In this post, “NGI” stands for Non-Governmental Identity

I admit to my biases.

As a former long-time employee of a company that provides finger and face technology for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, as well as driver’s license and passport technology in the United States and other countries, I am reflexively accustomed to thinking of a proven identity in governmental terms.

Because the government is always here to help.

From World War II. By Packer, poster artist, Artist (NARA record: 8467744) – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16929857

What this means in practice is that whenever I see a discussion of a proven identity, I reflexively assume that the identity was proven through means of some type of governmental action.

  • Perhaps the identity was tied to a driver’s license identity maintained by a state agency (and checked against other states via AAMVA’s “State to State” to ensure that there are no duplicate identities).
  • Or perhaps the identity was proven via the use of a database maintained by a government agency, such as the aforementioned NGI or perhaps a database such as the CODIS DNA database.

However, I constantly have to remind myself that not everyone thinks as I do, and that for some people an identity proven by governmental means is the worst possible scenario.

Use of DNA for humanitarian efforts

Take an example that I recently tweeted about.

I recently read an article from Thermo Fisher Scientific, which among other things provides a slew of DNA instruments, software, and services for both traditional DNA and rapid DNA.

One of the applications of DNA is to prove family relationships for migrants, especially after families were separated after border crossings. This can be done in a positive sense (to prove that a separated parent and child ARE related) or in a negative sense (to prove that a claimed parent and child are NOT related). However, as was noted in a webinar I once attended, DNA is unable to provide any verification of legitimate adoptions.

By Nofx221984 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7429871

Regardless of the purpose of using DNA for migrants, there is a certain level of distrust among the migrants when the government says (presumably in Spanish), “We’re the government. We’re here to help.” You don’t have to be a rabid conspiracy theorist to realize that once DNA data is captured, there is no technical way to prevent the data from being shared with every other government agency. Certain agencies can establish business rules to prevent such sharing, but those business rules can include wide exceptions or the rules can be ignored entirely.

Therefore, Thermo Fisher Scientific decided to discuss humanitarian DNA databases.

As a result of migration, human trafficking and war, humanitarian databases are a relatively new concept and are often completely separate from criminal databases. Research has shown that family members may distrust government databases and be reluctant to report the missing and provide reference samples (1). Humanitarian databases are repositories of DNA profiles from reported missing persons, relative reference samples, and unknown human remains and may be managed by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), though in some instances they may be managed by a governmental institution but kept separate from criminal databases. Examples of humanitarian databases can be found in the United States (NamUsUniversity of North Texas HDID), Canada (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), Australia (National DNA Program for unidentified and missing persons) and internationally via the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

As you can see from the list, some of these databases ARE managed by government police agencies such as the RCMP. But others are not. The hope, of course, is that migrants would be willing to approach the humanitarian folks precisely BECAUSE they are not the police. Reluctance to approach ANY agency may be dampened by a desire to be reunited with a missing child.

And these non-governmental efforts can work. The Colibri Center claims to have performed 142 identifications that would not have been made otherwise.

Reluctance to set national standards for mobile driver’s licenses

Because of my (biased) outlook, mobile driver’s licenses and other applications of government-proven digital identity seem like a wonderful thing. The example that I often bore you with is the example of buying a drink at a bar. If someone does this with a traditional driver’s license, the bartender not only learns the drinker’s birthdate, but also his/her address, (claimed) height and weight, and other material irrelevant to the “can the person buy a drink?” question. With a mobile driver’s license, the bartender doesn’t even learn the person’s birthdate; the bartender only learns the one important fact that the drinker is over 21 years of age.

Some people are not especially wowed with this use case.

The DHS Request for Comment has finally closed, and among the submissions is a joint response from the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), & Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The joint response not only warns about potential misuse of government digital identities, but also questions the rush of establishing them in the first place.

We believe that it is premature to adopt industry standards at this time as no set of standards has been completed that fully takes advantage of existing privacy-preserving techniques. In recent decades we have seen the emergence of an entire identity community that has been working on the problems of online identity and authorization. Some within the identity community have embraced centralized and/or proprietary systems…

You can imagine how the ACLU, EFF, and EPIC feel about required government-managed digital identities.

Is a Non-Governmental Identity (NGI) feasible and reliable?

