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 watercooler talk can improve productivity and culture

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Jakkii says: A quick one here from me, and for this piece, an alternate title: Paper shows what internal community managers (and other proponents of tools like enterprise social networks) already knew: letting people discuss non-work topics in your internal tools is better than trying to stop it. After all, ‘watercooler talk’ has as much place online as it does around the metaphorical water cooler. As the saying goes, “trust is cheaper than control” and, according to this recent paper, it also delivers more bang for buck through increased productivity and an improvement in organisational culture. Hooray! 

For me, it still comes as a surprise when I hear of organisations banning non-work, topic-of-interest groups and discussions in their internal tools. Thankfully, it seems to be fewer and fewer doing so these days, but if you’re an internal community manager who’s looking for some support to convince your leadership to allow it, this paper should be in your arsenal.

Readhttps://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2019/10/24/how-watercooler-talk-can-improve-productivity-and-culture.html

Stories of people who are trying to save us

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Helen says: At a time when there is so much negativity about the future in the news and in conversation, I was buoyed reading about some luminaries working to solve a variety of big problems facing humanity.  

Initiatives profiled include training cells to destroy a person’s cancer; ensuring solutions are checked for AI bias and other potential harm; developing browser health warnings; advocating for online privacy protections; building an iPhone from 100% recycled materials; securing individual personal data instead of entrusting it to corporations; using data to quickly detect plant viruses and improve food production; reimagining our economies in the face of climate change; creating a clearinghouse for disinformation, propaganda and security breaches; building an online voting system to ensure election accuracy; breaking big tech monopolies; and achieving global connectivity by closing the digital divide. These are just a few ideas featured in what is a long read.

The problems presented are both interesting and diverse, some solutions are in development whilst others are still conceptual. As diverse as and the people profiled are, it seems to me that common to all is their ability to intelligently challenge the norm, think creatively, embrace technology and expend loads of energy. Energy which, I believe, comes from having a purpose for good and an absolute belief in their vision.

Readhttps://www.wired.com/story/wired25-stories-people-racing-to-save-us/

Four hour flights from UK to Australia a step closer after technological advance

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Joel says: We all love travelling the world or seeing new places, but one thing most people don’t enjoy is the travel time required to get to the destination. For many of us Aussies, travelling to the US or the UK can be close to 24 hours of travel time, but this new technological breakthrough could take that down to 4 hours. 

We’ve been trying to find ways to travel in faster and faster ways for some time now. Just look at the bullet trains used in Japan that can get you from one side of the country to the other in hours, similar technology has been in the talks to speed up travel between Sydney and Melbourne too. 

UK based company Reaction Engines has now had a massive breakthrough in this space, with their engineers successfully testing a new pre-cooling system that enables engines to travel at Mach 5 speeds without overheating and melting. Their technology prevents the engines malfunctioning at these high speeds by reducing the 1000C+ temperatures the engines experience while travelling at Mach 5 down to -150C in 1/20th of a second. 

While the breakthrough is certainly impressive and will forever change air travel capabilities, we’ll need to wait quite a while for that 4 hour flight to the UK. The company is still very much in the testing phase with this technology and plans to begin test flights in the mid 2020’s and then begin rolling it out to commercial flights in the following decade. 

Who knows, maybe in the mid 2030’s we’ll be travelling to the UK for a weekend holiday.

Readhttps://www.9news.com.au/technology/four-hour-uk-to-australia-flights-on-hypersonic-jets-a-step-closer-technology-news/5098927c-d5c1-4343-b6f1-000c670047ad

This is cool: The Lines of Code That Changed Everything

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Jakkii says: This is a super interesting read, especially if you have an interest in technology, society and history. The article looks at a range of software that have had significant impact on us – not all of them positively. It covers 35 different pieces of code starting in 1725, going right through to the present day. I won’t say any more on the piece, instead, I’ll just suggest you give it a read – you might be surprised by what you learn.

Readhttps://slate.com/technology/2019/10/consequential-computer-code-software-history.html

This Week in Social Media

It’s been a big week in social media, mostly for Facebook. Sprinkled through the sections below are articles about their recent grilling at Congress, their algorithm being optimised for outrage, lawsuits and antitrust probes, solidifying their move into news, and, most fascinatingly and disturbingly, an article that looks into ‘how Facebook bought a police force.’ 

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

Cybersecurity and safety

Society and culture

Extremism and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

Marketing, media, advertising and PR

Platforms

Facebook’s Libra and Calibra

Sydney Business Insights – Thinking with Daniel Kahneman

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Should we let algorithms make decisions for us? Nobel prize winner and renowned author, Professor Daniel Kahneman, believes that the best way to eliminate noise when making decisions is to eliminate judgement altogether.

Join Dr Sandra Peter as she talks with Professor Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow and winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Shownotes

Daniel’s recount of his personal and professional story

Daniel’s Princeton University profile and CV

Publications

Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman’s best selling 2011 book

International Differences in Well-Being, a joint book on understanding and comparing well-being across countries and cultures

Heuristics and Biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment, a compilation of the most influential research in the heuristics and biases

Choices, values and frames, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky discuss choice in risky and riskless contexts

Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology, an account of current scientific efforts to understand human pleasure and pain, contentment, and despair

Judgment Under Uncertainty: heuristics and biases, an insight into judgements and how to improve them

Attention and Effort, a summary of a decade of research on attention and the role of perception

Dan Lovallo and Daniel Kahneman’s article on how optimism undermines executives’ decisions in the Harvard Business Review

How to overcome the high, hidden cost of inconsistent decision making in the Harvard Business Review

Other links

Daniel Kahneman talking about his friendship with Amos Tversky

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, Michael Lewis’ book on the professional and personal relationship between Danny Kahneman and Amos Tersky

Professor Kahneman’s 2010 TED Talk on the riddle of experience versus memory and his TED interview with Chris Anderson

Graphic summary of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Listenhttp://sbi.sydney.edu.au/thinking-with-daniel-kahneman/


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