Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

How Instagram Replaced the Contacts List


Anne says: Confession: I used to collect business cards! (Some people used to collect teaspoons…) Recently, I was sorting through some of my stored boxes and found probably 20-30 years of people (via their business cards) I had met during my career. I also lost a few hours while I trawled through them, recalling different aspects of my connection to these people. Yet, a business card is just a few details on a little piece of paper. It doesn’t tell you anything about the person – well, maybe where they worked which put a marker on my connection with them. I also have to admit to an elaborate process of grading cards – from Rolodex style to booklets with plastic sleeves, to bundles held together with rubber bands and the year written on the top. So when I saw this article, a number of things occurred to me. More about what’s changed, about our ways of connecting but also about our relationships with people we meet.

The collection process – the formality of exchanging business cards.

In Asia, this was a critical step of respect and acknowledgement. Less formal in Australia, but still a step that openly acknowledged you wanted to be in further contact with that person. Did you ask everyone for their business card? I didn’t. And pre-email, this would be based on their phone number. Now I have a collection of emails in a contact list – but it’s not nearly as visually engaging as looking at a business card with company logos or other graphics. And these days – do you still ask people for their business card? Why?

The storage process – where to put information.

Digital vs analog – what a difference! A huge difference, but I wonder about the longevity? Somehow I can’t see myself sitting down trawling through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn profiles. Not in the same way I went through my business card collection.

The retrieval process – how to find someone’s details.

Too easy – with so many online choices, it’s just a matter of searching. Done! With my elaborate, yet not particularly sophisticated business card system, it was never that straightforward!

The relationship process – by far the most notable difference.

The article describes how people are now swapping Instagram handles or usernames. 

“It’s so much more casual to give someone your Instagram handle and keep in touch through stories and DMs,” Rackliffe said. “Swapping numbers feels so serious and stiff nowadays.”

Exactly!! Swapping business cards was like a first step introduction. By jumping straight to Instagram you’re getting an insight into a person’s personal life that may never have been shared in previous business relationships. This behaviour illustrates the shifting nature of work and blurred lines between personal and work lives that used to be so distinct!

“…adding people on Instagram is like scanning a digital business card into your address book. You get their full name and bio, and a direct line of contact through Instagram DM. Plus, you have the added benefit of scrolling back on their profile for additional context on who they are and what they’re into.”

And where does this leave your LinkedIn profile? According to the article, Instagram is:

 “…notably less uptight than LinkedIn…”

So – where does that leave my business card collection? Back in its box, perhaps for another review, but I doubt it. Sharing Instagram handles is so much more interesting and engaging on so many levels. My only hesitation is the longevity of the process. When we all move on to another network, or new digital format, will you keep those Instagram connections or just move on? 

BTW – if you’re looking for me on Instagram, I’m @annebbragg


Update to last week’s article on Google AI Ethics Council


Anne says: MIT Technology Review has extended the conversation about Google’s AI Ethics Council. I rather like the approach – ask several experts in AI, technology, and ethics for their advice – what could Google do to fix this?

Here’s a selection of responses that resonated for me, but there’s more in the article and accompanying explanations.

“First acknowledge the elephant in the room: Google’s AI principles” – Evan Selinger, professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology

“Avoid treating ethics like a PR game or a technical problem” – Anna Jobin, researcher at the Health Ethics and Policy Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

“Perhaps it’s for the best that the fig leaf of ‘ethical development’ has been whisked away” – Adam Greenfield, author of Radical Technologies

“Avoid treating ethics like a PR game or a technical problem” – Anna Jobin, researcher at the Health Ethics and Policy Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

“The group has to have authority to say no to projects” – Sam Gregory, program director at Witness

“A board can’t just be ‘some important people we know.’ You need actual ethicists” – Patrick Lin, director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly

“Change the people in charge of putting together these groups” –Ellen Pao, founder at Project Include


Robotic eye fixed firmly on the apples in world-first commercial harvest


Joel says: It seems just about every week I’m reading a new news piece based around advancements in robotics picking up manual labour tasks from humans. And to be honest it’s probably a good thing too. It’s likely safer and can be programmatically designed to be done faster with less room for error.

This week I read this article that talks about a robot picking up the apple picking workload at the T&G Global orchard in New Zealand. This new farming advancement has Australian fruit farmers keeping a close eye on our New Zealand cousins to see how the technology plays out in the long run and weighing up how well it could work here. 

The robot, developed by Abundant Robotics, is capable of scanning the tree to identify which pieces of fruit are ready to be picked. Once it analyses and selects a ripe piece of fruit it uses a sucking method to remove the fruit from the tree. The process is getting faster every day and the machine does no more damage to the fruit during the picking process than a human would. 

