📅 December 04 - December 10: BTBS (Big Tech BullShit)

My week was pretty busy with a few projects and a lot of teaching. I teach at a couple of local universities for a diverse set of subjects: English, Project Management and Microsoft Technologies. I have a lot of experience, and I am proud to share as much of it as possible. I get a real buzz from seeing a student understand something for the first time. I had a student understand IP addresses and netmasks. He’d been listening and using the techniques but didn’t really grasp the concepts thoroughly. I’d diverted off the teaching track, something I’m prone to do, and ended up giving a quick course on IPs and associated aspects of TCP/IP. Then suddenly, the student told me they had now understood the subject for the first time, despite following several weeks of routing and firewall courses during the same degree.

That’s why I teach.

Last Wednesday, I was selected to present to the group that had been following a training course on the legal aspects of eCommerce. I have been training in various courses with UNCTAD (United Nations Conference for Trade and Development) since the start of the year. I submitted a presentation on the use of CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) in the Caribbean. I had a lot of good feedback, and I think I was able to clarify some of the challenges and opportunities for the Caribbean regarding digital money.

In last week’s note, I mentioned that I had been enamoured with the release of the latest version of iA Writer and that I would move my work from Ulysses.app. Well, things have been going fine so far, and I’ll keep moving stuff over during the coming weeks and months.

The team at iA wrote a blog post to thank people for the feedback they had gotten during the launch week, including this blog. I am really grateful for the mention. You can read their blog post here.

I’ve been using some of the GenAI tools, and with the help of iA Writer, I have found it to give me more freedom of expression without feeling bad about using those tools. I don’t use them for posts like this, but there is definitely a benefit and use case for things that require a less personal or intimate expression.

Recently, I used GenAI to help me develop an in-class exercise for project management students. I created an interactive and fun exercise that solidified the students’ understanding of some of the concepts around project management. GenAI didn’t write it for me. What it did was give me a few ideas to start, and then I was able to dive deeper into the development, with GenAI providing some of the contextual information required for the students to carry out the exercise. I was pleased with the result, and judging by how the students participated, I can confidently say they enjoyed it.

Reading

I’m still reading iRobot despite thinking I’d finish it this week. Alas, I didn’t really give myself the time to do so. I’m pretty sure I’ll finish the Caves of Steel this week.

After that, I’m torn about whether or not to continue the series or start a new series of books I have never read. I’m a little ashamed to say that I’ve never read Dune, so perhaps that might be on the horizon soon. I’m not sure yet.

Of note

This week saw the announcement of Google’s answer to ChatGPT, with a slick video showing off its latest generation LLM. As everyone had noted, the video itself is egregiously edited and “falsified” to look much better than an actual product that will be available. As Alex Krantowiz’s article about the matter points out, they didn’t need to do that. I commented on how I thought it was childish to embellish the video that way, but that aside, the examples shown during the video were utterly useless in the real world.

I think I’m becoming more sensitive and frustrated with Big Tech BullShit (BTBS) and its misrepresentation of reality and utility.

I listened to the latest episode of Tech Won’t Save Us, entitled The Bill Gates problem. It is worth your time, regardless of how your feel about Bill Gates, or William … Gates the … rd. I encourage you to listen to it to help you gain some context to make up your own mind about him.

Anyway, have a great week, and I’ll write a few thoughts again soon.

Matthew Cowen @matthewcowen