Niche Trends in Technology

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How to Learn About Them

Staying updated with the latest trends is more vital than ever. While mainstream tech like AI, blockchain, and virtual reality garners much attention, there’s an array of niche technologies that deserve the spotlight. Keeping abreast with these niche trends can open new avenues for innovation, career opportunities, and personal growth. But how does one navigate this expansive world without breaking the bank? Fortunately, there are numerous resources available that can help tech enthusiasts learn about these niche trends for free. Here’s a dive into some exciting technologies and how you can immerse yourself in them without spending a dime.

Quantum Computing

In Simple Terms: It’s like the supercharged version of our regular computers. Instead of bits, they use qubits, allowing them to process massive amounts of data simultaneously.

Learning Resources:
IBM Q Experience: A hands-on platform by IBM for quantum experiments. Check it out here.
MIT OpenCourseWare: Access MIT’s free quantum mechanics lectures here.

Biotechnology and CRISPR

In Simple Terms: Think of CRISPR as “genetic scissors” that can cut and modify DNA, potentially curing genetic diseases or improving crops.

Learning Resources:
Addgene’s CRISPR Guide: A detailed guide on CRISPR technology. Visit Addgene.
Coursera: A course titled “Introduction to Genomic Technologies” can be found here.

Edge Computing

In Simple Terms: Instead of sending data across long routes to a centralized data center, edge computing processes it right where it’s generated (like in your smartwatch or car), making things faster and more efficient.

Learning Resources:
EdgeX Foundry: A project by the Linux Foundation dedicated to edge computing. Check their insights here.
YouTube: For an introduction to edge computing, watch this video by IBM Cloud.

Neuromorphic Engineering

In Simple Terms: Building computer chips inspired by how our brains work. This could lead to computers that think and learn more like humans.

Learning Resources:
Google Scholar: If you have access you can dive deep into scholarly articles here.
YouTube: Get a brief overview of neuromorphic computing with this video by Zubin Kane.

General Resources:

The realm of niche tech trends is vast and exciting. The beauty of the digital age is that passionate learners can access a plethora of resources without financial constraints. Whether you’re looking to boost your career, embark on a new project, or simply satisfy your curiosity, the world of technology is at your fingertips. Dive in, explore, and make the most of the free resources available.

Growing Older in a Digital World: Maintaining Digital Presence and Addressing Challenges of Technology and Security

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Introduction
The growing use of technology and the increasing reliance on digital platforms have revolutionised how we live and communicate. As we age, the need to maintain our digital presence becomes more critical, especially as technology and security measures continue to evolve. This blog post explores the challenges of growing older in a digital world and the strategies we can adopt to maintain our online presence. It also examines the possibility of adding delegates to our online accounts and the implications for data protection measures such as GDPR.


Growing Older in a Digital World
As we grow older, our cognitive and physical abilities tend to decline, making navigating technology and security measures more challenging. This is particularly true for older people with limited technology experience or physical disabilities that make it harder to use digital devices. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, only 73% of adults aged 65 and older use the internet, compared to 99% of adults aged 18 to 29 (Perrin, 2019).

In addition to the challenges of using technology, older people are more vulnerable to cyber threats such as identity theft, phishing scams, and other forms of online fraud. This is because older adults tend to be more trusting and less aware of the risks of using digital platforms (Brooke & Ngwenyama, 2016).

Maintaining Digital Presence as We Age
Despite these challenges, it is essential to maintain our digital presence as we age. This is because digital platforms have become integral to our lives, allowing us to stay connected with family and friends, access information and services, and engage in online communities.

One strategy to maintain our digital presence is to adopt user-friendly technology designed specifically for older people. For example, there are now devices such as smartphones and tablets with larger screens, simplified interfaces, and voice assistants that can make it easier for older adults to use technology (Drewnowski & Rehm, 2018).

Another strategy is to stay informed about the latest security measures and cyber threats. This can involve taking online courses or attending workshops that provide information about online safety and security. It can also involve using multi-factor authentication and other security measures to protect our online accounts from unauthorised access (Zhang et al., 2018).


Adding Delegates to Online Accounts
Another solution that can help older people maintain their digital presence is to allow them to add delegates to their online accounts. Delegates are individuals authorised to access an account on behalf of the account holder. This can be particularly useful for older people who may have difficulty navigating security measures or need assistance managing their online accounts.