Let’s return to the ACLU/EFF/EPIC response to the DHS Request for Comment, which mentions an alternative to centralized, proprietary maintenance of digital identities. This is the alternative that I’m referring to as NGI just to cause MAC (massive acronym confusion).

…others are animated by a vision of “self-sovereign
identity” that is decentralized, open source, privacy-preserving, and empowering of individuals. That movement has created a number of proposed systems, including an open standard created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) called Verifiable Credentials (VCs)….

DHS should refuse to recognize IDs presented within centralized identity systems. If a standard digital identity system is to be accepted by the federal government, it must be created in an open, transparent manner, with the input of multiple stakeholders, and based upon the self-sovereign identity concept. Such a system can then be used by federal government agencies to view identity credentials issued by state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) where doing so makes sense. If standards based on self-sovereign identity are not considered mature enough for adoption, efforts should be directed at rectifying that rather than at adopting other systems that raise privacy, security, and autonomy risks.

For all practical purposes, the chances of the ACLU/EFF/EPIC convincing the Department of Homeland Security to reject government-proven identities are approximately zero. And since DHS controls airport access, you probably won’t see an airport security agent asking for your Verifiable Credentials any time soon. Self sovereign identities are just as attractive to government officials as sovereign citizens.

Who issues Verifiable Credentials?

As ACLU/EFF/EPIC noted, Verifiable Credentials are still under development, just as the centralized system standards are still under development. But enough advances have been made so that we have somewhat of an idea what they will look like. As Evernym notes, there is a trusted triangle of major players in the Verifiable Credentials ecosystem:

There are a number of directions in which we can go here, but for the moment I’m going to concentrate on the Issuer.

In the current centralized model being pursued in the United States, the issuers are state driver’s license agencies that have “voluntarily” consented to agree to REAL ID requirements. Several states have issued digital versions of their driver’s licenses which are recognized for various purposes at the state level, but are not yet recognized at the federal level. (The purpose of the DHS Request for Comment was to solicit thoughts on federal adoption of digital identities. Or, in the case of some respondents, federal NON-adoption of digital identities.)

Note that in the Verified Credentials model, the Issuer can be ANYBODY who has the need to issue some type of credential. Microsoft describes an example in which an educational institution is an Issuer that represents that a student completed particular courses.

Without going into detail, the triangle of trust between Issuers, Verifiers, and Holders is intended to ensure that a person is who they say they are. And to the delight of the ACLU et al, this is performed via Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs), rather than by centralized management by the FBI or the CIA, the BBC, B. B. King, Doris Day, or Matt Busby. (Dig it.)

But NGIs are not a cure-all

Despite the fact that they are not controlled by governments, and despite that fact that users (at least theoretically) control their own identities, no one should think that digital identities are the solution to all world problems…even when magic paradigm-shifting words like “blockchain” and “passwordless” are attached to them.

Here’s what McKinsey has said:

…even when digital ID is used with good intent, risks of two sorts must be addressed. First, digital ID is inherently exposed to risks already present in other digital technologies with large-scale population-level usage. Indeed, the connectivity and information sharing that create the value of digital ID also contribute to potential dangers. Whether it is data breaches and cyber-intrusions, failure of technical systems, or concerns over the control and misuse of personal data, policy makers around the world today are grappling with a host of potential new dangers related to the digital ecosystem.

Second, some risks associated with conventional ID programs also pertain in some measure to digital ID. They include human execution error, unauthorized credential use, and the exclusion of individuals. In addition, some risks associated with conventional IDs may manifest in new ways as individuals newly use digital interfaces. Digital ID could meaningfully reduce many such risks by minimizing opportunity for manual error or breaches of conduct.

In addition, many of these digital identity initiatives are being pursued by large firms such as IBM and Microsoft. While one hopes that these systems will be interoperable, there is always the danger that the separate digital identity systems from major firms such as IBM and Microsoft may NOT be interoperable, in the same way that the FBI and DHS biometric systems could NOT talk to each other for several years AFTER 9/11.

And it’s not only the large companies that are playing in the market. Shortly after I started writing this post, I ran across this LinkedIn article from the Chief Marketing Officer at 1Kosmos. The CMO makes this statement in passing:

At 1Kosmos, we’ve taken our FIDO2 certified platform one step further with a distributed identity based on W3C DID standards. This removes central administration of the database via a distributed ledger for true “privacy by design,” putting users in sole access and control of their identity.

