I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

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S02:E01 - "Ketchup EDC"
Episode 15 • Published Aug 05, 2019

Starting to think “disruption” is an excuse for not treating people great, tbqh

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Links and Show Notes

There are more than 4,500 colleges and universities in the United States, and each year they host thousands of speakers of all political stripes. According to FIRE, a watchdog group that focuses on civil liberties in academia, only 11 speakers were disinvited from addressing college audiences in 2018. This is a minuscule fraction of the universe of speakers who express their views annually on American campuses.

When students express concern and discomfort about speech that is hateful, racist, or noxious in other ways, they are doing nothing unreasonable or historically unprecedented. A number of other democracies take a less absolute view on this topic—yet remain democracies. Moreover, the prevailing American conception of free speech and press rights is a relatively recent development when located in the sweep of time and the history of our nation. The challenge of resolving the tensions inherent in a tolerant society is still very much with us and is likely to remain so.

“Recently, I have noticed some team members working as if Mic were just another 9-6 job, not giving it their all everyday [sic],” Altchek wrote to his staff that month. “I’ve challenged every leader to fix any instances immediately. I’ve asked every leader at Mic to set really ambitious goals going into [Objectives and Key Results] and not accept anything less than total effort from their teams everyday.””

Employees had other frustrations with the financial side of startup life. When Mic passed out the custom-made Nikes in 2015, the company had already raised more than $30 million but had yet to set up a 401(k) system, multiple employees said.

“I was just like, ‘This is so dumb. I don’t need a pair of Nikes. I need a 401(k),’” said one of them. “They just seemed like they were wasting money left and right.”

When the company eventually set up a 401(k) at the end of 2015, according to the person familiar with the company, it did not match contributions. The adviser who worked for the company said it was “fairly standard” in startups that a “401(k) match is not a high priority for employees.”

…self-interested “disruptors” have been around since forever. What’s new over the past couple of decades is the passion, the self-confidence, the ideological commitment. (Not to mention the shamelessness.) … The tech monopolies leaned into this idea, appealing to and flattering our selfishness and solipsism. … As if your moral responsibility could stop at the metaphorical front door, where food, cars, packages magically arrive for your use.

We are discovering what a world devoid of moral responsibility looks like. It ain’t magical. … Because, let’s face it, Silicon Valley technology in nearly all cases isn’t so transformative that it would simply replace the existing systems on its merits. Uber isn’t better than a good mass-transit system; Facebook isn’t better than actual friendship; YouTube videos aren’t better than quality entertainment; a neighborhood littered with Airbnbs isn’t better than a community-oriented one; a computerized learning plan isn’t better than a great teacher. They may be more efficient or easier to use or less expensive, but better? Not even close. …

[The]… truth is that having so much of life occur at the front door, as opposed to on the town square or the market street, is simply sad. Pathetic even. Who but a small minority would want to organize life around a siege mentality?

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