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deletedJan 18Liked by Tom Pendergast
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Jan 18·edited Jan 18Liked by Tom Pendergast

"Of what value to us is it really to be read or heard or viewed by someone? "

Mainly the ego-trip of having a voice and being followed - just as with all social media - but I admire those who have this as their main source of income, it must be tough keeping the attention of your audience every week or two with some new and brilliant insights. Thats one reason I now change my paid subscriptions regularly - no point paying to read version 6 of the same thesis, is there?

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deletedJan 18Liked by Tom Pendergast
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OK Gordon: lets make a deal: I'll subscribe to your stack, if your subscribe to mine!

Thinking about it all, it isn't about numbers: who cares is ten people, a hundred people, or a million people read it anyway? We don't need a fanbase, and I'm happy if one person like you gives me a thumbs up: I actually post for myself, like a man on a desert island sending a message in a bottle.

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Does this mean that I've been a matchmaker? :)

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I hope to comment more effusively later ( I have a meeting in three minutes) but everything tries to engage in value capture, even people who have a goal 9f writing 500 words a day. Why, if 499 of them will be cr*p? Very insightful essay, and touches on something I've been composing myself thanks, Tom

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Are you and I just plowing the same ground Terry? Looking forward to your piece.

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I have to agree with you Tom ... I haven't closed my rings yet, in fact I had had a (fairly basic) Apple Watch for some time before I even knew what they were. I check my daily steps but mostly for consistency than to beat an arbitrary target. I have no intention of going paid here either for much the same reasons as you coupled with "can't be bothered". Good article.

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Jan 18·edited Jan 18Liked by Tom Pendergast

Thats worth waiting for! "the value capture that haunts me the most is the one I struggled with in the last years of my corporate career. That’s a story I’ll hold for next time."

I guess they say that 'every political career ends in disappointment', and these days, juggling any job above a basic menial level incorporates game-play and career strategies. I defined mine as 'leaping lilypads' (job-hopping - new job every three years of my life on average) because it meant I could leave the office politics behind just as the knives were being sharpened. Its also financially successful - I got my fair share of lump-sum payouts, mainly because most employers seem to be willing to pay rather than be taken through an expensive Industrial Tribunal on grounds of process failure - and took advantage of a lapse and rather generous contract to take early retiral on an index-linked pension at 52 - enabling me to spend the rest of my career working - basically - for myself.

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deletedJan 18
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40 is good. My break even ( or drop-dead) career moment was knowing that I could own my own decent home and my own land, grow my own fruit and veg, and tell any employer to p*ss off: because me and my family were financially able to hold our heads above the water and pay the basic bills, come what may. Thats an amazingly liberating moment.

I have no need for luxuries, though through enterprise, luck and good health, I live rather well.

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Yeah, it's really freaking complicated, isn't it? Every time we take a job, we decide we'll trade a part of ourselves for money, and the hope is you don't get too dirty in the exchange. That's value capture all the way down.

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Sure is. I think my greatest crime was probably just going along with the politics, by conducting well-crafted and plausible public engagement campaigns, knowing full well that they were just for show, because 'the brass' had already made the decisions, and just wanted to buy time. Thats a flagrant waste of my own skills, and of the enthusiasm and passion of ordinary, decent people who wish to engage in what is really a contrived PR exercise.

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Jan 18Liked by Tom Pendergast

I'm sure everyone who works out with some kind of smart watch will have a story like this. I used to run with a garmin that recorded everything. I quit running for a while when my Average Heart Rate soared into a high zone. I was convinced that I would have a heart attack, even though I felt great running. When I started back, I moved the AHR away from the main face, and looked at it infrequently, but I would decide if I had had a "good" run based on my time per K. It didn't matter how my body felt, I was convinced I had had a "good" or "bad" run based on the number that appeared on the screen. I recently ditched the garmin for a coros. I rarely look at the biodata that it collects, and I feel more like me. Still have good and bad days, but I place the value on it based on how my body feels. I am embarrassed to admit this second obsession. I do spelling bees every morning--the ones that are similar to the NYT but free. I now obsess on my average score, ranking, and number on "pangrams" I score. It's an addiction, indeed.

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Oh god, I do the spelling bee every day … actually, Sara and I do it together, once I’ve completed my other word games. Silly, aren’t we?

