Open Thinkering


Tag: politics

A welcome corrective to narratives around the ‘future of work’

I ran a session at the Learning Technologies 2022 conference today entitled Verifiable credentials: get ready for the next generation of badges and digital credentials. It went really well and I got good feedback, even if a corporate audience isn’t one I’m used to addressing these days.

You’ll notice if you click through the above link to my slides that the first slide is basically this image with a link to the Verso website:

Screenshot of the Verso books website showing the results of a search for 'automation'

This was a last-minute addition and a response to the keynote panel session running prior to it. The panel featured someone from McKinsey, someone promoting their book, and a researcher into the future of work. I’ve no bone of contention with them, but the framing seemed to be that there are some kind of ‘inevitable’ trends happening. This was evident by a question from the audience about the widely-reported threat of a recession — to which the reply from the stage was that this would only slow down what’s already happening.

To be clear, we co-create the future. Things happen because we collectively cause them to happen.

I’ve read four of the books in that screenshot:

They’re all excellent and thought-provoking. I want to read the other two shown on there, and I’d also perhaps throw 24/7: Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep by Jonathan Crary into the mix. Yes, they’re written from a reasonably-radical left-of-centre perspective, but given most of our ‘news’ and business ‘thought leadership’ is extremely right-leaning, it’s a welcome corrective.

So this is Covid


How ironic, to get a positive PCR test result on the same day that the government announces the end of many Covid-related restrictions. Welcome to my life.

So this is Covid
And what have you done?
Another isolation over
And a new one just begun

A very merry Covid
And a happy lateral flow
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any T’s

And so this is Covid
I hope you have fun
Infecting the near and the dear ones
The old and the young

Thankfully, because I’ve had my vaccinations, my symptoms are so mild that I can work through it and haven’t choked to death. My lateral flow test was negative this morning, so I have no doubt I’ll be able to end self-isolation early (midnight Sunday).

A cynic might note that the early end to restrictions in England seems designed to appease hardline Tories in an attempt to prop-up Boris Johnson’s premiership. Especially when yesterday saw the highest Covid-related death toll since last February.

At least my son will be happy he doesn’t have to wear a mask in class any more. Let’s just hope he doesn’t join his sister in isolation given that it’s his birthday in the next few days…

10 ways to Build Back Better

I’ve seen plenty of talk about ‘Building Back Better’ over the last few weeks.

Unfortunately, most of the rhetoric has come from people whose ideological and political beliefs conflict with mine, which makes me concerned that ‘Building Back Better’ is going to be used as a friendly front-end for an attack on anyone lacking privilege.

As a small way to counter that impending narrative, then, here are some suggestions on how we can make post-pandemic better than pre-pandemic for most of us.

  1. Distribute wealth by mercilessly taxing people who profit from the labour of others (and/or surveillance capitalism)
  2. Distribute power by providing worker ownership of businesses and public ownership of public goods
  3. Reform our democratic systems by introducing proportional representation to safeguard against authoritarian tendencies
  4. Take steps to integrate marginalised groups within society, and generously fund programmes to ensure this happens
  5. Reimagine education to focus on more on collaboration than competition
  6. Heavily tax organisations that make profits by exploiting scarce natural resources
  7. Ban facial recognition in all but a very narrow range of cases, and regulate it well
  8. Invest in mental health services, especially for young people and those hit hardest by the pandemic
  9. Engage in land (ownership) reform to ensure that the few do not constrain the many
  10. Ban pension funds from investing in ethically-dubious companies (e.g. conflict minerals, arms manufacturers)

It’s a mixed bag, and comes off the top of my head this morning. Nevertheless, the above is probably quite uncontroversial for the kind of people who read this blog.

What would your list look like?

This post is Day 56 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at