online privacy and security

As the internet becomes an essential part of lives — enabling us to access government services, connect with friends, and earn a living — there are frustratingly few ways to maintain privacy or security online. Companies that control a large part of the web traffic — Google, Facebook, Amazon — can pretty much do whatever they want with our data. And now American internet service provides can sell customer information to the highest bidder. Since most internet traffic flows through the USA, this affects the rest of the world as well.

I am not a programmer but I try to stay informed about information technology through my professional social networks. Here are a few things I do to thwart government and corporate interests that may not have my privacy foremost in mind.

I use a password manager, Canadian-made 1Password. It creates a unique, long, password for every site I use. Each one is different so that when the site inevitably gets hacked, I only have to change one password, and the hackers do not get access to my other sites.

I use three different browsers. One is used to access Google services and LinkedIn only. I know that these sites track me so I don’t do anything else on this browser. I have another browser kept clean and seldom used, as a backup or if I need to access something that is blocked by my main browser, Firefox. On Firefox I have installed HTTPS Everywhere, Ghostery, Privacy Badger, CanvasBlocker, and uBlock Origin. I have also uninstalled Adobe Flash, a known point of vulnerability on any computer. I realize that this is probably not enough but it gives me some defence against prying eyes. (more…)


Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“The given is not given unless it is taken, and taking is an act of interpretation. Always.”@dweinberger

“The most important skill to learn is how to distinguish between confident people, and people who actually know what they are taking about.”@existentialcoms

History is not another name for the past, as many people imply. It is the name for stories about the past.” —A. J. P. Taylor via @RayBoomhower

Conway’s Law: “Any organization that designs a system will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.” (more…)

the geography of genius

“Creativity is a relationship, one that unfolds at the intersection of person and place.” Thus concludes Eric Weiner in The Geography of the Genius, an enjoyable historic and modern romp through Athens, Hangzhou, Florence, Edinburgh, Calcutta, Vienna, and finally Silicon Valley. This book provides no easy answers or simple recipes but gives much insight told as a personal journey. It was a joy to read. The closest Weiner comes to providing a pat answer as to what makes for genius or geographical golden ages is at the end, as a counterpoint to Richard Florida’s 3 T’s (talent, technology, and tolerance).

A better set of attributes, I think, are —and I’ll jump on the alliteration bandwagon here—the Three D’s: disorder, diversity, and discernment. Disorder, as we’ve seen is necessary to shake up the status quo, to create a break in the air. Diversity, of both people and viewpoints, is needed to produce not only more dots, but different kinds of dots. Discernment is perhaps the most important, and overlooked, ingredient. Linus Pauling, the renowned chemist and two-time Nobel prize winner, was once asked by a student how to come up with good ideas. It’s easy, replied Pauling, “You have lots of ideas and throw away the bad ones.”


beta conversation 2017-04-05

I will be hosting the next Beta Conversation on Wednesday, April 5th at 15:00 UTC. The subject will be understanding the effects of technology. It will focus on examining pervasive and emerging technologies from the perspective of Marshall McLuhan’s media tetrad as well as other perspectives (see image at bottom). (more…)


Thank Goodness It’s Monday. Now that’s something we freelancers appreciate 🙂 As part of the wonder of Monday, I am starting a series of posts, similar to Friday’s Finds, but posted on the best day of the week: Monday. I have no intention of making this a regular feature but from time to time on Monday, I will share something I think may be useful. This week I am sharing some of my social bookmarks that relate to personal knowledge mastery. Just look below the cartoon … (more…)

digital literacy for the arts

Last week I attended the Arts in a Digital World Summit in Montréal. The event launched the four-year funding program of $88.5 million aimed at amplifying “the quality, scale and sharing of Canadian art through digital technology”. One aspect of this fund that gives me confidence is the desire to fund many small projects of around $10,000 and also the willingness to invest in risky projects. Given the complexity of the challenge, using a probe-sense-respond approach only makes sense.

The presentation by Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform, was a highlight for me. Astra stated that the digital advertising model, which is the force behind platform capitalism, only reinforces economic inequity. She urged the audience to ‘occupy the internet’ especially since artists are those with the power to change society. (more…)

networked knowledge creates value

As we enter the network era, the dominant technology is the internet and working knowledge is distributed through professional communities, many of which are hosted online. Compare this to the last 75 years where the company was connected to a factory and knowledge was delivered from business schools. Tangible goods, best practices, and standardization are being replaced by intangible assets, emergent practices, and transparency. In the network era, business is changing.

In the networked knowledge triad, I tried to show how real value creation today happens outside the organization. Therefore professionals should develop value creation networks that connect to the world, beyond the current workplace. These networks are the modern equivalents of degrees and certificates. They are the value we bring to our work teams and organizations. As the life expectancy of organizations decreases, we can no longer depend on employers to provide stability for our working lives. That stability now comes from our networks. (more…)

power, control, literacy

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

@Kasparov63: “To play the victim despite holding power, one needs dangerous enemies. If they don’t exist, they must be created or their threat inflated.”

@kevin2kelly: “Humans are experts at inefficiency. All art, discovery, innovation, creation, are inherently inefficient. Efficiency is for robots, not us.”

We didn’t lose control – it was stolen, HT @josemurilo

“Let me state it plainly: Google and Facebook are not allies in our fight for an equitable future – they are the enemy.

These platform monopolies are factory farms for human beings; farming us for every gram of insight they can extract.

If, as Tim [Berners-Lee] states, the core challenge for the Web today is combating people farming, and if we know who the people farmers are, shouldn’t we be strongly regulating them to curb their abuses?”


networked knowledge triad

There are three structures that exist in all organizations, with three different sources of power, and three types of leadership required for each structure. This is the thesis that Niels Pflaeging puts forth in Organizational Physics.

  1. Formal Structure – Hierarchy – Compliance Leadership
  2. Informal Structure – Influence – Social Leadership
  3. Value Creation Structure – Reputation – Value Creation Leadership


gaining insight through social and informal learning

Organizational performance improvement is comprised of reducing errors and increasing insights, according to Gary Klein. For the past century, management practice has focused very much on error reduction, with practices such as Six Sigma, especially in manufacturing.

“Fifty-eight of the top Fortune 200 companies bought into Six Sigma, attesting to the appeal of eliminating errors. The results of this ‘experiment’ were striking: 91 per cent of the Six Sigma companies failed to keep up with the S&P 500 because Six Sigma got in the way of innovation. It interfered with insights.” —Gary Klein

Learning and development (L&D) practices reflect this priority on error reduction. Subject matter experts are interviewed or observed, good practices are noted, and then training programs are designed to develop the skills that make up some or all of a job. Anyone with the requisite abilities, as quantified in the job description, can then be trained. (more…)