Swiss Monsoon: Ashley Madison Leaks, Minimum Wage, And Healthcare [en]

[fr] Les fuites de comptes Ashley Madison et pourquoi je ne participe pas aux réjouissances concernant la mise à nu des infidèles. Mes petites théories perso sur le salaire minimum (fausse bonne idée) et le système de santé suisse (bon équilibre des pouvoirs).

After a tropical summer, the monsoon. It’s pouring all its worth outside. No, it’s not very pretty.

Swiss Monsoon

Ashley Madison leaks. Another opportunity to drag “nobodies” into the spotlight and shame them. Oh, the horror of the affair! I don’t have proper stats handy, but cheating is something roughly half of people do at some point, if my memory serves me right. If it’s not more. It’s a small crime. Yes, it’s ugly, it’s a betrayal, a breach of trust, and can even endanger your partner if you’re having unprotected sex. Lying is ugly (don’t I know it). But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a commonplace transgression. That usually has a story. Anyway, my purpose is not to discuss adultery in length or excuse it (go read Dan Savage again), but to invite those who may be perched there to descend from their moral high horses.

Does being on the Ashley Madison leaks list mean you should be outed to all those who know you as a cheater, maybe ruin your marriage beyond repair, and even damage your career? (And just sayin’ — not all those with Ashley Madison accounts are cheating scumbags.)

So, I will not gloat about these possibly lying and cheating people who are now outed to the world. Not because I think they have done no wrong, but because I do not think that the public square should be the one to judge their crimes. (Read my patchwork post from the chalet for some background.)

And then there is this:

Josh Duggar? I will allow myself some schadenfreude, given the guy has made a career shaming others for their sexual orientations, preferences, or even gender. He’s not a nobody. He’s a celebrity with a big PR machine. Different can of fish.

I didn’t just want to talk about Ashley Madison — I actually took notes of the various things I would blog about in my “next post, this week, oh next week, ouch another week has gone by”.

There’s a very interesting Planet Money episode on the birth of the minimum wage. It’s funny that for the US it is so obvious that there must be a minimum wage. Yeah, guys — it didn’t always exist. Here in Switzerland, there is no minimum wage. On the one hand I think it’s important to ensure people are paid fairly. But on the other hand it seems to me that setting a minimum wage makes us run two systemic dangers:

  1. The first is “tampering with the system” of offer and demand. This is not a very palatable point of view, and it’s certainly shaped by the fact Switzerland has a very low employment rate. I like to believe that if something is really underpaid, people will not take the job. But I know this is wishful thinking, to some extent. When you are desperate, you will even take a bad deal. But does artificially raising the bar for the price of labour solve the underlying issue, which might simply be that there is just not enough work for everybody anymore, which may call for much more radical solutions than a minimum wage?
  2. The second, way less far-fetched, is priming. When there is a minimum wage, this in a way sends a signal that if you’re paying that amount, you’re “OK”. What are you complaining about, you’re getting the minimum wage! I worry that if we do set a minimum wage, salaries which used to be just above might end up being “attracted” to that theoretical minimum. If everybody is paying minimum wage, you don’t have much choice but minimum wage. With no “reference point”, employers will probably be more free to compete to attract employees by varying how much they pay. I realise this is coming back to my first argument, and assuming a system in which there is “enough work”, so I’m not sure how things hold up when employees are competing for just any kind of employment.

Does anybody know of research around these questions? I’d definitely be interested in reading more on the topic.

This slightly “political” topic brings me to one of my little theories about the world. It has to do with healthcare. Healthcare has always been of a particular interest to me, probably because I use medical services quite a bit, and maybe also because I had heart surgery when I was a little girl and quite liked my hospital experience then.

I have people close to me in various countries, not the least my grandparents in the UK, and close friends in the US (and we hear enough horror stories about US healthcare, don’t we). I’ve lived in India (OK, extremes). I am in love with the Swiss healthcare system. And I have my little theory about why it is so good.

First, here’s how it works:

  • basic insurance (which actually covers a lot, determined by law) is compulsory; if you’re really too broke to pay for it (300-400 CHF/month roughly) your town will normally pitch in
  • when you go to the doctor, you pay the bill directly, then send it to your insurance which reimburses 90% of it; every year, you pay the first 300-2000CHF of your bills before getting reimbursed (you choose the “franchise” and your monthly insurance bill is reduced if you take a higher one)
  • for fancy stuff like alternate healthcare, private rooms in private clinics, etc, there are optional “complementary insurances”; they can refuse to take you on, but once you’re on, you’re on

So, it’s quite expensive, but the quality of care is really good. The reason I think it works well is that there is a balance between those parties who have a vested interest in costs being high (doctors etc.) and those who have a vested interest in keeping it low (insurance companies).