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Jan 18Liked by Tom Pendergast

do you mark your calendar "QB" on the days you get all the words? Do you worry when you have to settle for "G" on the calendar??? I only let Chuck help me as a last resort, and then I have to mark "co-QB." God.

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Oh no, Spelling Bee is pure diversion, I put no real pressure on myself there (well, I must get the pangram and I like to get to Genius level). What’s QB stand for? The one I pay attention to is Quordle, where I’ve been in a “competition” with a couple friends for 96 weeks. I focus on Waffle too, which I find challenging to reach the highest score. That’s really funny, Susan! What is the free Spelling Bee anyway? I have an NYT subscription, so I use their version, but you never know.

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QB is Queen Bee; G is Genius. I do the NYT Spelling Bee first...and alone. The other free versions are my extension of the NTY obsession. I do them compulsively! Just type "free spelling be" in your server and you'll see several sites. But do save yourself...don't go there!!

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Using the phone to track walking distance as I try to build a daily habit but ooh, those rings are enticing, aren’t they? The test came when I did my walk on a treadmill due to weather this week - me and my paper agenda know, but...but, the rings, maaaan. Great stuff, Tom. We need to encourage more thoughtful use of technology (and not its’ thoughtless use of us).

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Scroll down to view a photo of Sarah and Tom walking our Riverfront Trail many years before the Apple circles took over: https://warnerb.substack.com/p/riverview-looking-west

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Jan 18Liked by Tom Pendergast

Thank you, Tom! Another thoughtful, well-penned post I'm sure all of us can appreciate. I know I do. Isn't "value capture" one of the many mechanisms used to grease the wheels of the "engagement economy?" Such a funny coincidence: Right after I finished reading your post, I looked down at my iPhone and noticed an unfamiliar app icon on the home screen (apparently loaded during last night's software update). "Journal" - 1. Write about your day and add photos, places, and more. 2. Lock your journal to keep it private. 3. Schedule time for writing and make it a habit. Argh! The beast is never sated.

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Your note reminds me, Mark, that a system that attempts to direct you towards its ends doesn’t have to do it with metrics and numbers, it can do it with statements about how you should be living or writing. I think it’s the implied should that I resent and try to slip free of most of all.

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I love this term value capture you shared here. It’s such a relief almost when there is suddenly a simple way of referencing a complex situation of experiences and feelings that have felt hard to describe. Helps me see so clearly that what I’m busy with is recapturing my own values. I came to Substack, tired of Instagram. I arrived with stars in my eyes, haha. But two weeks in I have recognized that the scenery might different, but some things prevail. So it’s been necessary to consciously take stock of what I enjoy here (the writing, the reading and the community) and what I don’t (the numbers, the notes, the blurry line between marketing and writing). And of course regularly putting it all down because the word will still be there later.

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It's a cool term, isn't it? I really do recommend the Ian Leslie piece I linked to, and the bigger academic article as well ... though that's a much harder slog, there are some real gems in there. I think Substack is as nice a balance as you can find these days.

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Jan 19Liked by Tom Pendergast

As I read this Tom I was saying to myself that I don't fall for this "value captured" stuff. No sooner had I had that thought and my phone told me I got a new notification from Instagram and I hopped on to see it. Once there I spent at least 30 minutes reading, scrolling, watching etc. The deep black hole captured me. I also saw it in a game I play on my phone. It puts me in a competition with others in the game and if you "win" the competition you get points (free lives like things). I scramble to play as much as I can to "win". Dagnabit...I fall for it all the time.

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Oh yeah, we're all captured at some level.

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Jan 19Liked by Tom Pendergast

💯 also please do write more about the bullshit machine and your escape from corporate value/soul capture. I relate; makes me giggle

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Oh yeah, it's coming! It's the most complicated one of all to write, and you'll appreciate some of the gruesome stories.

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Jan 19Liked by Tom Pendergast

Thank you for your thoughts. I love the 'value capture' concept as it reminds me that I must be vigilant in living my values. It reminds me of Rene Girard's Mimetic Desire and how we live most of our lives wanting what others want and not truly examining our own true desires.

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“Vigilant in living my values”--that’s the nub of it, isn’t it?

