Interesting elsewhere – 22 September 2009 to 23 September 2009

These are my links for 22 September 2009 to 23 September 2009:

    The virtual world – time to get real

    The internet is neither neutral nor inherently liberating. It operates in the context of existing social conventions and power structures. Its impact is real but often subtle and unexpected… The web is changing culture, relationships and organisations. Its effects are real and important. Sometimes they are good and sometimes not. The exaggerated claims of those who say the internet is inherently a destroyer of organisations and hierarchies or that it is bound to lead to greater democracy and collaboration are an unhelpful distraction from the important study of the internet’s real impact on real lives.

    whatever happened to the UK’s online public services?- comments

    Government has been webwashing existing broken processes rather than going for the fundamental re-engineering needed to get web scale efficiency. The banks got the savings because they implemented straight through processes, supported by technology, and with people there to pick up the exceptions such as customers who were unwilling or unable to use the web. If you go into a bank today then the person at the counter almost certainly has the same web app as you get online or a similar web skin over the same middle tier. The same is not true for face to face interactions with government.

    whatever happened to the UK’s online public services?

    One positive point from yesterday's session was that almost everyone present seemed to share the perspective that it will be possible both to do more with less and to improve the quality of public services at the same time. But neither did anyone underestimate the complexity and timescale that will be involved.

    So the sooner the next stage of work begins, thoroughly baselining our current situation and mapping out how we get from where we are today to where we need to be, the better. The UK needs to focus hard on improving its public services and to reverse its drift downwards in the various international comparison tables.

    Hacking Two-Factor Authentication

    We have to stop trying to authenticate the person; instead, we need to authenticate the transaction… Credit cards are a perfect example. Notice how little attention is paid to cardholder authentication. Clerks barely check signatures. People use their cards over the phone and on the Internet, where the card's existence isn't even verified. The credit card companies spend their security dollar authenticating the transaction, not the cardholder.

    Half an Hour: An Operating System for the Mind

    21st century skills: First. There are more facts in the world than anyone could know, which means that we need to be able to find facts that we do not already know. Second. As time passes, facts change, and so we need the capacity to know when facts change and to be able to update our own knowledge of these facts. Third. And as the number of people, and the amount of information, in the world increases, we need some mechanism for selecting which facts we will be exposed to, and how to filter out irrelevant facts.Fourth. Even more critically, not every bit of information presented to you in life will be a fact, and you need some mechanism to detect and reject false representations of facts.Fifth. Additionally, we need to know which, of the many facts we have in our possession, constitute a basis for action.Sixth. Finally, we need the capacity to act, which may mean some physical activity, or may mean some communicative activity. [via @trib]