Category: General (page 1 of 69)

Open Badges Verifiable Credentials

I’m really grateful for people like Kerri Lemoie who understand digital credentials both technically and educationally, and have the time (she now works at Badgr) to steer this in the right direction.

Verifiable Credentials put learners in the center of a trust triangle with issuers and verifiers. They also add an additional layer of verification for the recipients. Open Badges can take advantage of this, be the first education-focused digital credential spec to promote personal protection of and access to data, and be part of the growing ecosystem that is exchanging Verifiable Credentials.

Source: Open Badges as Verifiable Credentials | Kerri Lemoie

Criminals’ right to be forgotten

This is interesting: the Associated Press are no longer going to name people involved in minor crimes. I have to agree with their rationale.

These minor stories, which only cover an arrest, have long lives on the internet. AP’s broad distribution network can make it difficult for the suspects named in such items to later gain employment or just move on in their lives.

Broadly speaking, when evaluating such stories, we should consider first whether the story is worthy of our news report, and if distributing it is indeed useful to our members and customers. If the answer is yes, in keeping with AP’s commitment to fairness, we now will no longer name suspects in brief stories about minor crimes in which there is little chance AP will provide coverage beyond the initial arrest.

Source: AP Definitive Source | Why we’re no longer naming suspects in minor crime stories

The end of cookie banners?

This is the draft a new standard (spec) to hopefully get rid of those annoying cookie banners. We went through all of this with Do Not Track, so let’s see if this approach ends up working… 🤞

ADPC is a proposed automated mechanism for the communication of users’ privacy decisions. It aims to empower users to protect their online choices in a human-centric, easy and enforceable manner. ADPC also supports online publishers and service providers to comply with data protection and consumer protection regulations.

Source: ADPC: A Human-centric and Enforceable Privacy Specification

Positive deviance in the workplace

This article is based around a story about NASA engineers in the 1980s, but touches on something that I feel that we know instinctively. While every company will say they welcome risk-takers and rulebreakers, the reality is very different.

It’s one of the reasons I work with my co-op colleagues in solidarity. We can do what others cannot.

There is psychological evidence that rebelliousness is essential for creativity. Harvard psychiatrist Albert Rothenberg spent more than five decades researching individuals who had made ground-breaking contributions to science, literature and the arts, seeking to understand what drove their creativity. As part of a broader research project that encompassed structured interviews, experimental studies and documentary analysis, Rothenberg interviewed 22 Nobel Laureates. He found that they were strongly emotionally driven by wanting to create something new, rather than extend current perspectives. He found they consciously saw things with a fresh mindset rather than blindly following established wisdom – two qualities that would seem to suggest a rebellious, rather than conformist, personality.

Source: ‘Positive deviants’: Why rebellious workers spark great ideas | BBC Worklife

Slow travel and camping in other people’s gardens

A lazy way to describe this would be ‘Airbnb for camping’ but actually, it’s green, anti-capitalist and community-oriented. I might list my garden (as there aren’t many in the UK right now).

Welcome To My Garden is a not-for-profit network of citizens offering free camping spots in their gardens to slow travellers.

Source: Welcome To My Garden

Generative art

We’re going to see a lot more of this in the next few years, along with the predictable hand-wringing about what constitutes ‘art’.

Me? I love it and would happily hang it on my wall — or, more appropriately, show it on my Smart TV.

Fidenza is my most versatile generative algorithm to date. Although it is not overly complex, the core structures of the algorithm are highly flexible, allowing for enough variety to produce continuously surprising results. I consider this to be one of the most interesting ways to evaluate the quality of a generative algorithm, and certainly one that is unique to the medium. Striking the right balance of unpredictability and quality is a difficult challenge for even the best artists in this field. This is why I’m so excited that Fidenza is being showcased on Art Blocks, the only site in existence that perfectly suits generative art and raises the bar for developing these kinds of high-quality generative art algorithms.

Source: Fidenza — Tyler Hobbs

Social media is done

Ironically enough, I discovered the author Rick Wayne via his posts on the Fediverse. He’s decided that he’s done with social media, and has a new newsletter on Substack.

