Algorithms and Human Systems

Writing about Facebook, Franklin Foer explores the concept of algorithms to highlight a more human element:

An algorithm is a system, like plumbing or a military chain of command. It takes knowhow, calculation and creativity to make a system work properly. But some systems, like some armies, are much more reliable than others. A system is a human artefact, not a mathematical truism. The origins of the algorithm are unmistakably human, but human fallibility isn’t a quality that we associate with it. source

The post itself is a useful provocation for the wider discussion of digital technologies, hacking and algorithms.

Intimate Spaces

Sometimes the strength of ideas and collaboration comes via the creation of appropriate spaces. Isaac Kohane discusses the importance of intimate spaces where people are about to come together.

Isacc Kohane says. “Even in the era of big science, when researchers spend so much time on the Internet, it’s still so important to create intimate spaces.”A new generation of laboratory architecture has tried to make chance encounters more likely to take place, and the trend has spread in the business world, too. source

Discussing the power of ideas, David Culberhouse talks about the [learning well]

Authentic Dissent

In a discussion of collaboration and group work, Jonah Lehrer highlights the power of disruption in pushing our thinking further. An example of this is the notion of authentic dissent where ideas are generated to purposely disrupt the thinking.

In a way, the power of dissent is the power of surprise. After hearing someone shout out an errant answer, we work to understand it, which causes us to reassess our initial assumptions and try out new perspectives. “Authentic dissent can be difficult, but it’s always invigorating,” Nemeth says. “It wakes us right up.” Criticism allows people to dig below the surface of the imagination and come up with collective ideas that aren’t predictable. And recognizing the importance of conflicting perspectives in a group raises the issue of what kinds of people will work together best source

Diversity and Perspective

Reflecting on a life within the technology industry, Ellen Ullman shares why diversity is so important:

We need to involve women and minorities and people who come from all social classes because they bring in new sets of values. The newcomers deepen the conversation. They carry in fresh sources of creativity. They enrich our understanding of the relationships between humans and the digital world. They ask new questions: What do we want from all this stuff? And who is included in this definition of “we”? source

This is something that Cathy Davidson touches on with her idea of collaboration by difference:

The whole point of collaboration by difference is that we cannot see our own gorillas. We need one another to help us, and we need a method that allows each of us to express our difference. If we don’t feel comfortable offering an alternative point of view, we don’t. And without such contribution, we continue to be limited or even endangered by our blind spots; we don’t heed the warning signals until it’s too late and an accident is inevitable.source

Julian Stodd suggests that authenticity comes when we are able to tap into the informal and often unheard voices within an organisation:

Stories of difference chart the fragmented truth of our organisation: they may not be pretty, but they help provide perspective. And you can go further, by encouraging response stories, providing further frames to engage in the dialogue, progressively less formal.source

[[Diversity and Resistence]]

Power of Stories

Discussing the social age, Julian Stodd uppacks the power of stories. For him, the question often relates to whom owns the story and how it flows.

Stories are the mechanism of transmission of cultural and tacit knowledge: they are units of information, heavily contextualised, highly magnetic, almost frictionless, and can be very, very, long lived. If i tell a story, i may own it, right up until the point that i share it, but at that time, it takes wings, and becomes real. Stories shared are stories relinquished: despite legal frameworks in which we retain ownership of the husk, the germ of truth that resides within a story is let loose through sharing. The essence of it, the ‘story’ itself, is more than simply © words, and trademarked phrases. Stories are meant to flow. source

Providing his own point of view, Kin Lane says that it would kill him not to be able to tell stories:

I need storytelling to do what I do. To work through ideas. It is how I learn from others.source

Coming at the question from the personal perspective, Aaron Hogan asks what stories define you:

Take a minute and ask yourself those questions: What is your story? Who are you listening to? How is that going?source

Replied to
Your guide was not the issue, I realised that I had pingbacks turned off.

