An in-depth history of the most important pop innovation of the last 20 years, from Cher’s “Believe” to Kanye West to Migos
We really only have threads — threads of experience, threads that bind and that connect us. Human history — our hopes, fears and traumas — are just a blink of time on this planet of 4.5 billion years. So to me, this one connection, this one relationship that gave this one person joy and laughter and insight and tears is enough for me. It’s the reason I’m here. It’s what I do.
Much like the principles of building muscle mass — the way your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibres after a workout by forming strong, new protein strands — your mistakes do not you weaken you, they build you up. They solidify you. They give you emotional and mental muscle. Or at least they should. Because you have to own your mistakes. You have to claim them and allow that destruction/reconstruction process to take place. It’s incredibly empowering.
Own who you are:
At a certain point in this working life, you realise that there really is no place to hide. You either own — completely own who you are, the nature and personality of your journalism and your understanding of what you are here to do — or I think you fade away. When I started on radio in Melbourne in 2001, the legendary Jon Faine gave me two pieces of advice. He told me that daily flow radio “was a marathon, not a sprint”, and he said that on air I had to be myself — not some persona, not some projection, but relentlessly myself. The listeners would find me out in a trice if I was not.
And regularly take stock of where you are at:
If one thing has stood me in good stead over the last 28 years, it has been a deliberate decision to periodically sit down and take inventory of what I’m doing well, what I need to improve, where the gaps in my skillset and knowledge base are and how I need to fill them. I’d urge you to do it too. If it helps, find someone you know, admire and trust and who knows your work well and ask them to do this exercise with you. Never be afraid of self-scrutiny. Don’t wait for someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart to point out your shortcomings — get there first and do something about them.
This post is a reminder that so often there is more at play than we are often willing to recognise.
You are not algorithms. But you are also not neutral. And because you have the power to amplify messages, people also want to manipulate you. That’s just par for the course. And in today’s day and age, it’s not just corporations, governments, and PR shops that have your number. Just as the US military needed to change tactics to grapple with a tribal, networked, and distributed adversary, so must you. Focus on networks — help connect people to information. Build networks across information and across people. Be an embedded part of the social fabric of this country. Democracy depends on you.
The tech elite now making a power-grab for public education probably has little to fear from FBI warnings about education technology. The FBI is primarily concerned with potentially malicious uses of sensitive student information by cybercriminals. There’s nothing criminal about creating Montessori-inspired preschool networks, using ClassDojo as a vehicle to build a liberal society, reimagining high school as personalized learning, or reshaping universities as AI-enhanced factories for producing labour market outcomes–unless you consider all of this a kind of theft of public education for private commercial advantage and influence.
The Textbook or a Problem to Solve In 1920, Sister Domatilla published the results of her experiments with a new kind of pedagogy called ‘the project method’. Writing in The American Journal of Nursing, she explains her concern that “old methods of teaching” do not give students “a genu...
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When you don’t have the Physical space for innovation, the process takes longer. This might be true because there is less visibility of ideas and progress, fewer opportunities for working collaboratively and poorer communication between teams.
If our Cognitive space is crowded and overwhelming us, we will likely only engage at the surface level. The commitment to the work will probably wain over time as other competing agendas and projects take their toll. Mental energy is limited.
Time is a crucial ingredient for any creative or innovation work. Without enough quality time, ideas might become less ambitious and revert to safe bets.
Without the Emotional commitment to the work, we get projects that fizzle out. We don’t see the connection to the broader purpose and start to reduce our energy and effort as the drive is not there. Fighting our neurobiology is futile.
If we are trying to innovate without Agency in a culture that historically moderates heavily from the top-down, it creates apathy. Why bother getting invested in innovation when nothing changes? Why should we care when the decision is out of our hands?
I believe that the first step towards becoming a writer is becoming a reader, but the next step is becoming a reader with a pencil.
Service drives demand. When riders started to switch to the car in the early postwar years, American transit systems almost universally cut service to restore their financial viability. But this drove more people away, producing a vicious cycle until just about everybody who could drive, drove. In the fastest-growing areas, little or no transit was provided at all, because it was deemed to be not economically viable. Therefore, new suburbs had to be entirely auto-oriented. As poverty suburbanizes, and as more jobs are located in suburban areas, the inaccessibility of transit on a regional scale is becoming a crisis.
The only way to reverse the vicious cycle in the U.S. is by providing better service up front. The riders might not come on day one, but numerous examples, from cities like Phoenix and Seattle, have shown that better service will attract more riders. This can, in turn, produce a virtuous cycle where more riders justify further improved service—as well as providing a stronger political base of support.