Global Inequality in Tech: Part Two

Earlier this year, I wrote what turned out to be a fairly depressing post on how jobs around the world and across many industries are slowly becoming automated, resulting in massive job losses and a resultant ever-increasing gaps in equality.

Much of the focus so far has tended to be on manual jobs, being replaced by robots, and causing a gap between those with digital skills and those without. Yet, while that’s absolutely true, a lot of digital and office jobs are slowly being replaced too. Front-line customer service is being replaced by chatbots. Last time, I mentioned an insurance firm using computers to automate customer quotes. There have been a lot of other examples in the past few months – it feels like we’re finally starting to reach that long-predicted AI point.

There are advantages to the rise of the computer.

This was my first reaction to the Venturebeat article linked above – that systems that can do calculations for me, sort emails, take notes etc. could potentially massive increase my productivity. In fact, in my current job much of the technology to do that certainly already exists, though not necessarily widely or cheaply (so we know that it soon will be.) This article from Digital Trends predicts that:

AI alone could double annual economic growth rates for some countries by 2035

However, the new technology simply doesn’t translate into new jobs. So not only will there be massive job loss, I wonder what will happen to the entry-level and graduate jobs of many positions. If there is no more need for the Marketing Assistant level-type roles, where is the traditional stepping stones, in my career area, at least, and many others? If people can’t gain  work experience in those low level roles, they may have to spend a lot longer in higher education to gain the skills necessary to actually advance, and even in the most developed nations that is a path increasingly only open to those with money and supportive families.

 

 

Studying Here and There

I started out just wanting to write a quick update, but this definitely turned into something more! Well, that’s what blogging is all about, I guess.


On the learning front, I’ve been working through Future Learn’s Social Business course. It’s been really informative in how to build a potential business, and also how to measure business success in ways other than financial gain, by measuring social impact.

This allows businesses to balance between the customers who provide more social impact but less money, and more commercial products/services/customers who provide the money that keeps the business ticking over. Their method of Social Return on Investment is to give activities and services an monetary unit, (m.u.) that it didn’t already have, using customer/client surveys to produce the relevant data.

Elsewhere, I’m still keeping up with Duolingo French. The further on trying to learn a language goes, the less it feels like I’m keeping up, but Duolingo is set up to send encouraging emails when I’m falling behind on my daily practice, which definitely gives me the push to keep it up. (Future Learn does this too, once you’ve not logged in for a set amount of time.) According to the site, I’ve progressed from 17% fluency to 43%, so whatever that means, I feel confident putting French on my LinkedIn profile at least!

Today I signed up for new Highbrow course, this time on ‘How to generate more leads through your website‘. It doesn’t come through until tomorrow lunchtime – specified times on Highbrow are now a premium feature, along with certain courses, which is how I thought they might monetise the site. I’ll get some notes and thoughts together on that course once I’ve had a few days on it.

Finally, I’ve been exploring another new way to get bite-sized marketing learning into my day with the Marketing School | Digital Marketing podcast, which is exactly long enough to fit into my walk from the railway station to my work.

 

Blog Reading Nostalgia

Over the last few days, I’ve been making a massive effort to read other blogs on WordPress. I went through my long-neglected reading list and ended up removing most of my follows from blogs that hadn’t been updated in years, then went searching for some new ones. 
Searching the Social Media and Digital culture tags, I noticed pretty much right away that the majority of the posts were from blogs created for school/university courses on social media, covering and discussing the exact same kind of content that I did back in the first year of this blog. 

It was surprisingly nostalgic to read through these posts, seeing people discovering (for the first time) the academic topics and issues that I studied and wrote about at length. 

It’s interesting that many of the same books, papers and researchers were referenced as when I was at university, despite the massive changes in social media over the last few years. It seems like it’s still quite a niche subject in research circles. Still, it’s prompted me to start looking at some of the ideas referenced in a new light, and perhaps to go back and do some reading up. 

Notes from the #Oiconf Feed

So the Online Influencers Conference was going on in Bristol a few days ago. Sadly, I wasn’t there, but fortunately it was being attended by a crowd of people who are sharing good stuff to the Twitter hashtag #OiConf, and the OiConf account itself was full of roundups etc.

I immediately made some phone notes with the best top tweets and made a few notes of my own, so I’m finally getting around to throwing them up here.

I’ve noticed this too, it’s why Facebook videos now only count views of 3 seconds or longer, any less than that and the ‘view’ wasn’t really a view at all.

Definitely one to bear of mind when working with brands – there’s a ‘day of’ for pretty much every day of the year now, (this post from Hootsuite is a good resource, but there’s no point in celebrating the

Influencers and ‘authenticity’ is such as fascinating topic. The internet is full of content creators who are making a living off balancing a carefully cultivated brand and being ‘real’ to their fans, especially when working with sponsored content (I wrote about this years ago in a blog post that barely scratches the surface, it might be time for some follow-up work.)

