Technology to push middle class out of work?

Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, has given a stark warning at the World Economic Forum in Davos: that technology is replacing middle class jobs and, further, that it’s not certain that displaced workers will have the right skills to be re-hired. It will be, he says, a “defining” problem for the next two to three decades.

Read more of this post

Advertisements

Measuring Success

We live in a world driven by value. By which I mean money.

Yesterday, I found myself explaining money to my 9-year-old son and this is a practice which I advise all adults to engage in – whether they have 9-year-old children or not (I’m sure girls work just as well, by the way, I just don’t happen to have one of those). Young children, in my experience, don’t understand the obsession with money and I think that we can learn a great deal from them. Read more of this post

Review: Alpkit Filo down jacket

Winter has been with us for some time: blustery, wet and cold. Warm clothing is a must if you want to enjoy the great outdoors. So here’s my long-term test review of the Alpkit Filo, a jacket which has received much acclaim for its relatively low price and its relatively high warmth. How does it perform in the field? Read more of this post

Review: Kobo Arc 7

Android tablets can be bought at a whole range of prices, and cost doesn’t always indicate quality. Our youngest boy saved up enough to afford a cheap tablet last summer and we chose a Sumvision Cyclone 10″ device which, as a refurb unit from eBuyer, was superb value at around £85. With this to contrast against our own Nexus 7 devices, we realised that cheap-and-cheerful tablets could be great value. Although the rear camera which our lad wanted is, to my mind, a load of rubbish… he’s happy though!

So for Christmas our eldest of course wanted a tablet, but his requirements were a little different: no need for a rear camera, and actually a 7″ unit might be better for portability.

So the search was on… what 7″ tablet offers good value for money for kids? Enter the Kobo Arc 7. Read more of this post

Now published! The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home

I’ve finally published my first fiction title, The Long Way Homeand it’s available now from Amazon in Kindle and paperback, and also from Smashwords and their distribution channels in a variety of formats. It’s the first book in a sci-fi saga for kids up to early teens, although anyone who enjoys a bit of classic sci-fi would enjoy this one.

Read more of this post

Honest, informative rating of content… please!

I spend a lot of my time thinking about what makes a business communication system really useful. Sad, but true. There’s one concept that you will see on social tools and websites across the globe: rating.

Usually when viewers are given the opportunity to rate posted content, they are forced into providing either a positive view (thumbs up, +1 etc) vs no view at or. Sometimes there’s also the opportunity to provide a negative view (thumbs down). On the surface, this seems great – the great unwashed masses are given a voice and good “stuff” will be praised whereas bad “stuff” will not.

But there are significant issues.

Firstly, often the rating schema is linked to an entirely different concept – that of “following” either a post or a poster. Conflating these two concepts means that, sometimes, in order to follow future dialogue you’re forced to indicate that you liked the original post. This may not be true!!

Secondly, there are degrees of appreciation which are not covered in a “+”, “-“, “no view” approach. I like my neighbours and love my wife, rather different degrees of “appreciation” here, but social platforms would expect me to “like” them all. Yikes.

Lastly, these systems assume that all opinion is equal. That simply is not true.

I discussed the problems that this causes in social systems in an earlier post, “Bubbling to the top: the Social Media value challenge“.

The solution is clear. The systems need to do three things:

  1. Separate out the concepts of “following” and “rating”.
  2. Allow for positive and negative feedback, on a graded scale.
  3. Promote the feedback of individuals noted for their informed feedback (based, perhaps, on the feedback which they themselves receive?).

The end result is posts that are not marked as “21 people liked this” but, perhaps, as “this post scores 35% based upon viewer feedback”.

Notice that I haven’t covered the thorny, in my view, issue of attribution: that of showing who “liked” or “disliked” the post. I say “thorny” because the feedback which people give is affected by whether that feedback is visible and attributable to them or not. Is an employee going to be highly critical, publicly, of his boss’s post? No, of course not. We all have our jobs to consider. Yet we need feedback to be honest. So perhaps it would be better, in the business environment, to keep those ratings as a amalgamated score and not as individually attributable.

Rating, providing useful feedback in order to help information find its true value and hence find its way to individuals who might value it, is essential to an effective business communications system. A simplistic approach doesn’t work.

Bubbling to the top: the Social Media value challenge

The world is full of social media. People everywhere are trying to get their voices heard in the multiple public and private social media platforms which together form what I glibly refer to as the “babblesphere”. They’re doing it for various reasons: perhaps they want to market products, or themselves; perhaps they want to make or keep in touch with friends; perhaps they want to spread ideas, facts or discussion points which they believe are important or just fun. Whatever the reason, it’s a big world and there’s a lot of babble… so how does content bubble to the top? How does it get wide distribution?

That’s the subject at the heart of the recent post “That Hit Song You Love Was a Total Fluke“, by Tim Sullivan in the Harvard Business Review blog. Read more of this post