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The Future of AI with WGA Strike Leader Adam Conover
Comedian and labor organizer Adam Conover talks to Fastmail CTO Ricardo Signes about Adam’s ongoing work as part of the WGA strike and the impact of AI on creative industries.
Hear why the Writers Guild of America is currently on strike and the role Adam has played in the overall process as a member of the board and the 2023 Negotiating Committee.
▶️ Guest Interview - Adam Conover Learn more about Adam Conover. Check out Entertainment Community Fund. Subscribe to Adam Conover’s Patreon. Learn more about Writers Guild of America - West and Writers Guild of America - East. Listen to Factually! with Adam Conover. 🗣️ Discussion Points Adam is a comedian, writer, television host, and the host of the podcast Factually! with Adam Conover. The Writers Guild of America is a labor union that represents about 11,000 writers specifically in film and television. They have a contract with the film and TV production companies, who have spent the last 10-15 years figuring out ways to make the work of writers more precarious and pay them less. The Writers Guild is now on strike to try to fix that and put contractual protections in place so that writers will be able to make a sustainable living in their industry. Although AI text can be useful in some contexts, it can also be considered a plagiarizing machine. The only reason it can produce the output in screen and script writing is because it has been trained on the real work of writers. These large language models, however, can not actually do the work of a writer because writing is so much more than just outputting text. The biggest fear of writers today is that companies will ask them to modify the scripts written by AI. But, since the script would be written by AI, the company would feel justified in paying the screenwriters even less despite putting in the same amount of work to modify the script. Although Adam is worried about what AI may be able to do over the course of the next 5 years, he is not worried that AI will end up writing movies or make art. Another big issue right now is around streaming residuals, which are less than they have been in the past. Though this is a really important cause, it has gotten more attention compared to some of the Guild’s other equally valuable demands. This includes the fact that companies are trying to eliminate the writers’ room and operate with a freelance model. If this happened, television writing would cease to become a career. WGA is not asking that everyone cancel their Netflix subscriptions. Rather, they just ask that people boost them on social media and publicly support them. Supporters are also encouraged to donate to the Entertainment Community Fund, which gives grants to people within the industry who have fallen on hard times. 🔵 Find Us Take our survey: digitalcitizenshow.com/survey. Digital Citizen Website: fastmail.com/digitalcitizen. Check out our blog. Tweet us @Fastmail. 💙 Review Us If you love this show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Take our survey to tell us what you think at digitalcitizenshow.com/survey.
The Future of Hybrid Digital Communities
On this special Philly Tech Week episode of the Digital Citizen podcast, Fastmail COO Helen Horstmann-Allen speaks with Alex Hillman, Will Toms, and Michelle Freeman, three of the savviest digital citizens in Philadelphia about community building offline and online.
Michelle is the Founder of Witty Gritty, a civic-focused marketing events engagement company based in Philadelphia, and Amplify Philly, an initiative co-run with REC Philly aiming to amplify the intersection of business, tech, art, and more. Will is the Co-Founder of REC, a company that works to get independent creatives paid for doing what they love. Alex co-founded Indy Hall, Philadelphia’s first coworking community, which has been gathering people since 2006
▶️ Guest Interview - Alex Hillman, Will Toms, and Michelle Freeman
Follow Alex on Mastodon: @firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Will on Instagram: @thewilltoms Follow Witty Gritty on Instagram: @wittygrittyphl Learn more about Indy Hall. Learn more about Amplify Philly. Learn more about Witty Gritty. Dive into 10K Independents' mission. Get involved with RECPhilly. Explore Philly Tech Week. Read articles about PTW 2023 on Technical.ly Philly. 🗣️ Discussion Points
Alex explains that the difference between community building on and offline is that offline community building gives you many things for free, such as serendipity. Natural and organic conversation is one of the things that makes a community so special, which is very difficult to build online. Online, you have to be specific and intentional in building community. In our hybrid world, being online serves as an enhancement for in-person experiences. It allows people to keep in touch between meetings through tools like email and Slack and make connections with people they can later connect with in-person. Our guests are all three extremely proud of their home city of Philadelphia. What makes the city so special is that the city has more creative talent than any other city per capita, even though they don’t have the entertainment infrastructure of New York or LA. REC Philly highlights the resources Philadelphia has to leverage to entice creatives to stay rather than relocate to another city. The first thing people can do to become better digital citizens is shift their identity online from building an audience to building a community. As a community builder, your role is to create a space for people to connect with others. ⭐️ Takeaways
