Categories
Current Events: 2021 Humility

Slate Star Codex and the State of Things

If you, like I, came of professional age in the earliest days of the Internet boom (we’re talking the early ’90s), you might have been exposed to the overwrought sense of intellectual entitlement and rationalization endemic to the San Francisco Bay area. This has mushroomed in recent years to the point of ridiculousness. And you, like I, might have walked away from it.

I grew up in the New York Metro area, and am no stranger to Regional Superiority Syndrome. Like-minded people in large metro areas, living a balls-out Darwinian oval track race, trying their best to out-think one another, all the while shrouding their self-esteem varia with a veil of civic pride. “We’re a great city, filled with the best minds, surrounded by the best culture the world has to offer. Not here? Sucks to be you!”

Generations of people in Silicon Valley (and in the New York Metro) have produced important things; this is not up for dispute. But starkly missing from this sort of culture is a genuine appreciation for, and sense of, humility.

It is this lack of humility that I find myself responding to in the work that I do. An important part of a CIO’s job is to protect the companies they work for from the incredible amount of bullshit that is threaded through our industry. Promises of AI; new features that are always on the way; so much software that is apparently so great, so easy to use; anything can be solved with an integration or an API; Object Linking and Embedding is architecture of the future (or maybe it was ActiveX); Citrix is good; Cisco is great; Access is wonderful; SAP is amazing; Electron is groundbreaking; Apple is doomed; blockchain can solve issues with tracing lettuce from farm to table; every report is valuable. If you are a CIO, add your own bullshit to this list. I will not disagree.

In this vein, part of our jobs as technology leaders is to pay attention to the culture from which these issues emanate. You might be like me, and you might fail to drag yourself out of bed to do this once as often as you should. I tired of it long ago, but there are moments where I take a deep breath, dive in, and catch up.

An article in yesterday’s New York Times is my latest diving board. Once I came up for air, I realized that I need to share this: If you are a technology leader, this piece is worth your while.

But…TL;DR:

“Silicon Valley’s Safe Space” focuses on Scott Alexander Siskind, creator of Slate Star Codex, a (now-preserved) blog-cum-support-group for Silicon Valley intellectuals who shared thoughts related to rationalism in technology. In the echoes of the dialog from these Bay Area rationalists, you get the sense that these people felt that they were doing something new and different. The naïveté of that notion is amusing.

It would be fair to say that Slate Star Codexers practice (technology-) applied rationalism in the same vein that I practice (technology-) applied rhetorical theory, the principal difference being that rationalism has been regularly and predictably applied to technology throughout history, whereas rhetorical theory has definitively not.

What’s clear from reading the Times article is that many of these folks would like to shelter their discussions from scrutiny and counterpoint from less-than-likeminded individuals. This is why, despite my short summary, I think you should take the time to read the entire Times article, as well as many of the links within. Many folks might be tempted to focus on some of the right-wing versus left-wing issues in the article and in the blog’s content; that would be a waste of time, because there is little notable to be found in that aspect of the story. The bigger story is one of perspective lost to self-importance.

I particularly recommend perusing the Slate Star Codex post titled “Gender Imbalances Are Mostly Not Due To Offensive Attitudes,” a carefully self-disclaimed, pseudoscientific attempt to dissect gender representation in special interest groups.

The post highlights a dividing line between “humanities/empathizing/intuitive” people and “sciency/systematizing/utilitarian” people (the rationalists), and treats the former with a predictable and carefully-buffered dose of contempt.

Next up is a link to a TechCrunch article titled “Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries.” The Times piece cites angel investor/Andreesen-Horowitz General Partner Balaji Srinivasan opining that he and his cohort “could not let that kind of story gain traction,” ostensibly because it might prove to be perfect fodder for the outsiders, providing a tad too much insight into who these people really are.

Lest you have lost track of how far along we have come, this circle of people includes Mark Andreesen, creator of the world’s first graphical web browser, NCSA Mosaic, as well as its commercial offspring, Netscape Navigator. Mark was the archetype of the perky, Internet wunderkind of the 1990s. Today, his goals are scarier, more divisive, and more threatening than his earliest work, targeting the Bay Area rationalists through a media outlet via his a16z brand.

You also should not overlook Scott Alexander Siskind’s response to yesterday’s Times article on his Astral Codex Ten blog, in which he defends himself in awkward ways, evoking rationalization rather than rationalism.