However, there are some potential challenges and implications for data protection measures such as GDPR. For example, allowing delegates to access personal data on behalf of an account holder raises questions about data ownership, consent, and accountability. It is essential to ensure that the account holder explicitly authorises any delegate access and that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal data.


Conclusion
As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain our digital presence, even as technology and security measures continue to evolve. Strategies such as using user-friendly technology, staying informed about cyber threats, and adding delegates to online accounts can help older people stay connected and engaged in a digital world. However, it is crucial to consider the implications of data protection measures such as GDPR and to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal data. Technology we design today must be forward thinking and work for us as we grow older, if we are developing products, applications, technologies or setting standards we have the responsibility to design for everyone.


References:
Brooke, J., & Ngwenyama, O. (2016). Age-related differences in information security awareness. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 568-578.

Drewnowski, A., & Rehm, C. D. (2018). The potential of technology to help older adults with socialisation. Current Opinion in Psychiatry,

Maximizing Meeting Effectiveness: Best Practices for Hosts and Participants

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A topic I love to talk about but it’s really difficult to solve for. Here are a few tips for more effective meetings. Being a host can be difficult especially when you don’t know the players involved. Meetings are a wonderful tool, the ability to get people together to collaborate really adds so much value.

However, despite their importance, meetings are often viewed as unproductive and time-wasting. According to a survey by Atlassian, employees attend an average of 62 meetings per month, half of which are considered ineffective. This often comes back to the host, we’ve all hosted poor meetings. Here are some ideas and best practices to help improve your meetings.

  1. Define clear goals and agenda: Before scheduling a meeting, define its purpose, goals, and objectives. A well-defined agenda helps participants prepare for the meeting, keeps the meeting on track, and ensures that essential topics are covered. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, setting clear objectives and agendas can increase meeting effectiveness by 46%.
  2.  Invite the right people: Inviting the right people to a meeting ensures that the discussion is relevant and productive. More participants can lead to long meetings and off-topic discussions. According to a survey by HBR, 67% of managers believe too many attendees are the most significant barrier to effective meetings. It is vital to identify key stakeholders and individuals who have relevant expertise and can provide valuable input. Don’t bring two people that play the same role, often it will lead to muddy expertise.
  3.  Use technology to enhance meetings: Technology can improve effectiveness in various ways, including video conferencing, screen sharing, and collaborative document editing. According to a survey by LogMeIn, 85% of respondents believe that technology positively impacts their ability to collaborate.
  4.  Encourage participation: Encouraging participation and creating a safe environment for participants to share their ideas and opinions can increase meeting effectiveness. According to a study by the University of San Francisco, meetings that allow for equal participation among attendees lead to better decisions and increased engagement.
  5.  Ensure adequate follow-up: Following up after a meeting ensures that action items are completed, and progress is made. According to a study by HBR, 75% of managers believe that post-meeting follow-up is critical to meeting effectiveness.
  6. Avoiding Regularly Scheduled Meetings: Regularly scheduled meetings, such as weekly team meetings, can become routine and unproductive over time. This can lead to a lack of progress and wasted time and resources. It is crucial to assess the need for a meeting before scheduling it and to consider alternative approaches, such as one-on-one conversations or ad-hoc meetings, when appropriate.

Regularly scheduled meetings and standing meetings can be valuable tools for businesses. Still, they may not always be the best approach. Here are some reasons why businesses may want to avoid these types of meetings:

  • They can become routine and unproductive: Regularly scheduled meetings can become routine and unproductive over time. Attendees may stop preparing adequately, and discussions may become repetitive and unengaging. This can lead to a lack of progress and wasted time and resources.
  •  They can limit flexibility: Standing and regularly scheduled meetings can restrict flexibility and make it difficult to adapt to changing circumstances or priorities. This can result in meetings being held unnecessarily or when they are no longer needed.
  •  They can be a time-waster: Regularly scheduled meetings can become a time-waster for attendees. Meetings that are held simply because they are scheduled rather than because there is a clear need for them can take away valuable time that could be spent on more important tasks.
  •  They may not be necessary: Some meetings may not require a fixed schedule or a regular cadence. Holding meetings only when a specific need or a clear objective can be more efficient and productive.
  •  They may not be inclusive: Regularly scheduled meetings can exclude people who cannot attend at the scheduled time, especially if they are not given the opportunity to provide input or feedback through other channels.

