Enlightened Empathy

At the time AirBNB was so small, Joe Gebbia personally went to listers to photograph homes for the listings. In taking these photos…

“We got so close that we go to step into their shoes for a moment and see the world through their eyes, and really see the pain points that they were feeling,” says Gebbia. That’s the basis of innovation — you take an enlightened and empathetic point of view and combine it with your own unique point of view to create something new. In a short period of time, the quality of listings improved and number of options increased.

In the How I Built This with Guy Raz podcast, Gebbia calls this Enlightened Empathy.

While doing web design, we talked to the administrators for the department who wanted a site. In doing support for the sites, I would get to talk to users to understand what they were trying to accomplish and make tweaks or major re-designs to make that experience better.

There is a whole profession, User Experience Designer, built around the idea of engaging representative users to understand how they use technology to ensure the design reflects how people will use it.

TED Talk: The surprising habits of original thinkers

I loved Adam Grant’s book, Originals. The below video is essentially the TL;DR version.

How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”

If the above video does not work, then try The surprising habits of original thinkers.

On Monuments

We built monuments to display our pride of winning or mourn our loss. They represent what we considered the great things about our society in the past as lessons for the present and future. In that light, defacing a historical marker such as both of Emmett Till’s shows the opposition that honoring the person is a good thing.

Frankly, I think we as a country have done a terrible job recognizing important people and events. Confederate monuments are overly honored due to the rush to throw them up during Segregation and opposing the Civil Rights Movement.

We should do a better job today creating monuments to abolitionists, slave rebellions, and victims of Jim Crow lynchings. People should be able to recognize Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner, and Emmett Till even better than they recognize the faces of traitorous generals and presidents like Lee and Davis.

DOJ, Dreamhost, and DisruptJ20

The government has no interest in records relating to the 1.3 million IP addresses that are mentioned in DreamHost’s numerous press releases and opposition brief.

Basically, the Department of Justice served Dreamhost this warrant asking for

  1. the code backing the web site,
  2. the HTTP request and error logs,
  3. logs about backend connections to upload files to the server
  4. databases
  5. email account metadata and contents
  6. account information for the site owner

Dreamhost resisted the warrant as overly broad. The DOJ is backing off the HTTP logs and unpublished draft posts.

If the site is using certain WordPress plugins to track visitors, then it is possible that the IPs for visitors are in the database. Or if the DOJ looked at the public HTML and noticed a Google Analytics JavaScript, then they know they can issue a warrant to Google to get the visitor information. Would Google resist handing it over as hard as Dreamhost?

 

Total Eclipse

 

Total Eclipse over Greenville, SC
Total Eclipse over Greenville, SC

A friend invited others to her parent’s house inside the totality. It was fantastic placement very near the center of totality, so we got to see it for a couple minutes rather than a few seconds just inside totality. [Photo album]

I experienced the annular eclipses in 1984 and 1994. I was a kid at the time, so my recollection is fuzzy. We also were not in the path, so it got dimmer but not… this.

The sky was BLACK. Night BLACK. Eerily unnerving BLACK. I felt like a quark inside a nearly infinite universe. And then the light returned.

It hands down is the most spectacular moment I have ever experienced. I understand how peoples found this event so terrifying. I understand the physics and have a hard time believing it. I now get why people become eclipse chasers. I could become a junkie for wanting to experience this again and again.

It would be amazing to see the next one in the USA April 8, 2024. It goes over Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maine.

We expected traffic getting there and returning home to be horrendous with the interstates, highways, and roads swamped with people. From what I heard, traffic on I-85 was really bad in places, since that was the direct route from Atlanta to Greenville. And it was pretty bad up in the mountains.

Read Old Books

C.S. Lewis:

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones… People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us.

This quote amused me because it certainly feels like we are making the same mistakes. I suspect our lack of reading about the past (new or old books) leads to Dunning-Kreuger style hubris where we commit the same mistakes.

TED Talk: Trolling a Spammer

Back in the early days of spam, I did try replying to a few, but I never got anything like this.

Suspicious emails: unclaimed insurance bonds, diamond-encrusted safe deposit boxes, close friends marooned in a foreign country. They pop up in our inboxes, and standard procedure is to delete on sight. But what happens when you reply? Follow along as writer and comedian James Veitch narrates a hilarious, weeks-long exchange with a spammer who offered to cut him in on a hot deal.

Phishing

Over a month ago, I received a creative phishing attempt. We use a relatively popular service which is mimicked fairly well. I typically receive notification emails from it by an administrative assistant. This came from another name. That was my only real clue that made me look closer. Since, I have received almost a dozen, each pretending to be a different product.

I noticed they all used different domain names for the payload link. But, they all use file.php?d=<value> or f.php?d=<value> to deliver the payload.

Computers are smarter than I am when it comes to patterns like this, so I created an email filter to look for the file names and set it loose. If I see another phishing attempt using another script name, then I will add it to the list. But, so far, I am pleased with how well it protects me from myself.

Renowned

Saw a Facebook post claiming “… a renowned psychologist believes that…” which made me curious. Such a psychologist ought to have thousands of academic journal citations. So, I looked up the name on Google Scholar and saw one to five. The most highly cited stuff was about metaphysical stuff that psychologists refute.

Roy F. Baumeister is what I would call a renowned psychologist. His motivation article has over 13,000 citations. His ego-depletion, which is where I know him, has almost 4,000. People know about his work and cite his in their own. That is renowned.

The thing that prompted this is clickbait pseudoscience bullshit. Calling the creator renowned is Appeal to Authority so probably quite effective.