Ultimately, what the Times piece helps us see is that the Bay Area technologists’ rationalism is a powerful underpinning for yet-another-inwardly-focused media empire, as if the world needs more of that sort of thing. Poynter’s David Cohn summarizes this point nicely.


Rationalism is helpful. Anything remotely involving science benefits from it. What I find troubling about this era of Bay Area Philosophy is that its philosophers’ rhetoric is regressive, rather than progressive. It is Plato vs. Aristotle all over again. Recall the first line of Aristotle’s Rhetoric: “Rhetoric is the counterpart of dialectic.” In that single phrase, Aristotle acknowledges the need for dialectic, but warns us that there is more to life than logic. In Aristotle’s world, we consider not just logos, but pathos and ethos in equal measure.

Scott Siskind’s “sciency/systematizing/utilitarian” people may have a hard time with “humanities/empathizing/intuitive” because it is more comfortable to suck the safe teat of logic. But humans are rarely logical, and we are fools to believe that we are rational. Only through humility can we come to terms with this. “Sciency/systematizing/utilitarian” people sometimes like to label matters of ethos and pathos with a dismissive epithet: “soft skills.” These cannot be empirically evaluated through rationalism, therefore they are not worth the time to pursue. What the rationalists fail to see is that this philosophy itself is a logical fallacy: an enthymeme, better-known as “a syllogism where one or more of the premises are implied rather than stated.” You can thank Aristotle’s Rhetoric for that.

As Times author Cade Metz put it:

“Slate Star Codex was a window into the Silicon Valley psyche. There are good reasons to try and understand that psyche, because the decisions made by tech companies and the people who run them eventually affect millions.”

If the people who run our tech companies fail to nurture humility, vulnerability, and empathy, then they will never be able to solve humans’ thorniest problems. What we see in the Times article is a classic imbalance between objectivity vs. subjectivity, and a call to do more. All fields need to consider the relationship between these two viewpoints; one is not more relevant than the other.

Will our profession allow these Bay Area rationalists alone to define what gets said, and what gets funded? Or will we (hopefully) promote a more balanced discussion? Read the Times article. Get up-to-speed. Please do your part to contribute to a balanced conversation.

Discuss this specific post on Twitter or LinkedIn.

🎹 Music for this post: https://vimeo.com/70051022.

[Logo]
Categories
Current Events: 2021

I Told You Once Before, I Will Tell You Again

December 2020.


Intel 1996: $111 billion market cap.

Apple 1996: $3 billion market cap.

Intel 1996: Mac? Whatever.

Apple 1996: PC stinks.


Intel 2021: $258 billion market cap.

Intel 25-year market cap change: 128% increase.

Apple 2021: $2 trillion market cap.

Apple 25-year market cap change: 66,567% increase.


Intel 2021: Mac stinks.

Apple 2021: Intel? Whatever.


Once more: December 2020.

Discuss this specific post on Twitter or LinkedIn.

🎹 Music for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Bd-dDZMoX4.

[Logo]
Categories
Current Events: 2021

Blockchain Bunk

Seth Godin on NFTs. Thank you, Seth.

I cannot think of a technology with more nerdy complexity that has been popularized as brainlessly as blockchain. Even the best technology communicators remain challenged to concisely and adequately explain blockchain and its attendant dynamics to the average person. It might actually be easier to explain relativity than it is to explain blockchain.

In a world where soundbites rule, this is a problem.

In the industry I serve as a technology professional, people routinely opine that blockchain is a solution to food supply chain traceability. It’s not. Here’s an interaction I had with a university professor last year, who had written a major scholarly article supporting blockchain in the food supply chain:

Dear Dr. {name withheld},

Happy new year! During the holidays, I got caught up on a bunch of journal reading that had been piling up over the fall, and I happened upon your thoughtful article in {journal withheld}.

I’m very much in the middle of the food supply chain, and my feelings about the use of blockchain are perhaps a bit different from others’. The idea of blockchain for the food supply chain has baffled me. In my estimation, blockchain can only truly safeguard digital products and transactions, not physical ones, which are subject to human tampering that is difficult to prevent in many product categories. I honor and respect blockchain’s ability to provide a ledger, but since the digital metadata for physical product can so easily be severed from that product in a variety of ways, I am not sure that blockchain’s robustness is as meaningful as it is with fully digital assets. Surely a less resource-intensive ledger method can provide a level of assuredness that is on par with what blockchain could provide, without wrongly implying that there is a 0% chance that product could have been tampered with by interstitial handlers.

