March 2012 Articles

“Where do you see yourself in ve years?”

Despite the tendency to slip in some of the questions Google asks when interviewing people (such as, what is the next number in this sequence: 10, 9, 60, 90, 70, 66..?), this remains a fairly popular question when you are looking a job.

It’s usually an extremely silly question (although you are not supposed to say that in your response.) You know most of the reasons why the question is so bad: It begs a lame joke (“When, Ms. Manager, do you think you will be moving on?”), or brown-nosing (“I hope to be well along my career within this ne company”) and it assumes that you are going to indeed like working at “this ne company” and that they are going to enjoy having you.

But there is a bigger reason the question is awful. It assumes the world is going to remain constant between now and then. That is never a good idea.

“The Internet’s favorite astrophysicist talks about saving NASA, putting a person on Mars, and why he thinks every tweet is ‘tasty.’”

In Fourth Amendment cases, the Supreme Court has to determine what “a reasonable expectation of privacy” actually is. If you do have that expectation of privacy, then the government needs a warrant to look into your communications. So, if you go out in the public street and shout to the world that you committed a crime, the government does not need a warrant to use that communication. However, if you were to send a sealed letter to a friend containing the same information, you would have a reasonable expectation that the government would not be reading that note.

Because we’re talking about expectations, we have to think about what cultural norms are and the actions that signal what norms are in play. For example, Kaminski notes, “In the 1967 seminal Supreme Court case on wiretapping, Katz v. United States, Katz placed a phone call in a public phone booth with the door closed, and was found to have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the phone call, so a warrant was required for wiretapping the phone.” Closing the door meant he expected the call to be private.

And the problem with frictionless sharing is that it may leave the door open for the government to collect and use information without a warrant.

The morning began with my typical browsing routine: email, top-reads RSS news feed, a brief scan of Twitter, then Facebook. I found friends wrapping up at SXSW, some chatter about Kony, pictures of new babies, and then I noticed something out of the ordinary in the right hand column:

It’s not the rst time I’ve gotten an engagement ring advertisement. But what’s this? Facebook is directly asking me to comment on the nature of my relationship to Nick Smith? That’s something new. And weird.

Because, as it turns out, Nick Smith and I are engaged.

Advice for hiring a new employee:

…there is a much more direct – and we would argue better – way of nding out. Ask the person what they have been (or are now) utterly committed to in their life: “What really turns you on and attracts you almost in spite of yourself? What are the things that you can’t put out of your mind?”

Imagine a conversation between two people, one a Spanish- speaker who knows no English, and the other an English-speaker who knows no Spanish. No dictionaries or crazed charades are involved. Yet, they speak to one another, in their own voices, and understand each other perfectly. How so? Through a machine that translates their words and renders them into another language in a robotic voice closely mirroring how they sound in their native tongue.

Here [in the United States,] the story is about getting a “just-in-time” workforce, finding the precise workers we need just at the time we need them but letting them go when our needs change and then replacing them with new ones. It’s a “plug ‘n play” approach to the workforce, and it’s not working that well…

The weak link in that approach is that with the focus on outside hiring to get skills, few employers are providing development opportunities. Why bother developing when we can get the skills on the outside? US large companies have been filling 66 percent of their vacancies from the outside, in contrast to a generation ago where 90 percent were filled from within. Because one company’s outside hire of an experienced candidate is another company’s retention problem, employers rightly look around and wonder whether investments in their employees will pay off. These patterns reinforce each other: less development leads to a greater need to hire skills from the outside, and doing so reduces the need to develop internally; it also creates spillover problems for other employers for whom turnover reduces the ability to finance training.

If you’re a digital native, you should be aware that the internet may have partially rewired your brain in such a way that when you meet people face to face, you’re less capable of guring out what they’re thinking.

No, I’m not joking. There’s a signi cant amount of scienti c literature on this. Compared with people who didn’t grow up using computers and the internet, you may be slower to pick up on nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, tones of voice, and body language.

How to measure the sustainability of your alma mater.

Because greenhouse gases are causing the Arctic to warm more rapidly than the rest of the planet, the sea ice cap has shrunk about 40 percent since the early 1980s. That means an area of the Arctic Ocean the size of Europe has become dark, open water in the summer instead of reflective ice, absorbing extra heat and then releasing it to the atmosphere in the fall and early winter.

It’s not so much about being an ethical vendor or one that people like. Rather, in the online world, it’s about whether your company meets the Gettysburg principles: Is your business of the people, by the people, and for the people?