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The Social Media Legacy

07 Oct

Alex Crenev has a social media legacy problem. He has no one to look after his social media in the instance should he become incapacitated or experience the unfortunate path of death. He has no one to whom he can turn over his many creative and strong passwords. He has no one to properly label and weed through his numerous selfies. Alex is on the high side of 28 and has only known forms of social media for communication. He did write several letters when younger, prompted by his parents, to respond to a birthday card laced with money from an aunt.

Alex has a twitter account for work and one for personal use. He’s concerned about his work Twitter and LinkedIn accounts after his demise. He feels pretty good about all the important work related articles he’s shared with others. For not being a celebrity he also has a fairly high followers to following ratio (Fers/Fing Ratio). In the twitter sphere many people trade. You follow me and I’ll follow you. Those not dubbed celebrity need to produce the kind of meaningful content that others deem valuable enough to follow. Alex worked hard on providing this kind of content and he acquired far more followers than he is following. It’s a shame to give up this achievement just because of a silly thing like death. But what is the alternative?

A handful of years ago, a company called SM Legacy was formed by technologist Edward Tress. The “SM” in the title stands for “Social Media”. Edward set up an organization that was well-funded, allowing it to plot a plan forward several generations. This was necessary if Mr. Tress was to create the kind of company to provide the most forward thinking social media services.

Mr. Crenev was one of SM Legacy’s earliest customers. Fortunately, Alex was a trust fund kid, because the expense to manage one’s social media for several generations forward can be cost prohibitive. Trust fund kids are quite simply the best people. In many cases, that last statement can be modified to read best consumers. With many advantages, the weight of the little things can be hoisted off the shoulders of the young dilettantes. Sometimes this can translate into much free time to prattle on about the finer things in life, like how to cure meats, the best cigar humidor and complaining about improper levels of service. Other trust funders will focus on community and public service because they realize they’ve been afforded a great opportunity. Alex Crane fell somewhere in between. He felt that the preservation of his legacy was itself a form of public service.

After leaving college, supply chain management and logistics became a passion of Alex’s, quickly followed by expertise. He wanted to know as much as possible.  Supply chain is big business in these days of “Just in Time” delivery in order to keep one’s inventory as low as possible. Supply chain has become one of the last places for companies to shave costs and become more efficient.

He paid a small amount of money and received his Six Sigma Black Belt certification, skipping right over his brown belt certification, so he could speak in the language of the practitioners of Six Sigma. He learned agile development methodology so he could understand the processes that were created to force flexibility and creativity onto traditionally uncreative and inflexible people – allowing for the rigid to have a set of rigid principles to follow, forcing them to be flexible. And, just to be well-rounded, he also learned several selling techniques, including the popular Action Selling – breaking down the “act of the sale” into a painfully intuitive 9 step process. He found that the people loved the steps.

On a regular basis, Alex pulled information together to write somewhat thoughtful musings on how enumerated steps and top 5 or top 8 this or that impacted his industry.  He learned quickly that people generally liked or shared top 5 more than top 8 just because there were 3 less to read and everybody is very busy. He regularly posted these as well as re-posting via Twitter, LinkedIn and other business social networks. His followers (Fers) numbers slowly crept up to the point of corporate respectability. As he gained Fers numbers he shed his following (Fing) numbers and began to look quite important and knowledgeable with all those Fers.

On the personal side Alex, had rolled up quite a number of connections on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat, for a man of some 28 years. “Likes” flowed over his selfies, posts and re-posts like a chocolate fountain over strawberries – thick, delicious and indulgent. What would happen, he thought, if something happened – to him?

Alex Crenev’s first thought was that he needed to find and marry a person and procreate, so as to create a professional adult who could manage his social media when he could no longer do so. He quickly found a woman through a fellow trust funder named Kevin. Her name was Lizzie.  Alex was drawn to her gymnasium looks and she to his Range Rover and watch. Their selfies together looked fantastic from every angle. This was truly a match made by Kevin.