Do you have any thoughts on this matter, and what I might be missing?

Thank you for your thoughts!

Drew

His response?

Hi Drew: You are right — there is no 100% certainty that food products are not tampered. Blockchain deployment in food supply chain may increase the costs of engaging in fraudulent activities. Combining with other technologies such as AI, robust QR codes might help . . . . Other benefits of blockchain may include brand reputation (consumers’ better perception of the brand), efficiency, speed, reliability and reduction in paperwork with digitization.

Who cares if the food is tampered with? Blockchain is good for consumer brand perception. Makes sense.

This stuff is all over the place:

“…the ledger is considered immune to tampering.”

https://www.zdnet.com/article/alibaba-and-auspost-team-up-to-tackle-food-fraud-with-blockchain/

But what about those boxes?

Blockchain is useful for a few things, but its true and original value proposition is in the protection of digital things that need to pass from entity to entity. Bitcoin? Of course. Food? Not so much.

None of this even takes into account people’s misunderstanding of how much power blockchain takes to do what it does.

Thankfully, Seth did that.

Do you have stories about people employing blockchain in senseless ways, guided by their misunderstanding of it all? Join the discussion at the links below.

April 5, 2021 update: More bunk.

January 19, 2022 update: More bunk. And more. And more, suggesting that maybe blockchain isn’t even so good for cryptocurrency.

Discuss this specific post on Twitter or LinkedIn.

🎹 Music for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-zhjJatmpA.

[Logo]
Categories
Current Events: 2021 Empathy

It’s The Great Recalibration, Charlie Brown

(It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’m sorry. One of the books that I was editing this year finally came out this past weekend. Now I can get back to life as normal. Whatever that is!)

I shared the following this past January 1st:

2021 will be a year filled with job changes. People who have lost their jobs, who have relocated to a city that they don’t care for, who need to get out of a city that isn’t what it once was, who were treated poorly during the pandemic, or who are more or less burned out, will all be eager for change. 2021 will be a year filled with an incredible number of people switching jobs.

This was easy to predict.

Wake up. Poop. Shower. Eat. Get the kids to school (or daycare). Get to work. Work. Work. Work. Get out of work. Get the kids from school (or daycare). Get the kids to soccer. Eat. Pick up the kids. Get the kids to eat. Get the kids to do their homework. Do some more work, or other work. Get the kids to bed. Go to bed.

Work itself is not the highest form of living. It’s work, after all. If it were something else, we wouldn’t be paid for doing it.

Our human form of work is a tortured affair compared to the work of our non-human brethren, who wake up, browse for food, rest, defend themselves, mate, rest, and generally have more time to ponder in the sun, rain, wind and other elements than we do.

Why do we treat pondering and resting as something reserved for the elderly? Aren’t we well-served by both things on our entire route to retirement?

The past 18 months have helped us answer those questions. Vast numbers of people want more time and space to do non-work things. To ponder. To rest. To spend time with families doing “non-productive” things. And as the world turns and we feel this so acutely, your work is probably the most challenging it has ever been. I don’t know anybody who isn’t experiencing work or life impact from global supply chain issues.

Many executives believe that traditional work lifestyles are immutable, underpinned by a natural desire to compete and win and earn money. Many want to ignore the consequences of coronavirus because of the threat to those traditions. They have lost the ability to empathize with people who work merely to get by. They judge people based upon how “productive” they are, and value those who value the same things. This is not a sustainable approach, and 2021 is helping us come to terms with that.

It is time to tend to our collective mental health. As we reinvent the world of work — which we must do — we need to find ways to provide space that allows employees to ponder, and to rest.

Discuss this specific post on Twitter or LinkedIn.

🎹 Music for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO5dcW0P75M.

[Logo]
Categories
Current Events: 2021

Job Description for the CIO, 2021 Edition

The CIO role has arguably been around for 40 years this year. Even four decades on, I don’t see many CIO job descriptions that capture the requirements in a way everybody can understand. Too many aspects of the typical CIO job description are written by a technical audience for a technical audience. (Imagine requiring your senior management teams to comprehend this Deloitte white paper.) That’s a problem, because we serve our CEOs, our Boards, and our people. If they don’t have a way of defining what they expect from us, then how can they measure us?

