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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Crab and Frog Motion paradigm

Within the ever-growing domain of creative media, now ruled by the generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials, a new work landscape has emerged. Characterised by the demand of expanding skill sets through continuous learning, shapeshifting is the rule of the market. In the quest for developing new competences and delivering innovation, adaptability is the most valuable asset to pursuit.

The journey of learning
10 years ago, back in the days of my studies at a Taiwanese University, I had the honor of meeting and attending lectures conducted by professor Dr. Peter Kien-Hong Yu. A leading thinker in the field of Comparative Politics, Asian Politics and above all, Chinese dialectical thinking, his course focused on the particular way Chinese political leaders applied dialectics to their actions and thoughts. In the classroom, core discussions ranged from Taiwan Strait Affairs to Deng Xiaoping’s Open Door policy, One Country, Two Systems. In short, it was a pretty inspiring ground for weirdos and wannabe sinologists like me.  

Dr Yu’s course was probably my most remarkable experience as a learner. It confirmed my identity as a product of Generation Y and helped me to understand that the journey of learning never ends. The title of his greatest work, “The Crab and Frog Motion Paradigm Shift”, could be applied way beyond his theoretical construct to explore multiple paths to seek the truth within a Chinese mind. In his realm of thesis and antithesis, he describes and analyzes phenomena within a time/space framework that is constantly moving, hence the analogy with a frog leaping forward and the crab moving backwards: reality is shapeshifting and so are we.

I never really tried to unfold the various winding frameworks within Dr Yu’s work or used his theory to analyze phenomena. Even though I could never make practical use of such teachings, the experience led me to reading more on the topics of interest to me and, most importantly, to find real pleasure in being a learner.
Learning as relaxation
A top iconic baby boomer and notable weirdo, Bill Gates, claimed that learning is a key relaxation practice that shapes one’s outlook and thinking. Recently, he shared a story in his blog where he describes how he fell in a love with the teachings of Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman, after accidentally picking one of his lectures on physics from a university’s film collection. The excitement with the discovery is reflected in the blog post’s title “The Best Teacher I Never Had” as well as in the fact that, years later, Gates bought the rights to professor Feynman’s lectures and posted them online for free. The experience of learning (regardless of one’s stage in life) is priceless, especially when the heartbreak of baby boomer generation lay in the fact that they could not fully enjoy the wealth they had moved heaven and earth to acquire.

Unlike the generation of the baby boomers, characterised by accomplishments such as civil rights movements and an anti-war collective spirit with specks of optimism, our times are governed by another rhythm: rapid, attention-diffuse, chaotic and apocalyptical. Our rites of passage include the global warming menace, widespread terrorism with the rise of the the Islamic State, the return of populism and Donald-Trump-like politicians. We are equipped with all the technological apparatus and global reach and yet we are moving backwards when it comes to co-existing and building the expected values of a benign Global Village.

People are aware of how a global “techboom” altered business relationships and brought about new competitive advantage rules, the so-called share economy, emerging startups etc. Our brave new world of technology is radically altering not only the way we shop, do business and live our lives. The work landscape has changed completely, worldwide: our roles as professionals in the digital/tech industry landscape have widened both in terms of experiences and possibilities. However, achievements such as innovation, flexibility and even freedom will not represent real gains unless they are combined with values that resonate responsibility - a utopian future or a legacy to future generations. And there is no utopian future without active learning and genuine inspiration.

New opportunities
Companies where learning options are limited leave little if any autonomy for innovation. The actual fuel for innovation is leisure time. Learning, as a relaxation practice, fits into this logic. Still, to the capitalist captive mind, if you spend too much time meditating you are not capitalizing. Therefore, courses become webinars, TedTalks and stuff shared on LinkedIn replace books and other sources of inspiration. Obviously, one might find something relevant in accounts of success stories, but there is still a need of picking the learning experience of choice, something that helps to carve out new initiatives or, at least, leads to a pleasant career path.

So, how can we characterize this new class of individuals that will be responsible for delivering the utopian future we need, where technology is supposed to make the world a better place? Millennial entrepreneurs are known for breaking conventions and adding value to society with new ways of doing business and self-regulating mechanisms that replace the idea of corporate social responsibility with (for instance) quality control based on customer reviews.

Are we part of the chapter where creative destruction meets the invisible hand? Even though the new enterprise models and creative landscape under the digital can be overpowering, it does not necessarily imply that they are moving other companies out of the way. The new work landscape opens up opportunities that did not exist before.

