for W3c validation
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 art of contact tracing
Anne says: Contact tracing is being endorsed globally as one of the critical virus control strategies. And regardless of various apps being touted as the best way to manage it, there’s still a need for people to do the leg work – that is, call the contacts, discuss the issues, and advise re quarantine requirements. But what type of person will be good at this sort of job? There has to be a broad skill set that is part investigator, counsellor, problem-solver and more. You have to engage with people who may be frightened, dismissive, aggressive, confused and not willing to share or unable to recall details. How do you train people to do this?
If you want to understand the processes of contact tracing and it’s importance in pandemics, this TED Talk with Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer of Partners in Health, reveals how her teams of people have used contact tracing in vulnerable communities to manage outbreaks of disease like Ebola. Her experience and insights should be used more widely to inform our current needs for contact tracing.
As a learning specialist, I was pondering ways to create this type of investigative mindset when I came across two articles by journalists that had both enrolled in the John Hopkins University course being offered online through Coursera. It’s a free six-hour course, that includes topics on virology, epidemiology, medical ethics, privacy, and interview techniques and it’s open to anyone (if you’re interested).
This article and accompanying video from Wall Street Journal’s Alex Janin also includes interview responses from Dr Emily Gurley, Associate Professor of Health at John Hopkins University. Both reviewers had similar experiences and it seems like a grounded, basic introduction. But when you look at the scale (cited in the Wired article) that will be required, the sheer number of people need to be up-skilled – it seems like an overwhelming task. Certainly, the online course offers the basics, but this is a highly sensitive role and I would expect a lot more in-depth practice and guidance before I’d be comfortable allowing someone who has completed a 6 hour online interactive course to be performing their role as a fully-fledged tracer.
The Wired article mentions a number of other courses – all conducted online through Universities – that include extending into practical role plays. I’d be interested to review the assessment methodology of these courses – testing knowledge and recall online is straightforward, however, being able to evaluate someone’s ability to perform a multi-layered role such as contact tracing requires contextual experiences under a variety of conditions. Without this type of assessment we could be producing masses of people who can figure out dates and potential spread, but miss the nuances of deep contact tracing and managing people’s anxiety and challenges.
Some of the challenges we need to address, in addition to how we assess people performing these roles, includes the management and privacy of personal data. In times of a pandemic, do our normal rules of privacy apply? Or should we concede that for the greater good, we need to share more details? These are some of the ethical issues that contact tracing apps have flagged (watch this space for more on apps in the following weeks). There’s an example provided in the Wall Street Journal article – it reminded me of the trolley problem to some extent. What would you do if you knew someone had tested positive and was a close friend of a family member? Under privacy regulations, you can do nothing.. but under pandemic situations, can you withhold that information and allow a family member to become infected?
Both articles suggest that unemployed people could be a great resource for scaling contact tracing during the current crisis – but I wonder if we can scale the type of skills required effectively and rapidly through these online courses? I think I’m going to try out some of these courses myself – anyone else interested in sharing their thoughts?
During a pandemic, stalkerware becomes even more sinister
Jakkii says: Still pandemic related, but rather than contact tracing as Anne has delved into this week, it’s a different type of tracing from me, and one that is insidious and disturbing – the rise and rise of ‘stalkerware’ during the pandemic.
What is stalkerware?
applications that can spy on partners’ texts, calls, social media use and geolocation information
If you’re not already disturbed, you should be.
Under normal circumstances, stalkerware can make it difficult for domestic violence victims to get support since it can monitor targets’ every move on their phones. But during a pandemic, stalkerware can make it near impossible for victims to get help, since an internet-connected device may very nearly be their only lifeline to seek outside support during the global health crisis.
There are a lot of technologies and uses for technologies out there that bring to mind Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm, when he says the oft-quoted line, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” There is a raging lack of ethics in technology, a disturbing willingness to embrace it (governments and facial recognition tech, I’m looking at you), and a lagging set of laws that not only aren’t keeping pace with technology, are being created by people who don’t seem to necessarily understand technology, let alone the broader ethical implications and the very legitimate concerns about impinging on citizens’ civil liberties.
It is important as consumers and as citizens that we probe and question technology, and that we make ourselves aware of the ethical issues surrounding advancements in technology. Embracing technology blindly because we can create it is foolish at best, and most certainly potentially dangerous. Also? Don’t use stalkerware to spy on your partner.
Around the house
[stray cat on our front porch]
6-year-old: Can we keep it?
Me: Your mom is allergic.
6: Mom can stay outside.
— James Breakwell, Exploding Unicorn (@XplodingUnicorn) June 8, 2020
- Elton John launches weekly ‘classic concert’ YouTube series for coronavirus relief
- Enjoy the best memes of 2020 so far
- Check out the popular class that Yale lets anyone take for free
- Work your way through this list of 60 fun things to do at home (at least the ones you haven’t already done!)
- Join the crowd and cook everything from Nat’s What I Reckon (language warning if kids are around!)
We walked into our apartment building when my 3yo shouted “oh shit we forgot face masks!”
Tune in next week for another episode of “foul mouthed toddlers of the pandemic”
— WTFDAD (@daddydoubts) June 9, 2020
Much like the pandemic, this vintage store warning sign escalated quickly pic.twitter.com/wm9LMVw7Dx
— Chris Illuminati (@chrisilluminati) June 30, 2020
I just watched this kid in the midst of a water gun fight stop and yell “this the best day of my stupid annoying life!” That’s some big 2020 energy right there.
— WTFDAD (@daddydoubts) June 25, 2020
Misinformation Friday Five
- Facebook’s war against one of the internet’s worst conspiracy sites
- China’s influence via WeChat is ‘flying under the radar’ of most Western democracies
- Facebook has bent its hate speech and misinformation policies around Trump since before he was president, report says
- Why do WhatsApp users end up spreading misinformation in India?
- Peers call for tougher regulation of digital and social media in UK
COVID-19 Friday Five
- Families in Australia Survey: Life during COVID-19
- COVID-19 unmasked – exploring the emotional effects of a pandemic
- As the coronavirus spread, two social media communities drifted apart
- Post-Covid New Zealand tackles a new threat – anxiety over an uncertain future
- Coronavirus is taking English pubs back in time
Work Friday Five
- Historic drop in employee engagement follows record rise
- Most workers want ‘hybrid’ jobs at the office and at home after coronavirus, study finds
- How to sustain your organization’s culture when everyone is remote
- Remote work is making us more innovative — so don’t dread the ‘new normal’
- Trust me – I’m an employer! How the tech-enabled return to the workplace will pivot on a basic human concern – trust
Tech Friday Five
- Google brings its AI-powered SmartReply feature to YouTube
- Apple strong-arms entire CA industry into one-year certificate lifespans
- Networks of self-driving trucks are becoming a reality in the US
- MIT removes huge dataset that teaches AI systems to use racist, misogynistic slurs
- How deepfakes could actually do some good
Social Media Friday Five
- The rise of bots as social media influencers – and why it matters
- White YouTube creators struggle to address past use of racist characters
- Twitch temporarily suspends Trump for ‘hateful conduct,’ while Reddit bans pro-Trump forum
- Could a boycott kill Facebook? It’s cost $72B so far, but Facebook UK boss says if there’s hate in the world there’ll be hate on Facebook
- I tried to be Twitter famous
Corona Business Insights Podcast
How the four-day work week conversation gains new momentum and new converts in the time of COVID-19.
As COVID-19 sets out to change the world forever, join Sandra Peter and Kai Riemer as they think about what’s to come in the future of business.