This means:

  • nobody can get dropped by their insurance because they get sick, or some “preexisting condition” BS
  • your insurance is not tied to your employer
  • “everybody” has insurance (quotes, because it’s probably not the case for a tiny marginalised fraction of the population)
  • you are free to see the doctor your want
  • no huge waiting lists for specialists, or hospitals, or doctors, or whatever
  • no quotas (your “GP” has more than 8 minutes to see you, and will just charge more if you end up needing a 45 minute consultation)
  • you get the bills, so you have an awareness how much your healthcare is costing
  • the quality of healthcare is high pretty much everywhere.

It’s not perfect. Ask Swiss people, they will complain about the healthcare system all day if you let them.

For me, the US is an example of a system where the people who have a vested interest in raising the costs have too much power. That’s how you end up with ghastly expensive bills for things like a drip, and insurances which have no incentive to defend your interests, as they can seemingly easily get rid of you if you become too expensive.

We see this in two areas here in Switzerland:

  • dental care
  • pet insurances.

Dental care insurances are not compulsory and not regulated. We are used to paying our dentists out-of-pocket. Having anybody in this country look at your teeth costs an arm and a leg, and insurances are commonly perceived as “not interesting” to have. Easier to drive to France (that’s what I do).

As for pets, we have seen insurances show up these last years. I got one for Tounsi as he was young enough, and it did serve me well as I ended up with thousands of francs of vet bills a couple of summers back. But the insurance has a clause for “chronic conditions” where they only pay for care during the three first months, and then they don’t cover it anymore. Sounds a lot like something one might find in human insurances on the other side of the pond?

As for the UK, it suffers from the opposite problem. As everything is state-run, and paid for by taxes, the parties looking to minimise the cost of healthcare end up having too much power. You end up with ridiculous quotas, sub-standard care, huge waiting lists. Sure, it costs less, but the quality of healthcare takes a dive.

What do you think of my “perfection in the balance of power” theory? Specially interested in your views if you’re an expat and have first-hand experience of different healthcare systems.

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Ingress: apprendre à glypher et éviter la pénurie de résonateurs [fr]

[en] On the importance of learning to glyph correctly, and how to avoid running out of resonators (4, 5, 6) while keeping your stocks low, thus freeing space for more interesting items.

Je joue toujours à Ingress. L15 en vue, mais nécessité de lever un peu le pied pour cause de vilaine bursite à l’insertion du tendon d’Achille. (“Ça pourrait être un facteur déclenchant,” m’a dit mon médecin quand je lui ai dit combien je marchais.)

Bref. Je profite donc de faire un peu “d’Ingress canapé” (cf. les “armchair anthropologists” et consorts) pour vous régaler d’un ou deux conseils.

Premier conseil: glyphez. Je veux dire, apprenez à glypher (et pas avec cette saleté d’overlay glyphe-triche sur Android dont certains tentent de rationaliser l’utilisation; c’est de la triche, faites pas).

imperfect truth accept complex answerAlors je sais, c’est facile à dire, “apprenez à glypher,” mais concrètement? J’entends souvent “je glyphe pas parce que j’arrive pas.” Mais pour apprendre, il faut justement passer par cette phase où on essaie et on n’arrive pas. A force de s’entraîner, ça finit par rentrer, et on arrive même à faire “imperfect”!

Perso, je vous encourage à faire un peu confiance à votre cerveau et aux processus d’apprentissage naturels. Si vous commencez à jouer, mettez-vous-y tout de suite. Au début, vous allez regarder les glyphes se dessiner sur l’écran, et être incapable de reproduire quoi que ce soit. Ce n’est pas grave. Ce qui est important, c’est de bien regarder la correction et les noms de glyphes qui apparaissent.

Les glyphes ont un sens, et les phrases aussi, ce qui rend leur mémorisation à court terme facile, une fois qu’on connaît les noms des glyphes. Il y a des couples de glyphes complémentaires comme “create/destroy” ou “past/future” dont la forme graphique exprime le lien sémantique.

Si les phrases sont trop longues, tentez de retenir le premier glyphe — puis les deux premiers, etc.

Mais pourquoi se donner toute cette peine? Glypher apporte des bonus de matériel conséquents. Pas juste un ou deux items, mais carrément (si on glyphe sur des P8) l’équivalent de 3 ou 4 hacks. En moyenne, pendant une ferme, on arrive à 13 items par hack en glyphant. On voit tout de suite les implications… (Difficile de jouer sans matériel.)

Si on veut s’entrainer pour être en forme pour sa prochaine ferme, il y a des applications d’entrainement comme Glypher. La vitesse ne fait pas de grande différence au nombre d’items obtenus — il vaut donc mieux y aller lentement mais sûrement qu’essayer de battre des records et rater ses glyphes.

Savoir glypher est aussi important pour ne pas vous retrouver en pénurie de résonateurs. J’entends souvent des joueurs dire qu’ils n’ont plus assez de résonateurs de niveau 4 ou 6 (généralement ceux de niveau 5 ça va, vu qu’on hacke du 5 quand on joue seul).

