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

Cartoon of the week

Anne says: Whoopi selected this week’s cartoon. During our time in confinement, the dogs have been particularly impacted by the lack of social contact. We’re experiencing behaviours both at home and out on our short walks (only 1 block is permitted), that is not normal for them. In particular, they’re avoiding contact with other dogs in the street – probably influenced by us taking a wide berth from other people. Very occasionally we happen to meet another dog they know, they’re super pleased to see them – but they’re also quite standoffish. Whoopi explained it to me with the above cartoon!

Distractions, implications and cognitive surplus

Anne says: It’s undeniable that working from home during these times of crisis has a range of unexpected impacts. From animals taking over spaces previously occupied by people, to innovative ways people are using social media and communications technologies to entertain themselves (and others), to empty offices and crowd-sourced science projects. This week I’ve collected some of these that stood out for me – not just from their amusement factor, but also from the unintended unknowns and how, when under pressure with limited resources, people can be innovative and the planet will take care of itself (arguably better than we do!).

When the animals take over

You may have already seen some of these reports, but here’s a selection that shows how animals are confidently entering spaces and behaving in ways that we just wouldn’t see under normal circumstances, when people are present. It’s a timely reminder of how our daily behaviours have impacted animals. As people return to these spaces, I don’t expect we’ll be able to integrate with them – I can’t see MacDonalds allowing sheep in for Big Macs!

What’s become of office plants abandoned in the coronavirus shutdown

Source: Alex Fernandez

I watched a documentary many years ago that showed how plants reclaimed abandoned cities (something like this). So when I read the headline, I immediately had visions of office plants reclaiming the interiors of office buildings. But… of course, they need to be watered and without us, that won’t happen! (Unless the fire sprinklers go off). Fear not!! There’s volunteer groups on rescue missions, building caretakers, and “plant patrols” – all with the aim of saving the office plants. I’m always delightfully inspired by people who find purpose and meaningful ways to contribute in times of stress. Enjoy the stories in this article… and wonder, how’s my plant doing?? Maybe a good samaritan has rescued it, or maybe not ;-(


The bar of soap challenge

This one is for all the budding engineers, those who like to tinker, those who are attempting to do something completely different! Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist, inventor, engineer but most famous for his cartoons depicting crazy gadgets and ways to achieve everyday tasks in absurd ways. His granddaughter, Jennifer George, has created an isolation video challenge to build devices that drop a bar of soap into someone’s hand using a sequence of 10 to 20 steps. Why? Well, why not – have you got anything more abstract to do??!!

I have come across one recently on Facebook that is a total masterpiece – watch it here.

In the meantime, if you decide to join the challenge – we’d love to feature your entry here – please let us know!


Recreating masterpieces at home

We’ve already shared some of the virtual museum and art gallery tours, but now it’s your turn. It’s fairly straightforward. Select your favourite classic and replicate it in real life. There’s some stunning versions, some hilarious ones and some in-real-life ones. All in all, if you’re starting to go a little stir crazy, take up this challenge and please, we do need to see your submissions. Send us a link, we’d love you to share it with us! As the article says:

why just look at a masterpiece when you can be one?


And finally, contribute to science projects by spotting penguins

Yes, it’s a thing and you can do it online, in isolation, at home! Scientists need some extra sets of eyeballs to help them out, according to this article in Scientific American. And don’t think it’s easy, they’re spotting penguin colonies by using satellite photographs and looking for penguin poo! Not colonies of happy feet – what they leave behind!!

Alternatively, they also need some help spotting galaxies. So for the sci-fi types, you too can go inter-galactic from home during lockdown.

Go wild everyone and contribute to meaningful science projects!


Delivery by dog: A new way to get wine and groceries in the age of social distancing

Whoopi says: It’s important to understand how in times of lockdown and confinement, just what role we dogs can contribute to helping those in need. As a failed assistance dog (they failed me when I ate the food!), I wanted to highlight the great work these dogs are doing. Really inspiring. At the moment when we’re all locked in, with limited walks and ridiculous paw washing after we return from our walks, I’m thinking of volunteering my services once again. I specialise in just sitting beside you, discussing philosophical implications of world politics and I can even hold your hand if you give me biscuits.

I’m happy to also participate in Zoom calls, if that’s your preference.


