November 7, 2020

Jack Reacher loves milsurp

Reacher had very few civilian clothes, and some of them weren’t really civilian. His off-duty pants were Marine Corps khakis about thirty years old. He knew a guy who knew a guy who worked in a warehouse, where he claimed there was a bale of old stuff wrongly delivered back when LBJ was still president, and then never squared away again afterwards. And apparently the point of the story was that old Marine pants looked just like new Ralph Lauren pants. Not that Reacher cared what pants looked like.”

Night School: (Jack Reacher 21) by Lee Child

The Reacher books are my guilty pleasure. There’s a lot of doth-protest-too-much in how Reacher approaches the world. He doesn’t care about clothes, but he pays an inordinate amount of attention to clothes. Not in the otaku way that Gibsonian characters do. He just notices.

November 3, 2020

Do metrics matter?

Long story short: In Australia we have a metricised assessment of research quality that universities are compelled to complete. QUT recently put in a submission that basically said they think the metrics ERA tracks are not a very good measure of research quality. QUT also contrasts the peer assessments in ERA (which have been largely stable over time) with the more metricised assessments (which have shown improvements).

Indeed, the stability of peer review assessments may be read as a commentary on the assumptions about the fitness of metrical approaches as proxies for underlying quality, particularly over time. The divergence has now widened to the point that the fitness of the metrics as proxies for quality requires empirical validation.”

Whoa. Once more for those in the back:

the fitness of the metrics as proxies for quality requires empirical validation”

October 27, 2020

Design is about asking meta-rational questions

In poorly-understood domains, science requires a meta-rational approach to induction: in this situation, what method will give a meaningful answer? Can we apply statistics here at all? Why or why not? If we can, what specific method would give a meaningful answer, and what do we need to do to assure that it does? — David Chapman, Statistics and the replication crisis

I put it to you, reader, that any time we invoke a design approach”, we are operating in a poorly understood domain and need to start with meta-rational questions.

October 22, 2020

Adoption not Creation

The federal government is all on on tech adoption not tech creation, according to ScoMo:

All of the digital transformation, it’s not an Everest we have to climb. We’re not just doing it because it’s there. We’re not trying to create the next Silicon Valley here in Australia. That’s not it,” Mr Morrison said.

We’ve just got to be the best at adopting. Taking it on board. Making it work for us. And we’re really good at that.

I can get behind the adoption not creation idea, but only if organisations spend enough time to know what they’re doing now and what they’re changing to.

September 17, 2020

The Promantic Era

we are living in the Promantic era. Much like the Romantics gave primacy to inspiration and individualism, the Promantic era elevates the professional self across the whole self. There is no longer a separation between professional development” and personal development.” All skills, experiences, and practices can be brought to bear on our professional and private lives. Who we are in work is who we are.

— Brian Dell in the latest issue of Little Futures

Why do I blog this?1

With work-from-home just becoming work this seems relevant. Also, as someone whose downtime is spent reading work related” things — a habit from years in academia — I feel seen.

Also (also) — subscribe to the newsletter I write in my spare time which is about things that are relevant to my work!


  1. Stealing this from Nicolas Nova’s old (?) practice so that this blog becomes slightly more than a collection of links.

September 8, 2020

What if technology but for people?

At the end of my reflections a few years back, I suggested that a humanist critique of technology entails a preference for technology that (1) operates at a human scale, (2) works toward human ends, (3) allows for the fullest possible flourishing of a person’s capabilities, (4) does not obfuscate moral responsibility, and (5) acknowledges and respects certain limits inherent to the human condition.

Michael Sacasas in his newsletter, The Convivial Society