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After a TechCrunch article writer by Sarah Lacy posted August 22, 2011

A few months ago Sarah Lacy, a TechCrunch.com writerwas giving a talk in her hometown of Memphis, TN, and someone asked what the city could do to ignite more entrepreneurship among inner city kids. Her immediate answer was to teach coding– even basic app building skills– along with English and Math in every public school. She was surprised that her brother– an engineer who worked for many years in Silicon Valley before relocating to the Midwest– didn’t necessarily agree.

The thing is that while this is a first level issue of who gets the jobs needed in coding – foreign or domestic coders, it occurred to me that we are in the 30th year or so of serious code writing and it has had some unanticipated consequences.  The changes in the world that have been brought about by the Internet and technology have changed what is done by people.  Now, more and more what is done is done by software applied to different technologies.  The world of TechCrunch and other quasi-geek clusters are alive and well due to the prevalence of algorithms.  They are the workers in a mired of different ways today.

They paint the cars, cut the steel, do the book binding, print the content, answer the phone and a zillion other things that we all used to do.  In a cumulative way the jobs that were are now being done by technology just like was the case when ol’ Ned Lud (see emphatic published accounts for the most favorite spelling…) brought to mythical status between 1779 and 1812 that changes in British textile practices were coming to a screeching halt.

No, I am not being Luddite here.  I am simply pointing out that, when all the talking heads whine and moan about this political union or that political union not producing jobs for the reconstitution of the economy, they should take note; the jobs in the past that went away aren’t coming back.   Many of them aren’t coming back due to being  long overdue to be absorbed before the downturn and no one – or not many, took notice.

Instead of asking for someone else to provide jobs, it is time to create jobs based on that uncomfortable situation that we find ourselves in every 70-90 years.  Change has overtaken the status quo.  Now we need to create jobs that machines can’t do – yet.  That is, jobs involving organizing communities, infrastructure, law, education and human-care… for children, for families in transition, for elders and for soldiers who are brought back and deposited on the steps of America.  They were taught how to do what was necessary to what they had to do to survive.  Nowhere is the training they get any better for that purpose.  Now however, they have done that under duress, for double tours, etc. etc. etc.  To be spit out by those that trained them as worn out and disposable civilians with defects without the slightest bit of care on how to survive reestablish domestic values, is despicable.  Software and algorithms can’t pull that off.  We can if we stop waiting for someone else to do something we favor or don’t find dogmatically repugnant.

HP’s decision to go big and purchase the U.K.’s Autonomy Corp., and probably other players doesn’t seem so ridiculous under a ‘software good – hardware sad’ scenario, does it.

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Hi all,

Rather than write generally about online communities I figured I’d blog from the inside about one community building effort in particular, Weplay.  A couple of posts ago I talked about my experience and belief that real world structures for the best basis for a successful online community.   We’re putting that theory to the test in a real way on Weplay.

Very soon Weplayers will see much more neighborhood information and features. We all play, practice, shop, study, eat… ya know, LIVE, in the real world.  We believe Weplay should fit as naturally into your offline life as much as possible.   Soon you’ll be able to see what’s happening in your neighborhood, city, county, state and region like never before.  Get the latest news on who’s playing each other (and everything else that’s fit to print!), get the latest scores, find directions to those soccer fields you’ve never heard of, see who else hit a homerun on the local baseball diamond, ask and answer questions of people right in your own backyard.

Of course we’ll make it EASY and FUN to contribute to the Weplay neighborhood experience. We’ve been quietly working on an iPhone application (and figuring out Android, Blackberry!).   We’re being very careful to make sure it’s easy and fast to snap a picture or video and get it up to your group or profile page.  We know when you guys are in the dugout, in the stands, on the team mini van speed is of the essence!  Oh yeah, we also want to make it easy for moms and dads to share pics and keep up to date on where and when to be!

In addition to using a mobile device to update profiles and contribute to the local experiences, we’re opening up the platform for Weplayers to contribute news, venue information, ask and answer questions, tag content and so on.

Read the rest of the post on Weplay >

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Ok, let’s review…

Car crash outside the front window every Friday night… what happens?

Keith Olbermann goes nuclear on an unsuspecting dolt…what happens?

Car crash on 3 corner of Darlington raceway… what happens?

Rush Limbaugh says he hopes the President ‘fails’ in efforts to steer the country… what happens?

The latest, but not the last unfortunately, is Dr. Phil… Dr. Phil has a two-day interview to skewer his “what’s her name” patient and what happens?

(I really hate myself for writing this but there are contingencies everywhere.)