If the so-called Generation Next and Z Millennials are responsible for trying to invent a new work and creative landscape, they need to provide opportunities that did not exist before. They also need to face old challenges, for example creating the right culture and hiring the right people, adding value and regulating the overall impact of what has been created. One thing that still applies to both small businesses and startups aspiring to overnight growth is that they need to keep their people happy.

There is no doubt that many Nordic tech-industry enterprises have brought about a constructive approach to strategizing employee personal development – Making Waves for one is fully committed to the cause of building competencies – leading to both an increase in productivity and employee satisfaction. Individual development plans and annual training budgets provide the key ingredients in fostering valuable learning experiences – from various forms of training, including postgraduate studies and courses for specialists to participation in conferences and covering exam certification costs.

While embracing this new creative landscape and being aware of the market’s shapeshifting demands, the experience of surfing the waves of creative media production, free to design our own motion paradigm, is indeed a privilege.

Peter Yu.jpg
The author with Peter Yu, Taoyuan, 2006

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The failure of Social Sciences

About Gilberto Felisberto Vasconcellos

In 1968, joined the course of Social Sciences, University of São Paulo (USP), graduating in 1972. From the effervescence of the years of lead went unscathed. He was never interested in the student movement. Plunged in studies of the Frankfurt School, psychoanalysis, literature, Karl Marx, György Lukács and the dependency theory. Considered prodigy student, he received his doctorate at the same university in 1977 with a thesis Ideology Curupira: an analysis of fundamentalism in the light of the work of Professor Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Google going mobile: Mixed messages from the Colossus

Amid antitrust investigations and record profits, one thing is certain: Google is definitely going mobile!

Recent announcements in the media have made it clear that Google’s new search algorithm will favour mobile sites.
Samuel Burke, CNN’s Business correspondent, referred to the update as “MobileGeddon” because it could result in Armageddon for some businesses – and it wouldn’t be the first time. Even the slightest change to Google’s algorithms can have a huge effect.
A set of simple criteria have been established to determine what constitutes a good mobile site, i.e. a responsive site that looks nice and is easy to use on a phone or a tablet.
The first visible effect of the change in your search results will be fewer sites with a lot of heavy graphics and Flash, i.e. highly designed animations that take a long time to load.
This approach has already been prophesized in point blank terms by several prominent experts. Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist and Google co-founder, shared the following warning remark in his piece 11 Digital Marketing Crimes Against Humanity: “Remember every time you use flash on your website, a cute puppy dies. Think of the puppy!”
Other dead ends will be pages that require scrolling and pages that rely on zooming.
Sites that are simply pushed on to mobile will therefore have a problem, and the changes may have a dramatic effect on online businesses on a global scale. Regions like Australia, where 66% of the web content is still limited to desktop format, have the biggest cause for concern.
An interesting observation is that places like Africa and Latin America, which developed a presence on the internet relatively late, already have websites that are optimized for mobiles and no doubt will do very well.
Google has always kept the official algorithms a secret, even if some criteria have been known since the early days. A high number of incoming links, for example, suggests high quality content and is rewarded with a better search rank. Other factors that might affect scoring include how long the site has existed, the strength of the domain name, how often content is updated and content media diversification – use of videos, images and podcasts.
A brief recollection of previous page ranking algorithms highlights Google Panda and Google Penguin. The first was first released in February 2011, aiming to lower the rank of sites heavy with advertising. The policy resulted in a surge of higher rankings for news websites and social networking sites. It affected the rankings of almost 12 percent of all search results and generated a wave of complaints.
Google Penguin was first announced on 24 April 2012. The update aimed to decrease search engine rankings of websites that were not in compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by relying on the so-called black-hat SEO techniques, such as trying to increase the ranking of a webpage by manipulating the number of incoming links.
Now, some time for reflection:
Is Google playing God or do they simply want what is best for the user?
The swift execution of the new policy coincides with the European Commission sending a statement of objections to Google. The EC claims that Google have abused their dominant position in the markets of the European Economic Area (EEA) by systematically favouring Google Display ads in search results pages, even though those products may not be the cheapest or the best for the users.
The Commission has also formally opened a separate antitrust investigation into Google’s conduct with regards to the mobile operating system Android. The investigation is based on allegations of abuse, due to Google’s dominant position in the field of operating systems, applications and services for smart mobile devices.
Interestingly enough, the EU’s website is not optimized for mobile. Will Google push their website down the list? For its general web search service (so-called “horizontal” search), Google has a market share of over 90% in the European Economic Area (EEA).
Our everyday battlefield scenery of a computer-ruled world diverts our attention to other ways of measuring our reality. An interesting ranking source is the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 50 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 1970’s. Ranking at number 17 is “Colossus: The Forbin Project”. The story goes as follows: Colossus is a supercomputer built to control the US nuclear defences. Shortly after it is turned on, it detects the existence of Goliath, its Soviet counterpart. The two end up linked, thereby becoming a new supercomputer that threatens the world.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wishlist 2015

1 - Eradication of Ebola virus.

