Battle not with monsters, lest ye become one

The original, full quotation reads:

Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you


Alright Nietzsche fans, can you please lower your guns now?

It’s a powerful quote, and since Devin Coldewey choose not to use that as a title for his latest post, I’ll use it. It’s a great tagline for the ongoing war between Facebook and Google but it also to describe what’s going on for the hundreds of thousands of actors in the social networking battlefield.

As I wrote in a previous post a lot of people are expecting Google+ to turn into Facebook overnight, which is the main reason why they view the young social network as a failure. Devin certainly thinks so. I obviously disagree.

However, Devin is making other great points as to why it doesn’t feel terribly good to be in the Google+ camp right now. Jealousy, Impatience and Hubris are certainly a good part of the reasons why Google is struggling to articulate a clearer message to wow more Facebook users.

Most businesses signed up for a “hunger game” of its ilk. The public is watching. If they didn’t really want to wage a war and take the hits, they’d better get out of the kitchen. Otherwise, they just have to thrive to grow and survive.

The best illustration of it is this great game – ironically built as an experiment with the sponsorship of … who else ? Google.

Caution: this is extremely addictive. I will deny any responsibility in any dramatic drop in productivity at the workplace in the coming weeks.

What else did we expect? Isn’t that the nature of business? especially in tech? aren’t Jealousy, Impatience and Hubris the necessary ingredients to wage such a war with enough panache to win it? or at least to make it glamorous enough to give the rest of us a good reason to “pop the corn” and gaze at the show?

Competition is good for society in general. We should embrace and encourage more alternatives to Facebook. We should keep paying attention and participating – as judges or actors – to wars such as the one between the two household names.

Of course, It feels tiring to have to deal with so many new services that seemingly does the same thing. People are overwhelmed and tired. I get that.

But it worth keeping in mind that ultimately, this all works toward a better experience and a better value for us.

Really, what else do you want for free?

Oh … right, never mind …


Happiness the secret of success?

Shawn Achor is the author of the Happiness Advantage. He spent 12 years researching at Harvard, and is now CEO of Good Think Inc.

Here’s Shawn in action at TED.

Positive psychology is a concept a lot of people are getting all worked up about. It comes with its passionate nay-sayers and feverish advocates.

I’m in the latter camp. Although I’m always trying to strike a balance between blind optimism and positive thinking.

In this latest post, Shawn drops a bombshell:

In a study I performed on 1,600 Harvard students in 2007, I found that there was a 0.7 correlation between perceived social support and happiness. This is higher than the connection between smoking and cancer. So if in the modern world we give up our social networks to work away from friends and follow celebrities on Twitter, we are trading off with our happiness and health.

Why a bombshell you ask? Well, because social networking has recently become a lot more about getting customers, acquiring fans, showing off skills or broadcasting news than about genuine social support and connection.

Social networking sites are judged not by the nature or quality of the interactions they encourage, but by how popular they are. This is true not only for newcomers such as Symbyoz, but also for major players such a Google+.

The social support, the deep, meaningful connection with friends and family is constantly ignored, diminished or dismissed as most social media pundits, bloggers, and businesses seem only interested by popularity and quantity. And that’s not because they don’t “get it”, it’s merely a pragmatic choice, it’s how they increase their audience and their immediate profit.

So while Google+ may thrive and be very succesful in a forseable future, it will unfortunaltely keep getting a bad rap for being a “ghost town” because the people who write about it are expecting it to be the next Facebook overnight.

Ironically, something that needs to be understood about the success of Facebook is precisely that they did not seek the popularity of the masses when they started.

They started as a way to connect students, then friends and family. As a much more compelling and meaningful agent for social bonding than any other service at the time.

They might not always look like it now. They have become so huge that we only see the large audience behind them. But social was, and probably still is, in their DNA.

Want to improve your Happiness level? try these very simple steps from Shawn:

I challenge readers to do one brief positive exercise every day for 21 days [NDLR: Edited].

• Write down 3 new things you are grateful for each day;

• Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours;

• Exercise for 10 minutes a day;

• Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out;

• Write one quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising someone in your social support network (family member, friend, old teacher).

New services such as Symbyoz can help to follow these steps, and offer a simple and quick way to stay in touch with friends and family, which will strengthen our social layer and capitalize on that promise of happiness induced by a strong social capital.

