The Limitations on the Wiki-ness of a Happening

One of the great challenges and opportunities of the fedwikihappening has been learning a new workflow, one that lets go of the notion of a single canonical version of a document and relaxes the usual focus on who wrote what. Collectively thinking through how to do that, and what tools could support it, was a fascinating experience.

That said, there were at least a couple of ways in which the journaling model that Mike presented wasn’t fully realized. First, my daily wiki surfing was defined by the happening participant list. Second, the shared conversation had a particular focus, a good bit of it meta-wiki-ing. I found myself not creating some pages because of concerns about how they might not gel with the audience that was my fellow happening participants. Otherwise, my site would have had more pages about folk music and Internet privacy than it did.

Because of the happening, there was a certain sense that we, like the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, were on a journey together. I have note how the federated wiki journaling model may be more like side-by-side play, where there’s occasional interaction and sharing, but the key process is individual.

I’ll be very interested to see how things evolve once the formal happening ends and interactions between participants become more occasional and haphazard.

The Polar Surveillance State

Those of us over a certain age have regarded with bewilderment the now annual appearance of elves on shelves, not part of the Christmas of our youth. Now at long last, hidden in the depths of the Snowden leaks, the truth has been revealed.

Elves on shelves are , it seems, a symptom of a sea change in North Polar behavioral monitoring. Following the lead of the NSA and GCHQ, Santa , realizing that more and more of children’s behavior is online, has in recent years reallocated resources, including many senior elves in the Naughty or Nice Division, to SIGINT, Sleigh-Installed Gear for Interception of Network Traffic. Exploiting the TEMPEST vulnerability, high-altitude, single-reindeer sleighs monitor children’s internet behavior via leaked electromagnetic signals. A complex sleigh-based system of laser communication relays delivers data to the arctic undetected. What, you may ask, has this to do with elves on shelves?

The reassignment of senior elves to the SIGINT program has left traditional elf intelligence activities to junior staff. Not surprisingly, the stealth capability of new recruits isn’t as well developedas the more senior agents they have replaced. leading to a frightening number of early morning discoveries by surveilled children. At some point, North Pole PR gave up trying to explain the phenomenon and decided to have field agents hide in plain sight.

Of skills and shortages

In one of her recent end of year posts, [Audrey Watters discusses skills] ( She mentions the regularly mentioned notion of a skills shortage, where employers, particularly those seeking workers with technical skills, can’t find qualified workers. The more I think about this, the more dubious it sounds.

We think of the labor market just like we think about markets for smartphones and commodities. These markets are supposed to be responsive to the law of supply and demand. If there is a shortage of plumbers or machinists,or insert occupation here , the price of that worker (in wages, benefits, and perks) will rise until more workers are attracted to the occupation at the new price point. So, is a shortage really a shortage? After all, the unemployment rate is still almost 6 percent and , once you add in discouraged workers and those employed part-time out of necessity, there would seem to be many potential workers who could fill these hard to fill positions eventually.

Eventually is an important word. Since these positions are skilled, it takes time for would be machinists, clowns, etc. to retrain, creating a lag. As Audrey points out, employers used to deal with this lag by hiring someone, then training them. Now, employers expect to hire individuals who are work ready, as [Cait Murphy points out] ( Workers are now expected to acquire the skills they need at their own expense, rather than being paid while they receive on the job training. This moves the supply curve. If you’ve been out of the workforce while retraining, and especially if you’ve acquired debt to fund that training, you’re less likely to be demanding about salary, benefits, and working conditions.