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.
This week, our Friday Faves coincide with the funeral service and celebration of Nat’s life amongst her many family & friends. It is only fitting, then, we share another special edition of our Friday Faves series in celebration of Nat. This week, a team-curated selection of some of her many wonderful contributions to our Friday Faves since the inception of the series.
Jurassic Park and existentialism
Jakkii says: Ever the over-achiever, back when we first started doing our Friday Faves in early 2017 Nat would have multiple interesting articles – and fascinating insights – to share every week, usually while most of us were struggling to find what to say about just one! I loved reading her words and her chosen articles each and every week, so I found it quite a challenge to choose a Friday Fave to share. And so in channelling my “inner-Nat”, I’ve gone with a couple of different contributions that cover two of her favourite subjects – Jurassic Park and existentialism.
Nat said: I thought I’d share two articles this week which both touch on existentialism: What does it mean to be a human and live a meaningful, authentic life? My PhD aligns to an existential philosophical paradigm, so I tend to seek out these types of news stories each week (I’m quite the life of the party!). This week I saw an article about a 7-hour long university class called ‘Existential Despair’. I thought the class description was simply describing how I spend most of my evenings…
Jakkii says: I chose this contribution for its perfect mix of over-achieving (sharing multiple articles), thoughtful contemplation of existentialism as it related to both articles, and that touch of Nat humour that was so witty – observational, often self-deprecating, and always sharply insightful.
16 March 2018: Jurassic World Alive AR game is Pokémon Go with dinosaurs
Nat said: I saw the first film at the cinema when I was just four years old, and I instantly became hooked. To this day, Jurassic Park remains my all-time favourite movie. I’m not lying when I say I have an obsession. I went on the JP ride at Universal Studios in Hollywood when I was 8 years old. At 12 years old, I wore my “I survived Jurassic Park the ride” t-shirt to year 7 camp (in hindsight this was probably the reason why many people didn’t talk to me on day one), and earlier this year – for my 30th – I visited Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii…
Jakkii says: It’s just not possible for me not to share at least one of Nat’s contributions that referenced one of her great loves – Jurassic Park! In this piece, Nat was only a couple of months back from her birthday trip to Hawai’i where she – of course – visited Kualoa Ranch where some of the films were shot. I chose this one for the very personal insights she shared regarding Jurassic Park, from her early experience of the film through to her adult realisation of how the story explores existentialism and where it fits into her philosophical view of the world.
Today, in her hometown of Canberra we say our farewells to Nat, and as her friend and colleague, this is another deeply sad day in a series of deeply sad days since we learned of her passing. Nat was a wonderful part of our team, and her sharp insights, unique perspectives, and her warm and fun personality are sorely missed by us all.
Hard work and wearing many hats
Helen says: There are so many great pieces of Nat’s to choose from and the one I selected celebrates some of her wonderful attributes. She was hardworking, had many hats – consultant, presenter, student and teacher, and her exceptional critical thinking, coupled with her generosity of heart and her ability to make others laugh, made her one very special person. We miss you Nat, rest in peace.
Nat said: For nine hours every third week, in three-hour chunks, I stand up in the middle of a room and give a performance to a room of 50 people. This performance, however, is nothing more than the exhausting teaching effort I must make to keep the attention and engagement of the postgraduate uni students who attend my class. It somewhat perplexes me that in each session I teach, students are glued to their devices; almost giving me the impression that they do not want to be in the room at all. Which, funnily enough, begs the question — why are they? If all they do when they come to class is sit scrolling through their Facebook news feed, why are they paying thousands of tuition fees for the privilege? However, there would be fault on my part to assume that students are “slacking off” merely because they are engaging with a device as I speak.
The shared article, promoting James Williams’ latest book, talks about the attention economy in the age of digitization; saying that our technological devices constantly serve as “distractions” and deviate us away from our task at-hand. Although I might occasionally complain about my students not “paying attention”, I think some of the assumptions being made in the article need unpacking. What the article sets-up as its main argument is that the devices themselves are what drive us to distraction. However, this idea seems to be premised on the belief that the attention we give to our devices is not what we “ought-to-be” paying attention to. This is where context comes to play a fundamental role.
