E-Estonia – Is the digital utopia for real?

Eesti Vabariik – the Republic of Estonia

45,339 Km2 and a population 1.3 M people which like a ten time less than Paris or London.

They have a complex and interesting history (actually most countries have an interesting history – but maybe it is a personal taste.)

 

But what is really interesting is how Estonia use the digital to organise their society.

E-residency

E-voting

E-school

E-police

E-etc.

 

It looks quite a digital utopia…

I have more questions than I have answers on this one honestly.

But first, let’s see what this all about…

 

E-Residency in 2 minutes

Simplifying administration.

Everybody’s dream, no?

 

Voting online

 

Probably a good way to increase participation.

 

E-school

Maybe my favourite.

My local school still use a notebook for teacher-parent communications.

Not even emails.

On the other hand, they have a full fledge communication system.

*jealous face*

 

E-police

Ok, that one is freaky.

Minority report anyone?

 

 

Beyond the hype?

I honestly do not know how all this is working for real.

We are all educated enough to understand these nice videos are PR version of the product.

But, still it looks very impressive!

 

What do you think?

If by chance you live in Estonia, I’d love to hear what you guys think.

Please leave a comment below.

 

And if you don’t live in Estonia, how is the digital in your country?

Would you want something like that in your country?

3 elearning platforms you probably never heard of

We always talk about elearning through the lense of MOOCs and self-study management.

WordPress (Sensei, Learndash, LeanPress, WP-Courseware), Moodle, edX, Blackboard, Canvas, Sakai and others come out as the solutions mentioned over and over again.

 

Here I wanted to show you three different directions for education and elearning needs.

 

HR Driven: JollyDeck

JollyDeck is an HR driven elearning platform to help managers and training departments develop and deploy internal learning strategies.

They come with pre-made courses on HR related topic, tools for managers and trainers.

 

 

Microlearning : Moblrn

Learning is hard.

Dropout rate are kind of impressive.

Therefore elearning solutions  are trying to adapt new formats to our overbooked scheduled.

Moblrn is one of these solutions.

Design your couse online and make them available in your app.

 

 

Curriculum Design : Design Jot

Organising the data is kind of critical.

Design Jot is a mobile app designed to help you organise your learning curriculum.

It is made by a major training consultancy, AllenComm

 

 

That’s it.

I just wanted to give some quick preview of what is out there.

I will probably make an other couple of posts on this topic later on.

Meanwhile, if you know of some interesting elearning products or platforms you think should get more exposure, please fell free to drop it down in the comments.

 

 

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10 laws of project management

Augustine’s Law

A bad idea executed to perfection is still a bad idea

Corollary: A good idea poorly executed is of no use to anyone

 

Lakein’s Law

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Eisenhower’s corollary : Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

 

Fitzgerald’s Law

There are two states to any large project :

  • too early to tell
  • and too late to stop

Corollary: Projects have momentum, once started they become increasingly difficult to stop

 

Hofstadter’s Law

It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

 

Parkinson’s Law

Work expands to fill the time available.

Corollary: If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do

 

Constantine’s Law

A fool with a tool is still a fool.

Corollary: A fool with a tool is a more dangerous fool

 

Graham’s Law

If they know nothing of what you are doing, they suspect you are doing nothing

 

Murphy’s Law

If anything can go wrong, it will.

1st corrolary: Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.

2nd corrolary: If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then

 

Kinser’s Law

By the time you finish doing something, you know enough to start

 

 

 

Finish your ideas

 

We all have ideas.

Sometime we don’t even realise we do, as we don’t always pay attention to the flow of our mind.

Some ideas come and pass and never come back.

Some stick around.

Sometime we turn these ideas into action.

But even then we seldom finish them.

 

Parkinson’s law

Parkinson’s law is a project-management rule of thumb stating that :

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

It does have some interesting corollaries, like “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do”  (and jokes aside, it is a really interesting principle which has some curious correlations with the economic law of demand, but that’s off topic for this post.)

The reason it matters – is that we tend to think we have time doing something, until we realise we don’t, and the idea never turn into anything real.

And all good things takes time.

But we don’t have time.

So ideas are started and never finished.

Well… that is not a fatality.

If instead of trying to realise the best version of the idea straight out to the bat, you will be disappointed and will probably have time to finish anyway.

Enter agile.

Release Early, Release Often

Agile is a software principle that was introduced in order to fight the evil Waterfall model of project management which would cause the death of so many projects and actually would burn a lot of money.

Company would start a project and then run out of budget and the project would die.

Quite similar to most of us who start an idea, run out of time and we drop it.

