Today your cartoonist is risking a political post: how exactly is it “plucky” if one of the biggest countries in Europe walks away from its European partners (and friends!), as the Telegraph casually writes? Your cartoonist really, really doesn’t get what some media people in England have against the EU. Is it having the straightness of bananas regulated by a shared institution? Your cartoonist is serious about this. The EU has never been about taking power, it is about sharing power.
If the latest literature about information-based business models is anything to go by, the world of commerce is in for some big changes. Basically, the argument is that “platform” businesses (like FB or Don’t-be-evil) will beat more traditional “pipeline” businesses wherever they meet – fascinating and quite worrying! Of course, Szpylbert will keep reporting on this…
Your cartoonist sometimes gets to go to places where business strategy is discussed. Always listening carefully, Szpylbert developed a pet hate for two particularly misleading words: “ecosystem” and “democratisation”. Both are supposed to somehow sound inviting and empowering – but in reality their meaning is very different.
Ecosystems are created by big businesses to get small companies to do risky things or stuff that they think is not worthwhile. Naturally, that includes the possibility of involuntary exit from the ecosystem, a.k.a. “death”. With survival being a struggle, an ecosystem is not a happy place!
Now for democratisation. This is normally suggested to entice amateur usership of technology or something without a proper value proposition, e.g. low-cost 3D printing or blogging. Of course, there is no real commercial opportunity here for the dilettante – and the money is made elsewhere. If there’s a gold rush, don’t join it. Sell shovels!
Szpylbert has now set his sights on being a successful “academician” in his day job at his university. That will inevitably mean producing more high quality research, and that always means learning new stuff. But as Abigail Adams has once warned, learning “is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence”. Sounds depressing already.
A number of things have changed for your cartoonist in 2016, including the new job and a new house. One thing that hasn’t changed is his relationship with his wonderful girlfriend. Since Szpylbert thinks it is important to do things properly, he has decided to submit a Marriage Proposal Form to her. Fingers crossed – and a Happy New Year to you all!
Szpylbert’s been reading a lot of managment and economics books lately for work. One thing that is apparent is that seeking one’s own benefit usually comes at the expense of someone else. This has always been the case (think Sun Tzu’s The Art of War) and great efforts normally are made to hide this from the naïve. As the saying in poker goes, if you don’t know who the fish is, it’s you!
First post of the year – your artist was quite busy feeling confused as a recently appointed academic lately. We start the year with a bit of wisdom from Szpylbert’s last summer intern: quizzed why engineering students always wear suits to interviews (and in academia almost no one wears a suit), the intern said: “If you are wrong and wearing a suit then at least you look competent, all engineering students know that”. This had your cartoonist thinking. Perhaps this was also the trade secret of all those bankers and politicians. Time to buy a suit.