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benwerd

benwerd

ben.werdmuller

ben.werdmuller.blog

ben@benwerd.com

 

Fairness Friday: Harmony Health Clinic

‌‌I’m posting Fairness Fridays: a new community social justice organization each week. I donate to each featured organization. If you feel so inclined, please join me.

This week I’m donating to Harmony Health Clinic. Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Harmony Health Clinic “seeks to understand and serve the health and wellness needs of the medically uninsured and underserved who live in Pulaski County, by providing access to quality medical care at no cost to these patients in a private, community-based clinic, staffed by medical professional volunteers and marked by a unique atmosphere of caring, compassion, respect, dignity, and diversity.”

It describes its mission as follows:

[…] The Clinic’s founders are committed to advancing social justice through the provision of quality health care to those who are denied it by virtue of barriers such as socioeconomic status. We believe that universal access to decent health care is integral to the sanctity, development and enjoyment of life, and vital to an individual’s ability to fully realize one’s dignity and potential. Virtually every religious faith and major Christian denomination takes the position that access to decent health care is and should be recognized as a basic human right, and that the prevailing health care system in this country utterly fails to protect that right when it does not ensure adequate coverage for all Americans. Indeed, the United States of America stands virtually alone among all industrialized nations as the only country which does not provide health care coverage to all of its citizens.

As the pandemic progresses and health needs compound, I’m concerned about the impact on the most vulnerable, particularly in some of the most impoverished and unequal parts of the country. Harmony Health Clinic is one organization that is helping to alleviate these inequities.

I donated. If you have the means, I encourage you to join me here.

I found Harmony Health Clinic through the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, which provides support for the uninsured and underinsured nationwide. I donated to them, too, and I encourage you to do the same.

 

Settling

Something I’ve learned over the last decade is that I have a very different relationship to place than many - perhaps even most - people.

I come by it honestly. In my nuclear family growing up, each of us had a slightly different accent, shaped by our respective journeys. My dad’s is Dutch; my mother’s was American; my sister and I sit in different places along the British-to-American spectrum, and have fluctuated along that axis throughout our lives.

Parts of my family ancestry moved by force: concentration camps in Indonesia and pogroms in Ukraine. But even on the theoretically more stable sides of my family, my forebears typically decided to move around a bunch. Even within the bounds of my own history, my childhood was spent in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Austria, and the United States.

When I came along, a tiny zygote interrupting a life among the political activists of 1970s Berkeley, my parents decided to move to Europe. I’m sure it wasn’t exactly a no-brainer for them, but they were clear on their decision: they would prefer to have a child in Europe than the United States. That pattern continued throughout my childhood: we traveled for educational opportunities, and for work. It was a privileged existence in the sense that experiencing different cultures and living in different places is privileged; we didn’t have much money, and scraped to get by.

I’ve inherited that wanderlust, and I guess a sense of willingness to be somewhere new. There’s nothing wrong with its opposite - a desire to stay and grow roots, to be deeply settled - but that understanding didn’t come easily to me. There’s something almost genetic about not wanting to be in one place forever. There’s so much world out there!

I’m not at all jealous of the folks whose families have been in the same spot for generations. Again, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it feels like so much more might be possible. And I have to acknowledge that it’s a ridiculous stance, because so much of the traveling in my family history comes from trauma: it’s not so much that people just wanted to roam. They were forced out; their homes burned; their communities tortured and murdered. Perhaps there’s a virtue to be found in the resilience that’s a required outcome of that, but not so much in the act itself. These were atrocities.

And yet. I like to move.

Evan Prodromou wrote about this internal conflict on his blog yesterday. He’s wondering about his geographic legacy, and considering lessons from Melody Warnick’s book This is Where You Belong.

The book covers a lot of the reasons that staying put is more healthy physically and psychologically than constantly moving. It also has a number of commonsense recommendations for establishing connections to the place you’re living. Like: walk or bike more, so you see things up close. Volunteer. Meet people. Learn the history. Do what people who live there do.

