The role of the Board of Directors in any organisation is not just to make the tough decisions required to keep everything moving. Just making a decision and assiging actions to get it implemented is not enough. The Board is there to govern, and that means communicating its intentions and motivations as well as its directions. This allows those tasked with sorting out the finer details to have a much better understanding of what they are really trying to achieve and ensure that all of the smaller decisions made along the way help get that done. Also, making a decision is often the easy bit. Evaluating and assessing if it was the right decision or if some tweaking is needed along the way is the harder part that is very often ignored.
Social Media and Civility
Fuelled by local newspaper articles and amplified by talk radio, you can see a view slowly forming that the confrontational and indignant tone of many online social media interactions is beginning to spill over into other forms of social interaction. The idea is that people are becoming more outspoken and beligerent at public meetings, parents are more critical and accusatory of their school and its staff, letters and emails to organisations are becoming more confrontational and less deferential, etc. However, I think this view unfairly blames social media and ignores many other aspects of society.
Laws in the Isle of Man
Since moving to the Isle of Man a few years ago, I have often been struck by how apparently enlightened its local laws and regulations are. Consider the sign in the picture below, taken from a local park. At face value it is not particularly remarkable, but the sentiment it encapsulates strikes me as being very much so.
Please, No "Personalised" Search
I was recently speaking to someone on the phone and wanted them to refer to some on-line information. So I got them to do a quick Google search using the exact same search terms I'd just used and directed them to select the third item down. After some initial confusion, we worked out that the first few items in their list (below the paid-for results) were very different from the first few in mine. We both logged out of Google in the browser and tried again, same result - it seemed that it was IP address targeted as well. At that point most of my faith in Google evaporated. Suddenly I was no longer tapping into the shared knowledge of the world, I was being served up some limited subset based on what I'd previously searched for or read earlier. Not very happy!
Science and Miracles
I must admit to being a bit perplexed when I occasionally hear scientists interviewed in the media saying that they see no fundamental conflict between their deep religious beliefs and their scientific research work. From my understanding of what scientists do, I can see at least two pretty fundamental conflicts. Thus I figure that, in saying this, they must have either misunderstood the scientific method or they hold a religious view that is not in line with established doctrine. I don't mean this to sound malicious in any way as I actually think that science and spiritual or religious faith are in many ways complimentary views, and that one doesn't necessarily preclude the other. However, I would have thought that the scientific method of experiment and observation requires a set of assumptions that must necessarily preclude belief in miracles and the notion of praying for divine intervention within the natural world. It seems to me that both of these are core parts of established religious teachings so, in case I am the one who has misunderstood, I present a brief outline of my case.
Universities Starving the Web of Content
Okay, so its a provocative title, but something I believe is really starting to happen. With the increasing use of online learning systems such as Blackboard, WebCT, and Moodle within Universities, much of the content they are now producing is being locked behind password protected student login systems. This applies to both lecture material and student work/projects, effectively starving the web of what was once one of the most fertile sources of new material. I'm not suggesting that this is in any way intentional - but it is an important incidental effect.
How to Deal with a Huge Email Load?
One of my resolutions this year is to get on top of my emails as I know I'm fast developing a reputation for being uncontactable. If you are bothering to even read this blog then chances are at some stage you have been a victim - suffering either a complete lack of response or one well beyond that 3 day limit most people consider acceptable. For this I sincerely apologise. It is a priority problem and I have been working on and studying it for the last few months now. However, its just gone February and I already have 147 unanswered items in my inbox. My question is this - how do other people deal with their email load?