How things fail

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Things break on the internet. The question is: is there anyone left to fix them? And how much of the resulting friction causes people to leave you for a competitor? Friction, like entropy, is ever-increasing Code is forever. It should keep working. But it requires maintenance. Why? Because it does not exist in a vacuum. … Continued

The Twitter endgame

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We’re not paying enough attention to the financing of Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase. It explains why he’s flailing now, and points to a shocking future for the social network. Where did Musk get the money to buy Twitter, and why does it matter? Of the $44 billion it took to buy Twitter, about $24 billion … Continued

Understanding and working with people with talent

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When I was an analyst I would appear on TV news programs from time to time. The production staff would sometimes refer to “the talent” (for example, “Have you miked the talent yet?”). It took a moment for me to understand that I was “the talent.” The thing about the talent is that if you … Continued

Why Elon Musk can’t control Twitter

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The hardest insight for anyone working in or through social media is this: No matter what you think you own or control, you are not in charge. The participants are. And they will do whatever they want, in spite of (and sometimes because of) any efforts you make to channel, guide, or block them. I … Continued

Essential lessons from 42 nonfiction book projects

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I’ve made a hell of a lot of mistakes while working on 42 nonfiction books. I learned from them. And although my clients may not realize it, that is why they pay to me work with them. I show them how to do it right, and how not to do it wrong, based on all … Continued

Responding to a draft? Put it in writing.

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If I’m writing a document for you, you probably want to tell me what you thought of my draft. You could edit it with markup software. You could write me a note about it. You could forget to turn on the markup and just edit — don’t worry, I have tools that allow me to … Continued

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta layoff message was pretty good

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I skewered the email Elon Musk sent as he laid off half of Twitter. Now Mark Zuckerberg has dumped 11,000 Meta employees, 13% of the workforce. Zuck did it right, including clarity about options for laid off employees and taking responsibility for making an error. To be clear, Meta’s management made a serious error in … Continued