To me, settling has always felt like settling: coming to a compromise agreement with the world. I feel like I need to erase that chip in my brain, and I haven’t quite found the way to do it.

I would love to settle in the sense of finding a comfortable place to rest, and in the sense of putting down real roots. I have not yet found a way to feel okay with it.

 

In support of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act

I’d like to informally join the list of technologists who support the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. Here’s the full text of the bill.

Specifically, the bill would prevent “covered platforms” from prioritizing their products and services over those provided by other vendors in a way that would harm competition on that platform.

That could be interpreted to mean app stores and search engines: a “covered platform” is one that has at least 50M US-based monthly active users, at least 100K monthly active “business users”, and has either a market cap or revenues of at least $550B. It also needs to have the potential to “materially impede” access from a business to its users / customers, or to tools a business needs to service its users or customers.

It’s a good law. Neither search engine or marketplace vendors should have the ability to preference services made by that vendor over equivalent services made by others. Apple shouldn’t be able to promote Apple’s services over a startup’s on the App Store; Google shouldn’t be able to promote Google’s services on its store or in its search engine results. The result will be a better ecosystem for startups, independent projects, and software produced by co-operatives and collectives.

Similarly, the Open App Markets Act would prevent App Store providers from forcing app vendors to use the provider’s payments technology. Apple wouldn’t be able to require that subscriptions go through iTunes, for example. That’s a big change that, again, creates better terms for startups and helps to establish a more competitive ecosystem.

This is the kind of thing legislation should be doing: helping to enforce fairer markets that allow newcomers to compete with incumbents on a level playing field. I’m hopeful that these bills pass, and that they’re a precursor to real antitrust reform. In the light of today’s announcement around an overhauled merger approval process, we may be in luck.

A more competitive landscape is one where consumers have more choices and protections, and ecosystems are more open and innovative. These active steps to get there represent a change that’s been a long time coming.

 

We should just accept work is remote for now

I’m 90% convinced that most tech workers are going to be working remotely for the duration of 2022. Omicron has pushed out much-fanfare returns to the office, and there’s nothing to say that there won’t be another wave after that. It’s simply not safe, and it won’t be safe for some time.

Rather than playing that by ear and seeing how we go, which has resulted in an announcement about returning to the office followed by a retraction roughly every quarter, I think companies should go ahead and make the assumption. It’ll help the companies themselves make better financial decisions. For example, Google can save the $6.3M it spends on food each year and direct it elsewhere (for example, to help parents, carers, and other people who need it). But more importantly, the certainty will help employees plan their lives.

There’s a lot to be gained from being remote. Within certain parameters, I vastly prefer it: I do better work, I waste less time traveling, I eat better food and do more exercise, and feel less tired at the end of each day. Those parameters and boundaries are important, though: if work bleeds into every hour of the day because there’s no set home-time from the office, it’s a much worse experience (and everyone does worse work because they’re wiped out).

But more than that, there’s a lot to be gained from not being wishy-washy about it. Burnout happens, in part, when you work really hard but feel like you don’t have control. Left unchecked, the uncertainty and powerlessness of our covid situation can be a huge contributor to it. Removing that psychic overhead could, I think, reduce one of the most important stressful overheads of this era.

There’s a lot to work out. The pandemic has disproportionately affected people from vulnerable communities, and remote working can exacerbate those effects. We can’t ignore the equity issues with remote working - but that means leaning into them and finding real solutions that make for more equitable workplaces, rather than pretending that remote work is going away any time soon.

The best workplaces are kind, inclusive, empathetic, and responsive to their workers’ needs. That doesn’t have to mean in-person - particularly when being in-person carries the risk of contracting a disease that could affect your entire life. Let’s take that out of the equation and focus on how to make things better in our new reality. There’s no going back to normal. Not for a long time yet.