Forty years in, I think it’s possible to define the CIO job in a way everyone can understand. The past 18 months of COVID work have made this possibility eminently clear to me. If I were a CEO or a Board hiring a CIO today, here’s how I would frame the job.

Responsibilities

You understand our business in all of its dimensions — people, processes, and technologies — and you actively address gaps in your understanding as these dimensions change.

You ensure that we react effectively to exigencies that change the shape of our work, enabling us to be the best we can be through the worst of times and the best of times.

You recognize that not all information flows through technology…that people communicating with one another at the right junctures in our processes are what makes our company special and relevant to our customers.

You recognize that for information to be effective, we must understand communication in all of its dimensions: language…visual design…signs and symbols…orality…literacy…context…audience…sociology…psychology…history.

You and your team routinely identify areas for us to differentiate ourselves in the face of the myriad forces that we face, from competition through global cultural change.

You help us comprehend the complex technological world around us, from identifying B.S. to translating things to human terms…from communicating risks to crafting opportunities.

You protect us from technology-borne threats.

You coach and condition our technologists to be great listeners and empathizers, so that they can bring us solutions that meet our needs.

You “manage up” to challenge our CEO and our Board when you develop a sense that a new way of working will be better than the status quo.

You provide leadership and comfort to our associates on any journey in which we face the unknown, helping us take steps forward, even when we might exhibit fear.

You nurture a team of people with an aim to help them do all the above.

Qualifications

A career of experiences that provides demonstrable ability to perform all these responsibilities exceedingly well.

Discuss this specific post on Twitter or LinkedIn.

🎹 Music for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_9UgrFGafM.

[Logo]
Categories
Commitment Compassion Curiosity Current Events: 2021 Empathy Humility Patience Vulnerability Willingness

Fixing Today’s Workplace Requires Packing Up Our Politics

Taking a look today (December 6th, 2021) at the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller list, I see:

  1. History (THE 1619 PROJECT)
  2. Biography/Entertainment (WILL)
  3. Biography/Entertainment (THE LYRICS: 1956 TO THE PRESENT)
  4. Biography/Entertainment (THE STORYTELLER)
  5. Holiday (ALL AMERICAN CHRISTMAS)
  6. Entertainment / Food (TASTE)
  7. Personal stories (THESE PRECIOUS DAYS)
  8. Biography/Medicine (THE REAL ANTHONY FAUCI)
  9. History (THE PRESIDENT AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTER)
  10. Biography/Entertainment (THE BEATLES: GET BACK)

Compare that to two years ago at this time:

  1. Politics (A WARNING)
  2. Politics (TRIGGERED)
  3. Entertainment (ME)
  4. Politics (BECOMING)
  5. History (SAM HOUSTON AND THE ALAMO AVENGERS)
  6. Communication (TALKING TO STRANGERS)
  7. Personal stories (FINDING CHIKA)
  8. Personal stories (EDUCATED)
  9. Biology (THE BODY)
  10. Politics (WITH ALL DUE RESPECT)

Those differences are telling. Two years ago, post-election, with our cold civil war a-brewing, politics was our fascination. Today, we are weary for just about anything other than entertainment. Our brains and our souls need a rest and a reset.

Interest in work-related topics is also in an ebb cycle. People are not in the mood to read books, columns, or blogs that consist of generalized advice aimed at improving their work lives. I suspect people realize that questions about what’s truly going on right now in the workforce have no easy answers. What’s truly going on is that our cold civil war has bled into our work life.

The Progressive CIO was borne out of my epiphanies in the wake of COVID-19 — a long and turbulent wake that we are still navigating. My writings have reflected my work and encounters along the way. In recent months, however, I’ve slowed. I have nothing to offer that I think can address our cold civil war, and writing more about the eight foundational values of The Progressive CIO seems tone-deaf at the moment. While those values are — and always will be — important, getting back to considering them will require navigating out of our current wake, which requires addressing politics.

We’re not supposed to have politics in our workplaces, though, right? As it turns out, it’s too late for that. As we attempt to return to offices, COVID has brought politics into the workplace as never before, for a simple reason: the semiotics of the face covering.

I cannot think of any symbol in the workplace — or in everyday life — that has communicated a political stance so overtly in my lifetime as the manner in which face coverings are (or are not) worn. This is not to say that wearing a face covering or not is, unto itself, a form of political expression. As with a tree falling in the forest, it’s the junction of the act and the audience where meaning takes shape.