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Jan 19Liked by Tom Pendergast

"paid subscriptions are perfectly consistent with their goals and their values. They should go paid." This one got my back up a bit, Tom. Substack is the first and only place I've felt that I was ALLOWED to assign value to my creative work and expect people who are consuming it consistently to consider compensating me for it. You are one of the few people who did this!! And I trust the decision to pay for my writing wasn't one you made lightly. Asking people for money is NOT consistent with my goals OR my values, but at the end of the day, I'm a mother of two who hasn't had an income for 3 years because for some stupid reason I think I have a future as a fiction writer. I don't have a published library of books to stand on/sell, nor do I have one of those independently wealthy spouses you hear about. Maybe the issue with Substack isn't that it wants people to make money so they can make money, as much as it is making us believe (falsely) that avid readers with vast stores of expendable income at their disposal are willing to drop $60 to read the work of one of their favorite authors, the minute it goes to press. I'm probably getting off topic here, but yours is a stance that I think is very easy for someone in your position to take. I don't want to give all my writing away for free. Not anymore. Because it's good enough for people to buy it. And until I get an agent to sign on to sell my work for me, I'm the only one who can do it. And it sucks. My point is, I wish I could "not go paid" on Substack, too, and feel good about it. But that's a hard sell for me. After reading through the rest of your comments, I feel like a real outsider having that opinion, which is why I'm expressing it. 💛

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Interesting. Let me argue with you a little bit. I would suggest that you have just made a case that going paid IS aligned with your values and goals, because you believe deeply enough that this is the path for you that you’re willing to seek payment. That’s why I supported your work with a paid subscription, because I appreciate you taking the stand that, by god, I’m willing to ask for payment in order to make this work for me. Are you saying that “going paid” is a compromised position that you wish you didn’t have to take but you’re being forced into it? If so, I’ll say that that is a path I have walked, and I know how uncomfortable it is. It’s deeply compromising to adopt the values that a system imposes on you when you know they are not fully consistent with your personal values, but you justify it to yourself, telling yourself that the ends justify the means, all the while feeling the burn. I don’t think that’s quite what you mean when you characterize the position that I’m in that makes my stance so easy, but it’s certainly part of what informs my opinion. I think it’s really fucking complicated to adopt a pure, ethical position in a world where you have to put food on the table, and I fully recognize that sometimes one has to compromise their values to do that.

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You are only an outsider in as much as you are probably much younger than the majority of us retired old geezers that have come to find Tom in some round-about way. You deserve to be paid because you are working at it, while the rest of us are just sitting around a virtual coffee shop, shooting the breeze.

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Thank you, Christopher. I am a bit younger. I think Tom's got 15 years on me. Despite our many differences, we've been successfully shooting the virtual breeze for over a year and have become skilled at butting heads without causing permanent damage. 🙂

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From what I can gather through the comments, there are a bunch of us retired folk coming here for the camaraderie of common sense chat. : )

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Oh my god, the horror: am I leading a chat room for retirees? I better stir things up a bit!

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Jan 22Liked by Tom Pendergast

LOL. I might have inadvertently qualified my being here as a pep-talk for our young friend. As they say, "With all due respect...." this is what I like about coming here! It speaks to me. : )

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Thanks, Tom. Appreciate this thoughtful piece! Nowadays, it seems, if it can't be quantified or captured in some fashion or another, it isn't important or doesn't exist. I always bristled at the way the corporate boneheads who ran the companies I worked at only seemed to care about Numbers. Their spreadsheets created a nice, safe world. That was the only reality that counted. Things like instinct, inspiration, experience -- because they couldn't be captured easily on a spreadsheet -- didn't matter or, at least, didn't matter very much. That mindset seems to have infiltrated all aspects of life. I've mentioned this before, but author, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist presents data and arguments in his book, "The Master and His Emissary (https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300245929/the-master-and-his-emissary/) for why and how we've gotten to this state and what it implies for the future. Cheers!

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I think I know some of those boneheads! One of them congratulated me after I had to cut six positions, as if that was the point of what we were doing. The "Mike Wenberg" allotment in my pile of books to read is filled up right now, sir!

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The McGilchrist book is a monster, so no sweat. If you're interested, you can get the gist of his argument via his keynote speech at the World AI conference in 10/2022 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgbUCKWCMPA

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