 

The startupification of tech

Over the last decade or two tech has become dominated by the startup: a small, new business that rapidly reinvents itself in an iterative process. Once upon a time, the aim of that process was - or at least, seemed like it was - to be as useful as possible to a well-defined target group of users. These days it feels like the aim is mostly to gain as high a valuation as possible by moving from venture capital funding round to funding round, eventually making bank through an exit event.

That startupification has had an interesting effect on tech communities. I’m from the utopian era of the web, when we all thought we could build something to connect that world, and by doing so that we would make it more peaceful. These days, it seems like people are mostly in it to make millions of dollars - which feels like an emptier, less exciting goal, to say the least. The possibilities for social change used to seem endless; now the conversation is mostly about funding rounds or financial yield. In itself, it’s boring, but it also changes who is attracted to the space: we’ve gone from a loose group of weird social idealists to being overwhelmed by a bolus of the most boring possible people. The tech workforce is becoming Wall Street in hoodies, far more concerned with the performance of their RSUs than the impact they’re having in the world.

Of course, there are still idealists: people who believe in making the world more equal and democratic, and that technology has a part to play in making it happen. The indieweb movement remains one great example of this; there are also plenty of people working on tech for good, or mission-driven endeavors where the social impact comes first. Even in companies that are a part of this financialization of tech, there are people doing great work on inclusivity, unionization, and advocacy for social responsibility. Nonetheless, at this point, these groups are in the minority.

I find that personally demotivating - it’s not why I got into the space, or why I’m excited about it - but it’s also kind of counterproductive. If you’re laser focused on helping a defined group of people, you’re more likely to build a valuable company, because you’re literally generating value. Conversely, if you’re focused on making money as a goal rather than a means to an end, you’re more likely to make shallower decisions that undermine your value. Being focused on helping your user means you’re aligned with them; being primarily focused on your financial goals means you’re primarily aligned with yourself. To put it another way, if the aim is to raise a round or make a bunch of money personally, you’re more likely to make decisions that screw your users and undermine that goal to begin with. It’s also just a selfish, stupid way to look at the world.

Remember this Apple campaign?

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

It doesn’t say here’s to the stockbrokers, is all I’m saying. Tech could use a little more crazy, a little more outside thinking, a little more equity-mindedness, and a little less greed. That’s how the world gets changed: by focusing on people, not on dollar bills.

 

Photo by Israel Andrade on Unsplash

 

 

Fairness Friday: Project HOME

‌‌I’m posting Fairness Fridays: a new community social justice organization each week. I donate to each featured organization. If you feel so inclined, please join me.

This week I’m donating to Project HOME. Based in Philadelphia, Project HOME aims to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty in the Philly area.

It describes its mission as follows:

The mission of the Project HOME community is to empower adults, children, and families to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, to alleviate the underlying causes of poverty, and to enable all of us to attain our fullest potential as individuals and as members of the broader society. We strive to create a safe and respectful environment where we support each other in our struggles for self-esteem, recovery, and the confidence to move toward self-actualization.

Its work includes permanent, subsidized housing for individuals and families who had been homeless; learning, training, and employment; affordable healthcare services for the underserved; and K12 education for vulnerable children and teens. Its work is holistic, addressing underlying causes as well as immediate needs.

I donated. If you have the means, please join me here.

 

America

Last year, I drove across the country, twice.

We were always going to go to the east coast. One of the last clear things my mother said to me, over a Zoom link to the hospital because I wasn’t allowed into her room because of covid protocols (until her situation got a lot worse), was, “how am I going to get to [my great grandparents’ house on Cape Cod]?”

I promised her that we would get her there. In the event, we brought her ashes.

Driving all together for one more road trip - an extension of journeys we’d taken when I was a kid - felt like the right thing to do. It was meaningful time for the three of us, and it was a sort of resolution on my promise, even if it was not the way any of us wanted it to happen.

It’s a beautiful country. It’s troubled and full of people who are hurting, and it has a terrible history. But man. The landscape is breathtaking; the perseverance of people who build amazing things despite it all is inspiring.