Highly probable that no one will read this any way ‘cause it is not as entertaining as Dr. Phil turning into Dr. Jekyll, the absolutist psycho-blimp – not his physical state necessarily but his approach to working through challenges that float around pop media based on the ratings…

Oh, yeah, the ratings… Up 20%. Gee, that’s a lot… must be a relationship there between getting in front of the best parade in town once you know is being watched on TV and trying to look like the band director.

When combined with his psycho-shock-jock approach about an 11 year-old murder suspect, he is in full stride. His mother is so proud! But, then she is getting a stipend no doubt so that is hardly the criteria to “oh and ah” over. This makes Dr. Phil what???, the “Dr. of talking heads?” Is that different than a “talking heads Dr.”? Somebody else figure that out, please!

Or, it could be a contract year for him at his network and, like any self-focused pro athlete, he is playing for a new contract rather than the integrated best interests of his headline sucking patient.

We are watching the consequences of media at work here. Everyone needing to stay in the limelight has an opinion on those things that they don’t understand or affect. It is hard to tell the opinion of a taxi cab driver in Denver from the pundits these days. Biggest difference is that the taxi cab drivers have no media contracts to pump. Yup, there were 8 or 9 celebs eating their $250 a plate dinners at one of the awards celebrations that had their opinions as well but no solutions.

No, I refuse to weigh in on this nationally pop-news dot. Every time another dot is added, look around. What you see is self-puffery from everyone involved…everyone! Everyone has something to gain from doing what they are doing. Not so you say; prove me wrong.

Oh, …returning to the review above, contingency management is operating there too in each and every example.

In each case there is a greater likelihood…

… you’ll watch out the window on Friday night; you’ll watch Keith parley his tirades to bigger dolts in the future; people will want tickets near the 3rd corner of Darlington next year; and the Rush-ter will get larger columns in the press and media reports than he otherwise wouldn’t received.

And of course, if you attend to Dr. Phil and what’s her name, you are part of Dr. Phil’s contract extension because you were part of that 20% spike. He is just responding to the consequences he’s experienced in the past… just like you and I do.

Move on.

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Please run this blog through the Baloney Detection Kit that was published here in the last 90 days. I recommend you do it for every media byte but, a guy off the streets writing about our global financial crisis may need it more than others for obvious reasons.

There is a postulate that states, “People will fight harder to keep just what they have than they will to double it.”

The financial crisis we are now experiencing – much like the one in the 1930s – is the collection of consequences for not attending to or understanding the dynamic relationships between 50 or so markers with thousands of events, also dynamic, that occur in the marketplace.

At the same time, those with access and responsibility for our economic homeostasis were postulating and positioning the use of recycled and flawed approaches as having ‘mitigating’ circumstances surrounding their failures, again and again and…… again.Each time our institutions fell further behind at tortuous attempts of adjusting the dials to prove or show these fanciful approaches were correct but not executed correctly. No one flinched.

Each time the fanciful approaches were linked to current fears – mostly social, that were then maintained lest a change in ‘the’ approach make things worse, as in the postulate above.

Fear and shallow rhetoric prevented our economic behavior from being empirically subjected to an experimental analysis of the behavior of markets. Now we have another chance. The consequences for greater pain are more probable than any temporary gains from standing pat or biding our time. Our trillions of lost dollars and savings and confidence has occasioned a search for another method, to find a different method, a variation, to bring confidence as well as some level of empiricism to financial institutions that only pretend to be empirical.

Our strengths as a country and culture are science. It is time to try what we know works to get us to the moon and extend the average life spans in less than one hundred years from 37 to 74 years. It is also fitting that an empirical variation will help us understand what Darwin saw (whose 200 birthday we celebrate this Thursday) as the dominate feature in all species over 150 years ago.

For nay-sayers and those that have a vested interest (no pun intended) in that status quo of this pig in a poke economic approach, one can only suggest that the time for something else is upon us. That ‘something’ isn’t witchcraft, tea leaves, prayer or a link to LinkedIn.com. It is science in excess. I hope that idea gets more traction faster than Darwin’s ideas have fared.

You better hope so too.

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I was going to title this “Not found @ 2009 Consumer Electronics Show…” but I’d get punished.

People invest in training for their education, work, entertainment and even lifestyles. The society as a whole invests billions in training and education for all its children and encourages more of it after high school. Collectively, corporations spend hundreds of billions of dollars on training of all levels; from simple tasks (MS Office) to the ultra complex (Billings fMRI certification). Training can be hands-on, case studies, role-play, webcasts, podcasts, virtual, instructor led, eLearning, Learning communities and even blog solutions groups. Then there is mentoring for individuals to complement sales training, technical training, service training, partner training and vendor training.