Si on glyphe confortablement, non seulement on ne se retrouve quasi jamais à sec, mais en plus, on peut se permettre de tourner avec un stock minimal de résonateurs 4, 5 et 6 dans son inventaire, libérant ainsi de la place pour des items plus intéressants (comme des XMP, au hasard). Personnellement, je tourne avec entre 20 et 30 résonateurs 4 et 5, et un peu plus de 6 si je peux, 30-50, vu que je joue souvent solo. Mais je suis souvent à moins. Il est complètement inutile de se balader avec 100 résonateurs de niveau 5 dans son inventaire.

Comment je survis?

Déjà, il faut connaître le “truc” pour obtenir des résonateurs de niveau 4: déployer 8 7 6 6 5 5, puis hacker (en glyphant bien sûr). A ce stade du déploiement, le portail est de niveau 4, et on obtient donc des résonateurs 4. Qu’on peut ensuite déployer pour compléter le portail.

Le désavantage ici, c’est qu’on ne peut pas continuer à avancer, si on veut déployer proprement. Ça nous ralentit donc. Une alternative est de compléter le portail avec deux résonateurs de niveau 1, ce qui permet de continuer à marcher et de les upgrader une fois qu’on a fini de hacker le portail.

Pour les résonateurs de niveau 6, il faut être à l’affût des portails incomplets capturés par un autre joueur. Avec un 8 ou un 7 en place, on fait du 6. Quand je commence à être à court de résonateurs 6, il me suffit de croiser 3-4 portails ainsi que je peux “monter en 6” pour me refaire un peu mon stock.

De façon générale, je garde toujours un oeil sur mon stock de résonateurs quand je joue. S’il est haut, je n’ai pas besoin de glypher et je peux donc jouer plus “vite” si je le désire. S’il est bas, je glyphe soigneusement.

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Fuzzy Vision [en]

[fr] Encore du vrac!

Watch, if you haven’t watched it yet, the video on managing unconscious bias at Facebook.

And, just because I thought of it right now this second, this documentary on Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. He tells a very moving story of his religious journey, from the early days when he was “a pop star” to now. (Remember the “Salman Rushdie incident“? Not surprisingly, it’s not what you thought it was, just like the story of the lady suing McDonald’s for spilling hot coffee on her lap is not what you thought.)

Note to Self” was formerly called “New Tech City“, and it’s a podcast on the human side of the digital world. Exactly what has been of interest to me these last fifteen years. I recently liked this episode about reading. There are two different types of reading skills we need to develop in today’s world:

  • slow reading: the type we learned at school and practiced before the internet. Reading a novel. Reading complex, complicated stuff we need to digest.
  • skim & skip reading: the type we do online, always interrupted, always jumping off to something new, going through large quantities of information quickly.

Both need training. But our brain adapts to the second type so well… we need to remember to practice the first type. It will come back. I still read books (Kindle…) and I’m going to make sure I set aside some regular phoneless reading time in future.

Hiking yesterday, I realised that there really is a technique to walking on a mountain trail. Specially going downhill. I don’t know how I learned this, if somebody taught me or if I figured it out alone. Shift weight gently, don’t just dump all your weight on the next foot as soon as it hits the ground. Do it in a way that you can backtrack if you start slipping. Remember your knees (and ankles) are there to absorb shock (too many concussions have taught me to be sensitive to this). So bend your knees. Don’t plonk your foot down with a locked knee.

Vue depuis le Chamossaire

And when it’s too steep, or there is a really big step to go down, and your back leg is not willing (or strong enough) to let you down gently? Squat first on both legs. Then take a step down from that squatting position. Easy!

Fuzzy eye? Articles need titles, don’t they. I seem to have managed to sunburn one of my eyes two days ago, and my vision out of it is still fuzzy. Probably nothing serious, but as it’s about an eye, I’ll do what my vet says and not mess around. Doctor today or tomorrow.

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A Patchwork Post From The Chalet [en]

[fr] Plein de choses en vrac. Y'a des liens qui mènent vers des trucs en français.

I keep falling into this trap. I don’t blog about something because there is something else, more important, that I should blog about before and haven’t got around to writing.

In this case, it’s the fact that just over a week ago, I finally got to see Joan Baez live on stage. I’ve been listening to her since I was seven or so. I know most of her songs. I’ve always listened to her. And a few years ago I decided that I should really go and see her live soon, because, you know, she’s not getting any younger, and at some point people who spend their lives touring and singing on stage might decide that they want to stay at home and paint instead.

Joan Baez at Paléo

And she was coming to Paléo, in Nyon, just next door. I think I cried during the whole show — not from sadness, just from too much emotion. I was glad to be there that evening, because it was the evening to witness, with Patti Smith and Robert Plant, too. Isn’t it strange how somebody can be such an important part of your life (the soundtrack of many of my years, like Chris de Burgh) — and yet they have no idea you exist?