On the road trip back, my sister and I took a southerly route. While we were in the South, we deliberately only ate at Black-owned establishments. It was clear that the racial politics of places like Alabama are still set in the distant past, and we saw the owners of some of these establishments suffer both systemic and direct abuse (they were also the friendliest places with by far the best food we tried). We visited the Greenwood District in Tulsa and saw that the aftermath of the race massacre is ongoing. We saw that plaques commemorating Dr King’s work are often kept at arms length.

It was also clear that the country isn’t blue or red; it’s purple. There were progressive people fighting hard for equality everywhere we went. And there was the opposite. It would be disingenuous to say they’re just different; one is pushing towards justice, and the other is pushing against it. I believe justice will win, but it’s been a long, hard struggle.

I don’t necessarily recommend going on a road trip during a pandemic. (We were careful, were in a lull, tested frequently, and did not get covid.) But I do recommend traveling the country when it’s safe. It’s eye-opening, and a good reminder of how much of a bubble places like San Francisco really are.

I hope to do it again, and to see more, once the pandemic is over. I want to hear the music of New Orleans in full swing; I want to visit bars and hang out in restaurants and hear the stories that are hard to get to in a world of social distancing and health protocols. Hopefully it’s soon.

 

The monoculture web

If you’d asked me a few years ago who won the browser wars, I would have said open standards: web pages were finally opening and rendering well no matter which browser you chose to use. There was a significant choice between rendering engines, chromes, and parent companies to pick from, and although there were some differences in how quickly new HTML features were picked up or exactly how quickly pages rendered, the web itself continued to work.

This year, I’m finding that websites increasingly break if I’m using Firefox. Sometimes, it’s something small, like a page failing to give me Apple Pay as a way to check out if I’m not using Safari. Increasingly, though, it’s meaningful: navigation doesn’t function or forms don’t submit.

This has to mean that engineers aren’t testing in Firefox anymore, and in turn that businesses aren’t prioritizing it. Because every other major browser is now using Webkit or Blink (itself a Webkit fork), that means web browser rendering has effectively become a monoculture.

That’s a bummer for me, because I’ve been a die-hard Firefox user since its release. But it’s also a real problem for the web. Firefox is the last mass-market open source web browser project: built by volunteers and a non-profit with diverse stakeholders in mind. The alternatives are all run by large corporations with philosophies based on lock-in: Google, Apple, and Microsoft, respectively. And only Google and Apple control the engines.

The saving grace is that only one of those companies - Google - is an advertising firm. Apple has wisely staked its reputation on privacy and security (even if it often doesn’t live up to those ideals). The modern Microsoft is really about creating better work experiences, and Edge correspondingly may have a similar approach to security - but as long as its browser rendering engine is controlled by Google, it’ll be optimized for displaying ads.

Clearly, most browser vendors have decided it’s not financially viable to create their own rendering engine. That’s a shame, and a missed opportunity. The web is nothing more than a set of standards, and there’s leeway for interpretation between implementations. If it weren’t for the Webkit / Blink split in 2013, there would effectively be a monopoly over the web.

At any rate, I’m going to pour one out for Firefox. It was a major force for good on the web, and therefore in the world; I’d love to see it come back faster, slimmer, and with renewed vigor. Until then, I need my web pages to work.

 

Rest and hustling

I slept for over ten hours last night, which felt like a miracle after a very long, stressful week. There’s a lot going on, and a lot going wrong, so the act of breathing and resting feels good. And biologically necessary.

My targeted ads lately have been focused on art, I guess because I’ve been clicking around a lot of outsider artists. But instead of the interesting work by emerging talents that I would like to see, I’m seeing a ton of direct to consumer startups selling things that they think other startup bros would like.

It’s horrifying.

I mean, sure, I’ll just ignore the art and move on. But I feel really bad for this next generation of kids who really believes that if they just hustle a little bit harder, if they spend their entire lives sweating and working and building, their lives will improve. There is a minority chance that it will lead them to more wealth, which is probably what they think they want. There’s also a majority chance that it will ruin the relationships in their lives and lead to them waking up in their early thirties burned out and alone.

