paranoia

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Screenshot from Fox News

The 9pm Edict cover art version 2, 150 pixelsA random man shares his fear, a fear we all share. Nicholas Fryer makes life more enjoyable. And you know that end of the world thing? Pffft. The Cold War. That all turned out OK, so what’s the worry?

There’s also talk of gamified urination, paranoia, nuclear war, legumes, gelato, and bamboo. And Nicholas Fryer takes a look through The Arch Window.

You can listen to the podcast above or below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe automatically in iTunes, or go to SoundCloud or Spreaker.

Play

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Telstra screenshot: click to embiggenWith all their constant worrying about whether people would recommend them or not, like this example from Telstra, I’m starting to think that most big corporations are paranoid psychotics — and not in a good way.

The other day I conducted a perfectly routine transaction at a Telstra Shop. I cancelled a mobile broadband service and replaced it with a different one. As with many businesses, my visit was followed up with a brief survey, “Please tell us how you feel.”

There were four questions, but none of them actually asked me how I felt:

Is your new Telstra service working? If you answer ‘no’ to this question, we will present you with options to get in contact with Telstra to resolve your issue on the next page.

OK, that’s fair enough. You need to know that the customer has a working broadband service. But the other three?

When you consider all aspects of buying and connecting your service — how likely are you to recommend Telstra to a friend or colleague?

Thinking about your in-store experience, how likely would you be to recommend the store to a friend or colleague?

What are the most important reasons why you gave us this score?

Guys, this goes way beyond “Does my bum look fat in this?” This is self-obsession. “What are you going to tell people about us? Why, what did I do?”

These constant questions about likelihood of being recommended are a sign of paranoia. I don’t care how you feel, I gave you money. Recommending you or not just isn’t a KPI for me.

How about you ask questions that reflect the customer’s needs and aspirations? Or even just concrete questions about how long I had to wait, whether staff were polite, or whether the service meets my needs?

[Update 2.25pm: Comments on Twitter have persuaded me to emphasise that the question here is specifically about “personal safety” only, not lame and replaceable possessions, and my personal safety at that. As the second-last paragraph says, the risk profile might not be the same for everyone. These are the choices I’ve made with open eyes.]

“How do you think that tweeting your day plans affects your personal safety?” asked Ravneel Chand a short time ago. Overall, I reckon it actually increases my safety. Here’s why.

Background first. Here’s today’s “daily plan” tweet which, like those on pretty much every other day, is tweeted shortly before I settle down to work.

Thu plan: Bump out Waratah Cottage; 1032 train to Sydney; lunch (where?); errand Newtown/Enmore; write something; evening TBA.

Later in the morning I mentioned that I’d be catching a later train. And then, just as I left the house:

Mobile: Cab, shortly, to Wentworth Falls; 1132 train to Sydney Central; train to Town Hall station; 1335 walk to SEKRIT hotel and check in.

Clearly the fear being expressed is that by knowing my movements some bad person could more easily do me harm. But let’s do a proper risk assessment. You start one of those by enumerating the risks, and then you look at how this additional information might change those risks.

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Since the list of most popular posts for 2011 was pretty disappointing, just like the previous year, here’s my personal selection of seven more timeless posts for this year. Happy reading!

As usual, this does not include the material I wrote elsewhere, for Crikey, ZDNet Australia, ABC The Drum, Technology Spectator, CSO Online and the rest. That’s all listed on my Media Output page.

  1. Right, Google, you stupid cunts, this is simply not on! This was my first critique of the Google+ Real Names Policy, and still the most widely read.
  2. LinkedIn’s inadequate response to privacy stupidity, which was when they opened up people’s profiles for use in third-party advertising without asking first.
  3. Twitter: a guide for busy paranoids, adapted from a piece I wrote for the NSW Local Government Web Network.
  4. Tweeting your way out of Paranoia, a video of the presentation I did for the NSW LGWN conference. Yes, it’s related to the previous item.
  5. 50 to 50 #9: The Space Age, and the companion piece…
  6. 50 to 50 #9A: The Real Space Age. They’re about my personal experience of the Space Age.
  7. Goodbye, Artemis, a very personal experience.

You might also like to check out my personal favourites from 2010, 2009 and 2008.

[Update 27 December 2011: Minor corrections to text and HTML markup.]

I was invited to present the closing keynote at last week’s NSW Local Government Web Network Conference in Sydney. Give ’em something light at the end of the day, I was told.

Here’s the result.

My argument, such that it is, is that corporations like local governments avoid change because they’re paranoid, so they need to get themselves some mental health. I present an anonymous theory about “The Three Pillars of Mental Health”. Twitter, I then argue, is the perfect low-risk exercise for a government starting to involve itself in social media and social networking to start overcoming that paranoia. I then present some suggestions for how they might tweet.

Tweeting your way out of Paranoia from Stilgherrian on Vimeo.

The articled I mentioned in the video, the one I wrote about using Twitter, is Twitter: a guide for busy paranoids.

The Flip Video delivered fairly shitty footage of me speaking, as you can see, so I decided to keep the slides in screen for most of the time instead. James Purser recorded the audio.

[This post is part of the series 50 to 50, fifty posts in the lead-up to my 50th birthday in May. Originally intended to be one per day, with the final one on the birthday itself, it’s been disrupted by my work schedule. There will still be fifty posts, just not one per day.]

The great thing about growing up on a farm is that there’s about eleventy hundred ways of killing yourself and you get to try them all.

In the photo, there’s a pine tree on the right behind me and my brother. Yes, a brother. He was born in 1963, so there’s a three year gap. I’ll get to the pine tree in a moment.

On the left is the cement-brick milking shed. Immediately to its right, off in the distance so you might want to look on the embiggened photo, is the pumphouse. And then the truck, well, that’s just a truck — although my father built it like Dr Frankenstein from bits of other, dead, trucks.

Just behind the truck’s engine compartment is dad’s shed, a crumpled heap of corrugated iron that’s no longer there. It was poorly lit and full of tools and wood scraps and junk and half a dozen unfinished projects. I didn’t like going in there, it was creepy. Strange creatures lived in the dark corners and would kill small children, I know that for sure.

Even if they were good children.

Mum and dad were pretty busy most of the time. My brother and I were left to our own devices. The huge open spaces of the farm, the sheds, the random bits of equipment all meant I could invent my own imaginary world.

Every trip out with the dogs — and the dogs went everywhere with us and took care of us, so we couldn’t possibly get into any trouble — became some sort of combat patrol.

But watch out for the snakes!

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Stilgherrian’s links for 08 November 2009 through 18 November 2009:

See what happens when you don’t curate your links for ten days, during which time there’s a conference which generates a bazillion things to link to? Sigh.

This is such a huge batch of links that I’ll start them over the fold. They’re not all about Media140 Sydney, trust me.

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Penny Sharpe MLC asked me to say something controversial at her NSW Sphere event back on 4 September. Here it is. The full video and transcript (below) of my somewhat rambling discussion of the challenges facing the Government 2.0 revolution.

Hi. I’m Stilgherrian, and I’m avoiding the whole projection thing today.

My presentation, the long name was “Risk, Fear and Paranoia: Perspective, People!”, and I just want to spend a few minutes throwing in some ideas which might trigger some discussion point around those, those words.

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Stilgherrian’s links for 22 September 2009 through 26 September 2009, gathered intermittently and posted with a lack of attention to detail:

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