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

Blockchain: Reaping the benefits or going cold?

Anne says: This week the Australian Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), a federal government initiative, has been investigating blockchain and the potential for government use, the benefits, the maturity of the technology and willingness to adopt. Chief Digital Officer Peter Alexander reports that the technology is yet to prove its worth. Their recommendation:

“…that blockchain is at the “top of a hype cycle” and is currently less effective than other existing technologies in delivering government services.”

Although not ruling it out for future use, they believe the current hype is being fueled by big vendors and not users and deliverers of service. The announcement cites a number of reasons including the lack of standardisation of the technology, the anonymous nature and lack of trusted relationships.

Overall, I’m disappointed and somewhat dismayed by their position. The interest and uptake globally, by large companies and governments, is beyond hype. I have written previously about blockchain being adopted in Catalonia and am involved in research studies with the Blockchain Institute of Technology in Barcelona. Reflecting on the DTA decision, I found an article from Deloitte that framed the challenges ahead for blockchain adoption and perhaps provide some insight into how the DTA has arrived at their conclusions.

The key issues identified in the article may underpin some of the DTAs concerns: at the moment, the processing of transactions is comparatively slow compared to current systems; lack of standards and interoperability between blockchain platforms; the ability to integrate or connect with existing enterprise systems; and the regulatory concerns such as privacy and enforceability of contracts are all inhibiting widespread adoption. If you take these issues at face value, you could also arrive at the same conclusions as DTA. But, do you remember when the internet and email were first introduced?

The Deloitte article identifies five key vectors of progress that blockchain will need to address to increase adoption:

  1. Increase in transaction speeds;
  2. Standards and interoperability;
  3. Ease of implementation;
  4. Regulatory advancements; and
  5. Expansion of consortia.

The article expands on each of these vectors to provide visibility on what progress is being made to address these issues.

To ignore blockchain and its future potential is similar to the flat-earth movement. It’s early days, but many organisations and governments globally have well-advanced initiatives that will enable their ability to scale projects and policies quickly to readily incorporate the new processes. It looks like Australia may not be one of these.

Readhttps://www.innovationaus.com/2018/10/DTA-goes-cold-on-blockchain

Readhttps://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/focus/signals-for-strategists/value-of-blockchain-applications-interoperability.html

Proof your office sucks

Joel says: We spend much of our adult lives at work, yet many of us may be working in environments that, based on some recent studies, could be considered ‘awful’ or ‘wrong’. Open plan offices were meant to make us all happier and more collaborative, but recent studies have found instead people are less productive and more frustrated.

This bizarre new invention, described as horse blinkers for humans, demonstrates just how awful open plan offices can be. Technology company Panasonic unveiled its Wear Space prototype, designed to make life easier for fed-up and stressed workers stuck in bullpen-style workplaces.

The wraparound visor significantly limits the sense of sight and sound, meaning the wearer can more effectively focus directly on what’s in front of them. It’s fitted with noise-cancelling headphones that have wireless and bluetooth connectivity.

Many businesses, especially in Australia, are moving towards activity-based working and more agile workplaces. Companies who reported having agility-focused layouts in 2018 increased nine per cent on last year to 42 per cent according to ‘Great Place to Work’ research. But, as the article points out, not everyone likes hot-desking. So, are these “horse blinkers for humans” the answer?

What do you think? Would you wear these to manage life in an open-plan office?

Readhttps://www.news.com.au/finance/work/at-work/this-odd-new-invention-dubbed-human-blinkers-shows-just-how-awful-modern-office-designs-are/news-story/c1b378470f5e43c653ae364ce0553640

3D printing – rebuilding communities

Helen says: I know very little about 3D printing and up until now, I have thought of it as a process that, through the use of 3D scanning or a computer-aided design (CAD), small three dimensional objects can be created cheaply by adding binding materials layer upon layer. I came across this very short article in The Hustle and, whilst I admit the feel-good nature of this story got me in, I was also interested to learn that homes are now being built using 3D printing – this production is referred to as additive manufacturing. A house can be built for as little as $4,000 and takes between 12-24 hours to complete. Where it gets warm and fuzzy for me is how a charity is using this technology to change the lives of individuals, families and communities in the developing world. It’s worth a read to learn more.

Readhttps://thehustle.co/3d-printing-icon-funding-round/

100 websites that shaped the internet as we know it

Jakkii says: Have you ever thought about who and how the web has been shaped into what we know it as today? There’s probably some obvious sites that spring to mind – the big tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook & Twitter, for instance – but what about blog sites? Or listicles? Or memes? Or way back to Geocities?

Keeping it light this week, my shared piece explores 100 websites that have helped make the internet what it is today, and there’s some interesting inclusions. Each comes only with a brief paragraph as to its impact, but it’s an intriguing exercise to extrapolate from each – and from the entire list – how we got the web we have today, for all its benefits and flaws.

What did you think about the list? Anything not included that should have been, or included that surprised you? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Readhttps://www.gizmodo.com.au/2018/10/100-websites-that-shaped-the-internet-as-we-know-it/

Social media updates

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: Sweet dreams, lots of streams, and the end of the world.  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:

We should think very seriously about what a bed is today

Internet consumption outpaces traditional TV in China

7 futurists on what they think will kill off humanity and 7 books on the topics

Other stories we bring up:

How sleep became a billion-dollar business

You’re about to drown in streaming subscriptions

Listenhttp://sbi.sydney.edu.au/the-future-this-week-19-oct-18-beds-streaming-and-the-end-of-the-world/


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