There’s a whole get-rich-quick side to hustle culture that doesn’t even make sense according to its own internal logic: you’ll get rich in a compressed time by burning the candle at both ends and making your life shorter through stress and aggravation.

Okay, great. Then what? Are you going to retire? Concentrate on gardening? Or are you going to find, perhaps, that you’re addicted to the lifestyle you’ve created for yourself, and that you’re dependent on validation from the thing you do to make a living, such that if that thing ever goes away, you’re lost?

To be clear, I enjoy (meaningful) work: I like building things, and I like the feeling of incrementally pushing the world closer to an ideal that I would like to see. There’s a kind of egotism in it for sure (why should I be pushing the world towards my values?), but also a feeling of purpose and achievement. What I’m not into is the sense that you need to lose a piece of yourself to be competitive, or even to be valid in doing what you’re doing. You only get one life, and so much is more important than work.

It’s always worth considering why these messages are put out; who supports them; who really benefits if you follow their advice; and what happens if you choose to live another way. It’s propaganda, and propaganda always serves a central purpose.

Life for you, your community, your relationships, and your communal well-being. There’s no need to work yourself to the bone and potentially push yourself to an earlier death in order to make someone richer. Even if that person is you.

I mean, fuck off.

 

43 things

Today is my birthday. Last year I wrote 42 admissions: things I feel uncomfortable about that are worth discussing. In the end, I posted it a little after my actual birthday, because it turns out there are more important things to talk about during an insurrection. It’s a piece of writing I’m proud of, and I don’t think I would do it justice by revisiting the format.

This year I want to talk about things. Specifically, things I or we could build, that probably don’t exist yet, but might be feasible to achieve. Some of them will be bad ideas; some of them good. I’ve been thinking about some of them for a very long time; others are brainstormed in the moment. Some are big and all-encompassing; some could be side projects. Some are software; some are not. You might like some and hate others. Some or all might not be viable; you’re free to use any of them, but do so at your own risk. I’m leaving them unnamed.

(Yes, the name of this post is a reference. If you get it, kudos, you’re old too. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules.)

One.

A website, and later book, interviewing the people who work on tech for good. Who is using the internet to make the world more equitable, to empower the underserved, and build a safer future?

I’m not talking about ex-Facebook executives trying to greenwash their careers, or people like me in startup land, but the activists and hackers who might not ordinarily get coverage. What drives them? How did they get started? What are they excited about? How can we help them?

Two.

LinkedIn but for things you’re proud of, your hopes, and your dreams: like a resumé for your emotions.

Like LinkedIn, anyone could make one and keep it public, as a de facto work profile. Unlike LinkedIn, the center of gravity is not your money-making potential, but rather your humanity.

Three.

A unified service that will take away most of the really annoying bureaucracies involved in American life that residents of other countries take for granted.

A single payment covers healthcare and disability insurance, saves for retirement, and - assuming you’re a normal wage worker - will file your taxes on your behalf. If you’ve been working for a certain amount of time, payments are free for a while if you lose your job, so you don’t need to mess with COBRA. And anyone can use it, whether your employer provides it as a benefit or not.

You interact with the product through the year instead of doing your taxes etc every twelve months, so all the decisions involved in filing your taxes and choosing healthcare become very low-friction.

Four.

Urban gardens as a service. Come together as a community, rent or buy space as a collective, and then either do what you will with it or go through a step by step introductory process to developing and running one. The service manages space, roles, rotations, and keeps track of what planting needs to be done when. You can even buy and sell seeds.

Five.

Coworking trains. Cross the country between LA, San Francisco, Seattle and the northeast corridor via Chicago in first class quality train cars that have satellite internet, onboard entertainment, great food, coworking areas, a bar, and unlimited coffee. Available as single tickets or as a travel pass; each traveler defaults to a room with a single bed and small desk area, but larger rooms are available.

Six.

