Ghostwriting thought leadership

A good piece by Lauren Ingram (at least I assume she wrote it :) on whether we need to start getting more transparent about the ghost writing that goes on in corporate content strategy.

As you probably know much of the ‘thought leadership’ content produced by CEO and higher management in big enterprise is ghost written, often without any input or even signoff from them before it is published. This typically happens in blog posts on the corporate’s own site, but can also extend to guest posts on other sites, as well as publications and industry magazines.

It’s kind of an accepted practice these days, but is it time to rethink this. Lauren notes:

Let’s look at academia, where using someone else’s writing is absolutely off limits. If you’re caught paying a shady essay mill to write your paper, you’ll probably be suspended and may face expulsion. You didn’t do the research. You didn’t write the paper. Your academic reputation would be in tatters.

Somehow, these consequences don’t apply in a professional setting. Instead, if you pay someone to write your professional guest post, your reputation could be bolstered instead.

Personally I think people are generally happy with the idea of a ghost writer – but the question Lauren raises is whether the ghost writers deserve some of the recognition:

When some celebrities sign book deals for memoirs, co-writers are included in the byline, just in a smaller font. It might seem strange at first, but why couldn’t bloggers use this same system? Or at the very least, put some sort of disclosure at the bottom of the story to acknowledge the name of the person who actually wrote the post.

In much the same way as a Prime Minister’s or President’s speechwriter(s) may themselves receive accolades – is it time we moved to a similar model for our thought leadership writers?

That Dan Lyons book

Well played Dan, well played.

“Instant New York Times Bestseller” pretty much sums it up.

The book promotion tour for Disrupted is on and thus the pieces have been coming thick and fast over the past two weeks.

Dharmesh has a calm response that I found impressive (disclaimer: Dharmesh is a personal hero of mine).

Ian and I mentioned our thoughts on episode 29 of HubShots (towards the end) and our friend Moby Siddique (@mobysiddique) has a longer, stronger reaction at the start of episode 7 of Inbound Buzz (well worth a listen).

In the scheme of things these stories are merely distractions, and I don’t think anyone seriously considers HubSpot an isolated example of this kind of startup growth issue. Or any corporate for that matter.

I’d love to know how much of this Dan wrote with interest versus intent. As a writer he needs to sell books, can’t hold that against him. But I wonder if he feels he really has contributed value to the world with this. I hope so.

14 Job Interview Questions That Might Just Make You Sound Like You Are Trying Too Hard

Not sure if it is a cultural thing and questions like this are more applicable in US to here in AU, but if I was interviewing someone and they started peddling out questions like:

‘What behaviors does the member who struggles most on the team exhibit? Please give me an example.’

…I think I’d be more worried than impressed.

But question 8, that one’s much more like it.

Google Project Zero = Zero fucks given

Via BBC News:

Google’s Project Zero seeks to find bugs in popular software and then give the manufacturers responsible 90 days to fix the problem.

This bug, which affects Windows 8.1, was revealed by Google to Microsoft on 13 October 2014.

On 11 January, Google publicised the flaw. Microsoft said it had requested that Google wait until it released a patch on 13 January.

Read Chris Betz’ full post on Microsoft’s approach to vulnerability disclosure:

Microsoft has long believed coordinated disclosure is the right approach and minimizes risk to customers. We believe those who fully disclose a vulnerability before a fix is broadly available are doing a disservice to millions of people and the systems they depend upon.

Kinda hard not to agree with Microsoft on this one, and difficult to understand why Google stuck so rigorously to their 90 day mandate. But people are definitely divided on it.

UPDATE: And Google has done it again. And yet they refuse to fix their own bugs. Crazy.

Terrorpolitical football

Oh the lols, as reported by the New York Times on a comment by UK Prime Minister David Cameron:

Mr. Cameron, who has started to campaign ahead of a national election in Britain in May, said his government, if elected, would ban encrypted online communication tools that could potentially be used by terrorists if the country’s intelligence agencies were not given increased access.


“Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read?” Mr. Cameron said at an event on Monday, in reference to services like WhatsApp, Snapchat and other encrypted online applications. “My answer to that question is: ‘No, we must not.’ ”

Putting aside the technical absurdity of this (eg banning Snapchat and Apple iMessage, etc), my interest is why he’d even make a statement like this.

Since politicians are hard to like (barely above car salesmen), they do a lot of polling to understand what their constituents will vote for.
And given that his comments are part of his election campaigning I’m assuming they have been made strategically (ie polling is telling him this is something people want).

Which makes me wonder, who the hell is he talking to?

How to survive the robot age

Just spout bullshit:

Be a multi-disciplinary, insatiably curious person who knows how to use the tools to model ideas and create prototypes.

Possessed of an open mind and few fixed ideas about how things should be done, you nonetheless have a strong conscience and can operate outside of your comfort zone to achieve win-win outcomes. You are known for your integrity and resilience.

(via: The Conversation)


Jeff Bezos will never win

An illuminating article about Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Fire Phone fiasco. Well worth a read.

Will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next 5 years.

If Amazon do get a future version of the phone right (and all indications are that they are continuing to invest heavily in R&D for it), then this period will be looked back on as being valuable learning, and a tribute to Jeff’s persistence against the naysayers.

And if future phone versions continue to be duds, then of course the signs were ‘obviously’ there all along… at which point the number of ‘I told you so’ posts from tech writers will be overwhelming.

It’s always safer to expect failure.

Dan Lyons Bloody Predictions

Hindsight is always easy, which makes the first part of this post pretty lame. But the forward-looking predictions are pretty spot on I think.

The closing remarks about the impending crash are what resonate most though:

And now the stock market is hitting all-time highs, and Facebook is trading at 72 times earnings, and Twitter has a $20 billion market cap even though it is losing huge amounts of money, and has a $37 billion market cap even though it doesn’t have any earnings either, and back in September Marc Andreessen said something about how the market was going to turn and that some of these tech companies were burning money too fast and they were going to “vaporize” and ohmygod a fucking food delivery startup just raised $220 million at a valuation of $2 billion and Snapchat just raised money at a $20 billion valuation even though they have no revenues and the company is burning cash like crazy…

Remote and Great Programmers

From Matt Mullenweg, responding to Paul Graham’s post:

If 95% of great programmers aren’t in the US, and an even higher percentage not in the Bay Area, set up your company to take advantage of that fact as a strength, not a weakness.

It’s always easy to oversimplify this issue, but there’s good points on both sides here, plus the Hacker News discussion is useful reading.

Personality types (eg introvert versus extrovert) is a key item I see missing in most discussions on the topic, since people will usually (unconsciously) argue from their own personality type’s perspective. But company culture is a complex matter and if it’s not set up for remote working it takes a ton of work to change – that would the ‘set up your company’ bit in Matt’s quote above.

Speaking personally, my company is all remote workers (some full-time, some part-time) and (although only small) it’s taken a lot of work to get it working soothly. The processes and systems are much different to those used in my previous roles working alongside colleagues.