Professional athletic organizations spend billions of dollars globally each year to train not only the muscles of their athletes but the way they think about themselves, their competitors, and how to handle work-life balance issues that can be anything but normal. The ‘natural’ athletic ability of athletes like Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, Paton Manning, Dana Torres, and Mario Williams comes at the price of eight+ hours of practice a day for years in order to be an over-night success. People watch super athletes perform a bevy of athletic feats and too frequently ascribe their behavior to a “natural ability” rather than to intense training in multiple areas that is required to do what they do. The US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, has classes for athletes on handling the media, food, injuries and anger. Organizations also spend millions more to learn new methods of training world class athletes for elite competition in every sport imaginable from both forms of football, baseball and basketball to lesser but intensely played X-games, tennis and ping pong.

All this time, all this money and all these people invest daily in what they can learn today that will take them to the next level tomorrow. They are all committed to acquiring whatever will improve performance, profit, presentation or information that will serve them in the pursuit of what each of them is organized to value.

However when any of these individuals, groups or organizations are presented with the learning and conditioning rules that apply to their training there is push back and denunciation conditioning. While even a grade school track coach knows how the Krebs cycle affects a ‘kick’ at the end of a 440, they know next to nothing of the methods of reinforcement and avoidance, chaining and fading, discrimination training or schedules effect those they train. Even the arguments against the use of conditioning and learning techniques as being relevant are learned using the very contingency management they deny is involved.

So, am I missing something? Did we all learn to read blogs by reflex? Was divination involved in finding the right partner to marry? Was it always their ‘motivation’ or was it due to a ‘calling’ he turned that MBA from University of Colorado into a creative design position for www.getgreen.com?

The value for us is that learning and conditioning is everywhere. It is harder to find a behavior that didn’t come about due to past consequences than it is to keep up with pop logic that eating chocolate is good for me or that purging is a disease. Please! The effects of learning and conditioning are everywhere; drug cartels, congressman, Joel Osteen, Rev. Wright, moms, brothers sisters and you too.

Maybe we ought to take the rules of learning seriously in order to understand the big stuff about what the heck is going on in the world. Then we can start on the tough stuff.

Find me a behavior that was acquired without conditioning and I’ll pay you money.

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Well, isn’t that nice.

Unconscious plagiarism is valued as wrong by people who only see black and white. ‘Wrong’ in the sense that someone is taking credit for something that was generated or created by another person and the interloper was not giving credit for the source of the new idea or ‘thing.’

Do you know who wrote the “Dick and Jane” book series or what the best way is to grill lobster tail? How about the basics of the scientific method or the definitions of reinforcement or punishment? Right…you don’t remember. Yet you have them and you didn’t create them so you must have got them from someone and you need to give that person credit.

However some versions of plagiarism when we write may be due to inattention rather than to intention. When people who use the words or thoughts that are not their own they call it plagiarism. Those questioned about copying or using another’s words and ideas without giving them credit invariably state that their behavior was ‘unconscious.’ They were unaware of their copying when they used those words or ideas as they used. When unintentional plagiarism happens it is referred to as cryptomnesia.

This “concealed recollection,” is the name for a theoretical phenomenon involving suppressed or ‘forgotten’ memories. It refers to cases where (apparently) a person believes that he or she is creating or inventing something new, such as a story, poem, artwork, or joke, but is actually recalling a similar or identical work which he or she has previously encountered. The term was addressed extensively by Federal Judge Richard A. Posner in his book, ‘The Little Book of Plagiarism’.

Could there be any clearer case for learning?

As humans we learn at an intense rate not even closely appreciated by most academicians or those who spew content on the different media channels. We do it for all of our lives. And all the learning we do is not equal. In the thunderstorm of what is learned from before we are born and throughout intense learning periods and even during less intense periods there are millions of discriminative stimuli [SDs] that get linked with the environment surrounding the paradigms of antecedents and consequences. These morph and are reshaped repeatedly. We mix them together regularly as in a “mixed metaphor” such as “It is pitch quiet in here!”

The SDs that come to control the different elements of what is leaned become diluted differentially over time due to conflicting cues [SDs] as well as disuse of the information.

In the case of cryptomnesia the person is supposed to bookmark or otherwise categorize and account for the reading in Dr. Suez that led to thinking that there was a button maker that used the same color combinations. Or, was the person watching TV’s American Idol supposed to categorize statements [time, date, person, context] made by the stars on the show so that when a viewer’s book was written 3 years later, “Skill follows Will” credit could be given for the title of the book written about athletics?

I hope you consider the quagmire that this level of accounting requires. It may generate a set of people that refuse to write, compose, paint or speak if the logic is carried comes any more pervasive than it is.

