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Posts Tagged ‘change

The Today paper had a good long read on how Singapore might deal with the transboundary haze that we experience every year.

For almost 20 years, we have been able to add one more season — hazy — to our standard rainy and more rainy. But as much time and effort as has been put in, the haze returns every year between July and September. This year it has extended into October and threatened to affect the PSLE.

So what can we do collectively to stop the haze? If politics and policies do not seem to have much of an effect, the Today article highlighted ground-up efforts like boycotts, public education, and suing haze-linked companies.

These newer efforts need time to be tested, particularly in conjunction with existing strategies. They might be more effective because they hit the companies and individuals where it hurts.

The ground-up efforts focus on creating awareness among consumers here that what we buy keeps haze-linked companies in business. At least two of the newer efforts also seek to take legal action by suing companies and individuals responsible for contributing to the haze. All these hit where it hurts most: The wallet.

This reminds me of a funny line from a movie I watched a long time ago. Once you have got them by the balls, the heart and head will follow (see quote by Harry Rosenfeld).

As I look at everything through an education lens, I still wonder if there is a crotch shot in schooling and education. If being nice and nurturing does not change the hearts and minds of those collectively in this arena, where is the crotch?

I am away for a short period. I am posting some things I drafted in Evernote but had not shared yet.

Video source

I was in awe of this community when I watched this video of their plans to improve road safety by leveraging on the voices of children.

It will be an interesting social experiment to see how effective kids’ voices are at prompting drivers to slow down where kids are present.

According to one of its stakeholders, the move is supposed to have “visceral, physical, cognitive, behavioural effects” on adults because we are programmed to care for children.

If this is true, I wonder if any educational and social intervention should not have these four as the minimum outcomes: Visceral, physical, cognitive, behavioural effects. If we do not have the passion for a change or if something does not shake us to our core, why even bother?

Video source

This is a video that warns of the supposed dangers of social media. It has the wrong title. Instead of the danger of social media, this was about child or sexual predators.

The YouTuber did a great service by alerting parents of the dangers of inadequate parenting, the trials of growing up, or gaps in schooling. All these and more could have contributed to the 12 to 14 year-old girls agreeing to meet a strange male who was not who he claimed to be online.

But he did a disservice by perpetuating the message that the problem was social media. Child or sexual predators have and will use any tools they can, so social media is not what causes the problem. Social media does not stop the problem either.

The medium does not write the message just like a car cannot make you a considerate driver or a murderous one.

Such messages are borne of ignorance and fear. It is not too late to be informed and to be brave. Let us not blame the tools when stupid, irresponsible, or depraved people wield them.

Note: This might read like a rant. It is actually a reflection of hope and I indicate as such right at the end.

One of the bugbears of freelancers and consultants must be the variety of needless administrative requirements of partners. My pet peeve is old-school practices disguised as new.

I will share just two stories. I do this without naming names and without intent to shame the organizations. I do this to provide a different perspective and highlight blindspots.

Snail in the road by DaveHuth, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  DaveHuth 

One important administrative process is making sure I get paid. While smaller organizations have moved on to better processes, large ones tend to be more conservative.

For example, I have completed forms for electronic payment by many organizations. With smaller organizations and schools, I merely visit their e-portal of choice, submit in e-invoice, and wait to get paid. The e-platform already has my bank account information so the process is seamless.

With one large organization, I had to visit my bank to get endorsement that the bank account was mine and submit a paper-based form by snail mail. Why was this necessary when the electronic processes were faster and no less secure (if not more so)?

To be fair, there is value in verifying one’s banking information. However, the electronic way is much faster. Perhaps I should start charging a WET fee, Wasted Effort and Time, if I am required to enact outdated practices.

Maybe they are worried that I might specify some other bank account that is not mine, a terrorist organization’s perhaps. If that was the case, the trail of evidence is electronic. Merely looking at my face and identification card would do diddley-squat.