To fight this, the idea was quite simple: deliver as fast as possible the smallest possible piece of software. Don’t overdo it and instead keep working, releasing and improving.

This is also known as an iterative development process, where at each release you improve on the back of the previous one.

TL;DR:

Release early a small version of your grandiose idea is the first step toward completion.

The good thing: each release is a done version.

Done is better than perfect.

 

Just Ship

Agile was a niche innovation mainly in the world of software.

Seth Godin has shared a similar concept with a larger audience.

“What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do is ship”

Shipping is what define a successful creative from a failing one.

For a good reason: the more we overthink our creation, the less likely we are to get it out to the world.

(Side note: the resistance is the core reason why ideas die before they get implemented.)

Watch his talk on on how to avoid sabotaging projects just before we finally finish them.

 

 

How big is Google?

I was working earlier on a post on privacy, then realised I cannot even start to give a proper introduction to it without laying down some facts first.

So, there will be no jumping straight into the subject of privacy, centralisation of the internet, and how politics is affecting the internet as a whole.

Instead, we will take a couple of posts to really define the current state of the internet, also give an historical perspective, before diving into the core of the subject.

How big is Google?

Here is the first short documentary which I wanted to share – and summarise.

This is the work of  Dagogo Altraide, an australian film Maker.

(I will be using more of his materials in future post while digging on this topic.)

 

TL;DW:

Very big.

Google owns :

  • Google : What you search
  • Gmail: What you say and to who
  • Android : Where you live (geo-localisation), what you say (remember “OK Google”?), what you do (which app you open).
  • Youtube : What you watch
  • Maps : Where you go
  • Google docs : What you are working on.

But also:

  • A couple of Artificial intelligence companies
  • A couple of robotic companies

And also:

  • Internet Ballons
  • Quantum computing
  • Some medical hardware products
  • More stuff we don’t even know enough details about

Why should you care?

Even if you don’t hold any Google stock, you should still care.

First, because centralisation and monopolies historically are never in the interest of the end-users. Less choice, less leverage.

Second, because decentralisation of Internet services is what has helped disruption and innovation online for the past 20 years.

Third, because while Google motto was once “Don’t be evil” (and still is part of Google code of conduct) – it has clearly demonstrated over the years that it is closer lip-service than to a real manifesto.

From harvesting your medical records to snooping on your wifi while taking picture of your street, or simply bypassing anti-tracking software without telling anybody, and since they can basically access all information they want on your Android, they do it : ever wonder who see your WiFi password when you save it?

So yeah, this whole “Don’t be evil” thing is more a myth than anything else.

Don’t be mistaken however, I am not ranting against Google here.

I am trying to get the fact – so I can get a better understand of privacy in the 21st century.

And so far, the facts say we have centralised a large part of the Internet into one company and it doesn’t look like a very good sign for the future of the Internet.

Where do we go from here?

In order to better understand the digital landscape as a whole I am going to add a couple of posts on Amazon, Apple and maybe a couple of other companies, and then see how much we can trust them with our data, and if we should even care what they do with this data, and finally see if we have even alternatives to these companies.

 

As usual, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

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#JustAnExample – Donation options – the canary

#JustAnExample is a series where I share some interesting UX / UI and smart copy for your inspiration (and my archive of references).

Asking for donations is never easy.

Well, the Canary found a nice way to phrase it.

 

Why is good?

  • It gives perspective
  • Make you realise that spend money more on dumb shit – so you might as well give them so of it

Side note: I didn’t give them any money. I didn’t even know this paper before I stumbled upon on an article that I can’t even remember what was the topic. Still, the copy used for their call-to-action is actually cool.

 

 

 

 

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Everything is a remix

 

The quote above is a funny, yet very accurate introduction to the topic developed in the documentary by Kirby Ferguson : Everything is a Remix.

(side note: If you care who said this quote go check this link to figure out nobody really knows.)

Everything is a remix explores the concept of originality in creativity.

 

Never heard of it?

Please, take the time to watch it below.

In an era where content creation, and Internet are at the core of our culture and economy, understanding how creativity works is a must-have skill.

 

Here are the 4 episodes and some bullets points for those a bit lazy in a hurry.

