Twitter de-emphasises follower count… by making the font 2px smaller…?

From The Verge:

Twitter has made follower counts appear less prominent on its iOS app by making the font size smaller in a new redesign effort, according to a Twitter spokesperson. The change comes after CEO Jack Dorsey repeatedly said that he wants to rethink how the company could prioritize “meaningful” conversations over numbers like retweets, likes, and follows.

I would absolutely love to know how much design time, discussions, debates, arguments and philosophy went into making this change.

Positioning this as a “de-emphasis” in any meaningful way seems quite a stretch to me.

The attention on followers and volume of attention is the product of a decade of social media’s push on attention, clicks, scrolls and feeds. We’ve been conditioned by years of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc to value audience size over quality of conversation.

Wanting to change this is admirable, but it’s going to take more than font sizes. It will mean changing the incentive structures of the products in ways that might hurt growth in the short-term… and that’s still going to be a tough row to hoe for these companies conditioned on growth at all costs.

Innovation in tech is just getting started, says Benedict Evans

When we look around and see the absolute domination of companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook, it’s easy to assume that the technology boom is over, and that these companies took all the profits.

But a16z’s Benedict Evans has a different take: he argues that tech is only just getting started.

He calls it “the end of the beginning”… the “beginning” being connecting every person on earth to the internet.

In the next phase, we have a new set of decentralised building blocks – such as machine learning and the blockchain – to power a new wave of tech innovations that could target the trillions dollars worth of market share still not captured by the tech industry.

Health care, housing, finance, retail and more… not to mention politics or social welfare.

Watch his presentation from the annual a16z tech conference, which he originally posted on his blog here.

Companies microchipping employees is real – and we should be scared

I just finished reading The Circle, the dystopian view of a world when the next Facebook completely abolishes privacy once and for all. The scariest thing about the book is how real – how possible – it all seems. The world is a few decisions away from being set on that path.

I read today in The Guardian that companies are starting to microchip employees for real:

The tiny chips, implanted in the flesh between the thumb and forefinger, are similar to those for pets. They enable people to open their front door, access their office or start their car with a wave of their hand, and can also store medical data.

It’s super scary. It’s a precedent that leads to a scary future.

How Marty Cagan measures Team Empowerment

Marty Cagan was in Berlin recently and did a talk about why teams are not truly empowered, and what teams might do about that.

He shared his “True Test of Empowered Teams”:

1. The team is staffed with competent people with the necessary range of skills.
2. The team is assigned problems to solve, and they are able to decide the best way to solve those problems.
3. The team is accountable for solving the customer or business problem (outcome).

This is a powerful lens to use to look at a team – either one that you’re managing, or one that you’re a part of – and assess the level of true empowerment.

The framework also fits well with the general idea of using OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) as a tool for managing autonomous teams:

1. The team is staffed with competent people with the necessary range of skills (the pre-requisite for any team to be productive and impactful).
2. The team is assigned problems to solve (ie, OBJECTIVES), and they are able to decide the best way to solve those problems.
3. The team is accountable for solving the problem – which you measure with metrics or other measurable outcomes/KPIs (ie, KEY RESULTS).

Basically this is a recipe for using OKRs to drive empowered teams:

Objective = problem to solve
Accountability = measurable outcome

You can use this framework while evaluating the teams in your company. It could also be used as a tool in a retrospective: the team can each provide a rating, say out of ten, to the extent that they feel they are empowered, measuring each of these three trajectories, and you can track this self-evaluation over time to monitor the trend.

You can watch a recording of the talk here.