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

We will be taking a short hiatus over the Easter & Anzac Day period – our Friday Faves will resume on Friday, 3 May. Have a great holiday break!

How technology will help rebuild Notre Dame


Anne says: It has been almost impossible to avoid the fire that ravaged Notre Dame in Paris and the dramatic photos from the scene. But, the rebuild mindset is already preparing the future Notre Dame. Aside from the funds being committed by individuals and big French brands, the ‘how do they do it’ and ‘what will it look like’ is going to require the latest technologies. While the exact cause is still being determined, the damage assessment and planning has started. 

Rather than reflect on the role of Notre Dame in the French culture, I’ve been fascinated by the series of articles that demonstrate the stages of development through its lifespan (from the 1100s!) developed in 3D computer generated modelling (watch the videos on Open Culture). Through the current restoration work where digital scans that were made by Andrew Tallon (read the National Geographic article for the full details of how he did it) will be critical as the basis for the rebuild. 

I’ll keep tracking these developments, so watch this space. It’s going to be fascinating.


Footnote: YouTube shows 9/11 link on live videos of unrelated Notre Dame fire

Whaaat? Apparently, as the fire was streamed live on YouTube by many of the mainstream media sources, the related content display directly below the video was an explainer for 9/11. Even though there is absolutely no evidence to relate to the 2 events – terrorism, criminal arson etc. YouTube said:

“These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call,” a YouTube spokesperson said. “We are disabling these panels for live streams related to the fire.”

I’ve written about the YouTube algorithms previously  – but here’s another example in play. 


Fortnite has made its way into the office

Helen says: Fortnite is not a new topic for Friday Faves. Last year I looked at why this video game was having such phenomenal success. Essentially it was down to its accessibility, sociality and high spectator appeal. Back then, Fortnite enjoyed a registered player base of over 125 million. Fast forward to March 2019 and that number has doubled to 250 million with anywhere up to 10.8 million people playing concurrently.

Far from losing its appeal, the player base continues to grow exponentially, and it seems there could be a new market emerging, the corporate market. A software start-up company Podium, itself experiencing rapid growth, has discovered that Fortnite has a role to play in their organisation and it is now considered a work activity. Their CEO, a Fortnite advocate, has even set up a dedicated Slack channel for the game. Why would an executive promote playing a video game on the company clock? It seems that it helps make the executive team more approachable, develops a healthy working culture and is more inclusive than ping pong tables and dart boards office fads.

The article refers to a study that found a new work team was up to 20% more productive after playing a collaborative video game for just 45 minutes by helping teammates to build relationships quicker and lead to higher team cohesion. Can you imagine your company adding video gaming to your onboarding program?


Fitbits for cows? Building IoT for the industry technology left behind


Joel says: Health and fitness trackers are hardly new technology when it comes to tracking our own physical exercises and daily activities. Now it seems the same technology has applications outside of humans that will give farmers far more accurate data on the health status of their livestock.

Until recently it would have been accurate to call many of the farmland processes as ‘old school’ with ranchers tracking the status of their cattle using a pen and paper method. As the article states, it seems the cattle industry is an industry that technology forgot.

But that’s about to change. Quantified AG, a Nebraska-based livestock data analytics company has developed a new ear tag that could be referred to as a ‘Fitbit for cows’. This new device has the ability to monitor each cow’s temperature and activity patterns and compare them against cloud-based metadata to determine the health status of the animal every hour.

Our colleague Nat wrote about a similar piece of technology last year. So it seems using technology to track the status of livestock is still something that continues to evolve. The wearables in the original piece were implants that were placed in the jaw of a cow and was tested on a very small scale, with trials using only three cows. The technology is evolving fast and will hopefully be adopted industry-wide even faster. 

Before the introduction of these technologies, the process of determining a cow’s health was conducted the same way it has been done for over 100 years. By having a cowboy ride around on a horse and visually observe each animal, allowing only a few seconds of analysis per cow on farms with a large number of livestock.

I found this article quite interesting not only because it shows an industry seemingly stuck in their old ways adopting technology to improve their dated processes but because it opens the door to other bespoke health-related wearables for other species too. I’m sure it won’t be long until we’re able to get similar devices that will be able to monitor the health, activity and location of our own pets.  


The best use of body hacking might be in hospitals


While Joel’s cows are getting Fitbits, over in the human world we’re moving beyond wearables and into implantables and body hacking – also known as biohacking. From Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow implanting an Opal card in his hand (for which he was later fined for tampering with the card) to employers implanting microchips in employees and people hacking their bodies to have better sex, body hacking might seem gimmicky or even dystopian and Orwellian, but it also has real applications in both health care and accessibility.

And so, when I came upon this article I read it with interest. It’s more blog than investigative journalism, but it highlights some interesting and powerful ways in which technology to augment our bodies is being developed and used in hospitals to provide better care and improved patient outcomes. From applications in the NICU to neuroscience, the only question I’d throw out is around the author’s use of describing this as body hacking – each seems to be more a variety of vastly improved sensor, effectively a wearable technology. Hardly body hacking – but wonderful all the same.


This week in social media

15 months of fresh hell inside Facebook


Jakkii says: We’ve shared a ton of articles about Facebook’s woes over the course of our Friday Faves, and I’ve written about them many times previously in my weekly contributions. About fourteen months ago, the piece I shared was also from WIRED, an article titled ‘Inside the two years that shook Facebook – and the world‘. Here, then, is an update from WIRED about the time that’s passed since then and, clearly, things got worse at Facebook. 

As the story spread, the company started melting down. Former employees remember scenes of chaos, with exhausted executives slipping in and out of Zuckerberg’s private conference room, known as the Aquarium, and Sandberg’s conference room, whose name, Only Good News, seemed increasingly incongruous.

If you’ve been following the saga of Facebook via the media – and via our Friday Faves and the social media links we share each week – then you’ll be familiar with the many breaches, scandals and concerns about Facebook over that 15 months period. I dare say, then, you’ll also be interested in reading this piece that gives a bit of a look behind the curtain at Facebook while this has all been playing out. It’s a long read, so break out the coffee, beer, wine or soda (or, you know, whatever takes your fancy) and settle in for a heck of a ride.


Federal election

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

Cybersecurity and safety

Society and culture

Extremism and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

Marketing, advertising and PR


Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: the #TechLash bandwagon: companies, people and governments. 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. 

The stories this week: 

00:45 – Lush quits social media in UK 

10:34 – Americans turn against social media by wide margins 

17:29 – The EU’s AI ethics guidelines will impact businesses 

Other stories we bring up: 

Wetherspoon pub goes off social media  

Influencers are moving to a new kind of social media  

Life Without The Tech Giants  

Our 2017 discussion of giving up one of the frightful five   

Tech experts to limit the time they and their children spend online  

Facebook will track you even after you delete your account  

The EU’s requirements for trustworthy AI  

The UK’S tech backlash  

China wants to ban cryptocurrency mining farms  

More on China wanted to eliminate its cryptocurrency mining industry   

Our previous conversation oh energy hungry cryptocurrencies  

Australia passes law requiring social media to rapidly remove violent material  


That’s it from us this week – we’re off to eat Easter eggs and reflect on Anzac Day. We’ll see you again for Friday Faves on 3 May 2019.

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