Infovore

Infovore

A friend once described me as an “Eater of Books” in the rate at which I consumed them… Mitch Joel has the right of it when talking about Infovores,  which is another way I’d describe myself The good Personally, I have a hard time watching a dance competition on TV knowing full-well that iTunes U is stuffed to the digital rafters with audio and video Podcasts from some of the leading universities and given by the best professors… and that’s just one, small channel. And the less good The other side of the challenge is that there is simply not enough time to follow, consume and deeply ingest everything. You will never be able to read every e-newsletter, Blog post, tweet or listen/watch every Podcast or interesting YouTube video. As an Infovore, I’ve become quite comfortable with a diet that consists of both grazing and then taking the time to really enjoy a full and hearty meal (I tried to read one book every week). The mightiest of Infovore’s embrace the “mark all as read” button and take refuge in knowing that it’s not about consuming everything....

Who benefits from the continuation of culture ?

From something I wrote a decade ago that still seem quite appropriate given the difficulty we have we with change in this country who benefits from the continuation of culture. “The sanctity of property, the unflinching materialism of farmer calculations, the defense of professional status” were for decades the key values of the Irish State, values baptized by the Church (Lee, 1989 pp 159). These barren virtues were typical of the mercantile cultures that predated the intellectual enlightenment in Europe, and indicate unenlightened attitudes to knowledge and innovation as dangers that can upset the status quo. Innovation does upset the status quo, generating a new dynamic in a non-linear system leads to unpredictable results. Enabling this dynamic to proceed is the essence of economic growth and development. Powerful interest groups tend to block technologies to protect their rents (Mokyr, 2000, 2002); society’s structures, beliefs, and attitudes need to ensure that dynamic change is allowed to occur. The essential Faustian bargain of dynamic living systems is the recognition that the birth of new things involves the death of old...
Minister’s Reply to Primary Online Database Complaint

Minister’s Reply to Primary Online Database Complaint

I received the following reply to my email complaint in relation to the Primary Online Database (POD). Link takes you to the full letter. The fundamental questions still remain unanswered. My comments are interspaced with text from the Ministers  letter On retention of data The current retention policy for Primary Online Database (POD) data is for records to be maintained for the longer of either the period up to the pupil’s 30th Birthday or for a period of ten years since the student was last enrolled in a primary school The Department’s retention policy is for audit and accounting purposes as pupil’s data is used in the allocation of teaching posts and funding to schools. The policy also serves to trace retention trends in the education system, is important for longitudinal research and policy formation, as well as being an important statistical indicator nationally and internationally. Aggregate and not individual data is used for the majority of these purposes This reads to me as “we’ll hold data until the kids are 30 even though we only need aggregate information for statistical purposes.” There is a clear conflict  in need between aggregate information, information for allocation of resources while children are in school and holding detailed information until the children are 30 (or possibly longer given we don’t know what processes will be in place to remove the information in 18 years time). On the racist nature of the cultural/ethnic categories We are committed to reviewing the questions asked in POD. As part of this we have reviewed our question in POD on the collection of information on Ethnic or Cultural Background. We feel that the question used...
Dept of Education and Primary Online Database

Dept of Education and Primary Online Database

What is the Department of Education up to with the Primary Online Database. Simon McGarr has a hypothesis Why is the Department of Education so determined the #POD database be established that it will threaten to defund children's education? — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 I'd have said it was blind institutional inertia. But then I read the papers on the site the Dept refers schools to re DP from the #POD site — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Though it is always impossible to know the motivation of a gov Dept, my new theory fits all the available facts and explains #POD mysteries. — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Dept of Ed plans to keep a database of sensitive personal data on school children goes back to at least 2008, per DPC http://t.co/euMEJTO5vO — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 2008 was the year Louise O'Keeffe lost her Supreme Court case to find the Dept liable for child abuse in school. Appealed to ECHR #POD — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Some extracts from the Data Protection for Schools site written in consultation with the Dept and which they link to pic.twitter.com/Uz3wqw8dfv — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 That site advocates grossly excessive "indefinite" retention periods for sensitive data, obvs. pic.twitter.com/tuVnEfTjLW http://t.co/SWlu9LrPvu — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Dept is also seeking to hold children's data indefinitely, per this circular. The 30yo piece is a smokescreen. #POD pic.twitter.com/9OCK8vxsOD — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 They're explicit: why hold kids records indefinitely? It is to use against them to defend abuse claims in...
Packaging up your children’s data (no date on a sale)

Packaging up your children’s data (no date on a sale)

The Department of Education are requesting that data on all primary school children be captured into a Primary Online Database. The list of data they are asking for is comprehensive. It includes PPSN numbers. This is what we know A new database of primary school students will gather personal information, including PPS numbers, information on ethnic and cultural background and religion. Some details will be kept for up to 30 years (Irish Times) List of data  includes: • First and second names • PPS number • Mother’s maiden name • Date of Birth and gender • Full address • Mother tongue • Ethnicity • Religion • Irish language exemptions • Enrolment date, teacher / class details • Previous school / pre-primary education • Learning support details There is also a free text box for “Notes about a pupil”. The Departments reference manual on the Database states Notes about a pupil may be entered into the ‘Notes’ tab. At present, notes entered here can be seen by Department of Education staff but this is to be changed so that only the school user may see the notes. The Department is also claiming that it is compulsory for parents to register their children. In the event a PPS number is not available for a student, the Department will use the mother’s maiden name to look up Department of Social Protection records. The Department also reports that only information on ethnic and religious background requires the consent of a parent of guardian. The data to be captured on the system may be captured on esinet.ie or an excel spreadsheet or on a schools  own system. It is not clear...
The Teachers Strike, Fool’s Mate and Strategic Play in Education

The Teachers Strike, Fool’s Mate and Strategic Play in Education

The teachers are on strike today. My wife among them. So I have skin in the game. I’ve lots, I’ve three kids as well. Still at primary with some superb teachers and I want the best education possible for them. There is a good post here on why one teacher is going on strike and in it John Killeagh points out some of the things done on behalf of education reform so far Remove Guidance Counsellors from secondary schools Increase the pupil/teacher ratio Cut capitation grants to schools Again, cut capitation grants to schools (and again for next year) Reduce supports for students with Special Educational Needs John Killeagh in his piece states that “I don’t trust the motivations behind these measures.” He’s right not to. Simon Wardley in another context talks about “Fool’s mate” and the where of Strategy. Most of the problem appears to be that companies cannot see the environment (i.e. they have no map) and aren’t used to any actual form of strategic play. I’m not going to draw a map in this context but I want to point out the strategic play in the education environment. This is only partially about the assessment of the Junior Certificate. It is an important part of the play. Implementing continuous assessment may or may not be a good idea. If its done as planned it will start the creeping corruption of the Irish Education system that Fintan O’Toole has talked about. Twice. And the Ministers idea of 40% rather than 100% assessment. Well can you be 40% corrupt or 40% evil? Yes those are inflammatory words and if there are principles...