While Alex and Lizzie worked on creating a baby, Alex continued to post and repost. This added a new dimension to his personal posting. He found that images containing Lizzie increased his likes, by what appeared upon first calculation, some 63%. Alex made a joke to Lizzie that seemed like it wasn’t a joke at all.

“My likes increased by 63% when you were added to my images. I hope you don’t take over my Facebook page.”

The statement seemed odd, but Lizzie only smiled as those in love sometimes do.

One day while scanning for content to repost professionally, he came across an article by Edward Tress talking about his company and the algorithm behind the long-term success of what he was building. The article was much longer than he was used to reading. It seemed to go on for paragraph after paragraph and he was trying not to think about all the tidbits of information he could pick up elsewhere in the time spent reading what seemed like an unnecessarily long article of some 3700 contiguous words.

Mr. Tress didn’t get too much into the details of the pricing for SM Legacy’s services in the article, but Alex’s attention was peaked. Oddly, he decided not to repost or tweet this article. He felt this article was something that would give him an eventual edge and it shouldn’t be shared.

Several months pass, and find Lizzie with a baby blooming in her belly like an onion – not cut open, battered and deep-fried, but instead, a human form with layers and layers of complexities – that will be subject to smelling at times. Alex is overjoyed to have an heir, but first things first. He needs to jet to California to meet with Edward Tress and discuss his legacy. He thinks maybe he should wait until after the baby is born, but he’s torn.

The room is sterile and institutional. The fluorescent lights manage a cool bluish grip on all eyes entering the hall. A mail cart scoots unevenly down the hallway with one of its four wheels barely touching the reflectively clean tile, being pushed by a man in a lab coat displaying a short manicured beard that is most likely curated by the love of his life. Alex enters the hallway and walks towards the man who is now standing by a reception desk.

“I’m here, I’m here,” Alex sounds frustrated and a bit anxious. “I’m here to see….”

“Yes, I know. They’re in the OR room. I’ll take you there,” says the mouth in the man’s curated beard.

Alex follows the man down the hall, all the while thinking how much work it must be to continually control one’s facial hair. Then he wonders how he can turn a beard analogy into a post that would address something in a company’s supply chain. The face in this scenario could be likened to a warehouse and the hair could be akin to inventory. It seems to write itself.

The man stops his cart and points to the door that has only the letters O and R on it.

“I can just go in?” Alex quizzes.

“Yes. They’re waiting for you,” and he slowly wheels away.

Alex enters the room and first sees banks of mechanized flashing red and green lights. Upon closer inspection it looks like a large server room and he can hear the low, slow machine hum, thick like a milkshake blanketing the cool room. A second later he sees a man and woman in the corner of the room at a desk. They stand to greet him.

“Mr. Crenev?” says the man.  Alex nods in the affirmative. “This is Eleanor, and I’m Edward Tress.”

They shake hands and Edward ushers him to a small conference room just off the main OR room. The conference room is a warmer setting and contains a white board and many elements one would find in a conference room. Table, chairs and cups for coffee. They take a seat at the table.

“Eleanor is one of our engineers and I wanted to have her here to explain some of the basics of the technology and answer any questions,” said Edward.

Alex, sitting up straight, asks, “Ok, first off why is the room out there called ‘OR?’”

“I can explain that,” says Eleanor. “OR refers to the core of what supports Mr. Tress’ algorithm. There is something in logic called an OR Gate. You see, it’s a connective in logic which yields true if any one of a sequence conditions is true, and false if all conditions are false. A product of ORs is called a disjunction. This room creates disjunctions and they are denoted in something called truth tables. We feed all our clients’ social media data through this system creating truth tables from social media data to drive what we call resiliency.

There is a pause as Alex is taking this information in and not understanding a word of it, then Edward continues.

“Resiliency refers to improvements. Over time we bolster and improve the client’s social media based on the incoming data of past social media occurrences.”

“So after I die you can continue to “bolster” my social media?” asks Alex.

“Yes. Using machine AI we are able to read through your content, and those that you interact with, and begin building new content and reposting new content based on machine learning with the OR Gate logic at its base.  In effect, we push you further than you can go by yourself. We also create a hologram of you that can be used in speaking engagements in the future. You can now understand why we needed financial information before we continued this discussion,” Edward said.