Another large organization sent me a similar financial document in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. Unfortunately, it was near impossible to fill in. The default text was white (on white background) and offset so that it did not appear in text boxes.

Such a form was clearly designed by administration wanting to be digital on paper, but not in practice. The form merely replicated what you had to do on paper instead of taking advantage of digital forms.

If I was a productivity consultant, I would recommend getting rid of the old-school managers or policymakers for maintaining this unproductive process. I would also send the administrative staff for professional development, and if they refuse to change, they can join their higher-ups in the unemployment line.

square-peg-round-hole-21 by ePublicist, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  ePublicist 

Story number two. Before working with a partner or collaborator, there is typically a contract document (complete with legalese) to sign. Most people do not read the details or care for them even if they do. I do because I care.

I have processed one-size-fits-all documents, detected missing sections, spotted errors in details like dates, and worse, read clauses that protect only my partner organization, but not me. Partnership? What partnership?

For example, once in a blue moon I receive documents that attempt to take ownership of my products or processes, and/or effectively require me to seek permission from them to use my own work.

Instead of getting angry, I have taken the opportunity to try to educate them about Creative Commons.

I do this at the risk of not getting awarded the contracts. I ask myself if I can live with the consequences. One is a pragmatic consequence: It represents a potential loss of income. The other is philosophical: It stands for what I believe in. I can live with not being awarded a contract and a lucrative pay; I cannot live with an unnecessary compromise.

But all is not lost. There are a few (very few!) individuals who are open to change and working within those systems. Some are just learning that there are alternatives, some are natural change agents. I hope they stick around long enough to make a difference.

There are variants of this quote. One is: Those that say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those doing it.

However it is said, it is as much a call to change agents to persist and ignore negativity as it is to naysayers to shut up and stay clear.

The quote has been popularly attributed to George Bernard Shaw, but Quote Investigator says otherwise.

My tool of choice for creating the image quote was Haiku Deck again. However, at the moment it only seems to attribute the photographer instead of linking properly to the correct photo. It took an ImageCodr search for “shh” followed by a fine-tuned search in Flickr for the photographer before the single return above.

Do the commonly labelled “new media” bring new dangers? Or are they just old dangers magnified or reinvented? Do “new dangers” actually hide something more insidious?

Put “cyber” in front of any established danger and it becomes “new”: bullying, stalking, theft, crime, and so on. I am not making light of these. I am merely saying the dangers are not that new.

They are new to traditional publishers who wish to spread fear. They are new to those who lack a critical lens with which to read what these publishers disseminate.

Such electronically-mediated crimes might be easier to commit and more difficult to detect, but that does not make them new. You might kill a person by remotely stopping his heart’s pacemaker, but that does not make it new murder.

Day 60 - Fear by juanpg, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  juanpg 

What “new media” does require is for people to stay informed, keep up, and take action. So it might actually be fear, ignorance, or inertia that are the dangers. When not wanting to try something new, it is easier to call it “dangerous” from afar.

I know very intelligent people who make very poor assumptions or take questionable action because they choose not to know and do. The more frightening thing is that some of these people shape policy in large organizations.

New media use does not necessarily lead to new dangers. But there are many people with old mindsets fueled by old fears. I know which I am more afraid of.

This is one of my favourite sayings. I modified it from my assorted readings (and watchings and listenings) about leadership. I cannot find a definitive source for this quote.

The quote resonates with me because it reflects my belief system. It is a key driving force for why and how I do things.

It should come as no surprise by now that my graphic has all the hallmarks of Haiku Deck.

With a basic account, export options are limited. After I am satisfied with the look of the graphic, I take a screenshot of it on my iPad and upload it to Google Photos. I put the image in an album with other quotes and copy the URL to the image. The final step is embedding and resizing the image here.

I found the original image using the keyword “forgiveness”.

However, in the several weeks of doing this “quotable quotes” series, I have found that Haiku Deck‘s method of finding photos differs markedly from ImageCodr‘s. It can take a fair bit of investigative work to trace the source of images.

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