I’ve been thinking recently about second order effects. Specifically about planning for the success of a product or service. We spend a lot of time trying to avoid failure that we don’t think enough about the consequences of success.

These questions start with - what happens if a product becomes insanely successful. The predictable positive effects are cool, but not interesting. What is, though, is how might a product be abused? Knowing that something like this exists - what could a potential bad actor do?

Facebook is at the butt of these discussions now. Specifically for not being able to see (or worse yet act on) how bad actors can manipulate a global network. The newsfeed is the product which perpetuates all things good and bad on Facebook, and for many years was treated as the most effective way to harvest global attention.

So it deserves a pause sometimes to sit back and think of the negative effects of what you’re working on, and ask whether a vision is worth achieving at all.