Eleanor adds, “After the client’s death and over time – looking forward a couple of generations or more – all the content created can also be monetized. Your heirs can be awarded the rights to ad dollars and you can put a percentage back into the process, so our team can keep your social media profile optimized. Spending more money in the future will short your ad revenue to loved ones, but push your profile higher, eventually causing more ad dollars a couple of generations out. You can compare that scenario to investing.”

“If you move forward you’ll be here for a month while we gather all the data we need from you to create a realistic hologram that allows for voice dubbing coordination. We could start as early as three months from now.”

“My wife is pregnant with our son and due then.  Does the following month work?”

“That month was a cancellation. Our next open slot is in 18 months. ”

“Let me talk to my wife first.”

“Alex, I will only add that the harder you work to create valuable content before your death, the easier it will be for the algorithm to be more successful. You’ll have to decide, regarding your legacy, if there will be a professional or personal focus. Both can rise, but it’s up to you if there is a preference for how you want to be remembered and perpetuated.”

“I understand,” said Alex.

Alex is in his home office and surrounded by the things that interest him. Items like books and games that he’s collected over the years and has continued to learn about. He’s become a 28-year-old sage with regards to obscure games from India and has created a small following with his posts discussing the differences between Shooting Ball and Volley Ball.

Lizzie enters the office and moves stacks of papers off the small couch in the room. She appears relatively small for being over six months pregnant. She sits her small frame plus one onto the cleared space of the couch. She watches Alex for a short time. He doesn’t seem to notice that she is there. This weighs on the corners of her mouth and eyes.

“What did you want to talk with me about?” Lizzie starts.

“Remember how we talked about making a great future for our son? Well, I have that chance but I have to go away for a month. It would have to be during the month that you’re due.

“That won’t work.”

“I’m sorry, but it’s the only way. I don’t like it either.”

“Who will help me name the baby?”

“We can do that ahead of time.”

“I’d like to name him Alex, Jr., that way at least I can have one Alex around.”

“Well, we can’t name him after me. That would add a level of confusion to the SM Legacy algorithms trying to discern what Alex, Jr. said versus what I said – once he’s old enough to use social media.”

“I see.” Lizzie says before getting up and exiting the office.

Alex looks troubled for a moment but immediately goes back to finishing his current post.

Three months later Alex is in California at SM Legacy’s office. He’s sitting in a library and reading lists of words out loud into a microphone in order to create a vocabulary library for the future hologram of himself. Eleanor is sitting across the table from him and taking notes. He finishes and leaves the room to take a break.

In the hall, he sees a text from his wife saying she has had the baby along with a picture of the baby. He gives her a call immediately and Lizzie answers from her hospital bed.

“I got the text and saw the picture. How are you and Everett doing?”

“There was a change of plan. He is now Alex, Jr.”

“What? That can’t happen. Why did you do that? I thought we agreed on Everett for the name?

“Nope.  Alex, Jr. I’ve got his Facebook and Instagram accounts already set up and there are already pictures of him up there. You would not believe the number of likes he’s getting. Like father, like son I suppose.”

“That’s great. Ok. I was on a break here and its ending. I’ll talk to you soon.“  Alex hangs up abruptly.

Alex enters the room with Eleanor to continue reading the words. Before he begins again, he tells her that he needs to have them up the percentage of ad revenue that goes back to the company so as to make his profiles stronger in the future.

He realizes that he hadn’t noticed earlier how attractive Eleanor is. He thinks about showing her his watch. Talking about it as a piece of art has worked for him with women in the past. But he decides that bringing another person into his world is not worth the risk of damaging his social media profile.

That evening in California, Alex tries to write something that he hopes will eventually soften Lizzie so as to persuade her to change the name of their son. But as he writes, their struggle turns into another analogy about the supply chain industry. He does mention her real name and his son’s name – as Alex, Jr. Throughout the next couple days he notices that via his professional networks this article is getting the most reads of anything he’s ever written – once again, with Lizzie’s and Alex, Jr.’s pictures, over 60% more than his previous best.