If you’ve never listened to Joan Baez, just dive into YouTube.

During the drive to the chalet a story came up on the podcast I was listening to which is exactly about that. The Living Room, a story from the podcast Love + Radio, which I’m going to add to my listening list as soon as I have a good enough data connection.

I finished reading “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson, after devouring “The Psychopath Test” these last weeks. It’s a great book. Anybody spending time online should read it. It’s important. With great power comes great responsibility, but we the people on Twitter and Facebook are not aware of the power we wield. The power to destroy lives. To get the gist of it, use 17 minutes of your life to watch Jon’s TED Talk.

My reading of this book coincides with the unleashing of online fury over the killing of Cecil the Lion. It has disturbed me deeply. I feel an urge to dig through my archives and see what my reactions to Jonah Lehrer and Justine Sacco were, because I remember the stories. I’m worried of what I may find. I will be watching myself closely in future.

I also find myself shy in speaking up against those piling on against Cecil’s killer. Oh, he has done wrong. And I have no love for hunters, and no love for hunters of big cats. But what is missing here is proportionality. And I am scared that by speaking up I will find myself faced with a wall of “you’re either with us or against us”, ie, if you don’t join the mob then you’re defending the killing of lions. Just the way last year I was accused of “encouraging pedophiles” and whatnot because I was opposed to a stupid piece of “anti-pedophile” legislation. To some extent, I feel like I have let myself be silenced. Parallels to be drawn with the harassment episode I went through earlier this year (more on that, someday, probably).

This interview of Jon Ronson for On The Media also gives a very good summary of his book.

(My only gripe with Jon Ronson and his book is that a blog is not a post, dammit!)

Two local newspaper articles made me react today on Facebook (they’re in French). One about “the ideal age to conceive” for women, and one about a carer who got bitten by a Komodo dragon at the Lausanne Vivarium.

The first made me jump up because alongside statistics saying “if you want three kids you should get to work at this age” we find things like “you still have a 40% chance of conceiving at 40” and “don’t worry, it’s still quite possible to have children after 37”. Well, at 40 your chances of success through IVF are more around 10-15% — I’m curious where that “40%” comes from, and what it’s supposed to mean. Certainly not “4 attempts to conceive out of 10 succeed” but more “4 women out of 10 who are ‘trying’ (define that) succeed”. Another topic that’s keeping me from blogging about other stuff, because I have so much more to write about not having children. Well, you’ll get it in tidbits, it seems.

As for the second, well, I was expecting a “scare” piece. “Look, the dangerous animal.” Or “look, another negative story for the Vivarium” (which was running out of funding a couple of years ago). To my surprise the article was really good (edit: wow! they seem to have changed the title!), with the carer explaining how she was actually responsible for how the animal had reacted, and that showed how affectionate she was towards it despite the bite. I realised that reading the title had prepared me for “bad journalism”. But going back to it, the title was quite neutral: “Vivarium carer bitten by komodo dragon”. And so I wonder: how could the title have been better? Tricky.

Up in the mountains, in my chalet with almost no data connection, it’s easy to slow down and “do nothing”. A couple of weeks ago I decided I was going to consciously try and do less things in parallel, both on a micro and a macro level. Monotask more, multitask less. Try and keep my number of “open projects” under control. My podcast-hopping brought me to the “Bored and Brilliant Boot Camp” episode the other day. It really drove home the fact that my brain needs downtime. Bored time. And probably a holiday (I haven’t had a “real holiday” (= with no work to do) in much too long, and I’m starting to feel it. How did that happen? I thought I was over that.) So now, I’m paying more attention to where my phone is, and trying to keep it more in my bag and less in my hand, more in the other room and less just next to me.

That’s it for today, folks. My plan is to write again tomorrow. Or the day after. Let’s see if it materialises.

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Disconnection [en]

[fr] Certaines formes d'écriture ne peuvent plus se faire déconnectée, pour moi.

I’m at my chalet. Cats are curled up on the bed and I have a nice cup of tea ready. There is no wifi here. Cellphone reception is extremely patchy — and cellular data, when it works, is excruciatingly slow and unreliable. This is my “disconnected place”.

There is a lovely café in the village which offers free wifi as well as delicious home-made syrups, smoothies, and cakes. And tea for winter, of course. I go there to work and connect with the world.

I use MarsEdit to edit and write blog posts offline. As you can imagine, this is not something I do often. But this time around, I had quite a few to work on for my client, and I figured I could also do some of my work at the chalet.

While I was at it, I updated the settings for my blog (yup, still in server-move limbo) so that I could write an article or two. Everybody knows that being offline is great for productivity, particularly for writing.

Well, it turns out that there are certain types of writing for which it isn’t all that great. A lot of the stuff I write about here is nourished by things I’ve read online somewhere. I want to include links, check sources again to make sure I remember correctly what I have read. Search for more information.