It is important to add value to the spaces you inhabit, whether they are on or offline. Simplicity makes participation accessible. Something as easy as encouraging people to participate in thematic name tags (or screen names on Zoom) can spark meaningful conversations. When it comes to community building, “Onboarding is forever.” Be intentional about the type of community you want to build and start laying that groundwork early on to help foster its growth. 🔵 Find Us
Take our end-of-season survey: digitalcitizenshow.com/survey Digital Citizen Website: fastmail.com/digitalcitizen Check out our blog Tweet us @Fastmail Follow us on Mastodon: @email@example.com 💙 Review Us
If you love this show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Experiencing Art in a Digital World with JiaJia Fei
On the final episode of season two of the Digital Citizen podcast, JiaJia Fei talks to Fastmail CTO, Ricardo Signes, in this special extra-long conversation. They discuss how museums and the art world have changed in the past few years and how they may continue to evolve.
JiaJia Fei is a Digital Strategist working at the intersection of digital marketing, web, social media, art, and culture. She has been featured in Vanity Fair and Vogue and has worked in digital marketing for 15 years for organizations, including the Guggenheim Museum and the Jewish Museum. Now, she runs her own digital media agency working with clients in the art world to help broaden their audience.
▶️ Guest Interview - JiaJia Fei
Learn more about JiaJia Fei Follow JiaJia on Twitter: @VAJIAJIA 🗣️ Discussion Points
Museums are essentially repositories for telling stories. It is the job of a museum to interpret why objects have value and help visitors better understand them. Many museums are beginning to put effort into digitizing their collection for people from all over the world to enjoy. It is the job of museum technologists to speak the language of art and technology. Many activities which existed as analog, such as shopping and watching films, have quickly adapted to the digital world. However, the art world has moved very slowly into the tech space. JiaJia believes that this is largely due to the fact that art as a whole is largely experiential and requires an in-person experience. The most interesting project JiaJia saw during the pandemic was the MET and the Getty putting all of their images online for the video game, Animal Crossing. This allowed players of the game to interact with the artwork in an environment totally outside of the museums. Ultimately, this encouraged interactive digital experiences. At the beginning of social media, museums were hesitant to participate because of the protection of their images. It is the responsibility of museums in the digital world to be the steward and authority when it comes to the digital representations of art. The more museums fear reproduction, the more bad images are likely to reproduce on the internet. Thus, institutions need to share images of the artwork they house online. The most important thing the art world can do is improve access to their collection for everyone. As consumers of culture, it is important that people continue to support them and their work. ⭐️ Takeaways
Don’t be afraid to try new artistic experiences. Digital technology gives us new ways of engaging with art which we should all try out and see how we feel about them. If you have a favorite cultural institution, check out their social media. It can be a great way to engage more expansively with their collection, hear about new openings and events, and find out about new institutions you might not have heard of on your own. Museums exist to preserve pieces of our culture and the stories that accompany them. If you aren’t taking the time to visit the museums around you, virtually or in-person, you should. You will likely be surprised by what you learn about the greater world and the place where you live! 🔵 Find Us
Take our end-of-season survey: digitalcitizenshow.com/survey Digital Citizen Website: fastmail.com/digitalcitizen Check out our blog Tweet us @Fastmail 💙 Review Us
If you love this show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Take our survey to tell us what you think at digitalcitizenshow.com/survey.
How to Prioritize Connection in a Remote Workforce with Recess Part 2
On this episode of the Digital Citizen podcast, Arielle Yoder and Zack Fine of Recess talk to Fastmail CTO and COO, Ricardo Signes and Helen Horstmann-Allen, about how to foster connections within the remote workplace.
