Sunday, September 12, 2021

Twitter's Communities Can Just Be Better Than Facebook But A Force For Positive Advocacy

 Source: Twitter, The Verge.

Twitter has been a tear lately with some new features and one of the most important one which could really be a breakout for Twitter is its version of communities to compete with Facebook and Reddit. As with anything social media these days, it could be useful or toxic like the spread of false information regarding election fraud or COVID vaccines. Twitter seems to have a good approach from what they are saying and what is on paper. It has to be a positive force for good, not simply better than Facebook.

Twitter is about making money for itself and creating value for shareholders. Twitter is now profitable and its stock has gone up a lot in the last year. Compared to Facebook, it is no where near where Facebook's profit and valuation is. So, Twitter has been trying a lot of new features in the last few years that can retain and engage users and encourage them to come back regularly rather than occasionally checking on their timelines.  That has been Twitter's problem. 

With Communities, it might have a winner.  Twitter seemed to have learned from the mistakes others have made and decided to go at it slowly. It is offering Communities on an invitation-only basis for now and will have qualified moderators. It is also rolling it out at a slower paces to work out any issues or bugs. 

And a slower pace that allows Twitter to do something important that Facebook and other communities have failed to do: others have allowed their communities to go unchecked and become havens for hate, conspiracy theories, and other harmful social platforms. This is not an issue about free speech. Political communities are probably going to be allowed on Twitter across the political spectrum - conservatives, liberals, or moderates. However, extremism must not be allowed to breed and foster on Twitter. Otherwise, Twitter Communities would be no different from from Facebook.

Also, Twitter needs to letting its communities turn into echo chambers and that rules are applied evenly across the board and respect the privacy of users.

Personally, I'm rooting for Twitter to flourish and be a real factor in the social media realm and I'm looking forward to trying Communities out.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Social: Delta Airline's Plan To Add $2400 A Year For Its Unvaccinated Force Work Is Working

 Source: CNBC.

Delta Airline started charging workers a $2400 extra per year for health insurance for those who are not vaccinated. A full 20% of the unvaccinated workforce at Delta got their shots two weeks after Delta made the announcement. It makes sense and this is something more companies should try. 

And why not? The Affordable Care Act penalizes tax payers for violating the individual mandate. In same ways, this is an extension of that. If you are not willing to do your part, you have to pay extra. 

Now, I get that some people are avoid vaccine for legitimate reasons. For the most part, I personally have  not come across a strong argument against vaccines other than false information or unfounded fears. Some wanted to wait and see. It's been 9 months since the COVID vaccines have been distributed and administered to millions. There are been reports of side effects and even deaths but statistically minute.

Come on, America. Let's get this virus under control so we can have a real reopening, maybe even without masks.

So far, I have not heard of any other company trying what Delta is doing. I am sure that if more unvaccinated workers at Delta begin to get vaccinated to avoid footing over $2400 a year by November 1 (Delta's deadline), it could get boardrooms across America to get on board with this plan as well.

For Delta, the monthly $200 penalty brings the percentage of its workers who are vaccinated from 74% to 78%. That means a vast majority of its workers were already board with protecting themselves and others from COVID-19. 

If we can get even half the unvaccinated in the US to get vaccinated, it would have a huge impact on how we go forward in the US socially and economically heading into winter and 2022.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Working From Home - It Has Been Done Before for Many Years Before COVID and Companies Should Get Used To It

 Source:  Live Science.

A majority of us enjoy working from home since we have had a taste of what that is like since the pandemic in the last eighteen months and counting.  We have had a taste of what work life can be if we do not have to go into the office five days a week, or even four.  An even larger majority like the option to work from continue to work from home or at least have that option available to us. It's time companies come to this realization because this was not the first time since workers have had the technology to telecommute.  

Yes, before working from home was working from home, there was telecommuting. It was offered in most special circumstances. My friend's wife had been working with a firm from Los Angeles where she started a few years after college and remained for nearly twenty years while working from various cities as they moved around from the West Coast to the Midwest and then up the Pacific Northwest.

And let us not forget a various of freelance jobs that are offered to consultants and freelance workers who have been able to work more easily remotely as technology for telecommuting has gotten better. If the COVID pandemic had happened back before the Internet, it would have been much more devastating and creating an even greater public health crisis all over the world.

