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Archive for May, 2011

Unemployment vs Not in the Labour Force

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

The Australian Government often refers to an ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) figure called the Unemployment Rate. Everybody goes on about it, but nearly everybody I speak to has no concept of what it really means.

Essential reading for understanding the problem of Australian men outside the workforce is a Staff Working Paper published by the Australian Productivity Commission in January, 2007 – Men Not at Work: An Analysis of Men Outside the Labour Force by Ralph Lattimore. In particular, I would encourage journalists to read Men Not at Work so their commentary moves from the general perception of unemployment toward a role of educating the public about the true meaning (and obfuscation) of the unemployment statistic.

Lattimore used a simple pie chart to contextualise the unemployment number provided by government. There are two categories:

  1. Those who are participating in the labour force (employed + unemployed)
  2. Those not participating in the labour force (pensioners, stay at home mums, retirees… neither employed nor unemployed)

Lattimore's chart for unemployed, employed and not in the labour force

The figures aren’t that different today so we’ll stick with Lattimore’s pie chart for the male demographic: (1) 68 per cent of men employed + 4 per cent of men unemployed – all participating in the labour force; and (2) 28 per cent of working age Australian men classified as ‘not in the labour force’. Number 1 is refered to as the ‘Participation Rate’ (grey and white in Lattimore’s pie chart).

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The Internet Archive Bollocks

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Step right up, step right up, ladies and gentlemen of the Internet. The frantic effort is underway to archive the Internet warts-and-all so that future digital archeologists can turn back time and rediscover our 2011 web design rock stars in way-forward 2070. Or, more modestly, so people like Jeremy Keith can still find their social networking identities long after Zeldman has left the building.

Jeremy Keith tells me Pruning is Bollocks

Here’s my premise::: I would suggest that the biggest problem we have with archiving anything substantial from the Internet isn’t mass archive. Our problem is digging out what should be archived & what should be let to fade away gracefully into the vacuum of history.

Jeremy Keith, in a tweet, says “That’s utter bollocks… in my humble opinion.

Somehow I doubt that opinion is humble on the subject of Internet archival and I’d humbly reply that in my opinion, regardless of my lack of rock star conference speaking and book authoring status, when Jeremy Keith says it’s about archiving everything (culture) then bollocks to that. Double bollocks. The problem is bigger than bookmarks, LOLcats or relying on businesses stupid enough – like Delicious – to think their business model of FREE was going to take them anywhere in the long-term.

But I have a number of comments and questions regarding the arrogance of a total archival of the Internet (which we’re really synonymously using to mean the World Wide Web, an application that runs on the Internet). Let’s start with the value of information.

The Quality & Value of Information going into an Archive

My comment about sifting out the crap to find the value relies on a scientific fact of life – any repository of data (and therefore information – data + context) is only as valuable as the quality of the data. Any business knows that data becomes outdated because people move addresses and telephone numbers change. Hey, people even lie about stuff – so there you go with more crap into any repository. My suggestion that pruning is a part of any challenge to archive the Internet is based on that premise… a big load of rubbish pushed into an unordered box without pruning would have limited value. It would be information soup.

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All you need (for anything) is a PhD in Philosophy

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

One thing that irks me is plain old ignorance. There’s an article getting a lot of traction from Australian journalists like Mark Colvin and Natasha Mitchell called The Management Myth. It was written in 2006 by Mathew Stewart who has a PhD in Philosophy from Oxford, no less.

My problem with Mathew Stewart’s article… and management book of the same name you can find in airport bookshops for your next long trip… is that it’s a populist piece of drivel full of half truths intended to capitalise on the ignorance of anyone who hasn’t actually been through an MBA program. It equates an MBA solely with management theory – omitting the MBA’s emphasis on finance, law, economics, and marketing. And when Mathew Stewart discusses management theory he refers to nothing deeper than an undergraduate’s textbook for Management 101 that sits on my office bookshelf. The small sections he refers to are introduced to undergaduate first year business students solely for historic reference to an industrial perspective long-since passed over.

He knows you all want to believe that the manager of today sees you as industrial cogs in the wheel of industry… and he feeds you that half-truth through the bias-goggled lense of wanting to sell you his books about things you already believe to be true. How good is that for an author’s business model?

Given that you’ve taken the time to read Mathew Stewart’s article – or even the book – I don’t have to point out that he is an academic with a PhD arguing that the only thing anybody needs to succeed at business (or anything) is to read classic literature and study philosophy. That would then include journalism (as philosophers can write and they at least know “what they don’t know”), psychology (because they can read airport books like the rest of us), engineering (if you overlook the math, physics and science disciplines), law (if you overlook the statutes and finer details of the law itself), medicine (if you overlook anatomy) and salesmanship (if you can find customers willing to pay for being made to feel inferior); because, after all, a PhD from a prestigious rich American University qualifies you for just about any career.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about universities and prestigious reputation. Get hold of a list of the highest rated to the lowest rated universities in the world and look at the size of their academic faculty for philosophy. Oxford has a smorgasborg of PhDs on their Philosophy faculty because it’s a pissing contest between universities equivalent to the Michelin Star for prestigious higher education facilities. The poorer you get as a school the less likely you can afford the status honour badge of 100 Philosophy PhDs on your payroll.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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