by Stephen Downes
May 10, 2016
LinkedIn has been moving in this direction for several years, and as the Inc. article notes, "Modeled after popular 'freelancer-for-hire' sites such as Fiverr and Upwork, LinkedIn's ProFinder matches customers looking for a specific type of product or service with a qualified professional." It gives rise to a new type of business model on the other end: a commercial entity with few full-time staff employing dozens of professionals on a contract basis. Ah, but here's the rub: what is to prevent a race to the bottom as individual contractors compete against each other?
Daniel Willingham has two tried-and-true tools he goes back to again and again: the unproven theory, and the artificial example. In this post he combines them to suggests that the internet weakens our cognitive powers. The theory in this case is 'cognitive miserliness', suggesting that "we think when we feel we have to, and otherwise avoid it." And computers in our pocket give us a new way to avoid thinking, leading to (he says) poorer results on some 'analytical problems' such as the artificial example he provides. I think the sort of study he proposes would be substantially misleading, because as our technology changes, the nature of the problems (and the thinking we have to do) changes as well, rendering moot the artificial examples Willingham uses so frequently.
The 'artificial intelligence' part of Braina (I keep wanting to pronounce it 'bran ah') lies mostly in the voice recognition software and in its ability to interpret natural language requests. "It isn't just like a chat-bot; its priority is to be super functional and to help you in doing tasks. You can either type commands or speak to it and Braina will understand what you want to do." According to the review, "Braina is very utilitarian, practical, and actually very functional." I haven't tried it myself (I'm afraid to overload my laptop so I'll wait until I'm in the office). No matter how it functions, something like this application will provide a lot more support for personal productivity and support some time in the near future. Via Doug Peterson.
I read this a couple days ago while I was in Malaysia. Now I'm in my kitchen in Ontario, typing this out. This is an obvious point, but it's deep and important: "Everywhere is going on at once... All this would still be going on if I hadn't flown here. And that's equally true of London, and of all the other cities I passed in the long night, that I saw only the lights of. For everyone, and every place, it's the present." It applies equally well to my next door neighbours as to Tatevik in Armenia, Viplav in India, Dave in PEI and Doug in the UK.
Creativity isn't something you have to have a special talent for. It is something that results from paying attention, following your own interests, and most of all, hard work. This is the gist of the message offered by Amy Burvall as she prefaces a list of 'Jedi mind tricks' to promote creativity (quoted and lightly edited (my own take in italics)):
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