October 05, 2007

Goodbye Thursday from Friday

Highlights of the Day + I'm pretty sure I interviewed a prototype of the ideal product manager, the kind of person who shouldn't leave the building without an offer letter. Articulate, hyper-intelligent, passionate, balancing rational and emotional product management. The interview left me contemplating a new way I could prioritize features, building on an idea from the interview and another from a similarly inspired conversation years ago. A great candidate is someone you believe could immediately inspire you and your team to even greater creativity and product. It reminded me that "A" people must hire "A" people... + Watching the second episode of Chuck. Chuck is the shiznit! It has become the family TV event of the week. Lowlights - Al Gore might win a Nobel Prize, but America absolutely needs him to run again for President. I'd quit work tomorrow and join the campaign if he announced his candidacy. When will we stop being the world's police and start focusing on the environment and educational supremacy? My Day as a Song Somewhere I Belong - Linkin Park Random Thought "Ten percent luck, twenty percent skill, fifteen percent concentrated power of will, five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain, and one hundred percent reason to remember the name"- Fort Minor Mental doodle If you could peer into someone's mind and see the story of their lives, could any good come of that power? The more I think about this, the more I believe that the balance of that power would be dark and dangerous. What would you see? You'd discover:
  • Mundane but public information
  • Innocuous but private information
  • Opinions and emotional state
  • Secrets, both positive and negative
The mundane "Knowing when they left for work, what their favorite band is, what their house looks like, the make of their husband's car" If you were there in the moment that the person created the mental image of this information, you probably wouldn't even remember it. The person exposes this information in public forums, but it wouldn't necessarily be widely known. You could use this information to foster a better relationship with a person based on the aggregate personality traits you could gather with this information, but unveiling too much of it would really creep someone out. You could try and use this information as the basis of identity theft, but these bits of information don't form the challenge based secrets that protect our valuable assets. Innocuous but private "Knowing what a person ate for breakfast, whether someone snores, who their sister is dating, what their best friend's name is, the name of the first person they slept with, does the person like Asian cuisine?, the location of their car keys, how much they weigh" People don't expose this information in public. Close associates (family and friends) might know some of most of this information, but you could see everything. Knowing this information brings you dangerously close to the simple challenge based secrets, and could allow you to foster a close relationship with a person, both for good and dark intentions. You would understand the tendencies and personality much more intimately than almost anyone else the person knows. Opinions and emotional state "What they think of you, their boss, their job, their friends, the world, politics. Are they happy, angry, depressed, aroused, mellow?" Deliciously evil. These are intangible secrets. Imagine what you could do if you knew what your co-worker actually thought of their boss? The disruption you could cause between lovers if you knew the private foibles that drive each other mad but they keep hidden? Direct and psychological manipulations would be within easy reach. But what could you do with this to help people? Emotional state would be a huge boon, both positive and negative. If you knew someone was mad, you might leave them alone. If you could tell someone was attracted to you or what they were thinking, imagine how much easier dating would be. You could adapt, both positively and negatively, to the emotional state of a person that only you can see. In both business and personal settings, you would have a huge advantage over a person, as you have a dispassionate but immediate sense of what they are feeling and what they might do. Secrets "What is their ATM passcode, what is the name of their mistress, what good deeds have they done that they haven't told anyone about, what they know about the company's next quarterly statement" What good can come of this? Even if you were a saint, you would not want to know anyone's dirty secrets? Skeletons are buried for a reason. Could you do "good" by exposing someone's darker secrets to the person being wronged? It is an age old question. What do you do when you know someone's dark secrets? Used for harm, you could destroy every facet of a person's life with this information. Every private asset of a person could be looted at will. You could disassemble their personal relationships with relative ease, especially when combined with your knowledge of their opinions about a person. "That person is an terrible creature BECAUSE she is sleeping her best friend's husband". With this as a premise, I find more ways to negatively manipulate a person with intimate knowledge of their life than to positively influence a person. You could help a person through actions that you know appeal to their emotions, desires, and goals, but to what end? Positive or negative? Wouldn't absolute power; the ability to see and manipulate a person's lifetime of opinions, emotions, knowledge, and secrets, corrupt absolutely? If you positively catered to someone based on intimate knowledge, wouldn't they naturally gravitate towards a stronger relationship with you? While you are positively impacting their life, you are manipulating them the same way an owner does with treats and a dog they want to train. Whether stick or carrot, you could control a person's life with ease. Would the simple desire to be able to look at a person and see what they are thinking, if realized, lead to moral corruption? Maybe that is Ya's story? (see September 28, 2007 Mental Doodle). What would you do if you could look at a person and see everything?
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