We are all Journalists

It seems that the US Senate wants to redefine the term “journalist” with the so-called “Shield Law”.

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/09/12/senate-panel-approves-media-shield-law/

Of course, this means excluding Julian Assange as a “journalist”:


http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/09/terrorists-and-julian-assange-arent-considered-journalists-senate/69355/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/media-shield-law_n_3912955.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

Whatever they say, with the power of the internet at our disposal, we are all journalists.

we are all journalists

Coders seek the truth

Why do you debug your code? Because you seek the truth.

What is the truth? Code that works.

It’s impossible for a coder not to want to seek the truth, otherwise why would they waste time writing code that doesn’t work? Code must work. That’s the point of it. Thus, coders seek the truth. When we debug and trace, and spend days in search of the cause of a bug in our code, we are seeking the truth.

It therefore becomes ingrained in the coder to seek the truth at all levels. Perhaps this explains why we have whistle blowers and hackers that want to expose wrongdoing – Aaron Swartz, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and many others. When you spend your time seeking the truth in code, why would you not seek it elsewhere?

These people are not “hacking”, nor “whistle-blowing”, they are debugging. They’ve found an issue, and filed a bug report with reproducible test cases.

This begs the question – if coders seek the truth, what about non-coders? For example, certain so-called “managers”, or “directors”. These people get to the top of the greasy pole by obfuscation and lies. They operate behind closed doors, wheeling and dealing, bigging themselves up, putting their name to work that others have done, and continue to protect themselves by concealing the truth.

In terms of coding, they publish phony APIs that serve as a bogus front to private, undocumented methods and frameworks. Consequently, the organisational program becomes hampered by bugs, and any attempt to debug it by those suffering the consequences leads to accusations of “whistle blowing”, or “trouble making”.

If the organisation we belong to can’t be debugged because we’re being fed phony data, we leave.

After all, we seek the truth.

what is truth

We can be Heroes, for ever and ever

Julian Assange
Bradley Chelsea Manning
Aaron Swartz
Kim Dotcom
Edward Snowden
Us

We can all play our part, however small. Every act, however small, adds up to a war of attrition. For example:

Use Mega to store your files
Use the latest TOR and TOR Browser
Don’t use GMail or Skype
Use PGP for email
Encrypt everything!

heroes

Gamification and Vacuous Neologisms

I read a post this morning by Nigel Green – Four G’s: Gartner, Gamification Getting Things Done & Game Theory

A nice post, fair enough. But the part that made me choke on my cornflakes* was this quote from Gartner’s Steve Prentice:

We all do Gamification already. Gamification is when we create a To Do List and enjoy the satisfaction of ticking items off and finally completing the list. It gives us focus and goals to achieve.

No, no, no, no, no! When I tick a task off of my To Do list it’s because I damn well made myself do it in spite of not wanting to. It’s called “discipline”. Do I need another word for this?

What’s the value in using another word for something I already do? When I’m on my daily jog I set myself small goals to make it more interesting, such as “run to the next lamp-post”. “Gamification!” goes the cry. Setting goals and achieving them is now “Gamification”. Groan. So what added value does this re-branding provide? To me, none. To a consultant, an academic, or an author, possibly a whole lot – opportunities for workshops, for consultancy, perhaps a paper, or a trend-setting “How To” book.

A quick Googling of the neologism led me to this article from How Stuff Works:

McGonigal believes that if people worldwide could play more, not less, in the right game scenario, their experience could help solve some of the world’s biggest problems like hunger, poverty and global conflict.

My heart sinks.

And this:

In his 2010 book “Game-Based Marketing,” co-authored with writer Joselin Linder, Zichermann defines a related term he coined: funware. Funware describes the everyday activities we’re already engaging in that we consider a game. Zichermann explains that business should look for ways to apply funware in their marketing. Funware, he says, is the core component in applying gamification to business.

My heart sinks even further. This is the kind of nonsense Douglas Adams would have included in the “B” Ark.

But, sadly, I need to get back to work, there’s a bug I need to fix. Damn, if only I had some Funware to fix it.

(* Disclaimer – I don’t actually eat cornflakes for breakfast, preferring instead that prince of foods, the muffin)

MOOCs

Most of the recent anti-MOOC commentary by the cleverati sounds more like sour grapes to me. One bogus argument is that courses achieve a low completion rate. 10% of several thousand is doing OK by anybody’s book.

Here are some comments from Tucker Balch who’s actually taught a MOOC:

The cost for a MOOC is zero. All a student need do is provide an email address, and click a button labeled “sign me up.”

Failing a course at a university is costly in many ways for a student. Besides the time and funds lost, there’s the cost of that “F” on the transcript. There are no such costs associated with MOOCs.

But MOOC completion rates aren’t really low in the context of Internet engagement. A click through rate of 5% for a google ad is considered a strong success. Convincing 5% to engage intellectually for 8 weeks is, I think, a big deal.

A refreshing change to the the tiresome armchair punditry of those who typically haven’t taken a MOOC or taught one. It reminds me of the brouhaha in the 1980s when the UK Musician’s Union tried to limit the use of Samplers because they feared that “real” musicians would be done out of a job. That’s the real issue here isn’t it? The bogus edutech cleverati weren’t consulted, MOOCs have been launched without their (unwanted) say-so, and they’re basically out of a job.