Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a super important book. It’s excellently written and ties together so many current trends around work, life, education and society that I think anyone would benefit from reading at least the first 1/3 of the book. The examples and specific conclusions about gaming may not be of interest to everyone but even if they’re not I guarantee you’ll still find the examples very interesting and they’ll challenge many of your preconceived notions about what motivates us and what games are good for.
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Baby Boomers grew up thinking that if they worked really hard that everything would be okay. Many people were promised pensions that would take care of them late into life. But the World changed. Companies failed. Money was mismanaged. Even if money hadn’t been mismanaged and even if all those companies were still around, I doubt the pension promise would have worked out the way people thought it would.
When I read stories like this, about aging rockers who have to continue to tour just to pay the bills and they blame pirating, it sounds to me like people complaining that their pensions, jobs and even social security are disappearing.
The problem with the music industry and royalties is the same problem that happened to GM and Ford and every other company in the World. The Internet flattened everything. The companies that offered pensions and royalties are built on antiquated models. Those models don’t work in the days of the Internet. They were designed for a different time.
It’s sad and you have every right to be angry but be angry that the game changed, not that people are breaking the rules. You can’t expect future generations to continue to play the old game just because you were made certain promises.
The last 50 years were an anomaly. The World changed. Again.
There have been three big innovation narratives in the last few years that complicate, but don’t invalidate, my thesis. The first — The Rise of the Cloud — was essentially a rebranding of having data on the Internet, which is, well … what the Internet has always been about. Though I think it has made the lives of some IT managers easier and I do like Rdio. The second, Big Data, has lots of potential applications. But, as Tim Berners-Lee noted today, the people benefiting from more sophisticated machine learning techniques are the people buying consumer data, not the consumers themselves. How many Big Data startups might help people see their lives in different ways? Perhaps the personal genomics companies, but so far, they’ve kept their efforts focused quite narrowly. And third, we have the daily deal phenomenon. Groupon and its 600 clones may or may not be good companies, but they are barely technology companies. Really, they look like retail sales operations with tons of sales people and marketing expenses.
I also want to note that there are plenty of ambitious startups in energy, healthcare, and education, areas that sorely need innovation. But fascinating technology startups, companies who want to allow regular people to do new stuff in their daily lives? Few and far between.” —
Great tear down.
I’m so tired of people saying social media is in a bubble. Investors, journalists and pundits have been shouting “bubble” since 2005 when News Corp acquired MySpace for $580 Million. A bubble can not last 7 years. Social Media is not in a bubble.
Maybe it’s just time to finally admit that *maybe* social media companies are just different. They operate differently, scale differently and create value differently. If anything I think we have yet to really see the true value of social media and I think (but I’m biased) it’s going to be bigger than we currently realize.
First and foremost, we crave satisfying work, every single day. The exact nature of this “satisfying work” is different from person to person, but for everyone it means being immersed in clearly defined, demanding activities that allow us to see the direct impact of our efforts.
Second, we crave the experience, or at least the hope, of being successful. We want to feel powerful in our own lives and show off to others what we’re good at. We want to be optimistic about our own chances for success, to aspire to something, and to feel like we’re getting better over time.
Third, we crave social connection. Humans are extremely social creatures, and even the most introverted among us derive a large percentage of our happiness from spending time with the people we care about. We want to share experiences and build bonds, and we most often accomplish that by doing things that matter together.
Fourth, and finally, we crave meaning, or the chance to be a part of something larger than ourselves. We want to feel curiosity, awe, and wonder about things that unfold on epic scales. And most importantly, we want to belong to and contribute to something that has lasting significance beyond our own individual lives.” —
I’m loving this book.
The purpose of the modern organization is to make it easy and natural and expected for people to take risks. To lean out of the boat. To be human.
Alas, most organizations do the opposite. They institutionalize organized cowardice. They give their people cover, a place to hide, a chance to say, “that’s not my job.”
Our organizations are filled with people not only eager to dehumanize those that they serve, but apparently, instructed to do so. In the name of shareholder value or team play or not rocking the boat…
During times of change, the only organizations that thrive are those that are eager to interact and change as well. And that only happens when individuals take brave steps forward.
