cubicle_farmWe’ve heard all about Millennials for years now, their lifestyles, tech friendliness, and radical collaboration methods. Many experts have been urging companies to start accommodating their lifestyle in the workplace to attract the best, young talent. The real driver behind the need to rethink the workplace, however, is not just generational — it’s really about the elephant in the “room” — mobility. We’re all on the move more than ever before, and we have escalated our use of not one, but several, connected mobile devices throughout our normal day. The idea of working 9-5 in a stuffy cubicle farm with a tethered computer on a desk is seeming more and more like an out-of-date relic.

To get past generational labels, and create another broader label (researchers love labels), there’s a new one out there now: #GenMobile: the people for whom mobile connected devices go beyond personal use — these folks shape their entire lives around mobility and the devices that support their mobility.

In November 2013, Shape the Future and Aruba Networks conducted research to find out how widespread the use of mobile devices have become. They found some interesting trends that back up the idea of rethinking the traditional workplace model:

– 70% of respondents prefer flexible working than working 9 to 5 with an early finish on Fridays.

– Over half of those surveyed said they’d prefer to work from home or remotely two to three days a week than receive a 10% higher salary.

– 37% expect an increase of remote working – just 4.5% foresee a decrease.

– 49% expect to increase the time they spend working remotely in 2014.

– Almost half (45%) bought tablets in the past 12 months.

– And 64% believe in BYOD, and believe their devices make them more productive at work.

– Many employees believe it’s the company’s responsibility to provide mobile devices along with Wi-Fi connections.

These stats may leave a lot of HR Directors shaking their heads, but instead, they should be seeing the opportunities, including:

– Rethink traditional work hours (consider the increased productivity of happier, “always-on” employees)

– Rethink traditional cubicle farm office environments (consider the cost savings inherent in fewer non-eco-friendly offices)

At 8 p.m. on December 31, 2013, 6 year old Sofia Liu was walking in a crosswalk at Polk and Civic Center in San Francisco with her mom and younger brother when she was struck and killed by an Uber driver. Uber is a ride-sharing company that provides “car service on demand” via a smartphone app. Wherever Uber provides service, simply launch an app and Uber will automatically locate you and connect you to the closest driver. Within minutes a driver will pick you up and get you to your destination. There are several ride-sharing companies providing car services on demand, including Lyft and Sidecar. Uber has been growing and innovating beyond typical taxi services by promising quick pick-up and drop-off, as well as delivering Christmas trees and even kittens.

When the driver struck little Sofia, Uber stated he was “not employed by Uber at the time of the accident because he did not have an Uber customer in the car with him”. Since he was “between fares”, Uber claims they are not responsible for the death. However, an attorney representing the family of Sofia is filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against both Uber and the driver alleging that the driver was an Uber contractor using Uber’s app at the time of the accident. Furthermore, the attorney claims that the driver was “texting while driving” using Uber’s app to prepare for his next fare, causing him to be distracted.

Uber is declining comment over the lawsuit, but it seems like the attorney’s strategy is to associate the driver with Uber simply by the fact that the driver was logged into Uber’s app. This will take the discussion about if and how to regulate start-up services like Uber to the next level. Are the Uber drivers too distracted by technology in the car making them unsafe to be on the road? That will be the key question for a judge or jury to answer. In the meantime, San Francisco has one of the highest rates of pedestrian-vehicle collisions in the nation, so watch out for yourself out there! At least one San Francisco Supervisor seems to be “on the case“.

By the way, according to Uber, the driver that struck little Sofia has been “deactivated” as a driver in their system.

Some rights reserved by bsdphoto

Some rights reserved by bsdphoto

On September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died. At just 27, he died without a will. He only released three albums in his lifetime, but he left a lifetime’s worth of legal issues, evolving narratives, and interesting back stories.

At the time of his death, his estate was managed by California attorney Leo Branton and producer Alan Douglas. In 1995, Jimi’s father, Al sued for the rights to Jimi’s music, and won. Al then created “Experience Hendrix, LLC” as a corporation based in Seattle. This company was created to administer Jimi’s image, control his music, and release new music and memorabilia.

When Al died in 2002, the Hendrix estate was worth an estimated $80 million, which Al left entirely to his adopted daughter, Janie. That’s when things got messy. Jimi had a brother, named Leon, and he contested the will, claiming that Janie had manipulated Al into leaving everything to her. Allegations about fraud and drug abuse were lobbied back and forth, and in the end, a Washington judge ruled that Janie was the sole heir.

Shortly before his death, a fortune teller had told Jimi that he wouldn’t live much longer. He believed her, and told close friends about this “vision”. Although he had grown up in poverty, at his height, he was earning millions. Surrounding him were, naturally, bottom-feeders. Jimi had to wrangle with his corrupt manager, deal with the Black Panthers trying to shake him down, faced heroin possession charges in Canada, and fought a paternity suit in New York.

