Listened Ep. 74 Damien Williams from shows.pippa.io
Technology philosopher Damien Williams on how the algorithms running society are embedded with the same biases as the people who program them.
Douglas Rushkoff and Damien Williams discuss the biases that we build into our technology through their design and the problems that this creates for machine learning. In some respects, this touches on the work of Cathy O’Neil.

Rushkoff also begins with a reflection on the use of social media by schools. He wonders why is it so easy for people to losesight of the design and purpose behind these platforms? He argues that other than teaching media, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) should never be used by schools. Use blogs or a space you manage yourself and your story – something that I have touched upon in the past – but to feed the ad algorithms is the wrong approach.

Listened This Week in the IndieWeb Audio Edition by Marty McGuire from martymcgui.re
This Week in the IndieWeb Audio Edition is a weekly audio summary of This Week in the IndieWeb,a digest of activities of the IndieWeb community.
Just as with the Domain of One’s Own, the #IndieWeb is as much a mindset, an approach to a more open and democratic web, as it is about the tools. Marty McGuire’s weekly take on the IndieWeb News is a great way to stay abreast of this evolving space. A regular mix of interviews, events, posts and wiki updates is a great place to capture ideas and be inspired. McGuire also provides captions to support the audio.
Listened TER #108 – ACARA’s Literacy & Numeracy Progressions with Hilary Dixon – 18 Feb 2018 from terpodcast.com
Main Features: ACARA’s Acting Director, Curriculum, discusses the new literacy and numeracy progressions, their relationship to curriculum, and intended applications in teaching and assessment practices; Annabel Astbury outlines the ABC’s new education initiative. Regular Features: Off Campus, ...

00.000 Opening Credits
01:31.214 Intro
01:55.324 Off Campus – Dan Haesler
12:48.141 Education in the News
20:44.068 ABC Education – Annabel Astbury
28:50.180 Feature Introduction
30:52.440 Interview – Hilary Dixon
59:28.218 Announcements
1:01:52.482 Quote & Sign Off

In this edition of the TER Podcast, Cameron Malcher interviews Hilary Dixon about the new Literacy and Numeracy Progressions released earlier this year from ACARA. Although the interview discusses what the progressions are, it also provides a critical context to their creation and where they might sit within the wider debate around NAPLAN and back-to-bacics curriculum.

Listened If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS - This American Life from This American Life
It’s safe to say whatever you want on the Internet; nobody will know it’s you. But that same anonymity makes it possible for people to say all the awful things that make the Internet such an annoying and sometimes frightening place. This week: what happens when the Internet turns on you?
Lindy West also reflected upon this experience and the podcast here.
Listened 047: The Web is Neither Good or Bad…nor is it Neutral. It’s an Amplifier with Jeremy Keith from User Defenders Podcast
Jeremy Keith reveals how the web is neither good or bad, nor neutral, but an amplifier. He inspires us to not let the future be just something that happens to us, but rather something we make with the small things we do today. He encourages us to build software ethically with our users’ psychological vulnerabilities in mind. He motivates us to not build on rented land, but to publish using the superpower of our own URLs. He also shows us how looking to the past is just as important as looking to the future.
Here is a breakdown of the episode:

  • Iron Man Photo Story (4:43)
  • On Net Neutrality (13:31)
  • What’s “Adactio”? (20:44)
  • Is the Internet Good or Evil? (24:41)
  • Hippocratic Oath for Software Designers (35:51)
  • Resilient Web Design (49:06)
  • Why do you Love the Web so Much? (54:26)

The best of the web is people sharing what they know

  • The Power and Generosity of the Community (63:05)
  • What Comes Next? (71:34)
  • Listener Question? (73:44)
  • Last Words to the Builders of the Web (74:18)
Listened 2017 Boyer Lectures: Fast, Smart and Connected: What is it to be Human, and Australian, in a Digital World by Genevieve Bell from ABC Boyer Lecture
Thirty years ago, Professor Genevieve Bell left Australia to study anthropology in America. That journey took her to the heart of Silicon Valley, where she pioneered futurist research at Intel, looking at how different cultures use technology. Now she's returned home with an urgent conversation about the role of technology in building our future, and what it means to be human, and Australian, in a digital world.
Since 1959, the ABC has supported the Boyer Lectures to spark conversation. 2017’s series featured Genevieve Bell discussing our fast, smart and connected world:

