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Big Revolution - Companies with conviction... and limits

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Welcome to Thursday’s Big Revolution, and a happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. – Martin
 
November 22 · Issue #270 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Thursday’s Big Revolution, and a happy Thanksgiving to my American readers.
– Martin

Big things you need to know today
  • Google is rolling out its Duplex restaurant-booking A.I. to some Pixel owners in certain US cities. This is the first time the tech, which wowed people at this year’s Google I/O, has been available to the public.
  • Beijing is set to roll out the most ambitious version of the Chinese ‘social credit’ model yet, by the end of 2020. Social credit systems reward good social behaviour and punish bad by denying offenders access to services.
The big thought
Jack Dorsey. Credit: Steve Jurvetson / Wikimedia Commons
Companies with conviction… and limits
I’m a strong advocate of companies that have strong stances on social and political issues.
If you’re a prominent company and take the old-school approach of being neutral about everything so you don’t offend your customers, that neutrality will eventually be put to the test. If you can navigate that test with conviction that shows you truly stand for something, you’ll come out of it looking a lot stronger than if you try to please everyone.
Just look at how silly Virgin Trains looked when it removed, and then reinstated, sales of the Daily Mail newspaper to the shops on its services. These flip-flops can look like you’re listening to the public’s concerns, but they risk you looking like you never really knew what to do in the first place.
So, a social, political, and moral compass is important for businesses in the 21st century.
Still, there are times when it’s best just to not get involved at all.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey walked into a storm this week when he (apparently accidentally) appeared to show his support for a movement calling for an end to India’s caste system of social hierarchy.
BuzzFeed News has all the details, so I won’t repeat them all, but essentially Dorsey ended up causing a storm in India over the poster he posed in a photo with, which some took to be hate speech.
Twitter has explained the situation was unintentional, but Dorsey still managed to first offend people who thought the sign was hate speech, then when he apologised he offended people who supported the sign – all while not really understanding too well the deep cultural roots of the issue at hand.
Oh, and the fact that Twitter has a problem with inter-caste abuse in India (which Dorsey didn’t really seem to know about) doesn’t help either.
So, companies should have conviction and stand for something, but also be aware when it’s best to leave well alone. And never, ever hold up a poster you don’t understand.
One big read
How Facebook’s P.R. Firm Brought Political Trickery to Tech How Facebook’s P.R. Firm Brought Political Trickery to Tech
A look at what Definers does for tech companies, including how it worked to smear Apple on behalf of Qualcomm. “The truth is, the big companies have become a lot more authoritarian in their approach to the media.”
One big tweet
Far too many articles are written just because something needs to be written. How does that distort our view of what’s truly important, and how important it is?
Max Read
20something bloggers write about thanksgiving arguments with their families not because they are miserable jerks who despise their families (though maybe they are!) but because the content maw is open wide and must be filled
4:46 PM - 21 Nov 2018
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow with more Big Revolution. See you in your inbox then.
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