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: You’d be stretched to find someone who hasn’t experienced some kind of interruption during a video conference call! This cartoon resonates with me, as my cat just loves subtly waving his tail in front of the camera, or meowing loudly – out of sight – or whacking me discretely with a paw when I’m trying to talk. He can sit all day somewhere on my desk and not make a sound or movement, yet when the video conference starts, as the cartoon says: It’s showtime!

Live-streaming helped China’s farmers survive the pandemic. It’s here to stay.

Anne says: During times of crisis, it’s not uncommon to hear of initiatives that address problems. New problems, ones that wouldn’t have been apparent if things were business as usual. But they’re not and this is when human innovation comes to the fore. This article describes how Chinese farmers have deployed live-streaming, setup e-commerce apps, found new revenue sources and created entirely new ways of distributing their products.

The story focuses on Li, a flower farmer, who as the lockdowns across China had no way to distribute his flowers (daily) to his usual supply chain. The company had shut down for the Chinese New Year holidays, and then lockdown stopped collection and distribution of flowers. For farmers, this sort of disruption to their supply chain can result in masses of products going to waste. This is where it gets innovative – an online retailer was offering live-streaming to enable farmers to connect directly with customers, to show and discuss their products. And this is where it takes off – backed by a couple of China’s mega-tech companies, a new industry has developed. Live-streaming rural initiatives, engagement-centric formats (already highly popular in China), the use of mobile apps, and logistics networks that operate from farm to home. Taobao (the live-streaming platform) had about 1,000 farmers before COVID, now they have over 50,000 rural live-streamers and they’re aiming for at least 200,000 by the end of the year.

There’s a couple of case studies with more details, which makes it all sound so straightforward. But think about it this way: the technology to set up these initiatives already existed, people were already using technology in this way to some degree (not so much directly with farmers). What creates innovation is tapping into existing networks and rethinking or reframing engagement. It’s not just a short-term bandaid, this is a new way of operating. It’s inspiring when you consider what’s possible and what can be achieved in a short period of time. So why not think about how we’re currently working in lockdown situations and consider new ways to create opportunities for the future of work. I’m looking forward to more stories like this, more people finding solutions that challenge traditional ways of working and more innovation.

Readhttps://www.technologyreview.com/2020/05/06/1001186/china-rural-live-streaming-during-cornavirus-pandemic/

Watch my kids, please: Parents hire Zoom babysitters so they can shelter in peace

Anne says: Yes – it’s a thing! Zoom Babysitters!! (I hope there’s no Zoom bombers offering their services as babysitters!)

So – you’re all at home, the entire family. The children are supposed to be doing home-schooling while the parents are supposed to be working. But – we all know what happens in the next chapter – chaos! If only you could keep the children busy while you’re taking one of those omnipresent video conferences, if only there was a babysitting or teaching service. Well, of course, there is! Another example of people using existing technologies to find innovative solutions.

Babysitting sessions are not just random hookups, they’re carefully planned by appropriately qualified people. And there’s a recommendation that 45 minutes is about the limit  – perhaps that should be the limit for meetings as well?? What is particularly interesting is the use of grounded pedagogical principles of on-screen learning. It’s not just about entertaining them, seriously, if they’re bored, they’ll just walk away (I would!) – it’s about understanding how children learn and creating engagement in this unusual context that is more complex than just babysitting. And in some ways, there’s an underpinning message about engaging adults as well – but I’ll talk about that another time!

Readhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/04/30/zoom-virtual-babysitters-pandemic/

Notre Dame – One year on

Anne says: While we’re all aware of the impact on people during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve seen how animals and wildlife are reacting to people being absent from their environments, we may not be aware of other projects that have been impacted. One year ago, fire devastated Notre Dame, and in Friday Faves at that time (18 April 20193 May 201910 May 2019, and 24 May 2019) we covered the role and use of technology to guide the restoration. But now, the virus has created another obstacle.

There’s an urgent need to stabilize the structure – but with all works halted due to lockdown since 17 March in France, there’s concern that the ceiling in the spire may collapse. Another uncertain future as the virus impacts so many aspects of our world.

Readhttps://www.wsj.com/articles/one-year-after-blaze-notre-dame-rebuild-is-in-limbo-11586954747

What Google searches tell us about our coronavirus thoughts and fears

Jakkii says: We’ve talked a lot over the past weeks about various aspects of isolation and lockdown, from grief to a lack of focus and so on. With a look at Google Trends, we can glean some data-driven insights into our collective thoughts, fears and concerns from what we’re searching for on Google.