Hear about how Recess partners with companies to help them integrate play through a series of games that help the team feel more connected. Arielle and Zack explain the importance of team-building for both in-person and remote teams, the phenomenon of Zoom fatigue and why the transition to work from home early in the pandemic was so difficult, and how companies can foster positive work environments for their staff by investing in their wellbeing.
▶️ Guest Interview - Recess
Learn more about Arielle Yoder Learn more about Zack Fine Learn more about Recess 🗣️ Discussion Points
Arielle and Zack have a background in theater, and they founded Recess with this background in view. They had tools to help people have fun and connect more. As the pandemic wore on, they began applying principles of “ensemble building” in the corporate space. As in theater, in the office ensemble building involves building something from the ground up, developing trust, and quickly becoming a family. The building process can be done using play. In the workplace, the building will ideally result in a more unified team and a stronger work culture. The COVID-19 pandemic changed Zoom from a tool used alongside in-office connections to the central medium of corporate life. Gone was water cooler conversation and the casual, organic interactions it facilitated. In this new environment, as 2-D experiences of people became the norm, it was more difficult to engage on a personal level with coworkers. Work took on a new tiring and reductive element. Recess offers a different way to engage in an online space, specifically using play to help people relate in different ways and ultimately restore a sense of connection between teams and team members. The work of Recess is helpful for companies operating on a remote basis, but it’s also useful for companies that have resumed working in-person. One particular part of work life that Arielle and Zack love to be involved with is the onboarding process, as they find that Recess can ease the transition into a new and unfamiliar environment, help new employees get to know others in the workplace, and give these employees a sense of the company’s investment in their social wellbeing. Arielle and Zack also appreciate that the task they help to accomplish is, in a manner of speaking, bigger than them and their company. Different things appeal to and resonate with different people. Recess may not be for everyone. But the goal of Recess, to see people receiving the personal investment they need, should be a driving goal of company leaders. Employees will, by and large, be happier and stay longer if they see leaders investing the extra time and money to address their individual needs as people outside of their output as workers. Arielle and Zack urge leaders to make their employees feel as human as possible, and to take an individualized approach to doing this. ⭐️ Takeaways
Remote work doesn’t have to mean disconnected work. There are many ways for organizations to build community among a remote workforce, but they have to work at it. It doesn’t just happen! Activities that work in an in-person world don’t always translate well over Zoom. So before you organize your next Zoom happy hour, think about what you can do to foster more connection between the people there — maybe by incorporating games or setting up breakout rooms. You want to find ways for people to connect that aren’t just doing work, ways that let people from different teams who might not naturally connect during the work day talk to each other. Play can be a great way to welcome new hires to the team and make them feel included. Ultimately, building a connected company culture require
Why Play is so Powerful in Adulthood with Recess Part 1
On this episode of the Digital Citizen podcast, Arielle Yoder and Zack Fine of Recess talk with Fastmail CTO Ricardo Signes about their company, Recess, and the methods they use to bring the benefits of play to the virtual workplace. You’ll also hear snippets from Rik and Fastmail COO, Helen Horstmann, about how Fastmail brings play into the workday in practical ways!
Meet Arielle and Zack and learn how their respective theater backgrounds lead them to create Recess, a company that integrates play into the workday through a series of games designed for the online workplace. Arielle and Zack will share the importance of finding joy through play as an adult and explore the psychological benefits of doing so. They will also discuss how participating in activities like Recess can be a different experience for each person, especially focusing on how they encourage reluctant people to participate.