21st century telehealth for seniors, including a dedicated video device to book a session and talk to a doctor, and optional medical alert wearables that also track health metrics.

Seven.

Smart speakers / intelligent assistants for the Deaf. Embedded in hearing aids (perhaps in conjunction with smart glasses) and other devices around the home, the smart speakers can be activated by touch or voice, and can take input via signing or traditional speech.

Eight.

Tiny house drones. Forget delivery drones; what about home robots that bring you stuff inside your own home? For example, what if they could find your glasses or car keys and bring them to you? Tired: tiles and AirTags that let you know where these things are. Wired: technology that brings them to you, which is what you really wanted to begin with.

Nine.

GitHub for holistic software design. Rather than a code-centric environment, a software project tool that elevates points of view, research, and ethical considerations to the same importance as code, as well as ensuring that designers, writers, etc are not second class citizens in comparison to engineers.

Ten.

Audio diaries to share with close friends and family. Leave long-form messages like voicemail that people you choose to can listen to. It’s not about social media likes or clout; it’s about hearing your friend’s voice, even if they’re far away and in another timezone.

Eleven.

Artfinder for radical outsider art.

Twelve.

An ad profiling fuzzer. Don’t want advertising networks to know too much about you? Me either. This tool will go out and pretend to be you, confusing the hell out of any advertising network that might seek to figure out who you are. You continue to use the services you know and love, while they know a great deal less about you.

Thirteen.

A “link in bio” service for Instagrammers, TikTokers and other influencers that ramps up to literally a fully-featured personal website with HTML they can directly modify, import/export, and relocate.

Fourteen.

A service that will have hard conversations over the phone on a customer’s behalf, using deepfake technology to simulate their voice. (Okay, this is terrible, but it’s at least a little bit tempting.)

Fifteen.

A service that provides a searchable activity stream for all updates across an organization’s cloud activities: Google Drive, OneDrive, Figma, GitHub, etc. On managed devices, this can also include their local file activities in apps like Microsoft Word. As well as full-text search, activities can be segmented by team / user and categorized into folders. And the real magic happens with a “send to” button that will take files from one service (eg a Figma wireframe) and send it to another (eg Google Slides).

Sixteen.

An easy, free way to report a company for bad business practices to local, state, and federal watchdogs.

Seventeen.

An app that automatically takes a percentage of stock market or crypto returns and donates them to the charities / non-profits of your choice, and then provides an easy-to-use tax summary at the end of the year.

Eighteen.

An easy-to-use app-based service to facilitate interest-based friendships for people in retirement, with zero condescension and first-class UX / UI sensibilities.

Nineteen.

Outsourced solar panels: pay for solar to be installed on sunny, clear land, in order to generate power to the grid and offset your power use in places where you can’t get panels installed directly. For example, if you rent your home, you probably can’t install renewable energy directly, but using this service, you could still own power generation elsewhere. Panels are fully managed, with maintenance and replacement included.

Twenty.

Communal living rooms that anyone can use, segmented into spaces that you pay for by the time you sit in them. Imagine a British pub without the booze (but you can bring your own booze): a place to gather with friends without someone waiting on you or urging you to move on so they can get another cover. Maybe (but not definitely) drinks and snacks would be available.

Twenty-one.

“Can I pick your brain” as a service. Yes you can; I’d love to have that conversation; and here’s my rate.

Twenty-two.

A way to manage pods of families. In quarantine, that means checking on safety, organizing playdates, and so on. Post-quarantine, it means sharing food and resources, helping each other with childcare, and becoming a kind of decentralized co-operative community.

Twenty-three.

A joint bank account for married partners, designed from the ground up with a UX to make it easy to share and navigate costs, payments, and expenses.

Twenty-four.

A proof of stake cryptocurrency where the transaction fees and a portion of staking rewards are automatically donated to progressive causes, including to fight climate change and its effects around the world.

Twenty-five.

Patreon for activists.

Twenty-six.