Before he leaves California he replaces Lizzie with his son to be his sole heir. For a moment he thinks about his son’s future and he hopes the best for him in the way one might dream about how helpful a new inventory analytics tool will be to the future of an organization.  Once you input all the correct data, it will take on a life of its own and correct all the mistakes of previous generations.

Lizzie is sitting at a kitchen table typing on a lap top. Next to the computer on the table is a key chain that looks like the state of Florida. She’s posting on Facebook as Alex, Jr. Her post is from Alex, Jr.’s point of view.

It reads, “Went to the store today just in time. I needed a supply of diapers. I got a fancy key chain for my mom.”

Lizzie gets up and walks out of the kitchen and into a bedroom where a 2-year-old Alex, Jr. is lying asleep in his bed. She takes a picture and adds it to the post. The phone rings and Lizzie smiles towards Alex, Jr. and slowly moves to pick up her phone, seeing that its Alex calling.

“Hello, Alex. I don’t think you’re supposed to be calling me.”

“Listen, I spent half my trust fund with SM Legacy and you’re not going to get the other half of it,” Alex says while walking down a very busy sidewalk with the sounds of the city almost drowning him out.

“The lawyers think otherwise and say we should have everything wrapped up within a month, so you can get back to your posting.”

“Not going to happen! And I saw Alex, Jr.’s Facebook and Instagram pages. I see what you’re doing. You’ve copied articles of mine and you’re using key words from my posts. I see what you’re trying to do,” Alex yells as he approaches a crosswalk.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You make me so angry. I’m calling my lawyer as soon as I get off the phone, “ and he hangs up.

Alex immediately looks at his phone and starts checking his social media, as he briskly pushes through the people waiting at the crosswalk and quickly walks into a street now crowded with moving traffic. As luck would not have it, Alex stepped immediately in the front of a city bus while staring at his phone and died instantaneously. He would not be calling his lawyer and their divorce proceedings would be over in a much sooner fashion than the aforementioned month.

The next morning in Lizzie’s kitchen the sun enters through the window in an organized single file procession and lands on the table, illuminating her closed lap top. Lizzie enters the kitchen on the phone. She’s just woken and in her pajamas. Her words come in intervals that allow time for someone on the other end of the phone to give information.

“What? When? I see. I’ll talk to him. I’m so sorry. Ok. Goodbye.”

Lizzie picks up her cup of coffee, walks to her table and opens the lap top, pulling it out of the sunlight and ending its light landing pad status. She logs into Alex, Jr.’s Facebook account. She calmly goes into the settings and changes his name to eliminate the “Jr.” so his name now reads only as “Alex.” She saves the change and slowly closes the lap top and sips her coffee.

In California, upon hearing of Mr. Crenev’s untimely death, the SM Legacy team turns the Crenev account to “automation mode”. This is where searching of previous content and creating new content begins. The OR Gate algorithm is set to do its work.

As Lizzie and Alex, Jr. sleep, robots and spiders and web crawlers made their way across the internet collecting data about Alex Crenev. During this collection, they come across Alex Jr.’s Facebook page that is now listed as “Alex” and latch onto the words “just in time,” “supply,” and “chain” from the post Lizzie wrote a few days earlier. They also come across copies of the father’s posts on Alex’s Facebook page.

Within a few weeks of gathering data from both sources something occurs, which was not caught by the SM Legacy team. At 3:22 am on a Tuesday there is a glitch that allows the OR Gate to make Alex’s son Alex the client. Alex’s son Alex has an average of 60% higher ratings on the truth table. It will now only be a matter of time before this change is propagated across the network. Going forward the original Alex Crenev will not be credited for any of his posts, but it will still be an Alex Crenev.

Generations from now will only know the current Alex for what are sure to be some captivating machine learned postings on the subject of Supply Chain Management. His Fers/Fing ratio will be celebrity like. He will be a public speaker backed by a hologram, for generations to come, that will adapt itself to his look – a look that will not be that dissimilar from his father’s.  A father that he will never know. A father that the world will never know anything about.