What’s the Big Idea?
More evidence for the migration of news sources to digital platforms: Harvard Business Review is getting into the online game. With a decrease in the number of print issues produced each year (it used to be 12, now it’s six,) HBR is seeking different avenues to keep readers engaged. Their new web-series, Big Ideas, is exactly that… they hope. In an effort to mimic the structure of their print magazine, Big Ideas is an in-depth exploration of a single idea through many sources and over a period of time. HBR says they are embracing the new freedom digital publishing allows–– they’ll no longer be bound by physical space. And, editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius says, the journal wants to get ahead of the way people consume news. Bravo, HBR: you’re cooler than you look.
Writing curriculum is hard work, teaching is hard work, and teachers have no time. Like, none. So when one can share (lesson plans, class materials, all the things,) one shall. And teachers do. Teachers Pay Teachers is a platform where teachers can, you guessed it, write curriculum and then get paid by other teachers who want to use it. And it’s a great idea. Teachers are constantly on the lookout for lesson plans and resources, and seriously? Who wants to reinvent the wheel when it’s already online? There are problems, though. Lesson plans, as pretty much every teacher will tell you, are customized to the class, the kids, and the context. Commercializing the plans and materials to make them useful to other teachers is a lot of work, especially for teachers who’ve already found too few hours in the day. So what’s the answer in today’s sharing culture? Sorry, Teach. We’re not sure there is one, yet.
Not Cool, Facebook
Facebook offers paid advertising and it’s lucrative, both for advertisers and for Facebook. But the social media powerhouse is also super racist, apparently: its ad-builder includes an option that allows advertisers to exclude people based on “ethnic affinity.” Not only is this disgusting, it’s a flagrant violation of both the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act. The only funny thing about this is how much worse Facebook manages to look while explaining its actions. In a stunning example, Facebook exec Steve Satterberg explains the difference between race and “ethnic affinity.” Facebook would never, ever collect race demographic information, he says. Rather, it categorizes users based on the type of web-content they interact with most, so it’s totally not racism. Trying to work through this kind of backward logic will make you want to punch yourself in the Facebook.
Airbnb is the newest cool kid on the block, and their freshly adopted anti-discrimination policy pulls no punches. On Saturday, the company released its “community commitment” policy. The net? “Treat everyone — regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age — with respect, and without judgment or bias,” or sorry kid, you can’t come to the Airbnb party. Props to the sharing-economy lodging company for recognizing a problem––the insidious discrimination hosts and users have experienced, and saying “not today.” Maybe big-boy Facebook could take a few pointers from its much smarter, cooler, and prettier neighbor, Airbnb.
These things also happened last week:
Twitter killed Vine, the six-second looping video site. It was super popular, and people are sad to see it go, so Twitter says they’re going to leave the site up so people can still access their favorite vines. Phew. Thank goodness we won’t be deprived of the attention-span murdering, instant gratification joy of the Vine archives. Speaking of diminishing attention spans, maybe James Comey isn’t such a bad guy. Maybe, by linking Hillary Clinton’s emails to the investigation of Anthony Weiner, he was actually just checking to see if we were still paying attention. Or maybe he was sick of seeing mommy and daddy fighting, so he decided to help them unite across the aisle by making them hate him instead of each other. Whadda guy.