1Kosmos, IBM, and Microsoft know what they’re talking about here. But sadly, some people only think these technologies are “cool” because they’re perceived as anti-government and anti-establishment. (As if these companies are going to call for the downfall of capitalism.)

Which identiy(ies) will prevail?

Back to governmental recognition of NGI.

Don’t count on it.

Anticipated DHS endorsement of government-issued digital identities doesn’t mean that NGI is dead forever, since private companies can adopt (and have adopted) any identity system that they wish.

So in truth we will probably end up with a number of digital identities like we have today (I, for example, have my WordPress identities, my Google identities, and countless others). The difference, of course, is that the new identities will be considered robust – or won’t be, when centralized identity proponents denigrate decentralized identities and vice versa.

But frankly, I’m still not sure that I want Facebook to know how much I weigh.

(Although, now that I think about it, Apple already knows.)

Today’s “biometrics is evil” post (Amazon One)

I can’t recall who recorded it, but there’s a radio commercial heard in Southern California (and probably nationwide) that intentionally ridicules people who willingly give up their own personally identifiable information (PII) for short-term gain. In the commercial, both the husband and the wife willingly give away all sorts of PII, including I believe their birth certificates.

While voluntary surrender of PII happens all the time (when was the last time you put your business card in a drawing bowl at a restaurant?), people REALLY freak out when the information that is provided is biometric in nature. But are the non-biometric alternatives any better?

TechCrunch, Amazon One, and Ten Dollars

TechCrunch recently posted “Amazon will pay you $10 in credit for your palm print biometrics.

If you think that the article details an insanely great way to make some easy money from Amazon, then you haven’t been paying attention to the media these last few years.

The article begins with a question:

How much is your palm print worth?

The article then describes how Amazon’s brick-and-mortar stores in several states have incorporated a new palm print scanner technology called “Amazon One.” This technology, which reads both friction ridge and vein information from a shopper’s palms. This then is then associated with a pre-filed credit card and allows the shopper to simply wave a palm to buy the items in the shopping cart.

There is nothing new under the sun

Amazon One is the latest take on processes that have been implemented several times before. I’ll cite three examples.

Pay By Touch. The first one that comes to my mind is Pay By Touch. While the management of the company was extremely sketchy, the technology (provided by Cogent, now part of Thales) was not. In many ways the business idea was ahead of its time, and it had to deal with challenging environmental conditions: the fingerprint readers used for purchases were positioned near the entrances/exits to grocery stores, which could get really cold in the winter. Couple this with the elderly population that used the devices, and it was sometimes difficult to read the fingers themselves. Yet, this relatively ancient implementation is somewhat similar to what Amazon is doing today.

University of Maryland Dining Hall. The second example occurred to me because it came from my former employer (MorphoTrak, then part of Safran and now part of IDEMIA), and was featured at a company user conference for which I coordinated speakers. There’s a video of this solution, but sadly it is not public. I did find an article describing the solution:

With the new system students will no longer need a UMD ID card to access their own meals…

Instead of pulling out a card, the students just wave their hand through a MorphoWave device. And this allows the students to pay for their meals QUICKLY. Good thing when you’re hungry.

This Pay and That Pay. But the most common example that everyone uses is Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, or whatever “pay” system is supported on your smartphone. Again, you don’t have to pull out a credit card or ID card. You just have to look at your phone or swipe your finger on the phone, and payment happens.

Amazon One is the downfall of civilization

I don’t know if TechCrunch editorialized against Pay By Touch or [insert phone vendor here] Pay, and it probably never heard of the MorphoWave implementation at the University of Maryland. But Amazon clearly makes TechCrunch queasy.

While the idea of contactlessly scanning your palm print to pay for goods during a pandemic might seem like a novel idea, it’s one to be met with caution and skepticism given Amazon’s past efforts in developing biometric technology. Amazon’s controversial facial recognition technology, which it historically sold to police and law enforcement, was the subject of lawsuits that allege the company violated state laws that bar the use of personal biometric data without permission.