 

Episode 1 – Music

Where you learn:

  • Heavy Metal was a term coined to remix text and not music
  • Daft Punk in “Around the world” is just a resampled version from “Good times“,  by Chic – a hit from the late 70’s.
  • Stairway to Heaven opening was not created by Led Zeppelin but was a cover from an other group, Taurus
  • Actually most of Led Zeppelin songs are covers and knock-offs
  • Most of Bob Dylan musics are also covers (explained in detailed in the TED Talk linked below)

 

Episode 2 – Films

  • 74% of hollywood major output are either remix, sequels or books adaptations
  • If you think Star Wars was a very original piece of film, well…  brace yourself, disappointments are coming (Flash Gordon rippoff to heavy Japanese film influence, and more…)
  • Kill bill is a complete mashup of other films, with nearly no piece of original elements

 

Episode 3 – Technology

  • The nature of creativity
  • Computing
  • Science

This episode is more interesting for its historical perspective – as today most of the facts presented about the Mac and computing in general are kind of common knowledge.

And in general, we are more culturally ready to see scientists and engineers build on the top of their predecessors.

 

Episode 4 – Copyrights, Patents

Because we can be as much assholes to each other as we can be great to each other.

Watch this one and educate yourself

Please.

Really.

 

If you want more from Kirby Ferguson:

A case study on the iphone – a clear and his TED Talk 

 

Still reading?

Well, just a few words to wrap this:

Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed, said Antoine Lavoisier – famous chemist from the 18th century

He talked about chemical transformation and how matter works.

Yet, the matter of ideas is pretty similar.

Some thinkers even go as far to say that nothing is ever invented but is only discovered (can’t remember their name – old memories from philosophy classes in high-school – if you have names, drop them in the comment section please).

So anyway – practical considerations :

  • Creativity imply we absorb models and patterns of creations
  • The nature of the transformation is up to us, each will manifest his / her own creativity by remixing the old into a kind of unique new thing that will help share his/her vision of the world.
  • Imposter syndrome is the result of our lack understanding of how creativity works.

Side note on copyright laws:

Copyright laws have long lost their initial purpose of protecting creators, and we cannot change this.

What we can however, is to join the collective effort of creation and that each add his/her own piece to the giant patchwork that is our human creative soul.

Good luck.

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Do what you can’t

They did not know it was impossible so they did it
— Mark Twain

 

Rules,

somehow,

always,

seems to be a barrier to innovation.

 

 

Status-quo is cultural protectionism

The status-quo creates artificial scarcity.

Because it promotes the lack of initiative

It supports business as usual.

The status-quo is opposed to disruption, to change, to innovation.

It is opposed to improvement.

It is the systemic manifestation of the resistance.

It is the bystander effect of our collective intellectual accident.

The status-quo is a social agreement where we agree to live with some specific problem and to not fix them.

Artificial scarcity generated by the lack of action is benefiting somebody.

Side note:

Status-quo is not about things remaining the same.

It is things remaining the same when we have problems we don’t want to fix.

Status-quo into the culture

Creating a culture of conformism

Turning innovation into the realm of a few,

so nobody even question the existence of alternative options.

 

When we agree with the status quo, we agree to die.

Inside.

Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.

— Benjamin Franklin

 

A remedy

Action.

Creation.

Innovation.

Daily, to push to improve.

 

Some dance.

Some write.

Some films.

Some draw.

Some build.

Some code.

Some paint.

 

Every one has a different version.

Find yours.

 

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Milgram experiment, company culture, work ethics

Or why “do as you are told” is a bad idea.

In 1964, Stanley Milgram back then a young researcher at Yale University, published the results a famous experiment known to this day as the Milgram Experiment.

The set up is simple:

The subject of the experiment takes part himself in a (staged) experiment supposed to study the impact of pain on memory and learning.

For this, he is asked by the experimenter to administer increasingly strong electric shocks to a test subject for every wrong answer.

Of course, the test subject is an actor part of the experiment.

Milgram experiment reveal that more than 50% of tested subjects will administer shocks until the end of the experiment, up to the point where this would be lethal for the test subject.

TL;DR;

A figure of authority can convince a regular person to kill, just because ordered to.

 

 

Now before you think this is old shit and that today, people are different:

Here is a video of the Milgram experiment re-enacted, and the results are very consistent with the original study:

 

 

A few more points:

  • This experiments has been re-enacted many times. Each time results have been quite consistent with the original experiment.
  • Men and women scored the same in a variation done on gender
  • Authority is important for this experiment to work (uniform, legitimacy, etc.)
  • Symbols of authorities are the result of a culture

A full detailed analysis of the protocol explains the procedure followed by the experiment and all the variations done to test different hypothesis.

For instance, the role of the uniform :

In the original baseline study – the experimenter wore a grey lab coat as a symbol of his authority (a kind of uniform). Milgram carried out a variation in which the experimenter was called away because of a phone call right at the start of the procedure.

The role of the experimenter was then taken over by an ‘ordinary member of the public’ ( a confederate) in everyday clothes rather than a lab coat. The obedience level dropped to 20%.