Ultimately, Hendrix is remembered for his mastery of the guitar, not necessarily for his money management skills. And since his family gained control of his estate, they have been on a mission to “sterilize” him as an icon without a troubled life. A recent documentary about Jimi on PBS, I Hear My Train A Comin’, was seemingly “scrubbed clean” of Hendrix’s legendary appetite for women and drugs. A memoir just released, Starting At Zero, supposedly authored by Jimi (a curation of his diary entries, letters and interviews), was published without the cooperation of his family and clashes with the image the family is now portraying. Even the minutiae of his life is being sanitized. For example, Jimi enlisted in the 101st Airborne Division because he had been given a two-year jail sentence for “riding in a stolen car”. That’s where he met Billy Cox, a bassist who he ended up playing with. He was in the military for less than a year. According to I Hear My Train A Comin’, he was honorably discharged due to an ankle injury he suffered while jumping out of a helicopter. The truth is he pretended to be gay in order to get himself thrown out.

The first biography of Jimi written after his death in 1978, ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky still remains the definitive biography of his life. But the Hendrix machine is alive and well, sterile or not in 2014. A new biopic entitled All Is By My Side is forthcoming, and is produced by John Ridley. Although fondly remembered as a peace-loving hippie, according to Starting At Zero, Hendrix was quite conservative, distrustful of “Black Power” and was not supportive of the antiwar protests of the time.

When he died, he had an ulcer in his stomach, was increasingly dependent on cocaine and amphetamines to get through all his tour commitments, was frustrated by the cost overruns in the building of his state-of-the-art studio, Electric Ladyland, and he was completing an album “First Rays of the New Rising Sun”. To escape some of the overload, he ended up in London with a former lover. Unable to fall asleep, he took nine Vesparax tablets (18 times the recommended dosage) and went to bed. He choked on his own vomit that night and was found dead in the morning by his lover. Although the family is trying to sanitize his life and legacy, what really matters the most is the magic he left behind for us in the music he created. Music historians will have to wade through the morass of all the “propaganda” to try and keep the real story alive, but the casual fan will always just let the music speak for itself.

fingerprintBy now, most of us realize that the US government is tracking our online activity (it’s just to what extent, we’re still a bit unsure), but it’s probably safe to say the bureaucrats know more about us than we’d like them to know. What’s more disturbing, however, is the extent that advertising and marketing companies go to determine who you are, what you do, what you buy, and who you buy from. And it’s no longer just your online activity: data mining allows companies to combine your offline activity with your online activity to create a more accurate profile of everything you do. This aggregation should cause more concern than anything the NSA is doing, and as of now, it’s completely unregulated.

Ever heard of Acxiom? Probably not. Well, Acxiom has heard of you. In fact, they probably know more about you than many of your own family members. Acxiom currently runs 23,000 servers that process more than 50 trillion data transactions per year. Acxiom has dropped over 1.1 billion cookies onto hundreds of millions of Americans’ computers, they have constructed over 200 million mobile profiles and average about 1,500 pieces of data per consumer. Scott Howe, the Acxiom CEO has stated, “Our digital reach will soon approach nearly every Internet user in the US.”

The recent hacking of Target’s commerce system has been widely reported, but what you may not know is what Target knows about you. Target assigns each customer a unique “Guest ID” which is linked to their credit card number, email address and/or name. Every purchase or interaction the customer has with Target is linked to their unique Guest ID. You tend to buy a lot of yogurt, live in San Francisco, and shop with your American Express? Target takes this data and links them to your profile, and then uses it to market more products to you. This seems harmless at first glance, and some would argue that targeted advertising is valuable, however, this data can be aggregated, diced and sliced to predict your future behavior. Target will know if you’re pregnant based on what you purchase. They’ll use that data to predict when you will be interested in buying diapers. Of course, they won’t stop there. They’ll know the gender of your baby when he/she is born, and be able to market to them as well. Lock them in at birth! This is valuable data for other companies too. PetCo will know if you’re buying dog food for your “older pet” and sell the data to insurance companies that will then encourage you to buy health insurance. Sound creepy? Creepier than the NSA logging your phone calls?

Sure, the NSA’s tracking activities should be a major concern, but you might also want to think about what advertising, marketing and data mining companies are doing “behind the scenes” with all those breadcrumbs you’re leaving behind.

teenagers-and-iphonesWe knew eventually there would be a “wedge” driven between us and that shiny, glowing device that never seems to leave our sides… well, it looks like you now spend more time with your smartphone than you do with your partner! According to a study by mobile phone provider O2 and Samsung, the average smartphone user tends to spend two hours a day using their gadget. Yet, the amount of time spent with our partners per day is just 97 minutes – a third less – on average. Many of us even sleep with our smartphones, and some have admitted to spooning their phone over their mate… Read more about this report here.

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