From my teaching point of view, for example, yes some students are mindlessly scrolling their social media feed, or chatting with friends online — being “distracted” by the lure of their device which is much more riveting than my lecture, but many are using their device to make notes or look up more information based on what I talk about. My perception of student “attention”, as skewed with the presence of a device’s mediation, impacts the relationship that both me and the students come to have. Teaching and education are being changed precisely because of this involved technology, which itself challenges how we perceive the student-teacher relationship and what we think we know about attention as needing to be a singular focus. In other contexts, such as live television shows where you are encouraged to tweet at the same time, the social media element has been shown to enhance the level of engagement a viewer has with the television show. To an observer, however, attention would be seen as lacking as one moves between screens and does not give “full” attention to one specific medium.
In fact, the very nature of our conscious attention has always left out more information than it takes in. When you open your phone to check your bank balance, as an example, your eyes would “see” the digital clock displayed on your screen, but as your attention is not on the clock, you would not be able to recall the time, if I asked you what it had said on your phone, when you then put your phone down. Even without a device in our hands, what our eyes and ears pick-up is nothing compared to the infinite amounts of sensory information our body receives but does not give conscious attention to.
What the article is really getting to is not so much an issue of attention, but our usage of time. We have all these known worldly problems that need solving, but we somewhat waste time by being on our devices instead. One of my pet-peeves, for example, is people who go to a live concert only to watch and record the artist through their mobile screen, or people who go out in nature and just take photos instead of experiencing the views for themselves. We record our lives, in these contexts, which can be viewed as a lack of attention, but their very activity is based on wanting to capture a moment “in time” — to reflect back on the experience, or to share the experience with others at a later time. Attention in this light is not so much a lack of it, but rather a demonstration for what matters to us; something that illustrates our attitude towards life (and technology) which we may or may not be reflecting upon, but perhaps we need to be. The rhetoric of the distraction of technology should therefore not be viewed under the guise of being attention-stealing, but rather our technology usage should make us question what we are currently valuing in our lives.
1 June 2018: Technology is driving us to distraction
Backing up ideas with academic skills and research
Joel says: Nat was always a great forward thinker who could not only pick interesting topics to discuss, whether that be in person or in our weekly Friday Faves blog, but back it up with her academic skills and research. I really liked this piece that Nat posted for us back in January of this year that discusses what many of us are doing right now: working. And chances are we could be doing it wrong.
Nat was a fan of philosopher Alan Watts and shared this piece to inform our readers of his research and his discovery that the way many of us in the West work is what he considers wrong. It’s a great piece that shows how forward-thinking Nat was and how her entries for our Friday Faves were always well informed and backed by academic research. Nat said:
Nat said: In sharing this article I want to draw your attention to the questioning of “work”, that thing that comprises most of our lives. The word itself means physical and mental effort, and many people wake up each morning feeling dreary about the day to come ‘at work’. One of the many inspirational things Watts says about work is the encouragement for people to find what they love, then make a living from it. Throughout his teachings and writings he asks, ‘What would you do if money were no object’? Once you answer that question, you can make a living from doing just that, as true happiness, in his view, comes from skill and enjoyment in vocation. This is in direct contrast to what work has become these days – a means to an end via the pursuit of money. I doubt you would answer Watts’ question with “I would sit in front of a computer screen, five days per week, doing tasks for someone I dislike, for a company I do not believe in”. So why do you do it?
We in the West tend to divide life into work and play, which means most people work at tasks they hate so that they can make enough money to stop doing it and just ‘play’. But what is that money spent on if not the products and services made by other people who also hate their work? This is the rat race 101 and, in theory, we could have built our entire economy purely from what people love doing. Instead of calling it work, we would have realized it was play.
The shared article sheds light on Watts’ stance that there is in fact no such thing as ‘work’ per se, as life itself is ultimately playful. It is our human judgment and taking ourselves much too seriously that we think work should both define and comprise the majority of our waking lives. I often ask people, including the students I teach, “Which is far worse? To have succeeded or to have failed in an occupation you spend 40 years hating?” Ever since I was a child I would tell myself that I wanted to earn a living by reading and writing, and all of my jobs have enabled me to do just that – especially in my current position as a PhD student. As a result, my interests and ‘work’ have always been complimentary. I get paid to do what I love doing. Yes, it can be hard, but funnily enough enjoyment can come from overcoming difficult tasks.
19 Jan 2018: Our idea of work is completely wrong
Wonder Woman and feminism
Anne says: In our tribute to Nat on a day when many people will be gathering to celebrate her life and remember her contributions, I particularly wanted to highlight some of her feminist views. We had both shared some common experiences in academia and our selected technology research fields. These views weren’t always as prolific as her techno-philosophy articles or as witty in her life observations, but she was strongly defiant in recognising the inequality and calling it out! Go girl!!
Here’s 2 articles that give you some insight – one from 2017 and one from March this year.