Oh well, at least TechCrunch didn’t say that Amazon was racist. (If you haven’t already read it, please read the Security Industry Association’s “What Science Really Says About Facial Recognition Accuracy and Bias Concerns.” Unless you don’t like science.)

OK, back to Amazon and Amazon One. TechCrunch also quotes Albert Fox Cahn of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project.

People Leaving the Cities, photo art by Zbigniew Libera, imagines a dystopian future in which people have to leave dying metropolises. By Zbigniew Libera – https://artmuseum.pl/pl/kolekcja/praca/libera-zbigniew-wyjscie-ludzi-z-miast, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66055122.

“The dystopian future of science fiction is now. It’s horrifying that Amazon is asking people to sell their bodies, but it’s even worse that people are doing it for such a low price.”

“Sell their bodies.” Isn’t it even MORE dystopian when people “give their bodies away for free” when they sign up for Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay? While the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (acronym STOP) expresses concern about digital wallets, there is a significant lack of horror in its description of them.

Digital wallets and contactless payment systems like smart chips have been around for years. The introduction of Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Google Pay have all contributed to the e-commerce movement, as have fast payment tools like Venmo and online budgeting applications. In response to COVID-19, the public is increasingly looking for ways to reduce or eliminate physical contact. With so many options already available, contactless payments will inevitably gain momentum….

Without strong federal laws regulating the use of our data, we’re left to rely on private companies that have consistently failed to protect our information. To prevent long-term surveillance, we need to limit the data collected and shared with the government to only what is needed. Any sort of monitoring must be secure, transparent, proportionate, temporary, and must allow for a consumer to find out about or be alerted to implications for their data. If we address these challenges now, at a time when we will be generating more and more electronic payment records, we can ensure our privacy is safeguarded.

So STOP isn’t calling for the complete elimination of Amazon Pay. But apparently it wants to eliminate Amazon One.

Is a world without Amazon One a world with less surveillance?

Whenever you propose to eliminate something, you need to look at the replacement and see if it is any better.

In 1998, Fox fired Bill Russell as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had a win-loss percentage of .538. His replacement, Glenn Hoffman, lasted less than a season and had a percentage of .534. Hoffman’s replacement, true baseball man Davey Johnson, compiled a percentage of .503 over the next two seasons before he was fired. Should have stuck with Russell.

Anyone who decides (despite the science) that facial recognition is racist is going to have to rely on other methods to identify criminals, such as witness identification. Witness identification has documented inaccuracies.

And if you think that elimination of Amazon One from Amazon’s brick-and-mortar stores will lead to a privacy nirvana, think again. If you don’t use your palm to pay for things, you’re going to have to use a credit card, and that data will certainly be scanned by the FBI and the CIA and the BBC, B. B. King, and Doris Day. (And Matt Busby, of course.) And even if you use cash, the only way that you’ll preserve any semblance of your privacy is to pay anonymously and NOT tie the transaction to your Amazon account.

And if you’re going to do that, you might as well skip Whole Foods and go straight to Dollar General. Or maybe not, since Dollar General has its own app. And no one calls Dollar General dystopian. Wait, they do: “They tend to cluster, like scavengers feasting on the carcasses of the dead.”

I seemed to have strayed from the original point of this post.

But let me sum up. It appears that biometrics is evil, Amazon is evil, and Amazon biometrics are Double Secret Evil.

Even Apple is moving to a service model. Biometric identity vendors are moving also.

Remember when you bought a big old hunk of hardware…and you owned it?

With cloud computing, significant portions of hardware were no longer owned by companies and people, but were instead provided as a service. And the companies moved from getting revenue from selling physical items to getting revenue from selling services.

From Apple Computer to Apple

Apple is one of those companies, as its formal name change from “Apple Computer” signifies.

Then “Apple Computer” circa 1978. From https://www.macrumors.com/2020/03/23/apple-computer-retail-sign/. Fair use.

Yet even as iTunes and “the” App Store become more prominent, Apple still made a mint out of selling new smartphone hardware to users as frequently as possible.

But Apple is making a change later in 2021, and Adrian Kingsley-Hughes noted the significance of that change.

The change?

So, it turns out that come the release of iOS 15 (and iPadOS 15) later this year, users will get a choice.

