When complete agreement could not otherwise be reached, a general massacre of all who have not thought in a certain way has proved a very effective means of settling opinion in a country.

| Charles Sanders Peirce

Something about the slow heartbeat of the seasons.

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Photo by Weston MacKinnon on Unsplash

The suspended anxiety of this year is not entirely unfamiliar to me. I have fallen through the cracks of life before. I’ve come to think of these times of life as wintering, a season outside the usual ebb and flow, when the comforting bustle of everyday society falls out of reach. Most of us have been to this place. We arrive there in the wake of illness, depression or bereavement; that darkness may yawn open during major life events like divorce or job loss. However we come to it, wintering is usually involuntarily, lonely and bitterly painful.

This year has brought us into close contact with loss. Many winters have come all at once. But within these winters, there is the seed of something necessary. We tend to imagine that our lives are linear, but they are in fact cyclical. As we grow older, we pass through phases of good health and ill, of optimism and deep doubt, of freedom and constraint. There are times when everything seems easy, and times when it all seems impossibly hard. Each time we endure the cycle, we learn from the previous round, and we do a few things better. This is how wisdom is made. …

I had thought it would be Amazon, but Slack has to pair up with someone big

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Salesforce is apparently talking to Slack about a plus $17 billion acquisition. The reason is simple: Salesforce is losing out on the tectonic shift toward work chat centered work technology platforms. The 500-pound gorilla in the room is Microsoft, where Teams is the fastest-growing product in the company’s history.

Slack has filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft in the European Union earlier this year, drawing attention to the Microsoft play of linking Teams to the Microsoft 365 suite. …

Mark Vanhoenacker helps us deal with a thanksgiving of absence

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Let’s say that this year it’s as if each of us has gone abroad, to a strange country. Let’s be thankful for all manner of connection, and for every kind of family. Let’s promise that next year we’ll be home.

| Mark Vanhoenacker

Maybe Todoist will fill out the details

I confess that I get a childish pleasure in uncovering hidden features in tools that I use¹.

Recently, I decided to return to using Todoist after a hiatus of a few years. I am the classic innovator in the adoption of technology as popularized by Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm², so I am constantly trying new tools. In particular, I have tried out dozens of work management approaches and tools that support them.

In recent years, I have used various content-centric work management tools, where tasks are embedded in the context of documents. The tools I’ve tried include Dropbox Paper (and I will likely give Dropbox Spaces a try, once I am granted access to the beta³), and for quite a stretch of time I have tried to manage work within markdown documents using Typora. …

Minimizing hours for synchronous communication makes us more productive

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Photo by K8 on Unsplash

In 2017, long before the pandemic, Gallup released research that showed some startling results regarding working out of the office:

All employees who spend at least some (but not all) of their time working remotely have higher engagement than those who don’t ever work remotely.

And those that work remotely 60%-80% of the time say they are more likely to strongly agree that working remotely makes them more productive.

When I wrote about this earlier this year in Paradoxes of Engagement: Remote Isn’t, I suggested that perhaps the difficulties linked to managers communicating with out-of-office workers led to better managing:

Because of all the difficulties of communicating with remote workers, managers have to make an extra effort to connect. That means they are likely to put it on their calendar or todo list, or both. Because of that, managers will pay more attention to what is being said, and as [Scott] Edinger puts it¹, ‘tend to be more conscious of the way they express their authority’. …

Remember principles?

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Antony Blinken

In times of crisis or calamity, it is the United States that the world turns to first and always. We are not the leader of first choice because we’re always right, or because we’re universally liked, or because we can dictate outcomes. It’s because we strive to the best of our ability to align our actions with our principles, and because American leadership has a unique ability to mobilize others and to make a difference.

| Antony Blinken, Remarks at Center for a New American Security

Blinken is Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, and is a former deputy secretary of state under Barack Obama.

Suit up!

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Photo by Fezbot2000 on Unsplash

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.

| Alfred Wainwright

We’ve published the Radar report on ‘Workboards’ — collaborative whiteboards — that are being widely adopted in a remote work era

I’ve been researching collaborative whiteboards for months, and we’ve released the Radar report which is the complement to the earlier Key Criteria report on the sector.

From the report:

Collaborative whiteboards are shared visual workspaces that provide a rich, digital equivalent to analog whiteboards. They enable cooperative interaction that extends beyond drawing and writing metaphors to include communication channels, file sharing, media access, and templated presentation.

Even prior to the coronavirus outbreak, there was broad interest in collaborative whiteboards as a way to enrich meetings and to bring concepts visually to life in a shared medium that can exist beyond the confines of a conference room. …

This is a complete restart of Spaces, not a minor upgrade

Over the past few weeks, Dropbox has been showing some analysts and partners a new generation of what introduced last June as Dropbox Smart Workspaces and then later renamed Dropbox Spaces. For some background, see How Dropbox Spaces can help you make sense of distributed work from Dropbox, for example, or my thoughts in Dropbox Launches ‘Smart Workspaces’.

The new Spaces is a significant departure from last year's model. In effect, they have scrapped the earlier approach, or revised it so significantly that it is hard to see the changes as a transition: it is a rethinking and a restart.

If you know all about last year’s Spaces, or just want to jump ahead to what the new Dropbox Spaces are, scroll down to the Welcome to the new Dropbox Spaces section. …


Stowe Boyd

Founder, Work Futures. Editor, GigaOm. My obsession is the ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

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