01 | Fast, smart and connected: Where it all began

Bell begins by setting the context associated with technology for herself and Australia in general. She discusses her journey to Silicon Valley via a PhD in Anthropology. This serves as the starting point of a conversation about what it means to be human in a digital world:

We are not just passive by-standers in this digital world – we have been active creators of it. So it is time for another conversation, about our possible digital and human futures, and about the world we might want to make together.

She begins the story about technology by going beyond the usual story of Ada Lovelace, Bletchley Park and the human computers. She instead discusses the early computers in Australia – CSIRAC and SILLIAC – and how they compare with today’s technology.

Today’s computing had a million times as much memory for one-ten-millionth the power. Another colleague pointed out, that it would basically take 4 million CSIRACs to replace my current mobile phone, which would require most of the electricity in New South Wales, and most of the landmass too.

Although the processing power of these initial computers may not seem so significant now, they were behind a number of significant projects, including the building of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl These developments moved us from a world associated with what might be possible to what was actually happening, making speed the measurement of success.

02 | Fast, smart and connected: Dealing lightning with both hands

In the second lecture, Bell discusses how we have evolved from a focus on speed to incorporate connections.

Even if you don’t keep your smartphone within arm’s reach, and you don’t use Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram, or Snapchat or Tinder, you live in a world where your friends, your kids, your parents, your bosses, your politicians, your teachers, they all do, and where those services and their underlying ideas are shaping this world and how we live in it.

1978 announced the arrival of the first personal computer, the TRS80, a device that opened the world to a new digital world. Even if you are not a part of this personally, there is no doubt that you know someone who does. Bell discusses the rise of Silicon Valley, Douglas Engelbart’s demo, ARPANET’s initial network and the birth of the internet in 1989, reminding us that to approach the future, we first need to appreciate the past.

03 | Fast, smart and connected: All technology has a history (and a country)

Looking back at the typewriter, Bell explains how the design was about speed and efficiency. Associated with this, the story of Karel Capek’s play, R.U.R., where the term ‘robot’ derives:

In his play, a factory owned by a man named Rossum mass-produces mechanical creatures who resembled humans and who can be set to work. Over the arc of the play, the mechanical creatures become numerous and also increasingly unhappy, demanding the factory owners help give them more capacity — to reproduce, to love, to feel.

Ultimately the creatures are pitted against humans in an epic struggle that humans are bound to lose. Described variously as a satire, and later as science fiction, Capek’s play owes a great deal to both Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the stories of the Golem, and, from this vantage point, I see Blade Runner and the story of the replicants.

Another addition to our world has been electricity. This was not straight forward. It involved negotiation between existing technologies.

There are important questions to ask. What is getting connected? Why? And how? What drives an infrastructure roll out? Efficiencies? A governmental or civic agenda? Cultural aspirations or experiences? Who is doing the connecting, and what is their motive? Will the network evolve and change over time? What are the measures of success and the driving forces? Who are the other voices in the story, and what might be their threads? And ultimately, what is the world that all this connecting will build?

04 | Fast, smart and connected: How to build our digital future

The last lecture begins with a quote:

Each of us, from the day he’s born, begins to deposit information about himself in various public and private files. By the time he emerges from school and the armed forces, the ordinary young adult cannot have escaped becoming the subject of at least a dozen personal information files. Our necessary social interdependence assures an acceleration at the rate at which personal data are accumulated and stored. Until yesterday it’s been manila folders; it becomes increasingly a computer record, which stores and organises an ever-wider range of data about each of us.