This article is an interview with Google’s data editor Simon Rogers, in which he explains what Google Trends is and why it’s useful, before answering questions about surprising, weird and concerning searches. They also go on to discuss how what people search for might be useful for finding patterns and models that could be built around that, whether that’s in support of epidemiology, policy, or otherwise.

The article piqued my interest and I spent some time poking around on Google Trends this morning. The default geolocation is the US when I view it, however, it also gives worldwide data and allows you to drill into specific countries, including Australia. One of the things I found most intriguing was the difference in trending questions – while the US is for the past day and the worldwide and Australian set are for the past week, it’s an interesting insight in the different preoccupations between countries (US vs AU) and, overall, what the world is asking most.

Sadly, though not surprisingly, the question of how many people have died is a common one, and it does beg the question of how much this affects our collective psyche, even in a place with Australia with – thankfully – relatively few deaths. You can see from the images above that we are still asking how many people have died – mostly focused on the US – though we’re also very focused on ourselves: what does this mean for me with regards to tax, accessing my super, and using (or not using) COVIDSafe? All of these anxieties, stresses, fears and concerns don’t leave us when we start work for the day – they’re always with us, even if they sit in the background – and that can have an impact on us, from our ability to focus, meet deadlines, be “productive”, and so on. Add on distractions and responsibilities in the home and we’re all doing it tough in our own ways. Hopefully, we’re mostly coping OK, but we still need to keep looking out for one another both socially and in our workplaces amongst our direct reports, our teams and our colleagues.

One of the trends that stood out most to me can be seen in the lead image (above), whereby in Australia there was a 5000% rise this week in people asking the question “what does hotdesking mean?” I’m ever so curious now, as well – why are they asking? Is it because they’re now being asked to hotdesk? (I hope not!) Or because they’re hearing that hotdesking will not be permitted in the return to the workplace? Was there some sort of announcement on hotdesking that I missed? As it turns out, by doing some googling of my own (for the record, I searched “Australia hotdesking” ; ) ), it turns out that yes, I did miss the prompt: Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy specifically called out the need for employers to reduce hotdesking this week, leading to a sudden surge in people asking what it actually means.

Aside from being interesting, it’s also a good reminder that a) not everyone will hear our message the first (or maybe even 99th) time we say it; and b) that we need to be careful with the language we use in relation to our audience, and consider whether blanket messaging or targetted messaging is required. Sometimes, blanket messaging is unavailable, so we then need to consider whether follow up communication, information or question & answer sessions might be useful to ensure both the big picture, as well as the right and relevant detail, are understood. That is the ‘push’ side of communication & knowledge-flow, of course, while the search data looks really at the ‘pull’. Depending on the tools we have available to us, we can also look at search trends in our own organisations – not just during the pandemic, but at any time. What are people searching for? Are they getting results and finding the information they need? And how do the search trends change over time? These kinds of insights can be invaluable, for discovering information black holes (people getting zero results for their search), for understanding what people want and need to know, and for identifying the impact of change.

And you might just find some weird and interesting (though hopefully not inappropriate) stuff in there, too – like the suddenly common Google search for “drive-by birthday party”. What might your search results say about you?

Readhttps://www.vox.com/recode/2020/5/5/21243854/google-trends-search-coronavirus-simon-rogers

Around the house

Jakkii says: The weekly ‘around the house’ segment doesn’t really need much introduction at this point! While restrictions are slowly starting to ease in various ways around most states and territories in Australia, for the time being, most of us will still be spending a lot of time at home, just slightly less than before with the ability to picnic outdoors or visit another household (or even go to the pub for up to 2 hours in the Northern Territory!) coming soon.

No spare time, though, or just over it all? Don’t worry – you’re not alone! Free time for new hobbies? Tell ’em they’re dreamin’

Friday Funnies

(like our cartoon of the day – turns out it’s not just cats!)
 

 

Misinformation Friday Five

COVID-19 Friday Five

Work Friday Five

Tech Friday Five

Social Media Friday Five

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: as travel stops, Airbnb and its ‘super hosts’ struggle for survival. 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

03:50 – Airbnb struggles to chart its course amid travel halt

Other stories we bring up

Our recent discussion of climate and the environment in the time of the pandemic on Corona Business Insights

Facebook’s Libra has failed

Chat with a famous author or listen to storytime with Airbnb’s new literary experiences on World Book Day

Is this the end of Airbnb?

Can Airbnb survive coronavirus in Citylab

How the Covid-19 crisis affected Airbnb in the Guardian

Airbnb hosts say they’re getting little from the $250 million relief fund

Our previous discussion on Airbnb’s platform design

Listenhttps://sbi.sydney.edu.au/airbnb-and-travel-bans-on-the-future-this-week/


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