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Viewing entries tagged with 'technology'

Technology — how we could use it more sensibly

Posted by Philip on 8 January 2017, 1:37 pm in , , , , ,

Happy New Year! I hope you've enjoyed a break and are feeling the slightly easier energy 2017 seems to have manifested for us.

Young man wearing gloves and beanie, looking at his smart phone and smiling

I went to the movies the other evening. An unusual event — it's always a bit of a lottery so I tend to wait until they turn up on Netflix or Apple TV so if I make a mistake I can stop it and move on. Unfortunately, I lost the lottery with Passengers — one star from me.

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The employment paradox

Posted by Philip on 7 August 2015, 4:37 pm in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I attended a workshop on accessible employment recently and was reminded, as I've written about before, what a fraught topic employment is these days — for anyone, let alone those with access needs.

As welfare states come crashing down around the (western) world, the demand for employment and requirement to be employed increase. New Zealand's welfare lexicon has changed from "beneficiary" to the default "jobseeker".

Meanwhile industry and technology improves, meaning more machines, computers and robots do more and more jobs for us. I mean, that has been the whole idea of industrial and technological revolutions, hasn't it? To decrease the need for humans to do stuff.

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Clever watch brings peace of mind and potential – made in NZ

Posted by Philip on 17 May 2015, 11:40 am in , , , , , ,

A few weeks ago at the Home and Community Health Association conference  I met some of the team behind CleverCare, a new service that connects an Android smart watch to a web interface and a 24-hour call centre.

CleverCare is the brain-child of Maria Johnston. As the website explains, "developing the Clevercare system was driven from a personal need for Maria to make a positive difference in the everyday life or her parents. She then found that her family’s problems were experienced by many and now, through Clevercare making lives better with independence and peace of mind can be achieved for many."

Designed for people with dementia, the Android watch runs a simple app and contains a GPS geolocator. The device is tracked via Google Maps in an online dashboard. Boundaries can be set to alert family, friends or support workers if someone wanders beyond a safe distance. Reminders can be pushed to the watch via the dashboard.

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Digitally native or colonised?

Posted by Philip on 20 July 2014, 1:12 pm in , , , , , , , , , ,

Cartoon baby with iPhoneThe phrase "digital native" has evolved pretty effortlessly into the common lexicon in the last five years. But is it accurate or a misnomer?

The most relevant definition of "native" in this context is "belonging to a person by birth or to a thing by nature; inherent" (Dictionary.com). So do iPads, Facebook, X-box or anything else in the digital/online/connected world, to which we may refer to young people as being native, belong to them by birth, by nature or inherently?

I'm splitting hairs here, I know. The thought only came to me half an hour ago in a discussion with someone who may well be described is "digitally native," so it's not like I've thought deeply about it. But it's interesting to consider an alternative frame: that kids and young people aren't native to technology — they're being colonised by it.

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The road toll is stupid!

Posted by Philip on 20 May 2014, 1:40 pm in , , , ,

crashed carSince watching and tweeting about a news report on a fatal car crash in the weekend, where alcohol and speed (180km/h) were factors, I haven't been able to stop thinking how stupid and unnecessary the road toll is. In fact, I'd argue it could be almost eradicated quite easily.

First, cars shouldn't be able to go at such speeds, especially when they are driven by young, inexperienced drivers. Existing cars could be retrofitted with speed control technologies and new cars could be manufactured with the capacity to go only, say 140km/hr (even that's probably too fast).

Second, car ignition systems can and should be fitted with breathilising equipment. Sure, someone sober could start the car but, if there was a sober driver present, they'd probably drive anyway.

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Thinking about the box, rather than outside it

Posted by Philip on 13 April 2014, 2:01 pm in , , , , , , , , , , ,

box with question marksWe often hear people utter the mantra, “Think outside the box.” It’s become the hold-all for creative thinking, problem solving and even good leadership.

But how often do we often think about the box itself? How often do we consider that, by thinking outside it, we stray away from the box — even ignore it completely — and miss the truth of the matter:

The box is the problem. It’s too big, too small, the wrong shape, the wrong colour.

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14 things I'd like to see happen in 2014

Posted by Philip on 31 December 2013, 9:07 am in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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New Zealand's relatively small population, land mass and infrastructure creates so much opportunity to lead the world in recognising some fundamental changes that would improve society in general. Here's my bucket list.

  1. Economies other than financial — eg. resources, time, value — are discussed, considered viable and used in more viable ways.
  2. As the Pope pointed out, poverty and wealth inequality is officially recognised as the cause of most, if not all, social problems.
  3. Government invests in technology — such as breath tested ignition locking and GPS-enabled vehicle intelligence — to lower vehicle-related deaths and injury, rather than more policing.
  4. New conversations about universal needs — such as shelter, food and clothing — begin to create the conditions for nobody to be homeless or hungry.
  5. Government portrays a true representation of society's diversity in social campaigns.
  6. Schools use a wider understanding of diversity as a way of making education more accessible and relevant for students.
  7. Labour wins the election.
  8. Politicians have job descriptions and regular performance appraisals.
  9. The internet is used to enable more democratic, public involvement in local, regional decision-making.
  10. The Zeitgeist Movement and Venus Project's ideas and designs of a resource-based economy become common knowledge and popularised.
  11. I win Lotto. Just kidding — Lotto is abolished and proceeds are used to alleviate poverty.
  12. Everyone realises that alcohol and drug addiction is about dosage, not about substances, and are symptoms of poverty and wealth inequality (see 2 above).
  13. Apple, Microsoft, Android, Google etc stop competing and start collaborating to make some really cool shit.
  14. Lorde doesn't forget where she comes from.

Happy New Year!

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My 17,000 pageviews of 2013

Posted by Philip on 13 December 2013, 2:23 pm in , , , , , , , ,

Today is officially my last day of work until February so I thought I'd look back through my five most popular posts of the year.

5. Understanding disability from a place of empathy

The fifth most read post on my blog in 2013 was one I actually wrote way back in February 2012, where I wanted to encourage, in the disability social change space, empathy in place of sympathy. When considering the difference between empathy (understanding) and sympathy (pity), I got thinking about the astounding amount of sympathy or pity people display about the experience of disability.

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Cars catch up with elevators finally

Posted by Philip on 31 May 2012, 6:36 pm in , ,

Thank god self-driving cars are, albeit slowly, beginning to register on the global psyche.

If you are under, say, 40 years old, you probably won't remember that elevators (aka lifts) used to be "driven" by employees, who were responsible for safely making them go up or down and stop at the right place. Check out this control:

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When technology goes bad

Posted by Philip on 17 April 2012, 6:26 pm in , ,

I arrived home at 5pm today to two phone calls from people saying they couldn't apply to our self-employment programme because the form was not working.

There were three possible reasons:

  1. User error (user's resposibility)
  2. Browser error (web developers' responsibility)
  3. Form error (my responsibiity)

As it turned out it was a form error, and therefore my responsibility to resolve. But because I had received three applications successfully, I had to rule out the first two possibilities before I could take responsibility.

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