The Social Self As A Business

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To mark this post historically, this was posted the day Tumblr decided to cut out some adult content (it’s hard to tell exactly what they meant, it got weird)  This was quickly followed by an algorithm that clearly was terrible not doing it’s job, and leaving people to discuss leaving.  When you can’t exactly spell out a vision for what you want to do, that vision seems to be “stop some nudity”, and your system is bad, yeah people are going to leave.

This doesn’t entirely surprise me, an old hand at watching internet companies shoot themselves in the food.  I’ve seen sites and services appear and vanish, sometimes quite sadly.  This has led me to an important but unpleasant truth.

You have to run your social media presence like a business.

What do I mean by this?  Simple

  1. Social media is vital to our lives (for some of us more than others)
  2. Social media companies rise, fall, and change.
  3. To reach your social media goals, you have to consider your vision, make a plan, and have expenses – just like a business.

For me, a writer, this is more vital – but also as my writing is a hobby, it’s almost more effort.  I mean it’s hard to disentangle my audience, my fellow authors, and my sarcastic video game posts.

But it still comes down to this – business decisions affect social media, social media is connected to our lives, so we have to run that part of it like a business.

No, I don’t like it.

I don’t like knowing something may vanish the next week because of a merger.  I don’t like seeing people leave a site due to some weird policy change.  I dislike wondering who’s harvesting my data.  It’s tiring and it’s exhausting, and annoying, not to mention a bit dehumanizing.

But this is where we are now, when business decisions affect where you post recipes and if you repeat an Overwatch meme about Hanzo’s shirts.

Maybe in time we can build more humanized platforms.  Maybe we can get others to evolve.  But until them your social media life has to be run like a business, especially if you have any large groups, complex plans, side businesses, media presence, etc.

If it helps, what I do is actually review my social plans once a month – who’s planned what, do I want to host an event, etc.  I’ve had to work my social media reviews into that, along with my marketing reviews for my books.  It helps, but it’s annoying.

And again, I don’t like it either.

Steven Savage

Steve Says He Was Wrong About Wal-Mart

Some time ago I wrote a post that Wal-Mart might end up turning into a hip company, using technology to improve the consumer experience and perhaps be less hated.

Then I worried their reputation could affect this transition.

I’d like to report that now, no, I do not expect Wal-Mart to get it together, to be hip, to be particularly high-tech, or to just plain suck less.  I withdraw my statements.  I think I was wrong.

Three things made it very apparent to me that you’re not going to be a Happy Wal-Mart Geek moving them into the 21st century (or the 20th).

First, Wal-Mart’s heavy investment in their grocery business. That’s perhaps a logical move for them, but not a sign of them going high-tech.  This is a case of taking advantage of a pretty easy market using their usual methodology.

So in one way, they’re going a simple route.

Of course simple route or not, Wal-Mart is doing pretty dismal in its stocking and hiring, impacting the customer experience with long lines and empty shelves.  Though this report is filled with anecdotes, it does call out several important points, the most relevant one being:

In the past five years, the world’s largest retailer added 455 U.S. Wal-Mart stores, a 13 percent increase, according to filings and the company’s website. In the same period, its total U.S. workforce, which includes Sam’s Club employees, dropped by about 20,000, or 1.4 percent. Wal-Mart employs about 1.4 million U.S. workers.

Yes.  There are more Wal-Marts – but Wal-Mart employes less people.  This shows in the service, which wasn’t exactly hot anyway.

This is not a sign of a company willing to spend money to improve.  Or at least not get worse.  This has the distinct stink of number-crunching and bottom-lining – find out how bad you can be and still make a lot of money.

This isn’t the sign of a company that’s going to have a sudden technical awakening and re-invent itself.

Finally, yes, Wal-mart has been experimenting with delivery and services.  The latest consideration (not implemented, but considered) is to involve customers in the delivery process.  You get a discount if you help deliver stuff.

Now services that let people make some cash delivering things, sharing resources, etc. do exist.  But considering Wal-Mart’s record this is not a forward-thinking idea in my opinion; this is another case of “how do we cut costs.”  It also looks like a potential disaster or boondoggle if done at all, and concern over legal and other issues could kill it.

But it’s not innovative.

So, I’m going to withdraw my previous statements.  I don’t think Wal-Mart will surprise us by one day going geeky.  I don’t think they’ll move with the times.  I think they’re stuck semi-permanently in cutting costs and scrounging for opportunities, and at best playing catch-up.  There’s no room here for innovation.

Sorry.  Looks like all we’ll be doing is criticizing them.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at

Illness And Silicon Valley

I worked from home for a day because I took rather ill.  What’s odd is I could deal with the mild nausea and weakness of what’s going around – I was worried about infecting my teams.

In many jobs I’ve had there’s always one or two patient zeroes, people who come in when sick and end up infecting everyone.  There are the inevitable statements by managers that yes, if sick, work from home, that are then promptly ignored.

Then everyone gets sick.

So I had a few thoughts:

First, despite the ability to work from home, many people forget they can do it.  It’s kind of automatic.

Secondly, people worry working from home looks lazy.  This is probably subconscious, but is still an issue.

Third, I don’t think the statements by many a manager to stay home have settled in for many people.  Which is kind of weird when you think about.

I think those of us in technical fields need to rethink how we handle illness, sick days, and so forth.  We need to do so because right now it’s hard to effectively manage the issue.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at