But don’t freak out and think that this will turn all farms into automated factories. The robots are designed to supplement the work done by humans on the farm, allowing them to pick more fruit every day without having to outsource more help. And with farmers in recent years having to let fruit rot on the tree because they didn’t have the resources available to help pick it all I think it’s a great idea.

Check out the article to see more about how this robot works as well as the future plans for the technology. It’s clear we haven’t heard the end of automated robotics in the farming industry.


This city bans cars every Sunday – and people love it


Helen saysNew York City recently announced a proposed fee on city drivers in an attempt to address congestion and raise funds for public transport improvements. I am all for reducing congestion and improving air quality but the conundrum here is the reliance on congestion to raise the revenue needed to improve transport infrastructure. Still, congestion charges have been successful in reducing traffic volumes in big cities such as London and Singapore, while other cities like Madrid and Oslo have gone car-free.

This year one city, Bogotá, will celebrate 25 years of car-free Sundays in their city. This National Geographic article gives a lovely insight into the benefits gained from this weekly event called Ciclovía (bicycle way). Every Sunday people reclaim their city, their behaviour changes for the better and they reconnect as a community in surprising ways. This is my feel-good story for the week, I hope you enjoy the read and the mood captured in the wonderful black and white images that accompany it.


A 60 Minutes story about gender equality [in STEM] accidentally proved the persistence of patriarchy

Jakkii says: Insert giant facepalm here.

This week, my article for you is a read about how a story with good intentions ended up accidentally demonstrating the very problem they were trying to show was on the improve: the participation of women in STEM and the movements to increase it. One of the frequent dismissals of attempts to reduce the gender participation gap in STEM is the notion that as children we make “different choices” and thus we end up in different careers. Without delving into the many ways hyper-gendered societies such as ours socialise children to make these different choices that lead to gender imbalances (e.g. women over-represented in carer professions; men over-represented in STEM), one of the problems with believing this to be the sole reason for gender imbalances is that it narrows the focus of the problem to simplistic solutions such as “teach more girls to code from a younger age.”

Also problematic, the segment gave the impression that teaching girls in kindergarten to code is the solution to the gender gap in tech. However, as was made apparent by the episode that ultimately aired, the obstacles for women, including their failure to get deserved recognition or to be heard at all, persist throughout their careers in STEM. This was demonstrated, for example, when The Atlantic ran a story about the gene-editing technology CRISPR quoting six men even though two of CRISPR’s pioneers  are women, an error the writer Ed Yong later acknowledged.

This is a crucial point we can’t keep ignoring: reports continue to show that mid to senior career women leave technology fields in high numbers. If we’ve any hope of addressing the long-term, cross-hierarchal gender imbalance within STEM, we have to continue to fight to be cognizant of our biases and addressing them. And it’s not just when it comes to careers within specific fields, we need to get better about this across the board. Personally, I tend to favour a significant reduction in genderising our society, a considerable proportion of which is driven through gendered marketing messages and stereotypes and tropes in popular culture.

Fortunately, there is an increasing awareness of gender bias both in broad terms as well as identifying its existence in more subtle ways, as well. Take, for instance, the world’s first genderless voice assistant, designed to challenge stereotypes and the obvious and overwhelming gender imbalance in voice assistant technology – think Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and even on Google apps. And then there are those building tools to help us challenge our own biases, like this tool [which] judges your Twitter for subconscious gender bias

Sometimes it feels like there’s an incredibly long way to go, but I find it heartening to think about the ways in which people continue to push for change. Complex issues require a myriad of solutions of varying complexity, and it’s great to see so many different ways in which we’re trying to challenge the status quo – including our own biases – and continue to strive for gender equality.


This week in social media

Federal election

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

Cybersecurity and safety

Society and culture

We choose virality instead — repackaged, reshaped, shareable versions of what has come before — and equate it to quality because of its resonance.

Read more: On flooding: Drowning the culture in sameness

Extremism and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

Marketing, advertising and PR


Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: A special on #ChinaTech, with chatbots and the TikTok phenomenon. Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week. 

Our guest, Barney Tan 

The stories this week: 

00:45 – #ChinaTech 

09:33 – Is the chatbot hype over? 

19:19 – TikTok and short video platforms prompt anti-addiction drive 

Other stories we bring up: 

Xiaoice has millions of fans 

Xiaoice duplex calls 

Our previous chatbot conversation 

Our previous discussion of conversational interfaces  

Microsoft’s racist chatbot 

Microsoft’s politically correct chatbot  

How TikTok is rewriting the world 

TikTok goes global  

A TikTok guide  

Jonathan Grudin’s webpage  

Jonathan’s talk on conversational agents at The University of Sydney 


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