O'Really?

December 20, 2018

Dry January: Can you switch off all your social media for a month? #DigitalDetox

socialmedia

Dry January: can you abstain from toxins like alcohol and social media for a month?

Here in the UK, there is an annual tradition known as¬†Dry January. It’s pretty simple, in the wake of all the festive indulgence (ūüćĽ), around 4 million people voluntarily abstain from alcohol for the month of January. Why? Because they can save money, sleep better, lose weight [1] and even raise money for charity in the process. If you haven’t tried it yet, Dry January is an enlightening (and enlivening) challenge.

But dry January needn’t just stop at alcohol. Other toxic social lubricants are also available. Have you ever wondered what life would be like without the distraction of social media? Ever tried going without? Go dry by switching off all your social media for a month – just to see what happens. Is social media as toxic as alcohol? Could going cold turkey (ūü¶É) for a month be beneficial to your health and those around you? Switch it all off, meaning:

  • No LinkedIn
  • No Facebook
  • No WhatsApp
  • No Instagram
  • No Twitter
  • No Blogging
  • No “voluntary panopticon
  • No [insert your favourite social media here]. How far you take it will depend on how you choose to define social media…

Abstention requires a bit of planning and preparation, but if you tell your friends now, you could experiment with switching off all your social media for the month of January. Will you be able to handle the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) [2]? Will your quality of life improve?

The idea of digital detox has been around a while and there are several ways of doing it. You can either go the whole hog like Jaron Lanier and just delete everything [3]. If that’s too drastic for you, try using blockers or timers set to zero minutes. Since the most toxic forms of social media are typically found on smartphones,¬†there’s a few options for detoxing:

Abstaining from alcohol can be beneficial for your physical and mental health. [2] Abstaining from social media could probably help too. Why not give it a whirl and see for yourself?

As this is last (and first!) post here for 2018, have yourselves a happy winterval and a healthy new year in 2019.

References

    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_missing_out
    2. De Visser, R.O., Robinson, E. & Bond, R., (2016) Voluntary temporary abstinence from alcohol during ‚ÄúDry January‚ÄĚ and subsequent alcohol use. Health Psychology, 35(3), pp.281‚Äď289. DOI:10.1037/hea0000297
    3. Lanier, Jaron (2018) Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. Bodley Head, ISBN: 978-1847925398 jaronlanier.com/tenarguments.html

 

March 4, 2014

CoderDojo, CodingDojo or CodeJo?

CC-BY licensed picture of a Hacker Dojo by Mitch Altman.

A dojo (or a dŇćjŇć) is an event where people train to perform a given task. So for example, software engineers organise code dojos to hone their skills in making software. The term has become widely adopted, so much so, that you’ll often find many flavours of dojo in your local area. In Manchester, there are at least three variants and these often get confused, usually by me. So here’s a quick explanation of what the different dojos do and how they are different.

CoderDojo: @coderdojo & @mcrcoderdojo etc

CoderDojo.com¬†is an¬†open source, volunteer led, global movement of free coding clubs for young people. You’ll find Coder Dojos¬†all over the world, the Manchester Coder Dojo meets once a month in The Sharp Project, and like many coder dojos is very popular and frequently over-subscribed.

CodingDojo: @uomcodingdojo & @codingdojodotco

A group of students at the University of Manchester organise a Coding Dojo @uomcodingdojo¬†see fb.com/uomcodingdojo. They practise problems in TopCoder and other puzzles [1-5] in order to compete in the¬†ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. They do this because it’s fun, improves their skill and prepares them for the kind’s of problems that are commonly found in a Coding Interviews ¬†– a variant of the infamous Microsoft / Amazon / Google / Apple / Facebook / Twitter interviews. [6,7]

(The Manchester Coding Dojo are nothing to do with¬†codingdojo.com¬† an outfit in Seattle and Silly Valley who claim to “teach you programming in 2 weeks”¬†see @codingdojodotco.)

Codejo: @manc_codejo

The Manchester Codejo is monthly coding meetup in Manchester, where developers improve their skills by performing Katas Рexercises designed to improve coding ability through repetition. So at their last meeting for example, Gemma Cameron @ruby_gem recently ran a Codejo session on the Class-responsibility-collaboration card at manchester.techhub.com.

In other words…

So¬†@coderdojo ‚Ȇ @uomcodingdojo ‚Ȇ¬†@manc_codejo ‚Ȇ¬†@McrCoderDojo etc. Hope this clears up some confusion…

References

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dining Philosophers
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight queens puzzle
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower of Hanoi
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelling salesman problem
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two Generals’ problem
  6. McDowell, Gayle Laakman (2011) Cracking the Coding Interview: 150 Programming Questions and Solutions Career Cup ISBN:098478280X
  7. Poundstone, William (2013) Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?¬†Fiendish Puzzles And Impossible Interview Questions From The World’s Top Companies¬†Oneworld Publications ISBN:1851689559

June 22, 2012

The Silicon Valley Meme: Coming to a Technology Cluster Near You …

Oracle by (nz)dave

Oracle Inc. Headquarters, Silicon Valley, California. CC-licensed Picture by (nz)dave on Flickr.

… if it hasn’t done already

In California the streets aren’t paved with Gold, they are paved with Silicon. Many a Californian has made their fame and fortune from Silicon-based commerce. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Oracle, Apple the list goes on and on. Silicon paves the streets of¬†Silicon Valley.