Take a look at these four different face-covering scenarios, and reflect on what they say to you:

At least one of those will strike a nerve within you, wherever you sit on the political spectrum.

Semiotics are a part of everyday communication and everyday life. Face coverings fall into the non-language communication subset of semiotics, which are distinct from the more-commonly-encountered non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication involves a language; that is to say, a system of communication with a learned form and structure. Music is a language, for instance. Non-language communication, on the other hand, lacks any system or learned form and structure. Lines on our roads are non-verbal communication; a driver swerving around those lines is non-language communication.

Non-language communication isn’t discussed much outside of academic circles. If it were, I suppose we might have a better public dialog about face covering techniques. I suspect, however, that it wouldn’t have an impact on our current cold civil war at work. Whether we like it or not, masks have become a form of wearing one’s politics on one’s face. The bigger issue is that non-language communication, through its very nature, makes verbal analysis more challenging.

At the present, only fully-distributed workforces are in a position to avoid face covering controversies in daily work life. We know, however, that not all workforces can be fully-distributed.

Proposed vaccination and testing rules are about to increase the magnitude of the COVID-19 wake, before the current tide has finished going out. How a company reacts to and addresses these rules puts politics on a company’s face as well.

When we are in a place where we know the solution is: “Take politics out of the workplace” and those politics are now a way of life as a matter of public health, then where does that leave us?

It leaves us doing our jobs and trying not to think about them when we don’t have to. It leaves us tired of politics, even if we are energized by them. (Which leaves me to ponder: If one is energized by politics, then what does that say about that person and their priorities?) It leaves us retreating to our homes, our families, entertainment, and the things that truly matter in life. That’s not all a bad thing. But if our lives require us to work, we’re all in a pickle for the time being.

Back to those eight foundational values of The Progressive CIO: I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to reflect on them, and how they play a role in getting ourselves out of our current situation:

Vulnerability: Are we willing to be honest and open with one another about how our current world is affecting us? This will include senior leaders acknowledging that these vulnerable voices need to be heard.

Humility: Are we willing to recognize that this situation is bigger than all of us, and that it is a comedy of errors, of sorts, if not a true human tragedy? It’s difficult to laugh at, but I believe we have to if we are to collectively solve it.

Empathy: No matter your politics or attitude, will you try as hard as you can to see the validity in the other side’s point of view? This doesn’t mean that you agree that the other side is right; it merely means that you work hard enough to try to understand and not summarily dismiss.

Patience: This might be the hardest thing of all. People were tired of not getting their hair colored one month into the pandemic. Do we have the collective patience to deal with one another to move past where we are today? We don’t have a choice, because it will be a long haul. If we can acknowledge this, we stand a chance to get a clearer understanding of what the path to progress looks like.

Compassion: Do we genuinely care about each other, to the extent we are willing to go out of our way to bring comfort to others?

Curiosity: Are we willing to explore the new and unseen options that we have not yet explored to get us past where we are today?

Commitment: Are we willing to make true commitments to one another, and follow through on those commitments?

Willingness: Do we have genuine willingness to do all of the hard work above?

Given how tired we all remain, who can we expect to initiate this sort of effort on a meaningful scale?

Only those who govern us.

I’m not talking about legislation; I’m talking about leading by example, living those eight values. If that sounds like a tall order, it most certainly is. That’s because there is a chasm between politics and governance. The government I am alluding to does not exist today, and has probably not existed in our lifetimes. Until we can pack up our politics, no governing will happen. Until we can pack up our politics, no leadership will happen. Until we can pack up our politics, our workplaces will not flourish. Until we can pack up our politics, the world will not be the place we want it to be. The good news? Packing up our politics starts, apparently, with the books we buy.

Postscript

A friend shared the following response:

I loved your start – the comparison of the top books is quite telling, and I would not have thought to make that comparison. I am right there with you throughout your article until the end. Who should or will initiate these changes? For me it’s all of us, it’s the workers, it’s the everyday people in the workplace, it’s you and it’s me. I think we can be sure right now our leaders are quite absent, especially those who govern.

One of my favorite quotes I encountered along the way of my doctoral studies comes from Ralph Stacey, “Change can only happen in many, many local interactions.” For me, this means it is in the small conversations that spark other conversations and so on that we begin to change culture, that we begin to change each other. I is in those times of making space and being vulnerable that we listen to others and that we speak our truth. In those moments one or the other or both are truly changed, and that sparks a change in the next conversation that we have. For me, it is in this process that true change happens. Not in the top down, governed-inspired or directed change.

