Be Free

After reading the new article by Nick Bilton about the impending end of social media:

I felt it to be in a way a little ironic — not just because people are sharing the article on social media. But because if social media were to go away, then the existing power structures of the media industry, like Vanity Fair, would be fully back in charge. And intellectualism made available and delivered only through universities and research journals would be fully back in charge.

To be clear, I am against all the vitriol and hatred that is displayed on the open and closed Web from all players large and small. And I too feel like what Tina says here:

And going backwards to the way things were — isn’t going to help anyone. So Tina’s sentiment is an important one: What can we do about the future?

Tina is one of the best examples in the world of someone who has made the extra effort to own her content and push forward and through this golfball-sized hail storm we are feeling online today. Tina has done something about it in a way that few design voices have managed to achieved — with true independence in both her message and with the technologies that she uses. She has made her own future with intentionality and has chosen not to just let things happen around her — akin to what Alan Kay once said,

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

So what excites me is that these days I, too, get to do something about it — particularly on the technology end. Because I am at an all-remote technology products company called “Automattic” founded by a young man named Matt Mullenweg.

If you are new to the “all-remote” paradigm, a simple way to understand it is to imagine a large company with absolutely no physical space where everyone is NOT co-located. By virtue of everyone being ALL remote, our company avoids the schism of having employees who are on-prem vs off-prem, which can lead to a kind of uncomfortable caste system of the “presents” vs the “remotes.”

How is this paradigm “not failing” (a-hem … frankly we are the dark horse in the race so that is why you probably have never heard of Automattic — so I prefer not to claim success, yet)? I think there are three reasons why:

  1. Videoconferencing is now cheap, and communicating via text has become normalized in our society. It feels less weird to talk to someone over video now, or to go back and forth with a co-worker by text.
  2. Everyone who works remotely enjoys the higher quality of life afforded by zero commute time. For folks with aging parents, younger children, or other loved ones or pets it means that they can care for them better.
  3. The mission of Automattic is about bringing freedom (through control by individuals themselves) which is a sentiment we all hunger for these days. So everyone in the company knows what is at stake and brings their “A game” to make what needs to happen in the world.

So … the remote working part works. But will it help us succeed in our mission to “Make the Web a better place”? Let’s see if we do! My blogging break time is up — back to work for me. —JM

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