Quite an important choice.

iPhone users can choose to hit the update button and go down the iOS 15 route, or play it safe and stick with iOS 14.

Why is Apple supporting older hardware?

So Apple is no longer encouraging users to dump their old phones to keep up with new operating systems like the forthcoming iOS 15?

There’s a reason.

By sticking with iOS 14, iPhone users will continue to get security updates, which keeps their devices safe, and Apple gets to keep those users in the ecosystem.

They can continue to buy content and apps and pay for services such as iCloud.

Although Kingsley-Hughes doesn’t explicitly say it, there is a real danger when you force users to abandon your current product and choose another. (Trust me; I know this can happen.)

In Apple’s case, the danger is that the users could instead adopt a SAMSUNG product.

And these days, that not only means that you lose the sale of the hardware, but you also lose the sale of the services.

It’s important for Apple to support old hardware and retain the service revenue, because not only is its services business growing, but services are more profitable than hardware.

In the fiscal year 2019, Apple’s services business posted gross margins of 63.7%, approaching double the 32.2% gross margin of the company’s product sector. 

If current trends continue, Apple’s services (iCloud, Apple Music, AppleCare, Apple Card, Apple TV+, etc.) will continue to become relatively more important to the company.

The biometric identity industry is moving to a service model also

Incidentally, we’re seeing this in other industries, for example as the biometric identity industry also moves from an on-premise model to a software as a service (SaaS) model. One benefit of cloud-based hosting of biometric identity services is that both software and the underlying hardware can be easily upgraded without having to go to a site, deploying a brand new set of hardware, transferring the data from one set of hardware to the other, and hauling away the old hardware. Instead, all of those activities take place at Amazon, Microsoft, or other data centers with little or no on-premise fuss.

(And, as an added benefit, it’s easier for biometric vendors to keep their current customers because obsolescence becomes less of an issue.)

Is your biometric identity company ready to sell SaaS solutions?

But perhaps your company is just beginning to navigate from on-premise to SaaS. I’ve been through that myself, and can contract with you to provide advice and content. I can wear my biometric content marketing expert hat, or my biometric proposal writing expert hat as needed.

The “T” stands for technology. Or something. By Elred at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Moe_Epsilon., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3812206

Obviously this involves more than just saying “we’re cloud-ready.” Customers don’t care if you’re cloud-ready. Customers only care about the benefits that being cloud-ready provides. And I can help communicate those benefits.

If I can help you communicate the benefits of a cloud-ready biometric identity system, contact me (email, phone message, online form, appointment for a content needs assessment, even snail mail).

What if you built a spaceship and nobody came?

Things were different a few years ago.

As I write this, one of the big news stories involves Jeff Bezos’ plans to go on a spaceship built by his company Blue Origin. Not many people can afford to go on a spaceship, but Bezos certainly can.

Back in 2017, when you referred to a tech CEO going to a spaceship, you thought of Apple CEO Tim Cook staying on this planet and going to Apple Park, Apple’s new building in Cupertino. One of Steve Jobs’ last great accomplishments, Apple Park was a $5 billion corporate headquarters that provided Apple employees with an insanely great place to work.

Of course, not everybody went to an office to work in 2017. In fact, Silicon Valley had discussed this in 2013 when Yahoo’s then-CEO Marissa Mayer saw all of the Yahoo employees working from home and deemed it, um, essential that Yahoo employees work in the office whenever possible to help build Yahoo’s culture.

In February 2019, remote culture advocate Sarah Dixon looked back at the Yahoo episode. Among other things, Dixon stated:

…there’s no doubt that Mayer’s announcement did some damage to the acceptance of remote working. If you’ve tried to persuade a reluctant boss to let you work from home, they may have even used Yahoo! as the reason they don’t think it’s a great idea.

Ah, way back in 2019. I remember those days.

A little over a year later, attitudes toward remote working changed in ways that even Sarah Dixon couldn’t have imagined. In March, Dixon’s coworker Gabriela Molina was providing a step-by-step guide to working remotely during COVID-19.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a lot of us were forced to work from home, whether our companies liked it or not. Security systems were updated. Videoconferencing systems installed on our computers were used much more frequently. Additional collaboration tools were adopted.

But now, at least in the United States, COVID-19 is receding. More and more people are theoretically able to go work. Yet many people continue to work from home today, including employees of some major tech companies.