Via – Stay on top of your social networking

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time

Another inspiring blog article today.

Tony Schwartz argues that multitasking is the reason why between 25 and 50 per cent of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work.

He’s correct. Our brains, culture, civilization, habits and ways are rewired everyday by our technology, by our political system and social evironment and are driving us towards paying less attention to what we do and less attention to the people around us.

Yes, Including friends and familly … “Liking” a comment randomly found on a wall in the middle of playing AngryBirds doesn’t count.

The real question is should we change or can we make the best of it? and if we can, what does it mean to do so?

Also on – Stay on top of your social networking

Is Procrastination Essential to Innovation?

In a very interesting and thought provoking piece, Whitney Johnson today is analyzing the potential benefits of procrastination for innovation.

I had always thought of procrastination as a bad actor, anxiety even worse. But in analyzing what I thought were merely stall tactics, I’ve come to realize that the anxiety caused by procrastination is actually a critical component to innovation. Research supports this. Anxiety, in the right quantities, can propel us forward. According to the Journal of Management, NASA scientists and engineers found that performance increases as deadlines shorten, but when the deadlines became too short, performance declined.

I agree that anxiety, shorter deadlines – and simply deadlines, and maybe simply constraints in general – helps foster innovation.

However I wonder if she’s not giving procrastination itself too much credit as a positive and natural generator of constraints. It may work for people who are capable of self introspection, have access to resources and are able to follow a certain discipline despite their procrastination. That immediately excludes a lot people.

Whitney, who wanted to write a book, also describes the innovations and new ideas she’s been able to pull from her anxiety.

1) View the book as a product. 

I realized my anxiety was caused, in part, by the unfamiliar experience of launching a book. By reframing it as being analogous to launching a business, I talked myself down. I’ve never published a book before, but I have incubated businesses. When you’re overwhelmed by a new project, look to your past for similar problems you’ve already solved. Just as a business model is required to maximize the reach of a simplifying technology, so too is a business model required to maximize the reach of a book. Looking at the book as a product has helped me lock into great ideas and energized my efforts.

2) Write my way through the launch. Just as scientists meticulously record daily findings to ensure that each experiment is replicable and accurate conclusions are drawn, I realized I could write about my experience of publishing a book. Dissecting the process and hoping that my experience may be helpful to others has turned out to be powerful motivator (and a source of content for my blog). When you can zoom out and view your experience in the abstract, you create the necessary distance to be objective about your own performance. In essence, you give yourself a general’s panorama of the battlefield rather than the limited view of a foot solider. Vision is essential for innovation.

3) Collaborate — and accept the help of others. Though I’ve written about the importance of collaboration, I struggle to do it well, and even more so to receive help. The anxiety factor has pushed me to reach out, something I might not have been willing to do previously. I’ve found fantastic partners who have enriched my efforts with their resources and granted me access to specialized knowledge that will strengthen my “product.” Sometimes anxiety can be the tool that forces us past imagined boundaries into a brave new world of possibility.

Of course I’m very sensitive to innovation #3 which is at the core of Symbyoz.

So let’s add another level of introspection to the mix: one of the reason we’re not collaborating well, while we know full well that it’s good for us, is again due to the procrastination of not keeping in touch more often with people.

It makes the conversation we want to have with them about our goals much more awkward and difficult because we feel guilty, because we don’t really know who to turn to, and because we’ll have to spend a lot more time trying to re-establish the proper, respectful communication channel to explain what we want, and why we need them.

Social networks not social anymore?

An article on Hindustan Times is analyzing data from a recent Pew survey about the increasing activity around managing privacy on social networks.

More privacy and reputation management on social networking sites

The article question whether social networks are social anymore, since the trend seems to be now to prune our friends lists and sanitize our profiles. There’s an argument to be made as to whether people are taking social media too seriously.

As social networks are taking a bigger part in our daily routines, it’s a positive trend that people are starting to be more careful about what they post and who they add. We’ve been thinking and working for a while now on making it easier for people to manage their network, and focus on what and who is important. It’s not a simple task.

Privacy Concerns
Courtesy of

It may be counter-intuitive, especially for Mark Zuckerberg’s followers who believe that social is all about being open and transparent. But this is actually necessary to keep social networking more “social”.

Otherwise people may eventually shy away from having real meaningful and mutually beneficial conversations.