2 - Eradication of viruses that were once eradicated, such as polio - which's outbreak is now reaching record high in Pakistan, basically due to attacks on immunization teams.

3 -  Eradication of all fanatic, fraudulent fundamentalism armed organizations that kidnap, rape, kill, molest, the name of God or whatever religious/political supposed legitimacy.

4- Eradication of all official governmental, sovereign or not, UN-backed or not, organizations that kidnap, rape, kill, molest, loot...

5 - One significant step towards producing food sustainability

6 - One significant step towards Sustainable Energy for All

7 - Follow-up 7 critical issues highlighted in Rio + 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

8 - Hope for the best where there might be good prospects. i.e Reestablishment of diplomatic Relations US-Cuba

9 - Hope for the best where it is already critical and there are bad prospects: i.e List of Ongoing Armed conflicts worldwide

10 - Believe in Ethical governance, multicultural integration, environmental commitment, religious tolerance, peace, love and good music.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Mario de Andrade's novel "Macunaíma" depicts a hero without a character," born in the Brazilian jungle and possessing strange and remarkable abilities (Mostly Shapeshifting), as he travels to São Paulo and back again.  I do feel like enabled with such abilities at times and often find myself identified with the creative laziness that is inherent to our people. On top of that I am sure I was way lazier while still living in the Tropics. 
Sometimes, I take a minute to think about how I would spend a whole day (back in college times) and I feel so secretly embarrassed, particularly when I recollect all those hangovers. Few things were productive and daydreaming was perhaps the most propelling asset at that time...I also read a lot but that just added to the chaotic dynamics of thoughts. Rarely, I can find something funny or truly darling to me.
I look myself at the mirror and see the face of a decent man. A father, married to an Slavic beauty with a Brain. I have an interesting job that is getting better by the day. Why I could only achieve this things here?
Last time I've been to my home-country it was attend my father's funeral. I could not make it on time. The trip was far too long. It was scorching hot; everything so colorful. 
I lacked the willingness to grow; I had nothing to bring my spirit up. And I cannot blame the Tropics for that. I met lots of people I should not, I used to sleep far too much, my efforts were minimum and I would waste a lot of time seeking a bohemian identity I have never entirely owned. It was enough to make people believe I was a hero without a character.I was not afraid of changes though. When I've decided to "hit the road", I could only rely on my shapeshifting skills; and they were genuine. 
I have to admit that this has been by far the most turbulent and exciting year of my life and I feel I can go on without those ghosts from my lazy times. I seek for stories for life and feel inspired by those who have successfully managed to overcome difficulties thus developing their character, being honest with oneself. 
Life is now rewarding, with ideas and good prospects, permeated with simple pleasures that were otherwise invisible. Indeed, not only pleasure leads to satisfaction. It takes a good deal of shapeshifting to get a taste.
People are more creative while in pleasure times and good stories are everywhere. 

A good practice is to explore your dead time to read and perform tasks that do not require a lot of thinking. 

Ideas can simply pop out in the less expected moments.

Music and Arts are probably the best fields to observe the dynamics within the conception of ideas. A classic example involves Keith Richards and his dreaming-like making of Satisfaction’s guitar riff. The artist admits he has no recollection of writing the song. After a long night of sleep, he came across the draft theme by pushing the play button of his tape recorder:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Management Leisure Suit

This is not a science fiction scenario.
Today, one can actually leave the workplace because internet is down. But a factory worker in Shenzen will not; leave. When the whole Rana Plaza building collapsed in Bangladesh only a few could leave.
In my homecountry of Brazil, for some World Cup means evictions . People will have to leave.
 Like leisure seems to have grabbed the meaning of freedom, the dynamics of movement are also affected. In a way we move more, but in ways that will certainly lead us to creating things such as the Management Leisure Suit. Doubt is whether it will be produced in Szenzen or Bangladesh.
Will they invent more drones? Is there a Nuclear Management Suit? Like...Fukushima collection. Can we add it to the online shop cart or e-commerce is no longer safe because they've also invented a computer virus called Heartbleed . Are we moving towards something, are we going somewhere?  Russians moving back to Crimea, Americans out of Afghanistan...Everybody leaves Afghanistan and nobody knows where Malysia Airlines flight 370 ended up at.

Kalkulator: Drawing by  Stanislaw Lem