“Data is the new oil” is a deeply flawed metaphor. In addition to being dehumanizing, it’s flat out misleading.

“Data” is not some dormant material that gets excavated from us, it’s whatever other people have chosen to observe, interpret, and remember about us. Data is not who we are, it’s what falls off of us as we interact with the world.

I prefer to think about data as being like the shadows we cast as we move around:

  • Our shadow is not us, but it is made possible by us.
  • Our shadow changes shape depending on time of day, surroundings, and our position and orientation in the environment. …

Since becoming a manager, I’ve been piecing together a philosophy that’s turned out to be something like micro-finance meets Brené Brown; where the resource at stake isn’t money, it’s self-efficacy, the confidence in yourself that you’ll be able to do what’s needed to perform when it matters. I call it confidence micro-loans because it centers around frequent small–stakes interactions with the folks whose careers I have the privilege of helping nurture. These interactions give me the opportunity to understand, calibrate, and invest in their intuition so they can walk away feeling ready to act boldly.

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Credit: Allie Smith

I have a theory that the root of virtually all workplace interpersonal conflict can be traced back to self-doubt; to wondering whether your capability, intellect, or integrity might be in question. …

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On May 17, 2017, Sundar Pichai stood onstage at Google I/O and told everyone that Google was moving from being mobile-first to AI-first. Meanwhile back at the Google offices, there were quite a few folks looking around asking “what does that actually mean?”

For us fortunate few UXers who’d been tinkering with integrating AI into early-stage product development, we immediately started to see an influx of interest from our peers. …

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The flawed operating hypothesis behind most of today’s personalization technology is that with enough data, it would be possible to know someone better than they know themselves.

Think back to your childhood and recall the kind of kid you were. There were likely many days, especially in your teenage years, when you would ‘try on’ entirely new personas to see what they felt like. You’d experiment with clothing, music, language, even friends.

Now ask yourself: are you the same person you were when you were little? Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? How about a year ago? How about a week ago?

The older we get, the harder it becomes for us to summarize ourselves through our current tastes or hobbies alone. We’re sensitive to our environments, to the needs of others, and to the social languages of belongingness and recognition. We’re doing our best to communicate our needs while respecting the boundaries of a constantly evolving and expanding culture. …


Josh Lovejoy

Head of Design for Ethics & Society at Microsoft / Formerly People + AI Research at Google / paradoxtheory.com

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