You wake up, yawn, stretch. Pick up the phone. Check Facebook. “Like.” “Like.” “Like,” again.
After 10 “likes,” Michal Kosinski knows you better than your work colleagues. After 70, he knows you better than your partner does, including -- whether these things were explicitly referenced in your clicks or not -- your skin color, your sexual orientation, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, whether you smoke or do drugs… The list goes on.
In the final days of 2016, the website of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources got a bit of a refresh.
Unless you were paying close attention, you might have missed it. After all, most people don’t regularly visit the Wisconsin DNR. But the changes were caught by a website-monitoring service and shared on some blogs, starting with a guy named James Rowen.
I attended a funeral today.
I knew him casually. We frequented many of the same social and business circles, and had had more than one good chat about our social and political environment. But we had never graduated to the category of close friendship.
So it was wonderful to hear from his father, from his sister, from his daughter, from his childhood friends. Over an hour and a half, I got to know him better. I got to know how successful he was. How loved and respected he was. How tortured he was.
“Yahoo: Time of death, oh about a week ago,” said the headline in the IT Professionals newsletter I just got. The reason? The hacking that compromised up to a billion accounts. The secret backdoor access so the company could scan every email coming through the system, looking for certain keywords flagged by the Feds. The general “aimless wandering” of the company.
How do you measure success?
If you were to say to someone, “That guy is really successful,” what would you mean? Is he rich? Does he own a big company? Has he made an impact in the world?
Different cultures measure success in different ways. In a fascinating Business Insider piece from 2014, Richard Lewis pointed out that for Americans, Germans and Swiss, more time spent working equals more success, “[while in] a society such as existed in the Soviet Union, one could postulate that those who achieved substantial remuneration by working little (or not at all) were the most successful of all.”