Campaigners seem to be having some success in raising the profile of writers and others giving away the product of their labour for free. The first time I ran into this issue in any big way was in launching the Government 2.0 Taskforce with a design competition. The prize? The love and adulation of the community. Now the case against being asked to do stuff for free has made it onto Books and Arts Daily on RN, where after a nervous start, I thought the editor of the new Daily Review did a good job.
I was surprised last night to follow a tweet by libertarian Russ Roberts to this takedown of TEDx. When this guy explained “Why I’m Not a TEDx Speaker” I thought he might be about to decry its relentless drive down market. But no – it was because he wasn’t going to get paid.
Now Julia Baird weighs in and my friend Tim Dunlop is seeking advice.
Ok, some advice please. I just got a request from a book publisher to reproduce a piece I wrote a while back. It will be in a book for use in secondary schools, a collection of essays on Australian politics with a print run of 2000. While they ask for copyright permission, they are very careful not to mention payment.
So my question is, do I ask for some sort of payment on the basis that writers should be paid? Or do I make an exception because it is being used for educational purposes?
You can read others’ comments on his thread. But I reproduce my own to begin the debate out in the open rather than inside the walled garden of Facebook, which, as I point out in my comment, has the temerity to have Tim writing for it, yet all the while not paying him a cent! Not only that but all those commenters arguing that publishers should pay their contributors, well there they are, giving away their own writing, the sweat of their brow.
I’m shocked: shocked! Continue reading
I hear you have fallen on hard times. I have two product suggestions:
1. Make a mobile that is purely a telephone
2. Make a phone in the shape of a pen
The two could well be combined.
1. Pure phone
There are countless millions of older people who would appreciate a mobile phone but they can’t manage the complications. If they were offered a phone, which was just a phone, they might be interested.
You could promote it as “SMS-FREE!” “CAMERA-FREE!” “INTERNET-FREE!” “MENU-FREE!” “Like phones of old: you talk on it!” You would have to invent a generic name. Purephone? Cleanphone? Straightphone?
It would have no alarms, no recording, no FM radio, no messages, no answering service, no “settings,” no adjustments. Continue reading
As part of its Gruen Nation show, an ad was produced which Clive Palmer wanted to use in his campaign. Well it was public money that produced it, so why shouldn’t he be able to use it? Now in fact there may be complications. Gruen Nation is bought in by the ABC, but no doubt it calls most of the shots on licensing. The video is, as you can see, up on YouTube. But the ABC’s reaction was that he couldn’t use the video. Why couldn’t he use this publicly funded digital asset?
As Marketing Mag reports:
“Yesterday we got a call from the Palmer United party team, asking if they could use last week’s pro-Clive Pitch ad, by 303Lowe for their real campaign,” wrote The Gruen Planetwebsite. “The answer, of course, was no. The ABC can’t provide support to a political party.”
I can’t find that on the relevant website, but I hope it’s provided by some ill-informed flunky because it’s absurd. The video happens to be useful to someone. It’s publicly funded, and they should be able to use it. Does it imply that the ABC supports Clive Palmer? No. Saying it does reminds me of a favourite pastime of small minds which is to notice that something unusual is being asked for and then to make up some lame reason why it can’t be done.
In fact this has all happened before. When Kaggle was not that much more than a glint in Anthony Goldbloom’s eye I persuaded Catalyst to do a segment on it, which it did with its usual aplomb. We wanted to use the video they’d made as it was the best visual explanation of what Kaggle was all about. The ABC said ‘no’. Meanwhile the 7 pm Project did a segment on another venture I’m involved in – Family by Family from the Australian Centre for Social Innovation. And did they object to our posting it on our website? No.
Malware is slowing down my Mac :(
For a month or so I had a small Bing sponsored magnifying glass appear over all graphics. Then it went. But now, whenever I’m on a news-site I get a ‘Discovery Bar’ appearing at the bottom of my screen. It only appears in Chrome which I use as my default browser. But it and the Mac generally are slowing down after about two years of use. Anyway, if anyone has some tips on how I can reliably restore my Mac to better working order without a full system rebuild, I’d be grateful. Here’s what I see when I go to the SMH for instance – see the bar at the bottom.
Felix Barbalet is a data scientist and economist working in Canberra who has recently launched http://www.APSindex.com and https://www.APSjobs.info. He is a good fellow and on discussing his new websites with him, I suggested that he give us a post about the remarkable productivity that’s becoming possible on all the remarkable resources that are now available for nix.
Where is evidence based IT?
I would like to see a more formal treatment of technical debt and the cost of complexity in designing and building large (IT) systems.
There are countless examples of large IT projects failing or running well over budget. Sound policy development usually makes reference to an evidence base (and as Economists, we place a large emphasis on the quality of data behind assumptions) – but there is little in the way of evidence-backed IT forecasting.
