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Understanding Coders
May16

Understanding Coders

The following is a review of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World, by Clive Thompson. The original, abridged version was published last week in the Globe & Mail. Digital technologies surround us, and we all know there are digital criminals that can hurt us. They include identity thieves, phishers, spies, zombie farmers, hackers, cyberbullies, and data hostage takers. (I’m constantly battling impersonators on social media who are trying to entice my network into some cryptocurrency scam.) However, we don’t know much about the tens of millions of other digital technicians that are the good guys. They write the underlying algorithms encoded in software that set the hidden, implicit or explicit rules governing our digital existence. These coders create the pervasive algorithms embedded in the technologies of work, play, commerce, learning, social media, and entertainment. Given the mounting concern about the impact of digital technology on our lives, it would be good to know more about the people who are building our digital realities. Journalist Clive Thompson’s lucid, yet breezy new book — Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World— is a great way to learn. Thompson is a gifted seer of the digital age, and a brilliant writer for publications such as Wired and The New York Times magazine.   He examines who the coders are, their culture and what makes them tick.  He tells great stories.  The first female coder to work at Facebook, ended up creating the iconic “Newsfeed” capability. She immediately loved her job, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s motto of “Move fast and break things.”  Users hated the Newsfeed but they held the course and now it’s foundational to everything there. Compared to traditional coding work, “It was different, it was vibrant, it was alive.” Coders are not typical office employees like those who work in marketing or accounting. Thompson identifies some of common traits of the coders who are building the world today.  He finds that they deeply prize efficiency, loving the feeling of taking something slow and repetitive and automating it. They’re in a constant war with bugs and errors, and their code is often failing and breaking, so they have “a masochistic ability to endure brutal, grinding frustration.” More often than not they’re more lean towards being introverted, and prefer to work in long, immersive dives into programming. He finds they work rhythms are less like typical white-collar workers and more like novelists or artists: They want to be left alone while they build things in their heads. They’re an increasingly diverse bunch these days, personality-wise; the hackers who work on crypto are often deeply concerned about civil rights, and the...

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Lisbon Has a Great Opportunity to be the Silicon Valley of the Second Era of the Internet
Nov30

Lisbon Has a Great Opportunity to be the Silicon Valley of the Second Era of the Internet

In an interview with Expresso, the flagship Portuguese newspaper, Don Tapscott states that the blockchain “is becoming the heart of the innovation economy.” It’s time for governments to take advantage of the opportunity and position their countries for growth.

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It’s Time For Online Voting
Nov05

It’s Time For Online Voting

In this piece on the New York Times, Alex Tapscott, my son, co-author, and co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute, talks about why we need electoral reform now, and how blockchain technology can help. Messing with polling stations is one of the most common voter suppression tactics. Across the country, polling stations have been closed in minority neighborhoods, had their locations changed from election to election, and have been kept understaffed, or inaccessible, or ill-equipped, so that voters must stand in line for hours. These tactics work to lower voter turnout and undermine confidence in the electoral process. Read Alex’s full piece on the New York Times’ Website:...

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Nordic Business Forum:  Principles for Business Success in the Digital Age
Oct27

Nordic Business Forum: Principles for Business Success in the Digital Age

On September 26th and 27th, 2018, NBForum 2018 put on a sold-out show for 7,500 people at the Helsinki Expo and Convention Center. In the very well received “NBF Hall of Fame Talk”, he spoke to the audience about how they can win in the second era of the...

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Understand Blockchain in Under 7 Minutes
Apr26

Understand Blockchain in Under 7 Minutes

Don Tapscott, in conversation with LLoyds Bank, explains simply how blockchain will transform every industry, in every part of the world. In this short video he provides advice on the specific steps you can take now and explains why this technology needs the attention of the C-Suite immediately, irrespective of their view on...

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Norway is the best country in the world to live in, according to the WEF
Feb05

Norway is the best country in the world to live in, according to the WEF

US president Donald Trump said last week that he wanted more of America’s immigrants to come from Norway, instead of “shithole countries” in Africa. When he comes to Davos this Friday, he will find out why that is not happening. According to World Economic Forum, Norway is the best country in the world in which to live. Norway is given top prize because the World Economic Forum analysts use a different metric than the Gross Domestic Product. They think GDP is a narrow and blinkered measure of economic activity. It doesn’t care whether that activity benefits its citizens. Read the full...

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