I’m a bit scared by this last one – but it’s something I’ve since been reading up more up. After all, with the rise of AI in retail, customer service etc., this starts to sound a bit less like hyperbole and actually pretty plausible. In fact, it’s been recently suggested that AI in customer service frontline could be quite beneficial in preventing burn-out in the workforce. On the other hand, if not handled it will remove a lot of lower-income jobs with no alternatives.

A Few Things I do – Social Media Management

So I’ve been managing various social media accounts for over two years, and I wanted to make a few notes on things that I’ve learned. (A lot of this is probably super-obvious, but I just thought it would be good to write it all out, even just as reference for myself later.)

Use more than one platform for Twitter

Twitter is the medium that the organisation I work for is most active on, unsurprisingly since the lifecycle of a tweet is that much shorter than that of Facebook. I can’t now find the article to quote from (my life :S) but I definitely read something that the average lifecycle of a tweet is less than a few minutes, whereas a Facebook post gets about an hour and a half.

However, the native Twitter web platform seems to have regular bugs. particularly sometimes not showing replies which is a huge problem if you’re a public-facing service! But personally, I’ve found that Hootsuite can be slow to update and show retweets and likes (you are less spammed with notifications of course, but if it’s a quiet period it’s sometimes good to see those in real time, especially if you’re trying to see when engagement is happening). Therefore I tend to keep both open, that way I can ensure that I don’t miss anything.

Have a list to curate from

In my current position we’ve not sharing a lot of other people’s content except through pre-arrangement or when it’s directly relevant to us, but in previous roles it was important for engagement to show lots of other third-party content that followers would find interesting. To keep from having to spend a long time looking up content, you need an easily accessible list of places to look. It needs to be relevant, but from big enough range of sources that your content doesn’t get stale.

There’s some tool that Hootchat has recommended me (#Hootchat is a twitter convo from Hootsuite that’s really good to follow if you work in this field) that I’m planning to try them but even just keeping a list of bookmarks is a good idea. There’s also plenty of sites and apps that can helps with this such as Diigo or Bitly.

Have people to engage with

It’s a great idea to try and make connections via DM with other similar accounts, or if you’re at networking events, try to link up with their marketing/social media manager and see if there’s ways that you can help each other out and promote each other. Reciprocal marketing is something that I deal with a lot, even if it’s just ‘you tweet about this and I’ll tweet about that’ because it’s a great way to get your content/product/whatever out to a new audience.

twitter-analytics

Updates from France

So for the past week I’ve been in France, and wifi hotspots have been few and far between at times. Instead of keeping up on social media-related reading, I’ve mostly been catching up on the insane amount of political news that I’m scared to miss out on. (Also, dear society, what is wrong with you?!)
My only other internet-based activity is that I have been starting to relearn French, a language I have always known a few basic phrases of but haven’t studied properly since I was around fifteen or so. For this I’ve been using Duolingo, which I’m totally here to recommend even though I’ve only been using it for a few days. It relies on simple repetition in different ways, but every day, with little virtual rewards for each day that you reach your target xp (amount of practice). It’s the perfect example of gamification in action, and it definitely works on me. Plus, you get a shiny badge to put on LinkedIn, which can only help me in all sorts of ways. World events have made me want to commit to being a better global citizen (yes, I went there…) and improving my language skills is a good start.

Global Inequality in Tech

After my last blogpost, I started reading up more on technology and global inequality. How much of a divide is there in the world? Is it such a serious social issue?

It turns out that the answers are ‘A very big one’ and ‘yes.’

Many of the issues stem from lack of internet access for a large proportion of the world’s population, which denies them access to education and training needed to socially advance or improve their communities. This is an issue that is being worked on through many angles (including the wifi drones that I wrote about last year) although there are plenty of other problems than just the hardware – including fair access under corrupt administration, and cultural issues or actually using it.

But in high and middle-income countries, lack of access is less of a problem, but technology is actually making equality worse over time. This article from the World Economic Forum explains it best, basically as jobs have become more automated, the world starts to become divided into those who still have marketable skills and those who don’t. Those who do can afford more personal technology, more education to develop those skills (and their children’s skills) and so the divide grows. Even with programmes to bridge that divide and ensure that everyone has access to useful job skills, countries are reaching a point where productivity can be high but there simply aren’t enough jobs for everyone to have one. I remember being amazed at this video of robots moving stock around an Amazon warehouse (exciting futuristic stuff!) and then quickly realising that this is a job that used to be done by people… and it isn’t just factory jobs either. Recently a Japanese Insurance firm began using a computer system that calculates customer payouts for them, making 34 employees redundant.

The scary thing is that the WEF article above (which it should be noted was written a year ago) both calls for a quick response to the issue but is unable to provide clear answers, only ‘innovative thinking’ to solve the problem. Clearly, we didn’t start solving it in 2016, and I have to wonder how many more robots will enter the workforce before we do.