Typical IT project costings are based on estimates of the work required and time/resources to complete the work. The fundamental problem with this approach is that it leaves the project open to significant planning fallacy (the term coined by Kahneman and Tversky in 1979); humans are inherently optimistic – we systematically underestimate the amount of work required to complete a task.
That in itself is not surprising (take a look at this list of cognitive biases, FYI) – what is surprising is that there is not a more formal treatment of this problem in large IT projects.
Frameworks that embrace iterative development (for example, Scrum) massively reduce the risk of imperfect planning because they remove the assumption of perfect foresight while encouraging a strong feedback loop (aka process improvement). While these concepts are by no means new in more mature fields like manufacturing – in IT development, we still have a long way to go. Continue reading
I was visiting Wikipedia a couple of days ago when I happened upon the image to the right. ”Ah, a new feature, how nice.” I thought. Then a click took me to a dead standard Bing search. The “What’s this?” text didn’t activate anything. I thought “well that is odd, Wikipedia is now accepting paid links”. Then it turned up again and again, on other sites. Whenever there’s a graphic, there’s my little orange and black friend from Bing.
So it’s pretty obviously malware presumably installed recently on my computer in some software or via a virus. Thanks Microsoft (if it is behind this, though it seems too incompetent even for the great fading monster of our computer screens, so perhaps it’s not responsible).
Anyway if anyone has any idea how I get rid of this, I’d be grateful. I’m on a MacBook Air.
I’m doing some research for a talk I’m giving in New Zealand to heads of private schools – the invitation for which came from a similar talk I gave to the Australian Heads of Independent Schools Association. I’m sruiking the wonders of education 2.0 about which I’ve waxed and waxed on this blog. Who would you trust to guide you in your adoption of such obviously sensible technologies?
Obviously the power of the web should be used, but how? What are the pitfalls and what are the things to really focus on. Well I’ve got a nerve telling anyone anything. I did do a stint as a school teacher – a kind of self-funded Teach for Australia gig before there was such a program. And I’m an enthusiast for the web, for web 2.0 etc. But that’s it. So what would I know? What real research have I done. The problem is most people are in the same position. With bits of insight, bits of experience etc. And what kind of ‘research’ would be useful here. What kind of research would have been useful for Mark Zuckerberg setting up Facebook, Steve Jobs thinking of the iPhone or the Mac or Jimmy Wales wondering if Wikipedia would work. Or any of them trying to make those products and platforms better?
So who do you go with. The TED talkers? The consultants? Academics? Well the academics are peer reviewed after all. But then there’s a problem. What’s peer review doing in a field like that? It could add some value at least in principle. But does it? Well the academic articles that I’ve seen are more or less the same hunches marketed in the TED talks, or different ones. But they’re dealing with a massively complex subject - and no matter how many data-points one had on a topic like ‘blended learning’ (the combined use of online and ‘traditional’ learning methods) the conclusions one draws can’t really be extended beyond the circumstances of their adoption. And there are any number of ways to blend learning. As one can see from the chart.
And what we end up with is empty kinds of assurances as to what conclusions one can draw which are nevertheless shoehorned into the genre of any other academic article - which is to say one can’t make a claim that the sky is blue without references. And great lengths are gone to to provide the patina of science – single things are measured and reported on with great seriousness. But the conclusions are lame generalisations just as cliched and ultimately empty as the supposedly less ‘rigorous’ consultants and TED talkers – though the latter are partly marketing their profile and reputation elsewhere – along with the charisma of their presence and presentation.
Below the fold are the substantive conclusions from a summary article introducing a whole thematic edition of Internet and Higher Education (the reference is 18 (2013) 1–3, since you ask) It’s entitled “Blended learning policy and implementation: Introduction to a special issue” of by Ron Owston. Does this add anything to your understanding of the issues? Continue reading
Something I picked up recently in San Francisco. OK I don’t own it, but got to play with one waiting in a queue and talking to a developer waiting to get into a function at the conference I was attending. I was impressed. It looks a bit weird, but you ignore it until you want to look at it, at which point you look up and to the right a little and there, apparently a foot or so from your head is a little TV screen.
I liked the way they’d set up the interface which, as we’ve known ever since the Mac is the secret source of a great IT product like this. You talk to it and ask it to look stuff up, show you stuff, take pictures etc. And you can gesture to it by running your finger along the side of the black plastic near the eye-piece. This works like a scroll bar or dial and you can replay your day and generally use it to help you access files. One of the people in the queue said that it would likely replace a lot of smartphone use. One’s phone would stay in one’s pocket and you could use Google Glass to consult it most of the time, and you would then take out your smartphone when it was particularly apposite. I don’t know if that will happen, but I could see why he thought that.
Anyway, I was impressed. I doubt I want to be a leading edge user, but when they get it (even) better and cheaper, I might well be in for my chop.