Conclusion

Effective meetings are critical to organisational communication and collaboration. By following best practices such as defining clear goals and agendas, inviting the right people, using technology, encouraging participation, and ensuring effective follow-up, organisations can improve meeting effectiveness and productivity. By doing so, organisations can save time and money while fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation.

References:

Atlassian. (2019). The cost of bad meetings [Infographic]. https://www.atlassian.com/time-wasting-at-work-infographic

Harvard Business Review. (2017). 5 ways to make your meetings more effective. https://hbr.org/2017/03/5-ways-to-make-your-meetings-more-effective

LogMeIn. (2019). Collaboration in the modern workplace. https://www.logmein.com/content/dam/LogMeIn/Files/Whitepapers/Collaboration-in-the-Modern-Workplace.pdf

University of San Francisco. (2014). Meeting best practices. https://www.usfca.edu/sites/default/files/lp-meeting-best-practices.pdf

Wrike. (2020). Meeting statistics: The ultimate list for meeting productivity. https://www.wrike.com/blog/meeting-statistics/

Doodle. (2019). The State of Meetings Report. https://meetings.hubspot.com/state-of-meetings-report

Harvard Business Review. (2017). Making Meetings Matter. https://hbr.org/2017/07/making-meetings-matter

The Impact of Truth Decay: How Sharing Inaccurate Content on Social Media Erodes Trust and Promotes Polarisation

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Sharing inaccurate content on social media can significantly impact people’s ability to differentiate between right and wrong. When individuals are repeatedly exposed to false information, they may begin to accept it as accurate, making it difficult to distinguish facts from fiction. This can result in individuals making decisions based on inaccurate information, leading to adverse outcomes.

Moreover, the more false information is shared on social media, the more it can contribute to a phenomenon known as “truth decay,” which is the diminishing role of facts and analysis in public discourse. This can lead to reduced trust in institutions, experts, and information sources, ultimately eroding democratic processes.

Sharing inaccurate content on social media can also contribute to the formation of echo chambers, where individuals only expose themselves to information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs and biases. This can lead to polarisation, further reducing the ability of individuals to objectively evaluate information.

In summary, sharing inaccurate content on social media can significantly impact people’s ability to tell right from wrong by leading to the acceptance of false information, contributing to truth decay, and promoting the formation of echo chambers. Fact-checking information before sharing it is essential to help combat these harmful effects.

What is Truth Decay?

Truth Decay is a term used to describe the decline in the quality and reliability of the information, the blurring of lines between opinion and fact, and a general erosion of trust in facts, institutions, and expertise. It is characterised by the spread of misinformation, the promotion of conspiracy theories, and a disregard for objective truth. While Truth Decay is not a new phenomenon, it has become more prevalent in recent years due to the proliferation of social media and the rise of populist movements.

Causes of Truth Decay

Several factors contribute to Truth Decay. The first is the democratisation of information through the internet and social media. While this has allowed for the dissemination of information on a global scale, it has also made it easier for false or misleading information to spread quickly.

The second cause is the increasing polarisation of society, which has led to a breakdown in trust in institutions, experts, and traditional news sources. This polarisation has also led to echo chambers, where individuals are only exposed to information confirming their pre-existing beliefs and biases.

The third cause of Truth Decay is the blurring of lines between opinion and fact. The rise of opinion-based news and commentary has made it more difficult for individuals to discern objective truth from biased reporting.

The Impact of Truth Decay

The impact of Truth Decay is far-reaching and can have significant negative consequences for individuals and society. One of the most significant impacts is the erosion of trust in democratic institutions. When individuals no longer trust the information being provided by these institutions, they may become disillusioned with the democratic process and disengage from it entirely.

Another impact of Truth Decay is the spread of conspiracy theories and misinformation. This can lead to individuals making decisions based on false or misleading information, negatively affecting themselves and society.

Finally, Truth Decay can contribute to the breakdown of civil discourse, making it more difficult for individuals to have productive discussions and debates. When individuals are no longer operating from a shared set of facts, finding common ground or coming to a consensus can be challenging.

No matter how small the item you are sharing. Be a critical consumer of information. Do not simply accept information at face value. Ensure it’s accurate; check out other sources for a few minutes. Do they match up? Fact-check information before sharing it.