Or, if the participant could delegate his personal responsibility to press the button to somebody else, the obedience would increase.

When participants could instruct an assistant (confederate) to press the switches, 92.5% shocked to the maximum 450 volts. When there is less personal responsibility obedience increases. This relates to Milgram’s Agency Theory.

Which clearly give you a hint about why administrations are built the the way they are : the more level and sublevel of responsibility you have the less likely you will see any kind of resistance from an organisation.

 

#HR Implications:

Work ethic &  Personal responsibility

Milgram experiment is telling us one thing : when work ethic will be challenged by the management

  • to drive down quality at the expense of quantity
  • to steal, lye, cover things up
  • any kind of  crazy shit

Then, more than 50% of your staff will be statistically prone to comply and go forward even if he/she knows it goes against what should be acceptable in the work place.

When more than half of your organisation cannot prevent bad behaviour to happen, you have a problem.

Side note: As an employee, if you do not want to be a milgram-employee, then just be clear about your own standards and stick to your guns. Also, learn to sell. It helps.

Importance of culture in the company

A work culture where you put all the weight and the responsibility on management will be likely to generate more milgram-employee.

If you care about your organisation, you do not want milgram-people in your org.

If you care about long term, build a culture that will push for higher personal responsibility and work ethic.

One thing you need for that: content which you can use to educate your organisation, on a regular basis and at all levels.

A simple example of workshop you can run

Show your staff the Milgram experiment, then ask them to discuss how do they think they should react when ask to do stuff they don’t agree with even thought the manager tell them it is okay…

 

 

 

Full version of the experiment

 

 

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Millennials are a myth

But that's still a good stock photo for this article...

Millenials (people born after 1980 and before 2000) are defined as :

  • lazy
  • entitled
  • unattached
  • not motivated by money
  • want more holidays
  • more horseshit

The point of this post is to share a truth more and more commonly agreed upon: Millenials are not real.

“Millennials” as a concept is mainly a huge pile of crap.

And I just stumbled upon wonderful talk by Adam Conover, and I think he made the point pretty brilliantly so please what the talk down there.

But I have also tried to extract some of his point in this article because that’s really the essence of the 20 min.

TL;DR : People bash young generations. Every time. For centuries. Period.

 

 

Just more cute infographics that mean nothing

 

The reality is that Millennials (people born from 1980-2000) are not more nor less lazy than the generation before them.

However, what seems to be true is the obsession older generations have over the youth and how permanently disappointed they seems to be.

Hesiod, a a greek poet, contemporary of Homer (the guy who wrote of the Iliad and the Odyssey – if this ring a bell) wrote a few centuries ago about its younger contemporaries:

 

 

It is a pattern.

People are trying hard to bash the young generations.

Either because they do not understand them, or because it helps people feel more confident about their own dominance and social status.

(I tend to think the power struggle is real: and comforting a position for which people have worked hard for years is a vital need for every generation. And therefore, as people get older it is easier to go down the narrative that will try to single out the young generation and just complain about them…)

1968 – LIFE magazine is publishing an article to documenting the conclusion of conversations between Ernest Fladell and his nephew, in an attempt to bridge the generation gap. Fladell POV: the young people do not understand the meaning of earning a living… 

Then again, in the 1976, it seems like everyone is turning again into an entitled generation:

Let’s do that again in 1990 – post-boomer generation – soon to be called the “millenials” are tagged “Lazy” (I am sure Hesiod would have agreed…)

 

By now, you got the point.

Millenials are just people and that what the whole talk of of Adam Conover : “Millenials don’t exist” is about – but really worth a watch… he is really funny and provide much more details that I did here.

If you still have some energy, I’d suggest you check this interesting analysis published on the Irish Time “Young people have been letting us down since time immemorial”

 

The funny part: putting generations in a box never seems to stop.

Brace yourself, the new wave of horsecrap is coming – like this article of Business Insider : “Millenials are old news – everything you need to know about Gen-Z”

So I guess, we will soon have more article about Gen-Z being narcissistic and self-centered, lazy, and arrogants and what not.

Whatever…

 

 * Edit * 

From feedback I got (mainly from marketing folks) – I realised maybe there was room for confusion in the core message of the article. See, I am not saying segmentation is not a thing – nor am I saying cultural patterns of consumption do not exist – and yes, you can find a correlation between age and adoption of these patterns of consumption.

But the hype of Millennials – as if they were people completely foreign to human race – a lazy egocentric P.O.S equipped with a smartphone – is total BS – and what I see from board meetings to casual client reactions – is that when people talk about Millennials they usually refer prejudiced stereotype and not to the nuanced and carefully crafted marketing persona..