▶️ Guest Interview - Recess
Learn more about Arielle Yoder Learn more about Zack Fine Learn more about Recess 🗣️ Discussion Points
Arielle and Zack started Recess early in the COVID-19 pandemic as a way of bringing play into the workday, and the company is founded on their conviction that play should be an integral part of every day - even for adults. Used in workplaces, play increases productivity, the ability to connect with others, and even general well-being. Neuroscientific studies have demonstrated the positive impact of play on the brain, and Zack and Arielle explain how play improves focus and adaptability, and fits with the biological legacy of humans as social primates. Arielle and Zack try to structure Recess sessions based on their specific clients, and they visit the clients before holding a session in order to get a feel for the company dynamic. A typical session, though, will include a warmup, a brain teaser, moments for one-on-one connections among colleagues, soft skills, and something funny to conclude the event. Recess aims to provide both a personalized and well-rounded session, often taking and utilizing elements from Arielle and Zack’s theater backgrounds. A session might include mime, improv, drawing, trivia, or any number of other activities. Understandably, not every team or every person is initially comfortable with the idea of bringing silliness into the workplace. If in getting to know a group before a session, Arielle and Zack notice reticence, they will try to start the session by leaning into silliness in a simple and easy way. With this gentle start, the room will often start to warm up quickly with a desire to play more. Arielle also finds that the idea of silliness more than the experience of it tends to spark reticence. Most people, once they get into a session, will have fun! Arielle and Zack hope that they as facilitators can take the burden of responsibility away from company leaders, helping to create light and playful cultures in the companies. They love to see bits of fun stick with an organization, knowing that the team is reaping the benefits of play and improved work culture in the long term. When it comes to being better digital citizens, Arielle and Zack first warn listeners that, in digital relationships, it can be easy to lose the simple aspects of human connection and find that people become merely 2-D in our minds. Their aim to create a feeling of human-to-human connection through theater points to our broader need for opportunities for human connection separate from work. We should, they urge, recognize that there are multiple parts of the self that are not all devoted to the workspace. ⭐️ Takeaways
Play is something for everybody. Scientists have shown that play is good for your brain, so you should go for it and experience the benefits. You should remember in your online interactions, you want to center connectedness with other people. You’re there to have common communication with these other people, and that’s what you wa
Uplifting Community Through Good Digital Citizenship with Kayondra Garrison
On this episode of the Digital Citizen podcast, Hopeworks graduate Kayondra Garrison talks to Fastmail CTO Ricardo Signes, continuing the conversation about Hopeworks by talking about her experience as a program participant.
Hear about Kayondra’s experience at Hopeworks. Learn about the important skills young people should develop when they are looking for a job in technology, how technology learning to build technology can change your relationship with the technology we use every day, and what it means to have hope and overcome fear to find success.
▶️ Guest Interview - Kayondra Garrison
Learn more about Kayondra Garrison Learn more about Hopeworks 🗣️ Discussion Points
Kayondra describes Hopeworks as a place you come to with hope and make it work. It is a revolutionary organization for its time that is far ahead of what the modern-day workplace should look like. It helps people connect the dots, with motivation and drive and everything else under the sun. Previously, Kayondra was a student at Hopeworks. Now, she works a remote job as a Benefits Outreach Specialist helping clients apply for public benefits. As a student at Hopeworks, one of the most important lessons Kayondra learned was that if at first you don’t succeed, you should try again. She also learned that there are people you can meet in a professional atmosphere who genuinely care for you. She discovered what it means to work hard on a daily basis, and that positivity goes a long way. Kayondra emphasizes that everyone’s journey at Hopeworks looks different because everyone specializes in different things. As a motivational speaker, Kayondra specializes in soft skills and interacting with younger people. Her goal is to help people succeed in whatever way is succeeding for them and to conquer their fears. She shares that fear is only false evidence appearing real, which can be applied to any scenario in life. Success opportunities are everywhere, but we have to overcome the fear of trying new things first. Of all the training offered at Hopeworks, Kayondra believes one of the most valuable skills is learning how to code your own website. She also thinks learning presentation skills, time management, working with different types of people, and networking were key to her success. She shares her hope that people will live in the real world more rather than on social media. ⭐️ Takeaways
Sometimes it’s important to take a step back from social media and live in the moment. Don’t undervalue interpersonal skills. If you want to succeed, even in tech, it’s not just technical skills that lead you to success. Building a strong foundation of interpersonal skills is a huge part of making yourself employable and successful in the current job market. Overcoming the fear that something isn’t going to work out, or that you might not be good at something, is the first step towards making a real change in your life. 🔵 Find Us
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Contributing to the IETF - Internet Standards.
Helping people protect themselves from attack.
Perpetuating free speech.
Fighting Network Abuse - including realizing that without consequences and ways of enforcing those consequences, one cannot quell network abuse long term.