I have become so used to writing/blogging plugged into the internet that I forget how much I rely on this extension of my mind that the network has become for me. (See, I’m sure there is a good piece somewhere to link to about that — but as I’m writing this offline, I can’t dig it out for you.)

I don’t think this is a bad thing. My brain still works. I haven’t lost the ability to write, and more importantly, to think. But I find myself in the situation where I am so used to functioning with a given tool that I forget its absence will prevent me from doing certain things.

The article I wanted to write is about doing what we want versus doing what we have to do. I’ve been through a series of realisations on that topic, and I want to be able to reference them and map them out for — maybe with the same sources, somebody will come to the same realisation, and my article will have been useful. Oh well, I’ll write it another time, when I have access to the internet.

Maybe I just have to remember that blogging/writing is not something I should try do to when offline.

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The Zeigarnik Effect and Open Loops [en]

[fr] L'effet Zeigarnik, c'est ce qui nous fait finir quelque chose dans lequel on est lancé, ou qui fait qu'on repense à ce qu'on a interrompu pour y revenir. A mon avis, cet effet joue un rôle clé dans ce qui nous attire encore et encore à retourner sur Facebook ou autre: en prenant part dans des communautés et réseaux en ligne, on met en marche toutes sortes de choses dont on veut voir l'aboutissement. J'ai posté un lien, la chaîne d'actions logique est ensuite que des gens vont liker, commenter et partager. Il y aura peut-être une réponse à donner, ou tout du moins, je veux "suivre" pour savoir comment ça fini. Les conversations en ligne, idem: il y a toujours quelque chose qui se passe dans un chat, la discussion ne se termine jamais.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon the Zeigarnik Effect. It is the effect that prevents us from interrupting our teeth-brushing in the middle. Once we’ve started, we feel a need to keep going. It’s really useful.

For me, it was a missing piece of the puzzle that fitted nicely alongside the idea of GTD’s “open loops”. If you have to interrupt something before you’re done with it or the task is completely, the Zeigarnik Effect will make sure your brain nags you about it.

It explains why it’s important to “just get started” or “just do something”. It also explains why having a lot of ongoing stuff in parallel is stressful.

While I’ve been writing this post, I’ve given myself a wonderful demonstration of the Zeigarnik Effect in action. You see, I couldn’t remember exactly where I’d heard about it. I’m pretty sure it’s in one of James Clear‘s posts, because it’s definitely the kind of thing that he writes about, but I’m not 100% certain.

I can remember the context: for a given task, there is a kind of “tipping point” where the Zeigarnik Effect kicks in, and you finish what you’ve started. Knowing where that point is comes in really handy for getting things done rather than just thinking about how we’re not doing them. I remember the example clearly: for flossing, the “tipping point” or “trigger” in question was when he’d torn the piece of floss off the roll.

I’ve just spent… oh, I don’t even dare tell you… way too much time trying to find that article so I could link to it. I found plenty about flossing and the Zeigarnik effect. The worst is that I already spent way too much time trying to dig out that source when preparing a mini-workshop on “time/task management” I gave two months back. And didn’t find it.

You know the irony? I just stumbled upon the article in question! It wasn’t James Clear after all. And you know the funny bit? I thought I’d add a link to a Google search in the above paragraph. Just to show you how much stuff about Zeigarnik and floss I had waded through. To my surprise, many of the links there were not those I had been wading through an hour ago. Maybe I only searched in specific places where I thought the article was, like Clear’s blog. Anyway. I have it! Incredible!

The reason I went down that rabbit-hole was because it was an “unfinished task”. And the more time I spent trying to “finish” it, the stronger my urge to keep going became. Typical, right?

And here we go again: while looking up some old articles of mine, I remembered that the markdown plugin wasn’t working on the new server. I had to hold myself back from downloading and installing it. It would have meant interrupting the writing of this blog post, though, so I guess that is what just saved me. But now I have this nagging “open loop” in a corner of my mind.

(Bear with me while I add it to my running list of things that need to be done so I can stop thinking about it.)

(Oops, while I was there, I quickly checked a spreadsheet to see if there were any new sign-ups for my next workshop. There weren’t. Do I leave the form open or close it now?)

As you can see, there is a clear link here to multitasking, procrastination, and the general feeling of “not enough brain space” that I have a times. It also makes me think about how when I start something, I have a lot of trouble stopping. Hypertrophied Zeigarnik Effect?

Today — and this is what prompted this post — I suddenly realised that the Zeigarnik Effect played an important part in dragging me back to my computer, or my phone (home to Facebook and Google Plus). By participating in online communities and networks (sounds better than “social media” doesn’t it? more human?) I set things in motion that do not end.

An online conversation is never-ending. There are always people in the chatroom. I post a link, it will be interesting to see who likes, comments, or shares it. I stumble upon interesting articles that need to be read.

