Part 1: Algorithms & Big Data’s Impact on Our Privacy

Data crunching has grown so sophisticated and powerful,

privacy researchers now warn that tracing identities from a pool of supposedly “anonymized” data is not just a possibility,

it’s a certainty.

, NBC News

Recently, I ran across the phrase “the tyranny of algorithms.”  It sounded important and something I should know more about in my quest for digital literacy. I tried to puzzle it out. Tyranny? Was that the heavy boot of a despotic ruler grinding into the backs of millions of people? Algorithm sounded mathematical. I thought it might be a way to sort data to find answers.

I googled the phrase.  Many resources surfaced. A  short Khan Academy video explained algorithms.  The first definition surprised me with its simplicity and application to any project. Their examples were traveling from home to the train station or making a grilled cheese sandwich. It said:  “algorithm (noun) a set of steps to accomplish a task.”

The second definition explained computer algorithms: “start with input data, do complex calculations, stop when we find answer.” The video (4.5 minutes) made it easy to understand algorithms. Read more

Networking for Personal, Local, Regional, or Global Change

Every once in a while I go on a TED Talk or YouTube binge. Not really a binge, more like an immersion into new concepts, ideas, thinking, and people to read more of and about. Once on the TED or YouTube sites, I search for topics or peruse the lists of additional videos that are visible on the side or below the one I am viewing. I subscribe to TED Talks, so I get the talks of the week in my email in box. Some weeks I am not tempted to watch any of the highlighted ones, and sometimes I watch them all. It all depends on my available time, interest, and willingness to while away several hours in the pursuit of learning. Today was a rainy day, perfect for this kind of activity.

The TED Talk that caught my attention from the get go is entitled: What happened when I open-sourced my brain cancer. The artist Salvatore Iaconesi was diagnosed with brain cancer. Instead of continuing with recommended treatment, he decided to create a web site, La Cura (Italian for the cure), put his scans and medical information online, and ask for help healing his whole body, mind, and spirit from those in cyberspace. His site went viral, he received advice from neurosurgeons, oncologists, artists, musicians, regular people. With their help, he formulated his treatment plan, found the surgeon and hospital he used, and changed his lifestyle.

Read more

…the best learning is often self-taught

I read a good bit of the New York Times and Tampa Bay Times last Sunday. It was a luxurious and sensuous use of time as I shared the couch with a greyhound; placing read newsprint to my right and picking up the next unread section from the pile on my left, sipping coffee as I pondered. Sugarman—the greyhound, who can read human body movement and meal preparations in the kitchen—two rooms away—was content with an occasional, quick ear massage.

Two articles riveted my attention. Because they relate to learning online, I would like to reprise a few points here. Read more

Changing at the speed of light – more workplace trends

The last few weeks we have been blogging about workplace changes: the contingent (contracted) worker economy; new platforms acting as “match-makers” for project-based workers and companies; future worker skills and abilities. As if this was not enough change, the two most recent issues of the Harvard Business Review surfaced even more: blowing up HR and working with an augmentation mindset. My world, and my head, are spinning!

photo from:

In December I blogged about the Association of Training and Development changing its name to the Association of Talent Development. Many members of ATD are in HR departments, and provide in-house or contracted workplace training. This shift reflects some of the suggestions in the “Blow Up HR” article in HBR July-August 2015 edition.

As work is automated, and machines get smarter and develop artificial intelligence, workers are already and are going to continue to be displaced. Augmentation, according to HBR in the June 2015  edition, is

seeing smart machines as partners and collaborators in creative problem solving

The article states that augmentation will usher in a new era of work as humans and machines meld.

How is blowing up HR and learning to partner with machines connected?

Read more

BYOD (+SD) to Freelance When and Where You Want

Educated self-starters with digital skills and tools can freelance, earn income, and network to learn to stay ahead of the crowd.

My husband had an outpatient surgical procedure recently. He received excellent care, everything went the way it was supposed to, and he was discharged within the estimated time. What interested me (beyond his quick recovery) is that two of the three RNs who cared for him are contract workers. These professional freelancers projected the same caring attitudes and skill set as the employee nurses. The freelancers were open and friendly making them very approachable; I asked them about their work arrangements. Read more