The difference between telecommuting in the past and the COVID-created "work from anywhere" phenomenon is the number of workers who have participated and continue to work remotely because of the current pandemic. Previously, a worker likely would need to have a unique skill set and special circumstances to request for telecommuting and be granted it. Today, as COVID continue to rage with new variants, especially among those who have not been vaccinated, WFA is especially crucial to workers who wish to remain healthy whether they are vaccinated or not. Companies should recognize this fundamental aspect of a worker's health before any policy change to revert back to requiring workers return to the office.

Most recently, Apple had a change of heart after months of expecting workers to return to their cubicles and offices in September and has pushed the deadline back to 2022 with no hard date given the uncertainty  and pandemic is posing to businesses and employees. 

Companies need to make sure that worker health is paramount and above the need for maximizing profit. I have been back in the office for nearly three months but most of us are isolated from each over and have adequate distancing and air circulation. However, I cannot say that is the same for everyone else. Employees continue to get COVID without policies to send workers home like they did a year ago and only ask (not require) employees be tested once is is known that someone they work with was infected. No longer are employees automatically quarantine like before. And this is not due to a change in policy by the CDC but rather it shows that employers are no longer taking the pandemic seriously.

Delta variant of the COVID has dominated the conversation but a new one, Mu, is the one to watch as it has shown that it is just as infectious and has shown natural immunity against antibodies and vaccines. It is not the time let up and force workers back to the offices. Companies like Apple, Google, and others that have either build new campuses or rented office spaces in expensive downtown real estates should not let such costs factor into asking employees to return. What happens is that employees who can work remotely and safely continue to be just as productive as before. And employers, both small and large, need to innovate and adapt to changing environments and needs of the workforce and be open to employees never returning to the office.

I hope everyone is having a good Labor Day weekend and when Tuesday comes around, you're working safely at home, outdoor, anywhere you choose being just as productive and worth every dollar your company pays you. And most importantly, you're healthy and safe.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Apple Is Listening To You - CSAM Delayed (Or Shelved), Other Ways Apple Heeded Public Opinions

 Apple surprised pretty much everyone when it announced that it would scan photos for evidence of sexual child abuse. The first thought, I am sure it is the same for most other Apple followers, is that it seems like a bad one, one that would quickly be followed by "the road to hell was paved with good intentions". Now, another surprise: Apple has backdown from following through, for now. It shows that Apple has finally learned a valuable lesson. Perhaps, Apple could have implemented the scan photos for Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). 

Last month, Apple made the announcement of an upcoming feature to scan photos stored on iPhones for sexual abuse of children.  You likely have seen CSAM all over the news and on the Internet. It really has not been talked about enough in the context of what it could offer users in general. For something like this, it means that Apple has developed algorithms that can recognize certain elements in photos that is beyond identifying people, objects, and places. 

For many, I suppose it can be a great feature to have. I have gone through my photo library based on people or places that I have visited over the years. Not once has it dawned on me that Apple may will know more about me that I expected but not to the point where Google knows more about me than even I know about myself. Given Apple's stance on privacy, I still think that Apple has kept certain doors closed to itself about us.

What remains true about that is that it is Apple who still holds the keys to the privacy door. Not the user and at any time, whether through corporate needs, decrees by government, or anything else that could compel Apple to change its policy or view on privacy, that door will be opened. Perhaps a little at a time.

Apple's about-face here shows that it is listening to users. What we do not know is why.  Has Apple decided it is a feature they’re still hashing out and need more time to think through or bring it back at a later time when all the uproar has died down?

How about other features and products that Apple makes? Will Apple now be more receptive to what the public wants to a point? It will be interesting to see. There are times when it seems that Apple figures it knows what is best for the consumers and will not add a feature that many are request if ever or comes after years of waiting. One example is being able to chat with multiple users on FaceTime. It took years for Apple to finally implement that.

And the MacBook with the keyboard debacle around 2016-2018. Apple finally gave up on the butterfly keyboards and moved on to give users what they want -  you know, keys that actually can be typed on. Then there is the ports or lack of on the MacBooks. Not only did Apple take away ports but it affected critical workflow for professional users that have come to depend on them.

That Apple finally came around on CSAM should not be surprising. Apple under Tim Cook has always charted a course to avoid controversy whether in the US or even places like China. I believe Apple does think it is doing good with CSAM. I think it just needs to take public opinion into account and really make sure the feature is fully baked.

Apple Should Prepare to Leave China (There Is Still Time To Execute Such A Plan)

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