About Me

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I'm an Australian, based in the Washington, DC, area, with extensive experience in the US, UK/Europe and Australia. I have also lectured in IT and Law related topics at King's College, London, and at The Australian National University.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Australian universities make global news - but not in a good way

Australian universities have an impressive international reputation. I'm always excited when I see that the Australian National University, where I studied, is a lot more than a local university in my hometown.

Unfortunately, this week the Australian university system has also shown itself to have a dark side, with an Australian Human Rights Commission report finding that:

Around half of all university students (51%) were sexually harassed on at least one occasion in 2016, and 6.9% of students were sexually assaulted on at least one occasion in 2015 or 2016. A significant proportion of the sexual harassment experienced by students in 2015 and 2016 occurred in university settings.

This has made the news internationally, for example in The New York Times.

The Australian universities are conspicuously responding to the report, with a range of different measures, including mandatory training that is being proposed by a number of institutions. I received an email this morning from the Vice-Chancellor at ANU, which was sent to alumni.

Hopefully, the Australia's university population can build a sustained effort, beyond the immediate news headlines, to repair campus culture. And while the international press has been reporting the Australian news, unfortunately, this is much more than an Australian problem as demonstrated, for example, by this US report from 2015.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Always on": it can be hard to stop working, even if the law requires it

In an always-on culture, a smartphone can drive home the impact of being shut down. I thought this article from The Washington Post offered an interesting vignette of the current US Federal Government shutdown.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Analyst discussion of the Oracle Policy Automation Cloud Service

I spent a lot of time working on software-based strategies to analyze, implement and optimize the complex webs of policy which governments both create and navigate each day. I work daily with the Oracle Policy Automation product.Adelaide O'Brien of IDC Government Insights has written a piece discussing the Oracle Policy Automation Cloud Service, which makes real-time policy-based decisions available using a SaaS model, integrated with the Oracle RightNow Cloud Service.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Is BlackBerry's issue technology or people?

There's been plenty of coverage in the media of BlackBerry's quarterly results, which weren't great (see e.g. this article from The Guardian). As expected, there's lots of the usual speculation about whether BlackBerry can ever recover in the marketplace.

My question: is the real issue that BlackBerry faces more one of brand equity and the emotional value people attach to devices than the technology itself? There's been a lot of discussion about the BlackBerry 10 operating system, and I think there's a consensus that it's seen as an advance from BlackBerry 7.

But it's interesting that most of BlackBerry's device sales last quarter were lower-priced, older models running BlackBerry 7.

Is the issue that BlackBerry no longer has the aspirational, high-end appeal that Apple and Samsung can command? A BlackBerry used to be a status symbol, but not so now. People now pay a premium for other devices to be cool.

And is it this emotional involvement that drives upgrades, inspires people to create apps, and is much harder to address than a technology upgrade?

It also might not help that BlackBerry devices are famous for their keyboards, but it's only been in recent weeks that the Q10 device with a physical keyboard and BlackBerry 10 has become readily available.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The "Netflix model": "the forgettable is supreme and the supreme goes unseen?"

Laurence Barber asks, on the Crikey website: "does the 'Netflix model' diminish television as art?". The argument is that binge-watching leads to degraded artistic quality as audiences have less time to digest content, shows no longer need to maintain suspense from week to week, and producers lack the opportunity to respond to feedback.

It's a pretty interesting argument. However, after thinking about it for a couple of days, I'm not sure I agree. I habitually watch entire TV series in a short period of time, and, if anything, I think that can foster a better appreciation of a well-written story arc. There are also plenty of traditional weekly TV shows with patchy scripts. At the end of the day, good writers will continue to write well; and the "Netflix model" simply offers consumers more options about how—and when—they consume content.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Twitter, LinkedIn and social engagement

It's interesting to watch the way social networks are developing. Facebook clearly has very strong engagement, largely from tightly-knit networks of friends. Other networks are working to find ways to get users more engaged. In particular, I remember first joining LinkedIn years ago, and then forgetting about it—hardly ever going back to the site. Twitter has long had an issue with people signing up but then not being sure where to go from there.

I was interested to read a couple of articles on this recently.

  • This article, from Wired, discusses the newly launched Twitter Music feature. It's interesting to see the new feature being written up as a way to get people engaged with Twitter as a "second screen" platform. It's not just about offering another music channel.
  • I've also watched LinkedIn's Endorsements feature with some bemusement over recent months. This article helped get me thinking about it. Endorsements help people get engaged with LinkedIn: people notice they are receiving endorsements and check up to see what's happening on their profiles; and the site is quite active in encouraging users to endorse one another. However, I have to wonder whether the engagement comes at the cost of data quality, due to the site's default behavior of suggesting a number of attributes to endorse, and a user interface which leads to blanket endorsement of those qualities—which neither the endorser nor the endorsed party might normally have considered as key qualities.