Apple, however, would like its employees back in the spaceship three days a week (Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday). After all, Apple spent $5 billion on the thing; might as well get some use from it.

But some Apple employees aren’t so eager to return to the practices of old.

…we would like to take the opportunity to communicate a growing concern among our colleagues. That Apple’s remote/location-flexible work policy, and the communication around it, have already forced some of our colleagues to quit. Without the inclusivity that flexibility brings, many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple. This is a decision none of us take lightly, and a decision many would prefer not to have to make.

The letter from the Apple employees uses many terms such as “flexibility,” “empowered,” “unconstrained,” and “tearing down cross-functional communication barriers.” The employees claim that remote work allowed them to do their best work ever…and they don’t want to go back.

It’s hard to predict how all of this will play out for Apple and other companies. On the one hand, many companies are taking advantage of distributed working models. Ever since August, my consultancy Bredemarket has conducted ALL of its business without setting foot inside any of my clients’ offices. Actually, my clients themselves aren’t setting foot in their own offices; for one of my clients, I frequently deal with two employees who live several states away from their employer’s office.

On the other hand, out of sight, out of mind. Unless your corporate culture has a habit of firing up Zoom or Facetime at any moment to talk to someone, interactions with remote workers are going to be more limited than they were if you were down the hall from each other.

My perspective on this is admittedly unusual. From 2017 to 2020, my corporate supervisor was on the other end of the country from me. Over the nearly three years that I reported to him, I probably saw him in person less than a dozen times. So I sort of had an experience with remote work before COVID sent all of us home in March 2020, and things worked out well.

But how are you going to get a company with hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue, who paid more to build their corporate headquarters than many companies make in a year, to change its way of doing things and “think different”?

A love letter to a competitor?

There are different ways in which a company can position itself against its competitors. No one way is right; the company has to choose its own method.

On one extreme, the company could simply refuse to mention the competitors at all. In this case, the company would market its claimed superiority solely based upon its own merits, without comparing against others.

On the other extreme, the company could trash its competitors. I don’t need to find examples of that; we already know them. (I personally abhor this method, because it doesn’t reflect well on the company doing the trashing.)

Between these two extremes, a company can state its own merits and, without trashing the competition, claim its superiority by comparison.

For example, a company could write a love letter to its competitors.

Seriously.

As in “Welcome, IBM. Seriously.” The famous ad that Apple ran when IBM entered the personal computer market.

By Rama & Musée Bolo – File:IBM_PC-IMG_7271.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=94784371

But I have a more recent example.

If you are following the Bredemarket LinkedIn page (you ARE following the Bredemarket LinkedIn page, aren’t you?), you’ve seen a couple of recent mentions of the company Volley. The company is planning to release a new communications app that it claims will improve communication over all of the other communications apps.

In that vein, Volley’s CEO Josh Little wrote a “love letter” to Slack entitled “Dear Slack, You haven’t solved the problem…” It starts off in a positive tone.

First off, thank you for trying. It was a valiant effort and someone needed to take a solid stab at the problem. Our hats are off. You’ve built a great piece of technology and a faster horse.

But after that, the rest of Little’s article gently explains how Slack’s solution hasn’t really solved the inherent problem. (TL;DR Little asserts that Slack’s emphasis on text does not provide a complete communications solution, and ends up with people devoting MORE time to using Slack.)

Little ends the article by asserting what Volley will be. Because the app is not yet released, we can not see for ourselves what the app does. So Little creates a picture of Volley as occupying the middle position between Slack (text-based asynchronous communication) and Zoom (conversation-based synchronous communication). Volley occupies the “conversation-based asynchronous communication” position, and claims to include features that will actually REDUCE the time that people spend on Volley, rather than having Volley become yet another time sink in our collection of time sinks. For example, communications from others can be played back at 2x (or 1.5x) speed, reducing the amount of time needed to consume the content.

I’m not saying that marketers have to be like Volley, or that marketers have to be like Steve Jobs 1.0 Apple, or that marketers have to be like Steve Jobs 2.0 Apple.

A company needs to adopt its own tone for addressing its competitors. And everyone communicating on behalf of the company, from the CEO to the factory worker, should ideally adopt the same tone.