His old newsletter, which I signed up for only recently, doesn’t have a public-facing version I can link to. I did, however, want to share a quotation from it in which Wayne announces his new project:

Social media is done. That’s not to say it will die, but it’s not what it was just five years ago. It used to feel like we were really making friends. People would HIRL and travel to meet each other. Now, it feels like one big church potluck. We trade polite nothings with the fellows in our sect because those other people are dangerous, and let’s face it: empty promises are better than no promises at all.

Well put.

Conceptual integrity

As a project manager, as a product manager, and as a consultant, the thing that often frustrates me is the desire to go full steam ahead without a shared understanding of what it actually is that we’re supposed to be doing.

Dorian Taylor, in a wider-ranging piece about Agile, talks about this as conceptual integrity:

The one idea from the 1970s most conspicuously absent from Agile discourse is conceptual integrity. This—another contribution from Brooks—is roughly the state of having a unified mental model of both the project and the user, shared among all members of the team. Conceptual integrity makes the product both easier to develop and easier to use, because this integrity is communicated to both the development team and the user, through the product.

Without conceptual integrity, Brooks said, there will be as many mental models as there are people on the team. This state of affairs requires somebody to have the final say on strategic decisions. It furthermore requires this person to have diverse enough expertise to mentally circumscribe—and thus have a vision for—the entire project in every way that was important, even if not precisely down to the last line of code.

Source: Agile as Trauma | dorian taylor

Dunbar’s friendship circles

This is interesting: the number of people say they have in different friendship ‘circles’. Extroverts tend to have more than introverts.

Those numbers are aspirational, right? 😅

Dunbar’s number really isn’t a single number. It should be a series of numbers. When collecting data on personal friendships, we asked everybody to list out everybody in their friendship circles, when they last saw them, and how emotionally close they felt to them on a simple numerical scale. Relationships turned out to be highly structured in the sense that people didn’t see or contact everybody in their social network equally. The network was very clumpy.

The distribution of the data formed a series of layers, with each outer layer including everybody in the inner layer. Each layer is three times the size of the layer directly preceding it: 5; 15; 50; 150; 500; 1,500; 5,000.

The innermost layer of 1.5 is [the most intimate]; clearly that has to do with your romantic relationships. The next layer of five is your shoulders-to-cry-on friendships. They are the ones who will drop everything to support us when our world falls apart. The 15 layer includes the previous five, and your core social partners. They are our main social companions, so they provide the context for having fun times. They also provide the main circle for exchange of child care. We trust them enough to leave our children with them. The next layer up, at 50, is your big-weekend-barbecue people. And the 150 layer is your weddings and funerals group who would come to your once-in-a-lifetime event.

The layers come about primarily because the time we have for social interaction is not infinite. You have to decide how to invest that time, bearing in mind that the strength of relationships is directly correlated with how much time and effort we give them.

Source: Robin Dunbar Explains Humans’ Circles of Friendship | The Atlantic

Remote workers clock up more hours, says one study

It takes time and/or training to transition fully to remote working. If it’s not something you’ve chosen (say, because of the pandemic) then that’s doubly-problematic.

really enjoy working remotely. I miss travelling for events and meetups, which I used to do probably 10-15 times per year, but the actual working from home part is great. As I type this I’m in my running stuff waiting for the Tesco delivery. Work happens around life, rather than the other way round.

This article talks about one study, which I don’t think is illustrative of the wider picture. What I do recognise, however, is the temptation to work more hours when you live in your workplace. You have to be strict.

Ultimately, it comes down to control. If you’re in control of your time, then eventually you spend it productively. For example, I work fewer than 30 hours per week in an average week, mainly because I don’t attend meetings I don’t have to.

Early surveys of employees and employers found that remote work did not reduce productivity. But a new study* of more than 10,000 employees at an Asian technology company between April 2019 and August 2020 paints a different picture. The firm uses software installed on employees’ computers that tracked which applications or websites were active, and whether the employee was using the keyboard or a mouse. (Shopping online didn’t count.)

The research certainly concluded that the employees were working hard. Total hours worked were 30% higher than before the pandemic, including an 18% increase in working outside normal hours. But this extra effort did not translate into any rise in output. This may explain the earlier survey evidence; both employers and employees felt they were producing as much as before. But the correct way to measure productivity is output per working hour. With all that extra time on the job, this fell by 20%.

Source: Remote workers work longer, not more efficiently | The Economist