Lockdown Diaries – Zoom-bombing, #fakenews and getting comfy

Last week was the week where acceptance kicked in and people adjusted to their new reality. Working from home has become the norm – classic organisations are having to learn fast, otherwise productivity will take a massive hit. A hit they probably cannot afford. Speaking with friends, early indications are patchy. Meetings via Zoom for figuring out how to get things done remotely have become the norm. This seems more a cathartic exercise as it allows people to vent some of their frustrations during lockdown. For friends who have or work in a startup, there is little to disrupt their productivity, they’re used to the idea of working from home, but there is an added isolation which was there previously; we still rely on the social contact to bounce ideas and spurn us on.

Speaking of Zoom, it’s funny to see how folk have been using the video conferencing tool in creative ways. I first mentioned Zoom when discussing unicorn IPOs last year; they were a novel case – a startup actually making a profit. But they also present an extremely curious and unique case study – how an enterprise tool handles becoming a consumer product. And it’s not been without a few hiccups along the way. The company enthusiastically jumped on the opportunity when it presented itself, yet with great power comes great responsibility. Zoombombing – trolls raiding conferences has now become a thing; concerns over security – it’s easy enough to scrape and figure out meeting IDs and last but certainly not least how Zoom was sharing some data with Facebook. All of this has meant Zoom must step back and think slowly on how to deal with consumers.

It is very easy for reputations to be destroyed. And in a manner that they cannot ever be recovered and it could inadvertently affect their key enterprise business as reputation is lost. No doubt Microsoft and others await in the wings. As I said, an interesting case study for companies that want to move from enterprise to consumer.

Online socialising as expected has become an important necessity in these times. It has also led to a noticeable spike in fake news. Everything that is getting shared on WhatsApp must be questioned and checked – too much disinformation is being spread which helps no one. So please be vigilant, you also have the time to verify and investigate what you read!

I should touch briefly on the financial markets as Q1 draws to a close. It seems as if we’ve reached a bottom of sorts as the Covid-19 reality has now been priced in. Markets are looking for hope – we see short lived rallies that burn out quickly. We’re in a lull before things become worse, recession. And we’ve not even touched upon how we ‘exit’ lockdown (i.e more testing and contact tracing). Topics for another time.

As for myself, I started the week pulling a back muscle, meaning any exercising was put on hold. That was frustrating, but I’m now up and running again! Workload should increase over the coming weeks as we try to push an opportunity (also for another post) and I’m making brownies. So going as well as can be. I’ve nearly finished my second book – A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, a clever political cum sci-fi thriller. The author has a most excellent command of the English language, though overly explains things too quickly. Sometimes you need to let ideas sit and give the reader time to think and guess.

Looking forward to the week, we’re braced and waiting for the so called peak that in theory will hit in the coming 10-12 days, especially in the US, where the death toll is rising. A lot of people will sadly die. We’re also entering a testing period – the weather is getting better. Though it’s still early days, we’re at the point of the lockdown where some people may start to get cabin fever. It’s all well and good telling people to stay home, but what if they don’t? Can we risk allowing ‘social distancing’ in public places? Or should we just close all parks? Or is it time to stop the ‘daily exercise’ rule? Tough choices ahead I suspect.

Stay safe folks!

J

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