Archive News: Buy Me A Cup O’ Ko-Fi!

Sorry, field operatives. It seems I’ve hit a bit of a creative slump this week in terms of writing. I knew I shouldn’t have wasted all my creative energy on making that HUGE ground sirloin burger stuffed with mozzarella and bacon and topped with fried pastrami, a parmesan cheese crisp, and pickles.

To be fair though, it WAS an intensely delicious burger.

That said, I DID vow that I was going to try to find new ways to grow and expand this little project of mine while better supporting myself. And by gum, I’m making progress.

See, I’ve been wanting to set up a way for readers to support my writings for some time without having to strongarm them into a subscription service or forcing me into a rigid schedule – both directly opposing my laissez-faire approach to business practices.

So, I’ve finally decided to go a different route; you can just buy me a coffee!

Ko-Fi is, in essence, a digital tip jar. If you enjoy reading my brain droppings every week, you can go to my Ko-Fi page at ko-fi.com/awkwardagent to leave some scratch to show your appreciation. You can give as much or as little as you feel my weekly thought dumps are worth (in three dollar increments) as often as you deem appropriate. No subscriptions, no hassling, just direct support for the kind of semi-serious, occasionally geeky, thought-provoking writing you enjoy reading and I enjoy writing.

We’ll be back on schedule next week. In the meantime, please give my other articles a look-see. Last week’s offering on the horrible misunderstanding between the drag and transgender communities got a lot of love, so I encourage you to give that a look. And if you enjoyed that and other articles, please consider donating to my Ko-Fi page to support more good stuff.

Thank you all for your continued support!

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Why People Hate YouTube Heroes

Wow, YouTube’s been piling up the hate lately.

Last time we discussed YouTube’s shenanigans, I might have been a bit too harsh on them. Regarding their new Advertiser-Friendly policy, I can understand why they employed it. They have to appease their advertisers and creators, so they created a system to remove ads from videos that advertisers don’t want to be associated with while allowing the creators an easier means of contesting the demonetization claims.

My issue was with how openly the language could be interpreted and how easily it could be exploited. But, as a system to appease all parties, I get it; it makes sense.

There is NO excuse, however, for YouTube Heroes.

For those not in the know, YouTube Heroes is a new experimental system where YouTube is extending the job of editing and regulating content to the viewing audience and rewarding them with new privileges based on a ‘level up’ style system – privileges like direct communication staff members and workshops that high-profile creators should probably have by default.

What’s more, part of the job of people using the YouTube Heroes program is to report inappropriate content like offensive comments and videos.

Basically, YouTube is asking you to do their job with no pay. Hmm, why does THIS sound so familiar?

But the bigger issue here isn’t unpaid labor, it’s UNSKILLED labor. YouTube is putting the power of content management in the hands of people who, judging from the average comment section, are quick to anger and would be the most likely to flag down videos and comments – not because they were inappropriate – but because they just didn’t agree with them.

Unless YouTube comes out and says that they have a plan to ensure the quality of those using the service (unlikely, as they have disabled comments on the video to quiet the negative feedback), this is a terrible idea. Nearly every attempt to include the digital community in a major business has ended in failure purely by virtue of the fact that they can’t control the actions of random strangers. It’s the business equivalent of handing chimpanzees machetes and NOT expecting them to hack up a few people.

In short, my open letter can be simplified as such; Youtube, start doing your own damn job. And if you don’t have the people to pull it off, stop being so stingy and expand like a responsible business should.

Powers Combined: Corporate Mergers and the Business of AT&T and Google

 

Yeah, it feels a little like this half the time…
Source: LexisNexis Legal Newsroom

Last Sunday was not of the “lazy” variety if the news I read is to be believed.

According to reports, not only is telecommunications giant AT&T in the process of acquiring DirecTV, but Google is currently negotiating the one billion dollar purchase of Twitch.

Now, the last time I discussed the nature of corporate mergers was back in my college radio days when me and my friends were discussing the Disney/Lucasfilm/Marvel merger. So I guess it’s about time to talk about how I feel about corporate mergers as a whole.