But that’s me, and perhaps I am missing some of what you are concluding or alluding to.

I agree with this in spirit—and I had wanted to end with this sentiment. But after reviewing the how the foundational values might address this, and pondering how realistic this would be, I felt this conclusion would sound trite. There is a realist at work in my brain right now. This sort of change benefits from top-down work of unimaginable magnitude. Imagine the impact our governing bodies could have if they demonstrated these values in their everyday actions!

In the “DVD bonus feature” spirit of allowing you to choose your own ending, I encourage you to do just that with this post. I would love nothing more than for everyday people—rather than government—to achieve this change.

In the end, if this post merely encourages discussion, then it will have served a purpose.

Discuss this specific post on Twitter or LinkedIn.

🎹 Music for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-kA3UtBj4M.

[Logo]
Categories
Current Events: 2021 Technology of the Year

Technology of the Year, 2021 Edition

“There were very few things people loved. That was one of them.” So said a dear friend and retired IT director, who introduced this year’s Technology of the Year to me many years ago. Oxymoron? No. Read on.

I assure you that this year’s Progressive CIO Technology of the Year will not be highlighted in any other similar column you will read this season. It’s unfortunate, and I can explain why.

(This is NOT a sponsored post.)


What if you could live in a world where you received no junk mail? Not occasional junk mail—no junk mail.

In 2003, Sendio Technologies introduced its “Opt-Inbox” technology, which was arguably the earliest implementation of a challenge-response technology (patented at the time) whose goal was to eliminate spam. Sendio’s earliest offering was an appliance that you would install in line with your email server. Here’s the Sendio user experience:

  1. Someone from outside your organization emails you for the first time.
  2. You do not receive that email.
  3. The sender receives a “challenge” email similar to the following:

Your email to John Doe john@doe.com is almost there!

We need to verify your email address. Click the button to instantly become a trusted sender.

✓ Verify me

John Doe’s Company is using Sendio’s Opt-Inbox technology to ensure they do not receive unwanted email. Verifying your email address will ensure that all future email from you will be delivered directly to John Doe’s inbox without delay.

Verification using the button above is instantaneous but if you prefer, simply sending a reply to this email will also work.

  1. If the sender reacts to the challenge, the email is delivered to your inbox.
  2. If the sender doesn’t react to the challenge, you do not see the email in your inbox. Automated email systems are unable to address the challenge to verify themselves. Additionally, in my experience, even human beings who receive the challenge emails don’t click on them, for fear they are phishing.
  3. As you desire, you can visit a web page that shows you a list of emails that were not verified. After a few days of doing this, this list is almost all unsolicited email, not deserving meaningful attention. (You will find this to be delightful.)

If, on the outside chance, a real human verifies their email and it arrives in your inbox, you can go back to Sendio’s web interface and block them from ever communicating with you again.

Sendio also allows administrators to configure a greylisting filter as well, which further reduces the amount of email that even invokes a verification process. You can upload your contact lists to pre-identify people you want to hear from. If you send an email to somebody before they email you for the first time, Sendio validates them automatically.

If you’ve read this far and think, “How is this net-net different from me properly marking email as junk and occasionally checking my junk email folder?” then you will begin to appreciate why you don’t see Sendio on any end-of-year technology lists this year. It’s very difficult to appreciate the difference between the predominant way of doing things and the Opt-Inbox way of doing things, in the same way it’s difficult to appreciate certain products (iPhones, Apple Watches, Rolexes, etc.) until you experience them first-hand.

I can attempt to convey the difference using these words: In the Opt-inbox view of the world, there is no need for Bayesian filters or machine learning — all of which are imperfect. In the Opt-inbox view of the world, there is nothing in your junk folder, ever. It’s a wonderful, and one of the few experiences that is truly remarkable. In the Opt-inbox view of the world, the only email you see is from people with whom you’ve definitively decided you want to communicate.

Refer back to my friend’s comment: “There were very few things people loved. [Sendio] was one of them.” Someone else once told me: “You should never love something that cannot love you back.” That’s good advice, but Sendio elicits a response in people that pushes those sorts of boundaries.

So what’s the big deal with Sendio in 2021? Sendio Opt-Inbox for Office 365 Exchange Online.