Science-based horoscopes. Instead of depending on astrology, you add a bunch of details about yourself to a system, and it builds a detailed projection that is used to power advice that can be delivered at scale. It’s still astrology in a way, and the content is written in a similar fashion (with a focus on coaching: here’s how to prepare yourself for the world), but now it’s based on some factual data points and real research.

Twenty-seven.

Two words: cake subscription.

Twenty-eight.

Upwork for apprenticeships. You fill out a profile and are able to take on work that also trains you to do that role in the future. In turn, employers are led through how to run and manage a good apprenticeship, and are rated on their performance. In contrast to internships, apprenticeships have a structured training plan, which the platform helps the employer to create.

Twenty-nine.

People in chronic pain or with other certain kinds of disabilities often can’t work consistent hours and don’t have the ability to perform certain manual tasks, but are nonetheless very highly skilled. Let’s build a platform that allows them to take on work according to their ability, and allows employers to make use of their expertise.

Thirty.

ProductHunt for (progressive) political bills, organizations, and endeavors.

Thirty-one.

Affordable satellite internet for people in rural areas, bundled with a streaming box preloaded with subscriptions to news services.

Thirty-two.

A wearable device that detects cortisol levels in your sweat and then lets you work with a personal coach to reduce your stress levels, as well as providing automated suggestions. For example, if your stress levels always rise during a particular scheduled meeting, it may be helpful for the device to draw your attention to that fact, so you can mitigate the stress in the future.

Thirty-three.

Codeacademy for ethical product design.

Thirty-four.

A technology union for smaller newsrooms. In exchange for a membership fee, the union sits in standards organizations like the W3C and advocates on behalf of newsroom interests. It also funds open source and practical research work that all newsrooms can pragmatically benefit from, and helps with issues like infosec that all newsrooms need to be aware of.

Thirty-five.

Virtual meet and greets for celebrities. Sign up for a package and join a scheduled, intimate Zoom with one of your heroes. A lot like the meet and greets at fan conventions, but without any worries about covid, and in a way that’s far more convenient and accessible for both the celebrity and their fans. A moderator is on hand to filter out abuse.

Thirty-six.

A virtual scrum master for small teams, which provides automated prompts and structure for recurring ceremonies, in order to help them stay on track.

Thirty-seven.

An automated smart pasta maker that puts together ravioli and other complicated filled pastas from scratch. Just pour in the ingredients.

Thirty-eight.

A Jane Jacobs score for communities. A live and frequently-updated measure of not just walkability, but how severed and fragmented a community is, based on its topology and the amenities and community centers available within subdivisions. This data would then be available via a web interface and an API that could in turn be plugged into sites like Zillow.

Thirty-nine.

Moderated community AMAs with people who lived through major historical events. For example: an AMA with a holocaust survivor, a firefighter who was there on 9/11, someone who was wrongly imprisoned through extraordinary rendition, and so on. Moderation is obviously key here, but allowing open conversation helps the history stay alive. An archive of the conversation stays open in perpetuity.

Forty.

A way to apply for jobs through proactive take-home projects. Rather than sit through screening calls etc, spend an hour or two working on a project that the prospective employer defines. Each applicant does the same project, which is then made available to the employer in an anonymized way. The result is that applicants who might not look perfect on paper are able to show what they can do, and employers get a better idea of how applicants think and work straight from the beginning.

Forty-one.

Big mouth billy bass: the inter-room intercom system.

Forty-two.

A structured process to determine your mission in life, your vision for what you want your life to be like, and the concrete steps to get there, in a way that provides space for serendipity and joy. Knowing that visions and strategies change, but missions change less often, you can make better decisions by asking yourself if an opportunity furthers your mission or getting closer to your vision. A little bit of structure goes a long way.

Forty-three.

Advisory as a service for any kind of startup. It’s like a mini accelerator, with payment either up-front or in equity, or a combination of the two (although payment in equity requires further evaluation and is discretionary). Sign up for a five month package and get a dedicated 1:1 session every two weeks, with email support and customized workshops for your team.