red plains of Mars for more than 14 years, snapping photos and revealing astonishing glimpses into its distant past. But on Wednesday, NASA announced that the rover is dead.

“It is therefore that I am standing here with a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude that I declare the Opportunity mission as complete,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, said at a news conference.

I wasn’t around for the moon landings, but space exploration has captivated me my entire life. I follow every mission, every discovery, every grainy photo from distant probes. The Mars rover missions have easily been my favorites. Not just flybys of distant objects, these were actual up-close exploration. Crisp, beautiful shots of an alien landscape. The rovers represent some of the best of what NASA can do. 

Professional Sports and Social Media

01/16/2019

As an avid fan of both the NFL and NBA I was noticing today the differences between their social media strategies. Both leagues are very active on Twitter — posting several times per hour with news and information about their respective leagues. This is not a complete survey and measurement of all of their content to date, so keep in mind the small sample size and my own biases. I was most struck by the differences in who and what they choose to highlight for their followers.

Here are the last four hours of Tweets from the NBA, starting with the most recent:

The content is very focused on the players, but not just their individual game highlights. We have:  

  • A human interest story about Anthony Davis
  • Pascal Siakam talking about his favorite restaurant in Toronto
  • The NBA clinic in London
  • A promo for the Knicks/Wizards game which highlights the shoes the players will be wearing

Now, contrast this content with the NFL: 

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

So the NFL highlights a lot of personnel announcements (it’s the offseason for most of the teams in the league, so I guess this is understandable.) But they also do very little to highlight the players as individuals. No human interest-type content. If a player is mentioned, it is about stats or game highlights. It reads like a Twitter version of ESPN’s NFL coverage, with aggressive commentators yelling very important takes at me about sportsball. 

They also posted this: 

But it’s just a photo of the Q&A, no actual video of the discussion. 

This video from two days ago about the Bears addressing gun violence in Chicago was interesting, though definitely not originally produced with social media sharing in mind: 

It’s pretty clear that we are not supposed to care about most individual NFL players. The on-field product is the product. We should be rooting for the laundry. Quarterbacks or start performers get named, but again it’s only about the on field play or matchup. 

Other things I noticed: 

  • NFL video content is very heavily produced, or ripped straight from a television broadcast (either the NFL Network or one of their broadcast partners). NBA content contains more video captured from mobile devices, because it was spontaneous or because it was being created specifically for sharing social media. 
  • The social media for each NFL team does do a bit more in highlighting individual players, and their fans and communities. My Seahawks do like to have a bit of fun: 

 

What are the takeaways? Given how little time and thought I put into this, I’m not sure. It’s does seem clear that the two leagues have very different ideas of how to promote their products. At the league level, the NBA is perfectly comfortable highlighting their players as individuals, and having us get invested in the various league storylines. Not just showing us packaged segments of highlights, but what players eat, how they dress, and what they care about outside of basketball.

The NFL is decidedly less interested in their individual players, at least from the league office (the teams generally manage their own social media, employing a mixed bag of strategies.) The NFL is about game highlights, strategy, and stats — with mic’d up players yelling while they deal out some pain to an opponent.