Whereas Sendio used to involve appliances and/or awkward cloud-based integrations — making it even more unlikely that you’d get a chance to experience it — in Q4 2021, Sendio made its product available to Exchange Online customers for the first time, and the implementation is brilliant. It works via Azure AD’s Application Registration system, and integrates with Exchange Online through a series of Mail Flow rules. Here are some remarkable things about this version of the product:

  1. It does not require any changes to your MX records;
  2. It plays well with Exchange Online Protection (all mail is still processed through your organization’s EOP rules);
  3. It relies on Azure AD, so it provides seamless SSO, supporting your MFA and other authentication rules, with no drama.
  4. It can be enabled for individual people or groups who need it, without needing to be introduced or trained to your whole enterprise for those who have less of a need for a product like this.
  5. It is decidedly inexpensive. It starts at about $56 per user per year, with a 10-user minimum.

Hey.com introduced a nearly-identical opt-inbox capability last year, their How It Works page probably does a better job of explaining how this sort of system works than either I or Sendio have done. But Hey.com is not something that integrates Exchange Online, making it a non-starter for most enterprises. Sendio also doesn’t try to reinvent your email experience with things like Hey.com’s “Feed” and “Paper Trail.” Sendio’s technology is simple, thoughtful, and completely, 100% effective at eliminating spam.

Hey.com and Sendio are pretty much the only two accessible, lucid challenge-response spam elimination products on the market. How many people do you know who use Hey.com? How many people do you know who use Sendio? Why do your answers contain such low numbers? Because it’s difficult to explain in words. It’s something that you have to experience to appreciate. And Sendio for Office 365 Exchange Online significantly reduces the barrier to entry for your organization to experience this first-hand. This is why it is The Progressive CIO Technology of the Year, 2021.

Discuss this specific post on Twitter or LinkedIn.

🎹 Music for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrwfB4aAZZc.

[Logo]
Categories
Albums of the Year Current Events: 2021

Albums of the Year, 2021 Edition

Always remember: work is a means to an end. The things that are not work are the most important things in life. For me, music is one of those things. I like the challenge of distilling a year’s worth of music into six favorite albums. I believe that 2021 was not a great year for music; as Sting recently shared, there has been too much music that wants to remind us of our problems without offering us solutions. Here is some music that tried.

1. Pinegrove – Amperland, NY

https://pinegroveband.com/

Taylor Swift is not the only artist this year to re-imagine earlier material to great effect. Ostensibly a soundtrack, this is really a greatest hits collection — with all tracks recorded and revisited — from a truly great band that wanted to give us all a lift with their melodies and messages.

2. Idles – Crawler

https://www.idlesband.com/

Idles make this list two years in a row. When punk bands are at their most vital, they produce volumes of great work in quick succession. This is a worthy contender for any album of the year list.

3. The Weather Station – Ignorance

http://www.theweatherstation.net/

Of all of the music that was released this year, this album probably has the best chance to be lovingly remembered. It is a masterpiece of music in the Laurel Canyon tradition, in a year that saw Joni Mitchell win a Kennedy Center honor as well as a year that sorely needed music to help us heal. This album will do that. Bravo.

4. Sturgill Simpson – The Ballad Of Dood & Juanita

https://www.sturgillsimpson.com/

I’m one of those folks who feel that Sturgill Simpson rescued country music from the Insinkerator. This is a brilliant album, with Willie Nelson along for the ride. But my favorite track is Sam. I suspect it might become yours as well. It’s one of the finest songs released this year.

5. Abba – Voyage

https://abbasite.com/

Is this Abba’s best album? No. Does it matter? Absolutely not. Voyage was a gift of melody — a warm embrace, really — to a world that needed it, and it couldn’t have been better timed. The two lead singles got all the headlines, but there is more depth to the record than those. Here’s another superb song that you might have missed if you haven’t already listened deeper:

6. Wet Leg – Chaise Longue

https://www.wetlegband.com/

Technically Chaise Longue isn’t out yet, so I suspect you might see this record on the 2022 list if the rest of it as good as the four tracks that have already been released. If you miss music that is not only catchy, but that will make you smirk (think Devo or the B-52’s), then I suspect this record will bring a smile to your face. The world needs a lot more music that can make us smile. Here’s to 2022. Cheers!

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Discuss this specific post on Twitter or LinkedIn.

🎹 Music for this post is the music for this post.

[Logo]