This was from Sir Zelman Cowen and his Boyer Lecture in 1969. In this last lecture, Bell unfurls how we got to now. She explains that Cowen’s prediction has clearly come into existence:

That data-centric world seemed benign at first — smartness that helped us. We gave up data about ourselves, and the technology around us got smarter. Devices and services knew us, gave us recommendations about food and books and movies and news, helped us remember passwords, and websites, and made sure we didn’t get lost or stuck in traffic. More recently those devices and services reminded us to walk more, to vote, to leave for the airport. They promised us better dates and hook-ups, better travel times, ticket prices, cheap data plans because we were in the airport, advanced warning for bush-fires in our area, and reminders to take umbrellas or wear sunscreen. They helped label our photos, and curate our memories, and find our friends. And it turns out they have been shaping our conversations, our views, and our attitudes.

Bell explains that one of the aspects that we need to consider is the intent associated with these developments. This takes us back to BF Skinner and the teaching machine:

Skinner viewed people as mechanistic systems, reducible to electrical impulses and operant conditioning. This matters, because the notion of the human that Skinner theorised still pervades AI today. Replace stimuli with data, and you see the same frame. AI is, at one level, just data in, and data out – measurable and mechanistic.

How do we balance between the utopian and dystopian stories being told about technology. So much of this is about the ethics and morality, rather than the actual technology itself. How then do we engage with this? What is the bigger vision? Bell argues that there are four things we can, and should do, in our smart, fast and connected digital world: build new approaches, invest in the (hard) conversations, strive for accountability, and make our own (Australian) future.

the next time you hear that story about killer robots, ask yourself: What is the history of this technology? Where did it come from? What are its vested interests? And who are its beneficiaries? And what logics about the world is it normalising? And most importantly, what is the broader context into which it fits?


This is a helpful resource in appreciating the current digital context. As we add Digital Technologies to the curriculum, Bell addresses some of the reasons why. In addition to this, she provides a wealth of resources to take further.

Listened Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life by The Wombats from thewombats.lnk.to
Although the catchy synth hooks may have gone, the infectious tunes still remain. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life reminded me of early Blur, but maybe The Strokes is a better comparison.

Frontman Matthew Murphy told triple j Breakfast that his grand vision:

was to keep it organic and not use too many synths or whatever, like we had done on the last couple of albums… In terms of songwriting, I think it’s a bit of a bangin’ album to be honest.

In his review for NME, Thomas Smith suggests:

There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but little to be ashamed of either.

I think though that Mac McNaughton captures it best in The Music when wonders:

Was that it.

There are some albums that are instantly irresistible, then there are those that are unexpected, taking a bit more time to make sense of. This has been my experience with some of the latter Radiohead albums. Maybe Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life will be the same, but right now. It is not standing up against past albums.

Listened Steel Train, by Steel Train from Steel Train
Steel Train is the third full-length studio album by Steel Train, released on June 29, 2010.[5] The album features an all-female companion album entitled Terrible Thrills Vol. 1, which consists of covers, remixes, and re-imaginings of every song on the album by female artists.

Before Jack Antonoff produced tracks for Pink, Lorde and Taylor Swift, he was a member of Steel Train. I am always interested to listen to how artists evolve. This reminds me of the contrast of the early Powderfinger albums to their latter pop productions. I am also interested where the particular interest in 80’s synthpop came in as it is not really present in these guitar laden tracks.
Listened CM 097: Sam Walker on Creating Outstanding Teams by Gayle Allen from Curious Minds
Sam Walker lays out his findings in his latest book, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force that Creates the World’s Greatest Teams. Initially, he expected to find a magical combination of factors such as exceptional skill, brilliant coaching and remarkable strategy. Instead, he discovered something completely different: the 16 teams with the longest winning streaks across 37 elite sports succeeded because of a single player — the captain of the team. These captains were not only not the best player, but also possessed all or most of seven characteristics rarely associated with great leaders.
Sam Walker argues that successful ‘captains’ are not the usual. In his research, he identified seven key behaviours:

they are relentless
they are aggressive
they are willing to do thankless jobs
they shy away from the limelight
they excel at quiet communication
they are difficult to manage
they have excellent resilience and emotional control

Moving forward, he suggests dropping your preconceptions about leadership, looking for those who deflect praise onto others and are focused on team goals, even if this is critical of current practices. This has many correlations with the work of Leading Teams.