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The Kickstarter Corporate Communication Conundrum

Today I chanced to see an email in which a manager was asking his staff to work for extra hours. Well, ‘asking’ is putting it generously, to be honest. There didn’t seem to be much that was optional about it.

The Kickstarter connection, though: you’ll be familiar with the idea of ‘stretch goals.’ If not, the idea is that the basic target is to make X amount of money, but if we make X + 10%, or whatever, we’ll be able to do these other things. Develop additional features, make the item in more colours, or whatever. My guess is that the term originally comes from sports.

So this email included in the subject the phrase ‘stretch targets.’ Meaning we want you to do more this week/month/whatever, than we originally planned. It was clearly written by someone who thinks that the way to develop software faster is to work your staff to the bone. When in fact that’s much more likely to result in people taking shortcuts and making mistakes.

In this team they’re already working weekends, and now they’re being ‘stretched’ even more. It bodes ill. But perhaps co-opting the language of positive things for something so negative is worse.

Watched The Last Jedi trailer. Didn’t do a lot for me. Don’t worry, though: I’ve booked my ticket for opening night.

I’m not going to say much about Blade Runner 2049 yet, except: I felt disappointment more than enjoyment. All the critics are praising it unreservedly, and I didn’t enjoy it that much. I have a whole lot more written, but I’m going to wait a while before posting it.

Blades and Running

Watched Blade Runner in preparation for tomorrow. Chose the original theatrical cut, voiceover and all. I think I’m increasingly down with Mitch Benn’s thinking on the matter.

And you should watch the video of his song, ‘Don’t Fuck Up the Sequel to Blade Runner

Also started watching Dangerous Days, the ‘making of’ documentary. Fascinating and surprising to learn that Rutger Hauer came up with the ‘tears in rain’ line.

Anyway, more news tomorrow, perhaps.

Brett Terpstra is offering the chance to win a copy of the new 60 Mac Tips book and the (updated) old one. All you have to do is register. Sounds great.

Star Trek: Discovery, episode 3, ‘Context is for Kings,’ keeps up the good work, in case you were expecting otherwise. And I forgot to say the other day that, although the IMDB people were negative, there is a very positive review on Tor.com. Much positivity in the comments there. too.

I received one of the stranger pieces of spam or phishing I’ve ever seen. Not because of what it’s trying to do — obviously it wants me to click on a dodgy link — but because of the weird, almost surreal ineptness of the content. Take a look:

[aesop_image img=”http://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Phishing-spam-screengrab.jpeg” alt=”Phishing spam screengrab” align=”center” lightbox=”on” caption=”Phishing spam screengrab” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

Isn’t that its own special thing? Almost poetry, in a disturbed, fractured way.

Trekking

Past

I can remember when I first saw Star Trek.

That’s not so unusual, but if my memory is right — and I’ve just more or less confirmed that it is — then when I first saw it was the absolute first time anyone could see it, in this country, at least.

Here’s the memory (and it’s tied up, as many good things are, with Doctor Who).

It’s 1969. It’s the summer holidays, and we’re in a holiday home with a TV. That in itself makes me doubt the memory, because back then holiday houses just didn’t have TVs. A lot of houses in general didn’t. But this memory has always told me that we were on a family holiday. And it’s Saturday, late afternoon. I’m settling down at the TV, and somebody says — I think it’s my sister — ‘Martin, Doctor Who finished, remember?’ Because it was Doctor Who time.

And I said, ‘But this is like Doctor Who!’

And as the new programme started someone else — my Dad, I think — said, with a tone of surprise, ‘He knows all about it!’ And then the Enterprise swooshed towards me out of the screen.

I’ve long wondered how true this memory was. It was 1969; I’d have been five. But I just checked:

Initially, the BBC was the first-run broadcaster of Star Trek (12 July 1969-15 December 1971).

The series was shown in four seasons, the first on Saturday evenings at 5:15 pm (in the time slot usually taken by Doctor Who).

Which exactly matches my memory: summer, Saturday, Doctor Who slot. And the calendar confirms that the 12th of July 1969 was a Saturday.

I wouldn’t be five for another month plus. Not a bad bit of early-memory retention. I wouldn’t have remembered it at all, if it wasn’t for one thing: trauma caused by fear that my parents would turn the TV off just as this exciting new programme was starting burned it into my brain.

My Dad always liked Star Trek too, so I guess I was partly responsible for that.

Present

Yesterday I watched the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, which are on Netflix (in the UK and Europe, at least; in the US they’re on CBS’s own new streaming service). And I really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say it felt like being that nearly-five-year-old again, but it did feel like they’re trying something new and potentially very exciting.

Today I was looking at its entry on IMDB. It turns out there are user-written reviews there, which I don’t think I’d been aware of before.

Sadly they are almost universally negative. ‘It’s not Star Trek,’ is a common theme. But there’s a strong whiff of racism and misogyny coming through. Two non-white women as leads means ‘social justice warriors’ are running the show, it seems. Well from what I’ve read of Gene Roddenbery, I think he’d have been happy to be called a social justice warrior. Star Trek was always about diversity and tolerance.

Future

I don’t know how many episodes of this new series they have lined up, but I know I’m looking forward to watching them. So is my inner five-year-old. So would my Dad have been. And so would Gene.