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Things happen on the Net

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Things happen on the Net

I had just had an great idea for the post to end all posts at lifehack.org and all I needed was a one really good image to illustrate it. So I go over to my favorite cheap stock photography site – iStockPhoto – only to find the home page gone and this garish octopus ripping the head off some sort of cartoon figure with the message: “iStockPhoto is down for maintenance. Please try again in 15 minutes.” Bummer!

iStockPhoto is down

Then a cold chill ran down my back: just how much of my largely digitalized life was at risk of smashing into the same brick wall?

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I had so gotten used being a Lord of Digital Creation – able to grab cool photos from any one of a hundreds of thousands of photographers all over the globe with the wave of a credit card – and suddenly I’ve been stuffed into the Internet WayBack Machine and now it was 1997 or even earlier.

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Photos. Music! (remember CDs?). Diskettes. Windows 98. The horror!

Getting a grip on myself, I realized:

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  • Every brave new world has brave new problems. Get used to it.
  • The problem wasn’t iStockPhoto; the problem was me making the newbie assumption that what worked yesterday will work today on the net.
  • I could cope.

I admit, I may be being overly dramatic here, but here’s the unvarnished core of this post: Adopting a few new habits and ways of thinking before you need them will serve you well in the Digital World. Like the Internet itself, you need to be able to route around temporary blockages and permanent failures:

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  • Email. You send your boss a super critical (your job depends on it) email while they are on the road, with an attachment. Don’t assume she gets it – the spam filter at her hotel may have it for lunch. Send her a “Just to confirm you got it” email immediately thereafter.
  • Web Services. Don’t depend on just one web service for something you need to do your job or live your life – be it iStockPhoto, Yahoo News or even Google. Get to know your alternatives – like imagepick, BBC News and the many Google alternatives at Alt Search Engines.
  • Online Backup Services. Whether it’s .Mac,Mozy or Iron Mountain, backup services can fail, or more likely you forgot to read paragraph 17 and the backups you thought you were doing you weren’t doing. Test your backups, and verify monthly that they are working.

Hopefully, you’ll never get a digital stop sign thrown up in you face when you least expect it. But if you do, a little preplanning and a little preparation will unruin your day. Now, if I could only remember what I was going to post about!

Bob Walsh runs a consulting firm for microISVs and startup software companies at 47hats.com, authored Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality and Clear Blogging: How People Blogging Are Changing the World and How You Can Join Them and is currently working on a secret project.

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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?

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Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?

Technology has taken a vantage leap in providing solutions for man. Before now, technology used to appear complex and would require a great deal of expertise to handle solutions available. Today, we have technology applicable in the simplest human activities as smart products with intelligent algorithms powering them as they make error-free judgments and provide intelligent and analytic solutions.

Does technology have all the answers?

This article from Credit Suisse, tells us that technology does not have all the answers because it has been found to exhibit “similar biases,” as humans. No one can discredit the impact of technology, but it is not totally free of human input and this is the reason we experience these biases in many areas we have technology holding foot.

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Creating technological solutions transparently

This article suggests that the process of creating technological solutions be made transparent and subject to contribution from many people who would end up as users of the product – male, female, young, old, learned, unlearned and all other preferences as we have them. It also underscores the importance of having women on product development teams. This approach is not sure to eliminate all forms of bias, but it is a good way to start in order to appraise the full benefits of technology.

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Technology as the connecting tool

Technology so far has been a major connecting tool amongst us humans. It is used and appreciated by all regardless of race, language and sex. In order to keep it less subjective to these arguments about human biases. I believe we should gather opinions on products and solutions before making them available to the public. This could be done by gathering input from intended target users and receiving feedback across the stages of production.

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“Recognizing the problem is a start…success will depend on inclusive technologies that meet this vast untapped market.” This cannot be more apt especially at a time when we look up to technology for solutions. We should not muzzle our progress with technology by battling algorithm bias. The first way to avoid this battle is by reading this article here.

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