Giving your team cover for their cowardice is foolish. Give them a platform for bravery instead.” — Seth Godin, Organized bravery (via stoweboyd)
The post social age is not the age built after the age of social media, it’s the age built on top of social media. In fact the post social age will be built on not just social media but the equally disruptive trends of crowdsourcing, gamification and big data. These four horsemen of the post social age will usher in a new era more disruptive than anything we’ve seen to date. The last decade has merely been a summer breeze compared to the category 5 hurricane we’re about to experience.
We live in a rapidly evolving time. It’s scary. We’re going from a time where we lived our lives in private to where we are increasingly living in public. What we did behind closed doors, what media we consumed, what conversations we had, who our friends were, what news articles we read and what we liked, was known only to us.
The only way companies and governments were able to find out this information about us was through huge expensive research initiatives where armies of college students were deployed to ask us what we thought and what did. It was our choice to give this information away or not.
But increasingly we’re giving away that information “for free” and far more of it than we’ve ever given away before. Why? In simplest terms we gain social capital from our over-sharing but it goes way beyond that.Invasion Of Your Privacy With Consent
Every week there seems to be a new story about some app or social networking service that is being accused of violating your privacy. Facebook is almost always somewhere in the mix as they are the service that is most aggressively pushing the boundaries of our privacy. Over the weekend a new app called Girls Around Me sparked off the debate again. The app pulled Foursquare check-ins from public Facebook profiles to locate girls in your area. Creepy? Yes.In violation of any rules? Nope. But it was still pulled down. This app basically confirmed all the worst fears people have about geolocation.
Despite this, and possibly much worse, we will continue to give up our personal data. Not only will we continue to give up our personal data, we will gladly give up even more than we are today.
I’ve argued in the past that our privacy was already an illusion and have even gone as far as to suggest that geolocation could eventually make us feel safer.Personal Information Is The New Oil
You may remember sometime last year (seems like longer) that everyone was saying that your personal information was the new oil. That collectively our personal data would fuel a whole new economy. The analogy was heavily championed by Reputation.com CEO Michael Fertik. The World Economic Forum even released a study (PDF) which praised the social goodwhich could be done with this data.
I had the opportunity to hear Fertik speak at Gnomedex on the topic. Fertik believes that our personal information is a currency we can use and that services will spring up that will broker our data for us to those companies which wish to use it. Unfortunately for Fertik, that information broker already exists and it’s called Facebook.Why We Give Up Our Privacy
We all (those heavily involved in social media) understand intuitively that there are benefits that outweigh the risks involved in sharing our data. And when you get down to it, the use of information brokers is just too cumbersome and costly to use. Who’s going to pay for the service? Large data gathering companies aren’t going to pay for it because there’s more public data than there ever has been. Your data is a commodity. Sure it’s unique to you, but for the purposes of data gathering, your data isn’t special. So if someone was going to use a data broker, they would have to pay for it themselves. And I think we’ve already demonstrated we’re not going to do that.
We may not like it but we seem perfectly content to let Facebook manage our data for us.The Future Is Transparent
But don’t despair. We are receiving plenty of benefit in trade for our data and we’re only going to get more. Right now we have unlimited use of World changing services like Facebook. Could you imagine going back to a pre-Facebook world? A World without Facebook would seem like post-apocalyptic fiction. And it’s only the beginning.
Eventually our personal data will take us into the post-social age, where our every experience is layered with social data. We will all rely on, or work from, the crowd and the only way that will be possible is if we have access to each others data. With access to that data we will know who to reach out to, who we want to work with and who we trust. Without ever seeing or even talking to that person.
We will inherently distrust people who don’t share their data, the same way we distrust incoming callers who block caller-ID.
I’m not saying it’s all going to be rosy and shiny. There will be casualties along the way. Some people will be taken advantage of. Some people will be physically harmed. This is no different from it is today and is the sad downside of living in a society. And some people will “drop out.” We’ll see some people become Digital Agoraphobics.One Final Note
I’m not saying we should throw all privacy out the window and just abandon ourselves to the whim of corporations. We need to be smart about how we move forward because I believe most of the damage will be done not in the final state but on the path there. During the transition there will be an imbalance of data. Some people will use this imbalance to their advantage and that’s what we have to mitigate. Additionally I believe that if companies want to participate in this new transparent world, they themselves have to become more transparent.