My time on my phone or my computer is spent creating innumerable open loops that I am then desperate to close, while at the same time opening yet others that will also have to be closed. Whack-a-mole.

It feels like my “tipping point” for feeling the urge to finish something (or at least dive in) is ridiculously early. Am I mixing two things up here? Do we still speak of the Zeigarnik Effect when a task has not actually been started? Is thinking about doing it sufficient in some cases to “initiate” it?

So here’s my next mission: taming my open loops. I can’t remove them, but I can learn to live with them better.

(This was originally the title to this post, but given I’m not sure how I’m going to do that it seemed a little misleading.)

Before writing this post, I googled for “open loops social media” and other related searches, and I now have about a dozen articles to read about “compulsion loops” and the inevitable “social media addiction” (disclaimer: I’m not convinced it is correct to speak about “addiction” in this context). I’ll probably have more to write on the topic… if I manage to get around to reading them. 😉

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“It’s Just a Game” [en]

[fr] "C'est qu'un jeu!" J'ai beaucoup entendu ça ces dernières semaines. D'une part pour dire "tu as vu le temps que t'y passes?" et d'autre part pour dire "machin t'insulte mais c'est pas grave, c'est juste un jeu". Et toi, tu passes combien de temps à regarder la télé? Quant au reste... le jeu est un jeu mais les relations entre les joueurs, elles, sont bien réelles. Etre harcelé ou insulté dans le cadre d'un jeu n'amoindrit pas le harcèlement ou l'insulte.

“It’s just a game!”

I’ve heard that a lot these last weeks. About Ingress. Of course it’s “just a game”. But.

Before I get to the “but” bit, here are the two contexts in which I’ve heard “it’s just a game”:

  1. you spend so much time on it, how crazy, it’s just a game!
  2. don’t get so wound up that people are behaving like jerks, it’s just a game!

Context 1: how much time do you spend watching TV? at the gym? and if I was walking or jogging around instead of “playing a game”, would you still comment on how much time I play? or if I was reading a book? It’s interesting how because it’s a “game”, and therefore “fun”, spending time on it is a “bad thing”… And in the case of Ingress you can’t even argue that it’s “time sitting behind a computer”, because it’s actually “time spent walking and walking and walking”. Exercise is supposed to be good for you, isn’t it?

Context 2: the game is a game, of course, but the human relationships between players are real. If a player is bullying another player, or insulting them, or treating them badly, the fact that what brought them together is a game is pretty irrelevant. It makes sense to say “it’s just a game” when it comes to gauging how seriously to take the actions of the game (is it really a question of life and death, worth getting mad at others for, if Portal WhatNot is still standing in 20 minutes?) But it doesn’t make sense to use “just a game” as a reason to discount the impact dysfunctional relationships or group dynamics can have on the people involved.

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Ingress: My Leveling-Up Advice So Far [en]

[fr] Conseils de base pour passer rapidement les "premiers niveaux" (L4, L5, L6...) quand on joue à Ingress: so concentrer sur la construction, et surtout la création de fields, plutôt que d'attaquer des portails ennemis que l'on passera beaucoup de temps à détruire vu notre faible puissance de frappe et qui rapporteront relativement peu d'AP. Un résonateur détruit = 75AP, un field fermé = 1250AP, un portail entièrement déployé de la capture aux mods = 2000AP.

I haven’t been around the game that long, but I have noticed different progression profiles:

  • players who dive in completely, reach L8 in a few weeks
  • players who don’t play quite as much and stay “stuck” somewhere around L4-L5 for a bit

When it comes to having offensive power that can actually make a bit of a difference in the game, L6 is where it starts. L6 XMP bursters can do a reasonable amount of damage, and it makes progressing more encouraging to be able to have that kind of impact.

So, how do you get there and avoid staying stuck? A few things to understand so you put your efforts in the right place when you’re starting out.

Look at how much AP you need — 20K may feel like a lot when you’re starting out, but if you realise that it just means deploying 10 portals or making a handful of fields it suddenly seems much more attainable.

Hack, hack hack

Hack every portal you see, whatever its level or yours, whatever its colour. After verifying your account by SMS code, you have space for 2000 items in your inventory, which is more than enough when you’re starting out, even though it feels like an overstuffed sock drawer when you’ve been playing for a bit.

You can hack a portal again after 5 minutes have gone by. So do it. Not sure if you have? Just try. Nothing bad will happen if you don’t wait, it’ll just tell you you’re being a bit impatient.

So… just make it a habit of hacking everything that comes within range on your scanner. Again and again.

Deploy, link, field

To progress until level 8, all you need is AP (action points). This means you want to concentrate on actions which will bring you the most AP, so that you will quickly have access to higher level objects that allow you to better take part in the game.