#indieweb replies are not necessarily what I thought they would be. I had this strange idea that they would allow me to leave normal comments on somebody else’s blog. Instead, they just leaves a pingback? I wonder if I am missing something? I am wondering if POSSE plays some part here?

Replied to Pingbacks: hiding in plain sight
I’ve never really thought about Pingbacks on blog posts; they just appear. On my own blogs, most of the pingbacks are in fact internal referencing as I link from one post to another. But maybe they’re not as mundane as they might at first appear and in fact they work much harder than I first thought? When someone reads a blog post and is subsequently minded to write their own post, either referencing or extending the ideas in the original, they are extending knowledge. Were it not for the pingback, the link between the two posts would be one way only, from the body of the new post back to the original. The pingback is initiated automatically from within the original post platform and consequently makes this a two-way exchange by providing that link to the new post. This extending of the knowledge web offers opportunities, but I wonder to what extent people use it? I know that if I write a post which attracts a pingback, I usually follow it up to check out the post and the author. The outcome might be that I learn something new about what I originally thought, or that I find a new blog to follow, or a new person with whom to connect. The interesting part is that it’s an algorithm or script that’s doing that. A nonhuman. My learning is once more being affected and enabled by a nonhuman actor.
Pingbacks seem to be a part of the WordPress architecture. For other platforms, you can use trackbacks. One use case is the #Indieweb and the potential to comment from your own space. Chris Aldrich even demonstrates how you can use such an infrastructure to reply to Twitter.
Replied to Male teachers are an endangered species in Australia: new research (https://theconversation.com)
Male teachers may face extinction in Australian primary schools by the year 2067 unless urgent policy action is taken. In government schools, the year is 2054. This finding comes from our analysis of more than 50 years of national annual workplace data – the first of its kind in any country.
Kevin McGrath and Penny Van Bergen provides a summary of their paper into gender equity in schools. They predict that by 2067 there will be no more male teachers in primary schools. Other than being an improvement on the argument that robots will take over education, I wonder what the percentage of males and females in leadership would be during this period? I have a hunch that the numbers would still be relatively high.
Replied to A reply to Aaron Davis on setting up IndieWeb replies in WordPress by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (Chris Aldrich | BoffoSocko)
a tweet by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (Twitter) #IndieWeb is there any magic in setting up ‘replies’ in WordPress beyond the plugin? Or is it only possible in Known? CC @ChrisAldrich — Aaron Davis 🏘️ (@mrkrndvs) September 17, 2017 Aaron, there are a couple of different ways to set up ...
Thank you Chris for the reply. I did read your post, that is what spurred me to try once again to investigate ‘sending replies’.
Replied to Slice of Life: The Ethical Questions of Ease (Who Pays the Price?) by dogtrax (dogtrax.edublogs.org)
Dang it. I’m sipping the tasty Google juice, and sharing it with my students. But ...I am also regularly talking about tech company’s intentions for gathering data and information about us, as means for making money from advertising and more. I hope that all balances out, and that in my attempt to make my life easier as a teacher I am not putting my students in the crosshairs of a technology behemoth.
Interesting post Kevin. I am particularly intrigued by the question of data. You look at something like Draftback, which plays back a Doc’s revision history. It can be easy to be enamoured by such functionality. What is intriguing is that Google keeps all this data, that is just accessed via API’s to produce the playback. Why?

Another interesting example of the potential is the Classroom Extension. Not only does it allow you to easily set assignments, but when installed by staff and students, it provides the means to send a sight to students. This though is taken to a whole new level by Hapara, which allows teachers to lock a student’s screen. It can be easy to view Hapara poorly, but it only builds on what Google makes possible. This is taken to its zenith with Hapara Analytics.

I will not deny, I have drank the KoolAid (and probably still do). I think though that like with all technology, I am somewhat in awe of the affordances, but also critical of the consequences. I wonder about Martin Weller’s call to ‘rewild edtech’. For me one thing that needs to change is data, as Caulfield suggests, at the least that would be a start.