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

The Internet – 50 years on 

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Anne says: A couple of weeks ago, the internet turned 50! Hard to imagine, right? There’s been a lot of articles and opinions reflecting on achievements and looking to the future. However, for me, this interview with Leonard Kleinrock (Professor at UCLA) and Vint Cerf  (one of his students at UCLA) – the founders of the internet – was the most illuminating. They share some reflections and still seem somewhat surprised at what they were naively building then, actually worked, and has grown in the ways to form what we know now. 

They explore how the killer app was quite simply connecting people – 75% of the traffic between the universities in the research program was about people finding each other and sharing information. They thought, expected, that people would use the internet to share files and gain remote access to the internet – not buy detergent (as Kleinrock comments). 

There are some gems embedded in the conversation, elements of the senior professor trying to assert some power of wisdom over the younger, enthusiastic (more optimistic) student. Kleinbeck expresses disappointment at the current state of the internet. Cerf is more openly optimistic (and declares his bias in his role with Google and what they’re doing to improve matters). More than once, Cerf mentions that abusive behaviour on the internet is not a technical problem. He’s not dismissing technology’s role, perhaps diverting attention to the need for people to take more responsibility. 

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Meanwhile – next year, 12th March 2020, the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, founded by Tim Berners-Lee will be celebrated. In the article, it reviews a manifesto released by Berners-Lee, Contract for the Web. The document outlines:

Everyone has a role to play in safeguarding the future of the Web. The Contract for the Web was created by representatives from over 80 organizations, representing governments, companies and civil society, and sets out commitments to guide digital policy agendas. To achieve the Contract’s goals, governments, companies, civil society and individuals must commit to sustained policy development, advocacy, and implementation of the Contract text.

The author of the Conversation article (linked below), Terry Flew, Professor at Queensland University of Technology, is somewhat cynical that the Contract doesn’t go far enough. Nor does it acknowledge the role of the large tech companies that currently control so much of the web: Amazon, Facebook, Google…

Like Kleinrock and Cerf, Berners-Lee is calling on the people, us, the users, to take responsibility and save the web. Taking on morality and corporate ethics to advance positive digital change, instead of more regulations and laws from governments. Meanwhile, governments take responsibility for access (infrastructure – yes, NBN he’s referring to you), security and illegal content. 

Perhaps the original founders remain altruistic and stay true to their original intentions, at the expense of glossing over the power of the digital platforms and their algorithms. It’s difficult to imagine how individual morality will dominate over hidden algorithms that control fragmented perspectives and limit (unknowingly) what information we presented as search results or in news feeds. 

Both the article and video interview provide important reflections from the founders of technology that we mostly accept we couldn’t live without. I encourage you to reflect on the commentary in the article and consider our role and how we might be able to restore the balance and intentions that these founders built their technologies on – trust. 

Is the future optimistic, as Vint Cerf declares, are should we concede defeat and start looking for new ways of connecting people?

Watch: (About 18 minutes) http://www.pbs.org/wnet/amanpour-and-company/video/leonard-kleinrock-vint-cerf-on-the-invention-of-the-web/

Readhttps://theconversation.com/the-internets-founder-now-wants-to-fix-the-web-but-his-proposal-misses-the-mark-127793

Google and Netflix know the power of improv in the workplace. This is how to make it work for you

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Jakkii says: I liked this read. It’s relatively brief, but gives some great practical tips on how to make use of ‘improv’ in the workplace, based on advice from Stanford University’s Dan Klein. It covers:

  • The art of building – not cutting down – ideas
  • The ‘Yes, and’ game
  • Lessons from Netflix in celebrating failure together
  • The need for resilience

Whatever you may think of actually using improv techniques in the workplace – I’d imagine that wouldn’t quite be everyone’s cup of tea – a lot of the article resonated with me, particularly around the types of skills we need to be helping people to develop and hone. Being adaptable, agile and imaginative, paying attention, listening, helping make others “look good” (or, put a better way, using your knowledge and skills to help others hone their ideas and work in order for them – and the business – to succeed), and becoming resilient enough to take (considered, appropriate) risks. It’s important that we develop appropriate skills for success in the workplace, not just for ourselves, but in order to be collaborative and to help others be successful as well.

Have you ever done an improv session in your workplace? I’d love to hear all about it!

Readhttps://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-29/workplace-dan-klein-improvisation-skills-can-help-us-work-better/11735342

This is cool: The Perils and Pleasures of Bartending in Antarctica

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Jakkii says: Now, I admit this is a little left-field, but it’s a story of work in unexpected and challenging places. And, if you’re anything like me, Antarctica is a place of fascination, so you’ll hopefully enjoy this short read on what it’s like to be a bartender in one of the world’s most remote places. 

The article starts off by describing how after a terrible day at work, Philip Broughton decided he had to get away – and two years later, he was working in Antarctica! So next time you’re having a tough day, perhaps you’ll find it’s time to fill out an application form to go work on a research station and follow in Philip’s footsteps… 

Readhttps://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/bartender-antarctica-south-pole

This Week in Social Media

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

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Society and culture

Extremism, trolling and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

Marketing, advertising and PR

Platforms

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: AI and Shakespeare, the capitalism crisis, and cows in VR. 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

01:31 Machine learning reveals Shakespeare’s collaborator

13:54 Capitalism is not in crisis, it’s everywhere

21:49 What’s up with cows in VR?

Other stories we bring up

Google Smart Compose is soon to come to Google Docs

Capitalism is in crisis

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff in the Guardian

Professor Shoshana Zuboff’s recent book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Our Halloween discussion of animals that were accused of being international spies on TFTW

Aussie startup Livestock Labs’s implantable monitor for cows

Listenhttp://sbi.sydney.edu.au/shakespearean-ai-and-the-capitalism-crisis-on-the-future-this-week/


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