If you google ingress ap leveling you’ll find a bunch of links to tables listing AP required by level and AP gained by action. They’re not all up-to-date. Here is the important stuff to remember:

  • capturing a portal is 500AP, each resonator and mod deployed is 125AP, completing deployment is an extra 250AP; this means that a complete portal deployment (from capture to placing two mods) is 2000AP
  • creating a link is 313AP, closing a field is 1250AP; this means that if you capture three portals, deploy them as above and link them together in a triangle to create a field, you will have gained 8189AP (barring any calculation mistake on my part) => capturing, deploying, linking and fielding is the best way to gain AP
  • if you destroy an enemy portal, you gain 75AP per resonator destroyed, 187 per link destroyed, 750 per field destroyed; less than if you’re building, and that’s assuming you have the firepower to destroy the portal in question (you probably don’t)

TL;DR: concentrate on deploying portals whenever you can and creating links and field.

Pay attention particularly in high portal density environments (cities) to always link to the closest portals possible and not throw long links across towns — other players will not be happy with you if you do. (Once you’ve done a few fielding sessions you’ll completely understand why.)

Also, remember to deploy your resonators as far as possible from the portal centre, as it makes them more difficult to destroy.

Play with others

Ingress is a multiplayer game. Though you can have fun playing alone, it’s even more fun with other people, and for certain types of gameplay (large fielding operations, or deploying L8 portals) you need to work as a group.

When it comes to leveling up and learning how to play, experienced players will greatly accelerate the process. They’ll show you tips and tricks, you’ll be included in your local community, and — last but not least — you will gain AP more quickly.

How?

If you go out for a fielding session alone:

  • you have to get all the keys you need yourself (remember you can only hack a portal 4 times, with a 5-minute timeout between hacks)
  • you’ll probably struggle a bit orienting yourself with the scanner and high portal density
  • if you stumble upon well-deployed and shielded opposite faction portals you probably won’t be able to take them down

With an experienced player:

  • they will help you pick a good spot for your fielding session
  • two people hacking = double the keys, they will drop those they pick up for you so you can spend more time deploying and linking, and less time walking back and forth or waiting next to portals to hack them again
  • they will help you figure out what to link to what and tell you where the portals are
  • they might give you gear you need
  • you’ll get to know another player who is part of the community!

Know the “key drop” trick

When you hack a portal that you already have the key to, it will not give you another key. When fielding, you will need more than one key per portal (more like 2 or 3, or even more).

If you drop the key before hacking the portal, the portal will probably give you a key. You can then pick up the key you just dropped and you will have two of them.

Make each hack count, when it comes to collecting keys!

Anything else?

If you’re currently leveling up and have received good advice to accelerate your progress, or if you’re an experienced player who has advice I haven’t listed here, share in the comments.

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Bon alors, Ingress? [fr]

[en] A brief introduction to Ingress. Join the Enlightened!

Cela fait un peu plus de deux mois que je bassine mon entourage avec Ingress. C’est quoi, ce jeu?

Ingress, c’est un jeu multi-joueurs sur smartphone (Android/iOS) en espace réel.

C’est la partie “espace réel” qui m’a fait tilter, et crocher.

Ingress scannerCe que vous voyez ici c’est le “scanner” d’Ingress. En gros, imaginez Google Maps (c’est vraiment Google Maps, les routes que vous voyez). Ça c’est l’espace réel. Et au-dessus, comme en superposition, il y a une “couche” du jeu, ce que vous voyez en vert, bleu, et même gris: des “portails”. Le jeu consiste à interagir avec ces portails (j’explique tout de suite comment) mais le truc c’est que pour faire quelque chose à un portail on doit se déplacer physiquement avec son téléphone pour arriver au lieu où il est implanté. Le portail doit être dans le petit cercle jaune que vous voyez (une quarantaine de mètres) sur l’image.

Donc oui, faut s’habiller (en hiver) et aller marcher dehors. Et ça fait marcher des kilomètres, je rigole pas. On se prend vite au jeu.

Ce qu’on fait avec ces portails c’est en prendre possession et les relier entre eux. Ils nous fournissent aussi du matériel utile à les “déployer” (= en prendre possession et les préparer), à les connecter, et à les détruire quand ils appartiennent à la faction adverse (les deux portails bleus que vous voyez au fond).

Quand on relie trois portails entre eux, ça fait un “champ” (le coloriage vert que vous voyez), et la zone enfermée dans ce champ est sous le contrôle de votre équipe: verte ou bleue.

Vert ou bleu? La faction que vous rejoignez ne change pas grand-chose au jeu pour vous, une fois sur le terrain. Ce à quoi il faut prendre garde avant de choisir, cependant:

  • dans quelle faction jouent vos amis? (c’est mieux d’être dans la même, vraiment, sinon on ne peut pas jouer ensemble)
  • quelle est la faction dominante dans votre région? (suivant que vous aimez être en position de force ou non pour commencer)

Le choix de la faction est définitif, attention! Si vous jouez en Suisse Romande, vous devez impérativement choisir la faction verte. On a besoin de vous!

