May 2012 Articles

Social media–from Facebook to Twitter–have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)–and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.

Here’s the point. The more disruptive your innovation, the more your success needs to look like the creation of a political movement.

If you’re really creating change, it is quite likely you will reach a point when you’ll ask your customers to do more to support your work than just buy your product. They will need to stand up for your business, your product, your very right to exist in the marketplace. You’re going to be asking for their time. Depending on where you’re working and what you’re selling, you may be asking for their courage. To make such requests, you’re going to need to have built a hell of a personal bond.

Many people who start businesses, including me, have little or no experience and just jump in. Over the years, I have compared notes with many fellow entrepreneurs, and I have seen them make the same mistakes over and over again – I recognize them because I have made them all, too. Here is my list of the biggest rookie mistakes

“Sex toys have transformed into sophisticated and well-designed gadgets that take their inspiration from Apple not Hustler. But one company has a bigger hope: that a better machine could mean better sex for a repressed nation.”

So many smart phones may now be spoiling the “public” in our public places. Hatuka and colleague Eran Toch, a faculty member in the Department of Industrial Engineering, have been studying smart-phone users relative to their old-school, flip-phone counterparts. And the difference between the two groups is surprisingly stark, with serious implications for the future of public space in cities and the often-uncelebrated role that sociologists say they play.

Where we put our focus shapes our agenda and de nes our experience in every moment. More and more, we’re turning over this precious resource to our digital technology, allowing it to de ne the depth and span of our attention, and to seduce us into operating at such high speeds that we don’t notice the insidious toll that’s taking.

The combination of the Internet, social media, and mobile devices ushers in an era of mass collaboration. These new technologies allow anyone to connect to anyone and everyone, at any time – and there are already signs that the relationships we have with ourselves, with each other, and with our institutions are changing in response.

We are still early in this social revolution, so exactly how these changes play out is yet to be determined. But the general outline is coming into view along six trajectories.

  1. Media: From Audience to Community
  2. Individuals: From Consumer to Co-Creator
  3. Brands: From Push to Pull
  4. Organizations: From Hierarchies to Networks
  5. Markets: From Products to Platforms
  6. Leadership: From Control to Empower

Facebook “goes public” Friday, May 18th. Imagine what it might be like inside the company right now. Soon, paper stock option agreements tucked into employee compensation folders could erupt into cascades of real dollars. Maybe employees will soon barge through the doors and board shuttle busses to the BMW dealerships, software bugs be damned.

Or something like that.

What is it really like to work at a company when it “goes public?” And what happens afterward? How will Mark Zuckerberg hold on to the people who make the company what it is, now that many of them will be independently wealthy – perhaps intoxicatingly so? How will he hold them together to make the company what it can be next? How will he align the “haves” and the future “have not so much” hires to pull on the same oar?

Here’s what’s most remarkable about Cook’s appearance that day last winter: Steve Jobs wouldn’t have bothered. The legendary company co-founder, who stepped down as Apple’s CEO last Aug. 24, six weeks before his death, rarely deigned to meet with investors. That was one of Tim Cook’s tasks as chief operating officer. It’s a subtle but significant change – investors now have the CEO’s ear for the first time in years – and it’s one of many Cook has instituted at Apple as he approaches his one-year mark at the helm. Taken together – his rapport with Wall Street as well as government officials, his decision to grant a dividend to shareholders, the creation of a program to match employee gifts to charity – Tim Cook’s stewardship of Apple is beginning to come into focus.

I met my boyfriend in a cafe one afternoon, and he had finished reading articles he saved on his Kindle. What he said was interesting: how he read all those stories, yet didn’t take away anything particularly important or memorable. As if, at the end of the day, not much is gained from scouring and consuming as much as we can on the Internet.

So I learn of an earthquake halfway across the world, in Italy, moments after it happens. Or I read that Steve Jobs or Whitney Houston or Adam Yauch have died from seeing the endless stream of RIP tweets as the news breaks. This is information I will hear anyway, at some point, through word of mouth, or flipping through a newspaper, or some other way.

So, why must I know first?