In Our View Daily: covering an online conference, fast

Socitm’s annual President’s Conference usually takes place over two days somewhere in Britain. This year, the renamed President’s Week took place over five half-days somewhere on Webex. That longer duration provided the chance to try something new in covering the event.

On each of the five days I wrote and edited a four-page PDF newsletter, In Our View Daily, published at the end of the afternoon. This required significant preparation in advance, followed by intensive work every day by Socitm’s staff and myself. Continue reading “In Our View Daily: covering an online conference, fast”

How to work well from home

First published in the May 2020 issue of Socitm In Our View magazine

Large numbers of Britons have recently started working from home (WFH) for the first time or have turned an occasional practice into a full-time one. The sudden shift from communal office to kitchen table or spare bedroom, swapping colleagues for partners, children and pets, will have been disruptive for many. Continue reading “How to work well from home”

How to build democracy with technology away from elections

There is a lot to be said for a British general election. It is brutally fast in delivering the people’s verdict. It uses technology that everyone can understand and is impossible to hack remotely. And in returning to Rick Wakeman’s prog-rock classic, the BBC has given it back its theme music.

But elections alone are a pretty thin form of democracy. Those who shifted from Labour to vote Conservative did so because of Jeremy Corbyn, because of the party’s far-left manifesto, because of Brexit, because they like Boris Johnson or a mix of these and others. The reasons will come out in surveys and interviews, but aren’t a formal part of the results and the government can ignore them. Continue reading “How to build democracy with technology away from elections”

How cloud computing helped one university to digitise the student experience

Article by SA Mathieson, Guardian Labs, (The Connected University series paid for by Staffordshire University), 4 December 2019

Until recently, a university that wished to remind students about lectures, answer their questions around the clock and provide personalised suggestions on which societies to join would have needed a call centre of support staff working shifts. Staffordshire University is now providing all of these services and others through its app, Beacon, a digital coach for students available on mobile devices accessed through voice and text. Continue reading “How cloud computing helped one university to digitise the student experience”

Mr Robot: will androids ever be able to convince people they’re human?

Article by SA Mathieson, Guardian Labs, (The Connected University series paid for by Staffordshire University), 29 November 2019

In his quest to build robots that can pass as human, Carl Strathearn has drawn on various fields including prosthetics, materials science, computing and animatronics – the last by talking to John Coppinger, designer of the Jabba the Hutt animatronic puppet used in the 1983 Star Wars film Return of the Jedi. “He helped me out in my master’s when I was doing research in advanced animatronics and gave me plenty of inspiration in my PhD,” says Strathearn. Continue reading “Mr Robot: will androids ever be able to convince people they’re human?”