That feeling called blah

Jakkii says: I feel like my Friday Faves contributions lately have been my own personal therapy session, and today is no different. But in truth, I’m not alone – and neither are you – in going through a range of “stuff” related to being in isolation and stuck at home. Sure, we can try reframing that to “safe at home”, but I’ve got my realist-slash-pessimist pants on right now and am not feeling impressed with trying to Pollyanna every which way we think and speak about our current reality.

Today, I just feel ‘blah’. I started the day with dreaming about the cutest little plane that looked like it was from a duplo set crashing into the ground – in a soft kind of gentle way, somehow, but still a nose-first dive into the ground instead of a safe landing. Once I was up, it was straight onto our Remote Working Coffee Meetup over Zoom, with another great chat this morning and plenty of laughs as well. And while normally that connection and getting the brain going around other people’s insights and ideas would normally energise me for the day, today it just hasn’t worked.

I’m sharing this not because I want to invite you to my pity party on Zoom, but because I think it’s really important that we be open about how we’re coping – or not – and that we be open to listening to and caring for those around us as best as we’re able to on any given day, in any given moment. One of the things we talked about in the meetup this morning was that for some people, they can’t wait to get back to the office, because they’re craving a return to the way things were. Ripple Effect Group are a fully distributed team meaning we all worked from different locations without a central office long before the days of covid, so I don’t miss the office. But I do miss my life. I miss people, and places, and having choices. Or a sense of choice, at least, because I guess we always have some sort of choice as it were.

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Anne shared with the meetup group a video from Esther Perel on the NYT about grief, which aligns with the piece on grief I shared a few weeks ago. The video above is a longer video, the third of four workshops on how we engage with our current normal, and one you might find interesting enough to set aside 45-odd minutes for watching.

Beyond grief, we also have loneliness to contend with, and there’s a good piece in The Conversation (linked below) about the neuroscience behind loneliness, and how technology is helping us cope. Of course, the article ends thusly:

Until we all have a sophisticated social robot to keep us company, perhaps the best remedy is to keep in touch with our loved ones online, especially through shared activities. And let’s focus on the fact that close human contact will soon be safe again.

Confirming what we know, and what I think we all feel, quite acutely at the moment – we need other humans around us. We might have to rely on technology for the moment, but face to face human interaction – and, where appropriate (and consensual!), physical touch – is crucial for us as social beings. Our future might see us using technology more – and hopefully, in some cases, more effectively – but I think we will find a new appreciation for face to face interactions and find new ways to do this safely, which may include not only reduced numbers but perhaps, particularly when it comes to work, an articulated shared purpose as to the role of face to face for any given task or activity rather than automatically defaulting to ‘this is the way we’ve always done it.’

The future is still unclear from here, but I think we’re starting to see that we’ll likely need to live with some sort of measures in place for some time, restrictions and requirements that will continue to have an impact on the way we work, live and play each day. We need to be planning and preparing for how we might manage those both at work and at home, and how we continue to cope as the world keeps shifting around us.


Around the house

Jakkii says: As always, if you have any links to fun or interesting things to do while we’re all at home, please send them my way!

This week’s selection (in addition to the challenges Anne’s shared, above):

And if you’re really over life at home, perhaps you could try living off the grid at one of these communities.

Friday Funnies

@olivemannellaDadosaur takes out the trash… almost 🥴🦖 ##dadosaur ##stayhomestaystrong ##keepingbusy ##fyp ##foryoupage @frankiemannella @clmannella @elliemannella♬ original sound – olivemannella

Misinformation Friday Five

While protesters in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and other states claim to speak for ordinary citizens, many are also supported by street-fighting rightwing groups like the Proud Boys, conservative armed militia groups, religious fundamentalists, anti-vaccination groups and other elements of the radical right.

COVID-19 Friday Five

Work Friday Five

Tech Friday Five

Social Media Friday Five

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: the internet made old again, and why AI struggles with the new. 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

01:39 –  Why does it feel like 1999 on the internet?

14:49 –  AI runs up against a big data problem in COVID-19 diagnosis

Other stories we bring up

YouTube takes down David Icke 5G interview

Facebook and Twitter take down video of Brazilian president endorsing unproven antiviral drug

Online is where we go to be alone together

Has the coronvirus killed the techlash and our previous discussion of big tech in the time of corona

The Virus Changed the Way We Internet

The loneliness epidemic and our previous discussion of it on TFTW

Chinese AI beats 15 doctors in tumour diagnosis competition and our previous discussion of AI successes in diagnosis

Facial recognition is no match for face masks, but things are changing fast

Real World Masked Face Recognition data set

Listen to our new series – Corona Business Insights


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