Whoever smelt it deals with it

In my opinion, the person who discovers a problem deals with the problem. A law enforcement officer sees someone aim a gun at another. The LEO is off duty or out of jurisdiction. Societal expectation is the LEO will intervene.

The same applies to me being an employee. If I discover a problem, then it is my responsibility to intervene as best I can. If I have no access to the systems or skill to do anything, then I should inform those who can and provide the information I know to best aid them in assessing the problem. If I do have the access, then I should work the issue as best I can. It might technically belong to someone else or another group, but if I have been given access to the systems and have the skill, then I should deal with it.

Even if I lack the access or skill, then I still feel like the issue is still MINE until it is resolved however that is. My responsibility becomes to find the person who can deal with the situation. I am not absolved just because it is not something I can do.

I thought maybe this came from my work at a university, but I am not so sure. I feel like I held this attitude even early in my work there. I would help other students anywhere I was. I did the same in high school, such as stores where as a customer I fixed misshelved books or items put in the wrong place. Anyhow it came about, I feel responsible for ensuring things are working around me.

TED Talk: Let’s try emotional correctness

Sally Kohn gets an unbelievable amount of hate mail for doing her job: being a liberal pundit on Fox News. Political persuasion begins with emotional correctness: the respect and compassion we show one another.

Our challenge is to find the compassion for others that we want them to have for us. That is emotional correctness.

Given the current climate of anger, this seemed pretty appropriate.

If the video does not load, the try Sally Kohn: Let’s try emotional correctness.

Slackers and IT

Go read “Science Fiction Is for Slackers.”

As a rule, science fiction may be the laziest of all genres, not because the stories themselves are too facile—they can be just as sophisticated and challenging as those of any other genre—but because they often revel in easy solutions: Why walk when you can warp? Why talk when you’re a telepath? Technology in such stories typically has more to do with workarounds than it does with work.

I do love science fiction. From robots/AI to star travel to virtual reality. I love it all. I may even love it BECAUSE of the laziness. I’d love to have all these things to make my life better. And much of science fiction influences technologists into making decisions to make the fiction a reality.

The How Shatner Changed the World (mock) documentary talks about the technologies of Star Trek and how scientists work towards making these things reality. Faster than light travel and cybernetics are still aspirant. But cell phones and personal computers were influenced by technologists familiar with the show and movies.

At times I worry about automation putting me out of a job, but then I remember my career goal is always to replace myself with a tiny shell script. Why click when I can script? Why script when I can tell an AI to handle it? Sure it takes away some of my responsibilities, but what I am supposed to do has always changed. And I get better challenging work when I free myself from mundane tasks.

Guess this is why I told Puppet Labs my job is an Automation Evangelist. It’s not universal. I have allies, but convincing people of the good in automation is much like changing their religion.

Back in college I was encouraged to become a librarian. More specifically, people thought I should become an automation librarian. I guess the automation part stuck?

The Share-Based Economy

Not even sure how this came up, but someone explained to me how it infuriated him that because the Boy Scouts of America decided not to accept homosexual scout leaders Walt Disney stopped sponsoring them. It was not right for Disney to do that.

First, I asked if it would be right for some other company to stop giving money to BSA if they took the opposite stance and did accept homosexual scout leaders. He realized that was a trick question and refused to answer it. I was not going to get him to see it from the other side.

Next, I approached it from a publicity standpoint. The BSA does not really care where they get sponsors, just that they make enough to thrive as an organization and achieve their mission. When a sponsor pulls their money, demonize them as far and wide as you can. People get so upset the “victim” makes up for it and more. He brought up the Chic-fil-A boycott where they had record day, maybe weeks, because supporters came out to help.

The scary part of the Internet is people getting caught up in the emotionally manipulating stories not realizing it. Some are obvious. Others are very subtle. It is not just one demographic, but all of us. Even those of us who consider ourselves rational. Well, especially us. Everyone else are in the wrong.

Divisiveness in the end tears us apart. It keeps us from seeing things from the perspective of others.

TED Talk: Dan Ariely on our buggy moral code

From the TED’s About This Talk:

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely studies the bugs in our moral code: the hidden reasons we think it’s OK to cheat or steal (sometimes). Clever studies help make his point that we’re predictably irrational — and can be influenced in ways we can’t grasp.

When I ran across Dan Ariely’s Classroom Ethics 101 last month, I had forgotten about his TED Talk. Even worse, I had not blogged about it! So here it is.

My favorite quote:

It is very hard to believe your intuition is wrong… This is the situation we are all in all the time. We have very strong intuitions about all kinds of things. Our own ability. How the economy works. Ho we should pay school teachers. But unless we start testing those intuitions we are not going to do better.

If you cannot see the video below, then visit Dan Ariely on our buggy moral code.

GRE Cheating

Reuters had an interesting article on Chinese students gaming the GRE by setting up networks to share questions. Basically those who take the test post the questions online. Blogs and SEO ensures those seeking the questions can find them. Because ETS takes forever to ensure each question properly measures what it should, the questions are acquired faster than replaced.

Educational Testing Services places physical security on the tests to ensure the questions are not leaked by people acquiring copies of the test. Unfortunately, memorization of the questions is difficult to defeat this way.

Grade Point Average and tests like the GRE are common admission requirements to a graduate program. A high score becomes an obsession to students looking to attend their chosen program. The desperate seek any edge. Some people hire tutors or educational services who help learn how to take the tests. Bookstores carry study guides. Plenty of web sites offer advice.

The difference between legitimate assistance is the questions are not the real one. Studying the actual questions is crossing the line.

We see the same cheating behavior in other high stakes testing. The testing companies are have done such a great job making their tests the metric that a high score becomes so important people must have a good one. Therefore, defending the validity of the tests requires them to stay one step ahead of cheaters. Guess that is price of attaining the dream for a testing company.


Moral Operating System

“We have stronger opinions about [iPhone vs. Android] than we do the moral frameworks to guide our decisions.” To be fair the choices were selected to be ones most people would have to have taken a Philosophy major to understand, Kant versus Mill. There are other moral guides like Jesus, Aquinas, Richard Dawkins, Mohammed, Pope Bennedict, Baha’u’llah, we could use. But, yeah, the point is to think and discuss.