What makes good ol’ bullshit?

October 19, 2010

Well the answer is not bulls… Last week I attended a rather academic conference, and as part of one of the keynotes (Jan Dietz) I had to listen to an academic explanation of what is bullshit… Yes, you read correctly: bullshit. So what is bullshit?

Well here is the official slide photographed…

I like the first and third comment very much. Let me repeat them here for the record.

Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about”
“Bullshit is a greater enemy of truth than lies are”

The second point makes sincerity sound like bad thing… which i am not sure i agree with, speaking truly about ones feelings, thoughts and desire can be a good thing, provided it is not about you.  However the focus of the sentence on the slide is on the shift from considering facts to personal beliefs certainly is not good…

For a much deeper discussion read Harry Frankfurt on “Bullshit”. Philosophers clearly have too much time on their hands…

Currently I am reading Chris Brogan and Julien Smith‘s Trust Agents. When they discuss “trust signals” they make the following statement (p. 99) “People have very sophisticated bullshit sensors, and your intentions will be exposed, if not immediately, then later.” I could not agree more: a good reason for sincerity in the good sense of the word. So I was just wondering: if we are so good about sensing bullshit, why has it not been eradicated yet…

What characterizes bullshit for you? How do you know when somebody is bullshitting?

[PS. I hope you don’t think my blog is bullshitting you!]


Three unexpected events that could happen in your next presentation

October 16, 2010

Fonts display as gibberishEarlier in the week I attended the SAICSIT conference. Three “unexpected” events occurred at the conference which I think is worth thinking about. Afterall, we learn from our experiences and those of others.

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Selected thoughts from the CIO of Her Majesty, John Suffolk

September 22, 2010

The third day at WCC2010 started by a keynote of John Suffolk, CIO for Her Majesty’s Government. He presented some thoughts on shifting the paradigm for Government ICT. Here are some interesting tid bits from his talk: Read the rest of this entry »

Bringing the cloud down to earth – WCC2010 Keynote by Nicholas Carr

September 21, 2010

Nicholas Carr is of course the infamous author of “IT Does Not Matter” published in the May 2003 edition of the Harvard Business Review. The paper was widely criticized heavily. I generally don’t agree with the criticism against the arguments, but feel that the title deceive.  The paper argues for IT becoming a “utility”, in the same way that electricity became a utility. So the title is equal to saying “Electricity does not matter”, clearly not the case.  What is the case, however, is that IT has lost its benefit as competitive advantage (at least for the average company) and it is more of a necessity than ever before. Read the rest of this entry »

The World Computer Congress 2010 kicks off in Brisbane, Australia (Day 1)

September 20, 2010

The 25th World Computer Congress kicked off at the Brisbane International Convention Center today (WCC2010 program). About 1100 people attend this year’s congress, representing around 50 countries. Read the rest of this entry »

Three steps to getting into the right mindset for your research presentations

September 3, 2010

Presenting an academic paper at a conference?  Congratulations, but don’t think because the paper is written and accepted that your presentation is done. No, not by a long shot. If you think it’s easy, think again: you need to change your mindset. Do this by paying attention to the following three things: Read the rest of this entry »

Day 2 ISSA2010 keynotes

August 3, 2010

Today had two keynote addresses scheduled.

The first was by Andreas Schaad from SAP Research. Andreas presented “observations on security in large-scale industrial landscape”. He presented an interesting talk covering, inter alia, the area of access control and workflow, which of course were the general area of my PhD. I found the following observations particularly interesting:

  • There exist a big communication gap between business process experts and security experts. He demonstrated some work done on the graphical representation of access control policies.
  • He suggested that access control policies should be dependent on the state of the business objects. I don’t think this is a new idea, but it does not seem to be done in industrial systems yet. Personally I think this might be related to the administration detail and the gap mentioned in the previous bullet.
  • While rule engines exist, many access control policy is still hidden deep in code.
  • He presented some results regarding the caching of access control decisions as to speed up performance. In this case caching is historic and predictive, i.e. fore-warding looking dependent on the business process.

One of the areas currently investigated by his group is to bring more context into the access control decision. This could for example be location information from a mobile device.
My conclusion: the area of access control is still well and alive. Theory and practice is not quite aligned…

The second keynote address is professor Joachim Biskup.  His talk is entitled “Principles of Inference Control Applied to Controlled Query and Update Execution”.  He addressed the issue from a formal approach. Inference control is, in lay men’s terms, about thinking about the implications of an action.  Should therefore be an integral part of things like the granting of access control. Two techniques of inference control are static inspection and dynamic modeling. Static inspection happens at design-time, while dynamic monitoring deals with actual situations. He described some work they did in controlled query and update execution. Sounded interesting, but not quite my kettle of fish at the current moment.