Blogs appear to be somewhat beside themselves when it comes to references and original content. Yet the American Psychological Association has made a science out of referencing and citing what one close friend has called, “old dead men” to the point where we reinforce citing less ideas for what of having to explain where we got our more profound ideas.

Sounds like learning is the same as cryptomnesia in that it represents the case of integrating what is consumed in books, lectures, friends, movies, neighbors, parishioners, colleagues, TV or anything else. It can be ascribed to someone other than its original creator (another interesting myth) or another condition and be treated as intuitive or common sense…

Consider the following:

In a conversation with colleagues [over beer, martini’s, scotch, margarita’s or spring water] at [the office, racquet club, saloon, grocery store, etc.] you outline an idea that is not in the mainstream of the company. You go over the usual dichotomy of good vs. risks and why or what is the net of the idea.

It is considered and absorbed by the others and when appropriate, it is tied up and put into a package in some way that allows it to be identified. Comments like

“…well it is something to think about…”

“…I think it was tried in 2004 and never got a sponsor…”

“…there is good reason that it won’t work… don’t bring it up again.”

Or

“…let me have a synopsis of it and I’ll bring up at the manager’s meeting in June.”

When providing an idea or approach, strategy or process to others they often absorb it and subsequently either

  • deny its validity
  • provide its validity but question its significance
  • after time has past bring it up as if they just thought of it.

Who should get credit for the idea?

is the originator in the loop in the above example?

Do we really want to live like this when data and information grows faster than our global national debt?  Isn’t there a better way?

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In a previous article I suggested that it becomes incumbent on the reader, listener, watcher or any engaged person to be able to tell when something in the media didn’t seem right or justifiable, etc. as in CNN and Evil – Snivil… I promised those that there are some rules of thumb for detecting faulty, deceptive or malicious content. The one selected is the Sagan Baloney Detection Kit. There are dozens of them out there on the web, in science methodology texts and even some in writing books. Like any set of rules of thumb, they are not absolute but provide an approximation that will save time and angst when sifting through the escalating volumes of content we have access to.

Like every source of ‘help,’ use what works for you and toss the rest. Know that those that want your eyeballs understand this list better than most of us and do what they can to keep you from recognizing these red flags in their materials.

Let us know what we missed and what we need to cull from our list.

Baloney Detection Kit: Based on selections are taken and similar to those in a book by Carl Sagan “The Demon Haunted World” Ballantine Books (February 25, 1997) ISBN-10: 0345409469

These collectively or individually are ‘red flags’ that suggest deception. The following are tools for detecting fallacious or fraudulent arguments wherever they present themselves.

  1. Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the facts
  2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
  3. Arguments from authority carry little weight (in science there are no “authorities”).
  4. Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours, your parents, etc.
  5. Quantify, wherever possible.
  6. If there is a chain of argument every link in the chain must work.
  7. “Occam’s razor” – if there are two hypotheses that explain the data equally well choose the simpler
  8. Ask whether the hypothesis can, at least in principle, be falsified (shown to be false by some unambiguous test). In other words, it is testable? Can others duplicate the experiment and get the same result?
  9. Conduct control experiments – especially “double blind” experiments where the person taking measurements is not aware of the test and control subjects.
  10. Check for confounding factors – separate variables impacting the conclusions.

Common fallacies of logic and rhetoric

  1. Ad hominem – attacking the arguer rather than the argument.
  2. Argument from “authority”
  3. Monocausality: Cause and effect statements
  4. Argument from adverse consequences (focus on the dire consequences of an “unfavorable” decision; attack a sovereignty or you’ll be fighting them on the streets of New York).
  5. Appeal to ignorance (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).
  6. Special pleading (typically referring to god’s will, Buddha’s mysteries or passions of Islam).
  7. Begging the question (assuming an answer in the way the question is phrased).
  8. Observational selection (counting the hits and forgetting the misses as in fortune telling).
  9. Statistics of small numbers (such as drawing conclusions from inadequate sample sizes).
  10. Misunderstanding the nature of statistics (President Eisenhower expressing astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence!)
  11. Inconsistency (e.g. military expenditures based on worst case scenarios but scientific projections on environmental dangers ignored because they are not “substantiated”).
  12. Non sequitur – “it does not follow” – the logic falls down.
  13. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc – “it happened after so it was caused by” – confusion of cause and effect.
  14. Meaningless question (“what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?).
  15. Excluded middle – considering only the two extremes in a range of possibilities (making the “other side” look worse than it really is).
  16. Confusion of correlation and causation.
  17. Straw man – caricaturing (stereotyping, marginalizing) a position to make it easier to attack.
  18. Suppressed evidence or half-truths.
  19. Weasel words – for example, use of euphemisms for war such as “police action” to get around limitations on Presidential powers. “An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public”

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