Silly Valley is often imitated but rarely bettered. Here is a small selection of imitators from a fully blown stamp collection of silicon valley places in wikipedia:

  • Silicon Alley, New York
  • Silicon Fen, Cambridge UK
  • Silicon Roundabout, London
  • Silicon Glen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Bonnie Scotland
  • Silicon Gorge, ¬†M4 Corridor-ish (Bristol, Swindon, Oxford etc)
  • Silicon Mill, Manchester and North West England
  • Silicon Shipyard, Newcastle, Middlesborough etc

If you don’t have a Silicon Valley cluster near where you live, there’s an easy part and a hard part to creating one. The easy part is, just prefix the name of your local area with the magic S word Silicon. Easy. The hard part is building the universities, businesses, technology, communities, start-ups and investment that makes a technology cluster like Silicon Valley successful [1,2,3]. How can it be done?

Refererences

  1. Mietek Jaroniec (2009). Silicon beyond the valley Nature Chemistry, 1 (2), 166-166 DOI: 10.1038/nchem.173
  2. Paul Graham (2006). How to be Silicon Valley paulgraham.com
  3. Chris Vallance (2012).¬†Silicon Britain:¬†Inside the country’s tech clusters¬†BBC News

May 23, 2012

Who is the World’s Largest Advertising Agency?

Massive Golf Sale!

The British Monarchy are preparing to exploit new advertising opportunities and boost royal revenue during the 2012 Olympics in London. Photo credit: gokart.co.uk.

Advertising agencies are everywhere, there is no escaping them. But who’s the daddy of the advertising world? The¬†mother of all ad agencies?

According to wikipedia,¬†WPP is the ‚Äúworld’s largest advertising group by revenues‚ÄĚ. This is hogwash. Some of the world’s largest ad agences are technology companies. For example, in descending order of revenue:

So Google Inc. is currently the world’s largest advertising agency by revenues, followed by WPP then possibly Facebook. It will be interesting to see if the ‚Äúbest minds‚ÄĚ [1,2] on Planet Facebook can catch up with WPP and Google by encouraging it’s user’s to click on ads more and buy more stuff in their store.

‚ÄúThe best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click on ads. That sucks.‚ÄĚ —¬†Jeff Hammerbacher [1]

References

  1. Ashlee Vance (2011) This Tech Bubble Is Different Bloomberg Business Week
  2. Bruce Robinson (1989) How to Get Ahead in Advertising Handmade Films

*¬†Revenue figures from wikipedia. Can’t really vouch for their accuracy but they look reasonable.

September 8, 2011

UK Riots: Blame it on the Baby Boomers

What caused the summer riots of 2011 in the UK? Many reasons have been suggested and a long list of possible causes has been drawn up over the summer.¬† The baby boomer generation should be added to the list of suspects. It is the baby boomers, those born roughly between 1945-1965, that caused the riots – it’s mostly their fault [1].

Riot police looks on as fire rages through a building in Tottenham, north London Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011. A demonstration against the death of a local man turned violent and cars and shops were set ablaze. (AP Photo/PA, Lewis Whyld)

Arson and rioting in Tottenham, August 2011 (AP Photo/PA, Lewis Whyld)

UK riots: a long list of suspects

Who or what can we blame for the UK riots? It’s complicated but we could

It is hard to conclusively prove that any of these suspects are guilty as charged because the causes of rioting are complex. However, it seems likely that the unequal wealth and influence of baby boomers was a contributing factor in the UK riots. You can read all about it in Mr Willett’s intriguing book [1,2].

References

  1. David Willetts (2010) The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future – And Why They Should Give it Back ISBN: 1848872313. See full book reviews in The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, The Economist, The Daily Mail and New Statesman

March 11, 2011

Drop the Digital Dummy!

Pacifier anyone?Here is an experiment to investigate dependence on your “digital dummy”. A digital dummy is any computer, smartphone or other digital device on which you suckle data like a baby. What you need to do is:

  1. Delete all your so-called “social networks” on LinkedIn, Facebook etc. Being sat in front of a computer is distinctly unsociable.
  2. Delete your twitter account.
  3. Don’t bother reading your email (90% of email is useless noise).
  4. Blast your blog into oblivion.
  5. Ignore your feed reader, or “mark all items as read” because if Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) actually exists and you are a sufferer [1], the currently best known cure is to go cold turkey.

After completing all these steps, wait for at least one week and observe results.¬†Hasn’t it gone quiet? ¬†Is your life any better? Repeat as necessary until sanity returns…

References

  1. Flisher, C. (2010). Getting plugged in: An overview of Internet addiction Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 46 (10), 557-559 DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2010.01879.x

December 17, 2010

Planet Facebook

Whatever your views on Facebook [1], you can’t deny that from space, “Planet Facebook” looks rather intriguing.¬†The wonderful diagram below of Facebook connections has been made by Paul Butler. Even miserable Facebook refuseniks (like me) can’t help but go “ooh that’s pretty” while marvelling at the masterful use of the R language to construct this beautiful map…

Planet Facebook / Planet Earth by Paul Butler

References

  1. John H. Tucker (2010). Status update: “I’m so glamorous”. A study of facebook users shows how narcissism and low self-esteem can be interrelated. Scientific American, 303 (5) PMID: 21033279, see also original research by Soraya Mehdizadeh at¬†DOI:10.1089/cyber.2009.0257

April 4, 2008

myScience: “social software” for scientists

myExperimentWith apologies to Jonathan Swift:

“Great sites have little sites upon their back to bite ’em
And little sites have lesser sites, and so ad infinitum…”

So what happened was, Carole Goble asked on the myExperiment mailing list, “is there a list of scientist social networking sites”? Here is first attempt at such a list (not comprehensive), you’ll have to decide for yourself which are the great, greater, little and lesser sites.
(more…)

Blog at WordPress.com.