Now, I won’t go on record saying that mergers and conglomerates are an absolute evil. A lot of good can come out of them. Sometimes all a really good company needs is the aid of a powerful financial backer to become truly great. Alternately, a company may have a great product or service that can be made better with technology or tactics of another.

What I’m trying to say is that there do exist legitimate reasons for companies to merge or sell to another larger corporation.

However, the problem with conglomerate businesses is that they have the potential to limit the choice of the consumer while creating the illusion of varied selection. Using Disney as an example again, if you dislike them for some reason and want boycott them or simply not support them in any way, but you happen to love sports and want to catch up on your favorite teams, then you may be surprised to know that you are unknowingly supporting them by getting your news from ESPN.

I typically dislike corporate conglomeration for this reason. I like being able to try different takes on the things I want or need and choosing what’s best for me. What’s more, conglomeration can allow a company to skate by putting only the minimal effort into a product and rarely evolving by riding the success of the other assets they own.

Still, if I must live in a world of corporate mergers, I suppose I’d like them to take the Disney approach. They seem to act more as a glorified financial investor rather then a corporation and allow their assets to have their own identity instead of slapping their brand and trademarked business practices all over everything they own.

As for the mergers mentioned at the start of this story, my feelings are as follows.

I have no emotional investment in the AT&T/DirecTV merge as I don’t have satellite TV (I don’t watch much TV at all, in fact) and most telecommunications up my way are handled by Metrocast and Verizon. I’m certain AT&T can and will handle themselves well through this new phase of life, but I won’t be too broken up if they fail.

The Google/Twitch merge, on the other hand, is slightly more disturbing to me. Remember this; Twitch is primarily a gaming driven community that thrives off of live streams of playthroughs, Google owns YouTube, and YouTube has had a long history of bad user-infuriating decisions when it comes it interpreting copyright law – especially as applies to video game footage. Either Google will finally have to change it’s policies in this manner or Twitch could very easily fail as an entity taking several professional gamers along with it.

At this point, the most we, as the consumer public, can do is let them know what we want out of these changes and pray that they listen to the voice of reason.

 

In Defense Of The Service Industry

All wait staff should be this happy and perky without faking it.
Source: Texas P.O.S.

So there I was one early evening treating myself to a well deserved pepperoni pizza after some flattering complements in my Social Media class. While conversing with the cook in the dining hall, she asked, presumably as a joke, if she could get me to write a recommendation for campus dining services to quiet down the incessant complaints she got daily.

I couldn’t think of a witty retort off the top of my head, but it did get me to thinking about how we don’t treat people in the service industry as well as we should. Writing a review of a college cafeteria would be silly, but I can show my appreciation to that nice lady and the countless others who make civilized life possible by trying to get others to give them the respect they deserve. The next time you deal with a cashier, server, or the like, remember the following…

They’re Just Following The Rules

Most of the complaints I hear people register with servers are things that can’t be helped. The store can’t accept your expired coupons, the restaurant can’t can’t make your meal special order because it’s pre-made, or some other common request that would violate company policy.

Most of these people (read: the people who haven’t been jaded by the abusive customers) legitimately want to help you. The problem is that when forced to choose between the customer and their job, most are going to take the option that ensures that they get to eat tomorrow.

They’re Just As Human As The Rest Of Us

The service industry is made of human beings. That means that they make mistakes just like the rest of us and can be just as hurt by the ignorance of others.

People make mistakes. What’s more, people make more mistakes when they’re under stress from, for example, some entitled nimrod giving them crap. Relax and work with your server instead of against them. You’ll find you’ll resolve more issues much faster.

Look At Yourself First

As stated above, people working in service make mistakes like all humans. This mean that, since you are human as well, you can be just as guilty of screwing up.

People are, unfortunately, prone to something called Conformation Bias, the unconscious act of exclusively searching for and favoring information that confirms something that they believe. If that person believes that they are in the right, they will fight to prove it to the bitter end and react negatively when proven otherwise.

Take some time to think about what you have contributed to this impasse and consider if you may be at fault. Checking to see if you may have failed at some point may help to find a solution to the problem… and may just keep you off the featured posts of Not Always Right.