Women Take Charge at the Oscars
Nat said: This week was the 90th Academy Awards which saw women in Hollywood come together to demonstrate their stance on feminism. This global display of unity just so happens to coincide with International Women’s Day which took place yesterday on Thursday 8 March, and with a report by Sydney University (where I’m based) regarding women and the future of work featuring in the Sydney Morning Herald. The women’s rights movement is however nothing new. In fact, many women have grown restless by the reality that we still have to fight for equal rights in society. I have chosen two reasons why I personally want to keep the conversation and the movement alive, as it is still very much needed.
Firstly, as a white western woman, I live in what is deemed a radically feminist society. Women elsewhere in the world are not afforded the same rights or privileges that I have been granted in life. Even my ability to express my views via this blog post is something millions of women in the world would not be able to do. In recent years, the women’s right movement has been criticized for only focusing on ‘the first world’ and that we women in the West have no idea what true oppression feels like. However, those who see feminism in this light forget that we, as human beings that is, have the capacity to fight more than one battle at a time. We can fight for equality in our own backyard just as much as we can fight for it in other countries. We also forget that the rise of women in power in the West has the potential to help address the problems that other women face elsewhere in the world. If anything, feminism in the West gives a platform to the millions of voiceless women in the world who need to have their stories told so that we may act for change. Nothing means anything in this world if we don’t live a life in servitude of others. Those of us who have a voice and feet to act should do so precisely for those who cannot. The problem then becomes: how?
This brings me to my second reason for sharing this article, and that is because most of my time these days is spent in a male-dominated profession (academia) in another male-dominated area — a business school. It’s fascinating to observe the gender dynamics on display in such a context, and how the women involved have banded together to create their own support system such as ‘women in academia’ and ‘women in business’ community groups. However, the report shared by the SMH outlines that “Just 53 per cent of young working women expect to see an improvement in gender equality in the workforce in the coming decade, while a third expect women’s experiences to remain about the same”. It seems that Frances McDormand’s call for ‘Inclusion Riders‘ during her best actress Oscars speech is something more businesses could be doing. We can only achieve equity (fairness) when we have equality — when everyone, regardless of their age, gender, skin colour, or social class, is afforded the same opportunities in life. This is what the role of an inclusion rider would be for, and perhaps this is where change can start today. We can all stand up and choose to be an inclusion rider in our current workplace contexts. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Nat said: Every so often, I get obsessed with a movie and my latest obsession is Wonder Woman. Not only is the film amazing and, in my opinion, deeply philosophical, but Wonder Woman herself (Gal Gadot) lives and breathes what the character represents. The role itself is one that cannot be faked, and I now have a massive girl crush on Gadot. Due to WW’s box office success, several media outlets are riding its public coattails to talk about female empowerment and applying the principles of the film to the world of business, as is the case with the shared article. Although the article talks about beating the odds, knowing when to move in business, and seeing inspiration as a desirable leadership skill – all of which WW possesses – the article somewhat ignores the deeper message of the film. I mean, just look at the quote the movie ends on:
“I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. And I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves. Something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know, that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be.”
The publicity surrounding the film has somewhat overshadowed what the film represents. In addition to the business-applicable traits of WW, other news stories have focused on Gal Gadot’s low salary as a female in her first leading role, or the controversy in terms of female-only screenings shown in New York, or the banning of the film in Qatar and Lebanon because of Gadot’s Israeli background.
Other stories have focused on WW being more successful than the male-dominated DC films, or they have focused on Gadot herself such as the nerd outrage over the size of her “heart” compared to the more busty original comics. The irony of such articles is that the movie itself promotes implicit unity in the men-versus-women gender debate, and sees the connection of all people regardless of who or what they identify with. If you haven’t seen the film, do yourself a favour and go watch it. No article about the movie, including my own fangirl post, will give the film the justice it deserves.
Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast
As a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney Business School and a team member at Ripple Effect Group, Nat was a valued member of the Digital Disruption Research Group along with Anne & Jakkii and Nat’s PhD supervisor, Kai, of The Future This Week podcast. In this episode of the podcast, Sandra & Kai share a tribute to Nat.
This week: That’s obvious, skimming is the new black, and mountains of stuff. 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:
Other stories we bring up:
Don’t forget DISRUPT.SYDNEY™ is coming up on Friday, 21 September. Early bird sales end today, 7 September, so don’t delay! Get in touch with Anne for a discount code to save you $60 off the early bird fee – or if you miss it, a special ‘late early bird’ price.