J’ai commencé à jouer mi-novembre. Depuis, j’ai rencontré plein de gens sympa (assez vite on comprend qu’il faut jouer à plusieurs), gravi 10 niveaux (presque 11), marché plus de 500km à pieds et trainé ma vieille voiture jusqu’au Locle pour une grande opération impliquant une trentaine de personnes.

Chronophage? Disons que mon temps à marcher dehors en jouant à Ingress, seule ou accompagnée, est du temps que je ne passe pas vissée devant ma télé, par exemple. Tout est relatif!

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Huit lectures pour comprendre les réseaux sociaux, cuvée 2014 [fr]

[en] Reading recommendations for those who want to understand social media, and social networks, and this online stuff in general.

Pour Grégoire et les autres qui l’ont demandé, voici mes recommandations de lecture 2014 pour “comprendre les réseaux sociaux”. Cette sélection reflète bien entendu mon angle d’approche pour ce qui touche à internet, un sujet qui me fascine depuis 98-99: je ne viens pas du marketing, ni de la comm’, mais du cluetrain. Ce qui m’intéresse ce sont les communautés, les gens, la façon dont la publication personnelle a bouleversé la communication de masse. La sélection est aussi principalement anglophone, parce que, il n’y a pas de miracle, si on veut creuser un peu, il faut passer par l’anglais.

  1. The Cluetrain Manifesto
    Incontournable, épuisé en français (et mal traduit si je me souviens bien), le Cluetrain a plus de 10 ans mais il n’a pas pris une ride quand il s’agit de comprendre les enjeux profonds du monde connecté.
  2. Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do: A Manager’s Guide to the Social Web
    Euan est un ami qui a le cluetrain dans le sang. Son livre le distille au fil de petits chapitres digestes mais profonds, fort bienvenus à l’ère de Twitter et des statuts Facebook.
  3. Everything is Miscellaneous
    David Weinberger, co-auteur du Cluetrain Manifesto, explique comment s’organisent tous ces « objets numériques », dans un ordre qui va parfois à l’encontre de notre conception de ce qu’est l’organisation. Un ouvrage important pour comprendre les caractéristiques physiques du monde numérique.
    Lecture complémentaire, sur les bénéfices inattendus du désordre, omniprésent en ligne: A Perfect Mess.
  4. Naked Conversations
    Un livre qui commence à dater un peu mais qui reste néanmoins une splendide collection d’exemples d’utilisation des blogs (et des conversations en ligne) par des entreprises/organisation. Inspiration, exemples concrets, modèles à suivre (ou pas).
  5. It’s Complicated
    J’attendais depuis des années que danah écrive ce livre. A l’époque où je donnais beaucoup de conférences “prévention internet” en milieu scolaire, j’avais apprécié de trouver dans son travail des confirmations un peu plus académiques de mes intuitions. Ce livre est incontournable pour quiconque veut réellement comprendre les enjeux de l’adolescence connectée, au-delà de la paranoïa que nous servent les médias et organisations bien-pensantes genre “sauvez les enfants”.
    Lectures complémentaires sur le thème “ados et internet”: The Culture of Fear, pour une perspective sur comment en faisant peur aux gens, on les rends plus dociles citoyens et consommateurs; Generation Me, une analyse sociologique des générations 70-80-90; Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out, le point sur la recherche “ados et internet” il y a quelques années et EU Kids Online, groupe de recherche européen équivalent.
  6. L’intimité au travail: la vie privée et les communications personnelles dans l’entreprise
    Avec les nouvelles technologies de la communication, les sacro-saintes frontières entre “privé” et “professionnel” s’effritent. Eclairage ethnologique très éclairant. Spoiler: non, ce n’est pas la fin du monde.
  7. Le peuple des connecteurs: Ils ne votent pas, ils n’étudient pas, ils ne travaillent pas… mais ils changent le monde
    Comprendre les réseaux sociaux en ligne, c’est comprendre les réseaux tout court, et la complexité. Tour d’horizon en français avec Thierry Crouzet, auteur expert de rien.
  8. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
    On ne peut pas comprendre les réseaux sociaux sans regarder de près la façon dont la technologie a bouleversé l’auto-organisation et le passage à l’action collectif.
    Lectures complémentaires pour mieux comprendre les humains dans les réseaux: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, qui met le doigt sur les réactions humaines illogiques mais très prévisibles qui nous rendent vulnérables à la manipulation; Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, ouvrage précieux pour qui doit gérer des communautés ou obtenir des résultats; The Paradox of Choice: Why Less Is More, indispensable dans ce monde numérique où pléthore de choix n’est que le début du problème, et enfin Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, pour comprendre de quoi est faite la motivation, et que le bâton et la carotte ne sont pas des stratégies gagnantes.

Il y a plein d’autres livres qui sont sûrement très bien, mais ceux-ci ont été testés et approuvés et je les recommande comme valeurs sûres!

Bonne lecture 🙂

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